Chick-fil-A opened its first location in 1967 as the “home of the Original Chicken Sandwich” in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.
Since then, the restaurant has opened franchises in 47 U.S. states and is one of the most profitable fast-food brands in the country.
Amid competition from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Popeye’s, and other popular fast-food chains, Chick-fil-A retains its popularity despite being closed on Sundays and not serving any beef-based products.
Chick-fil-A has managed to secure a spot as one of America’s most beloved chains due to its high-quality taste and experience available at a low price point.
Keep reading to see more reasons Chick-fil-A continues to be so popular.
1. Pleasant Dining Experience
Compared to its competition, Chick-fil-A keeps its restaurants extremely clean and well-stocked.
Team members are always cleaning the tables and floors, stocking the ketchup, and even ensuring the bathroom is well-kept.
Customers know they can go to a Chick-fil-A and expect a high-quality, clean dining experience—something that is even more important given the recent pandemic.
In addition to its dine-in experience, the chain’s drive-thru is also incredibly efficient.
Customers never wait more than a few minutes for their food and are always treated exceptionally by employees.
One of the most unique things about Chick-fil-A is its consistently top-rated customer service.
People rave about how kind the employees are, and that they always take orders with a smile and are willing to accommodate customers’ dietary restrictions and other needs.
Since many other fast-food chains offer low pay and poor working conditions, it is hard to come by such happy and kind employees.
Chick-fil-A stands out because of the exceptional customer service it provides even at such a low price point.
2. Great Taste And Reliable Quality
Chick-fil-A is known for its exceptional chicken sandwich.
After all, it is called Chick-fil-A, and the chicken lives up to its name.
It also has a trademark Chick-fil-A sauce on its chicken sandwiches that cannot be found or replicated anywhere else.
Some people go to Chick-fil-A for the sauce alone.
The ingredients for the legendary chicken sandwich seem simple: fried chicken on a buttered bun with dill pickle chips.
There’s much more to it.
The seasoning, part of what makes it so special, was mastered by founder, Truett Cathy, when he opened his first restaurant.
That recipe is kept locked in a secret vault in Atlanta, Georgia.
The sauce is no secret, though.
It’s just a mixture of honey mustard, barbecue sauce, and ranch dressing.
One of the reasons fast-food chains, in general, are so popular is that they provide consistency.
A Chick-fil-A sandwich in California will taste the same as a Chick-fil-A sandwich in New Jersey.
Sometimes, people just want something they know they like.
There are franchises all over the country, and customers trust the brand to consistently deliver food with an amazing taste.
The brand has proven itself reliable at providing customers with flavors they know they love.
Chick-fil-A also has a secret menu that keeps customers excited to try new things.
Some of the secret menu items include a buffalo chicken sandwich, fried chicken club, grilled cheese, and much more—to ensure that you never get bored.
3. They Care About Their Employees
Chick-fil-A has been rated as America’s most beloved fast-food restaurant for many years.
This is partially due to the healthy employee relationships and company culture harvested in the restaurant.
Some franchises have been known to offer tuition reimbursement for their employees while encouraging them to pursue higher education or follow their career dreams.
This positivity in the workplace directly translates to the high-quality customer service experience that the employees provide.
There are lots of opportunities for employees to prove themselves and take on leadership positions that offer higher pay and more responsibilities.
Some of these positions include directors of marketing, cleanliness, kitchen operations, and drive-thru operations.
This motivation for management experience and higher wages keeps employees working hard.
Many franchises even offer certification courses in food management, conflict resolution, labor costs, and other areas that are resume-builders and build employee confidence.
It offers all courses in Spanish as well as English, to make these materials accessible to all.
Chick-fil-A does not pay much higher wages than its industry competitors.
It simply treats them better.
Franchisees are required to ask new hires what their career goals are, and then try to help them to achieve those goals.
One 20-year Chick-fil-A manager supported members of his team by contributing financially to one employee’s marketing degree and helping another to take photography classes.
He also helps employees’ families and friends when they are struggling.
This culture of support makes employees happy at work, thus generating positive customer service experiences, which translate to restaurant popularity.
4. Low Price Point
One of the main things that draw customers to fast food is the low prices.
The famous Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich is only $3.05, or $5.95 to make it a combo.
All the entrées are below $9, with most ranging from $3 to $7.
This makes it possible for customers to feed themselves and their families for under $20 for a whole meal—well within the financial constraints for someone even below the poverty line.
This makes Chick-fil-A an attractive option for anyone looking to fill up on a good meal for a low price.
Chick-fil-A is also working to add healthier options to its menu while maintaining that same low-price standard.
This will make it easier for people to buy healthy options for less, thus offering the opportunity for low-income persons to achieve better health outcomes while drawing a different consumer base of people who want to eat healthy and can now do so at a fast-food restaurant.
5. Available Everywhere
One of the main reasons that Chick-fil-A is so popular is simply that it is available everywhere.
Airports, mall food courts, shopping centers, you name it—there’s bound to be a Chick-fil-A nearby.
There are more than 2,000 franchise locations in 47 states, with new ones opening every day.
The more Chick-fil-A becomes a standard at high-traffic locations, the more the brand will continue to increase in popularity.
The familiarity principle, the theory that being exposed to someone or something will increase someone’s affinity for it, rings true in the case of Chick-fil-A.
The trademark smell of fried chicken, the billboards of cows suggesting customers “eat mor chikin” and locations in most of the country, make it a renowned and trusted brand.
There are even talks that Chick-fil-A may open in other countries in the coming years, but that remains to be seen.
6. In-depth Training For Managers And Franchise Owners That Ensure Top Quality Operations
Readers hoping to open their own Chick-fil-A franchise beware—it is notoriously hard to get this gig.
This is part of what makes the company so successful.
It is not easy to get approved to “become an operator” of a Chick-fil-A because they must pass a lengthy pre-approval process consisting of a background check, interviews, resume review, and more.
In fact, the company receives about 20,000 franchise requests every year and only approves about 80.
Franchise owners are expected to have an extensive background in business leadership in the restaurant industry.
They must demonstrate successful management potential and not have any other ongoing business ventures.
Then, they must pass a multi-week training course.
Once approved, Chick-fil-A operators are continuously evaluated and must maintain specific quality standards and reach sales quotas.
A lot of work goes into opening and running a Chick-fil-A, and it is not an easy job.
Managers are not permitted to run multiple franchises and are warned on the website to not go into it for profit alone.
These obstacles to becoming a Chick-fil-A franchise owner and manager are part of what makes it so successful.
It ensures that managers have proven successful at owning restaurants and managing staff.
It also trusts that each manager’s sole focus is on their location, without the distraction of other business ventures.
Compared to other chain restaurants whose start-up costs can be up to two million dollars, Chick-fil-A only requires a $10,000 start-up cost.
This is cheap.
The trade-off is this: flexibility.
Whereas some other restaurant franchises have the flexibility to customize their location’s décor, staff culture, or layout, the Chick-fil-A corporation retains 100% control over all its restaurants.
These high standards for management and synchronicity allow owners to keep high expectations of employees and restaurant cleanliness—all of which contribute to Chick-fil-A’s reliable brand and resultant customer loyalty.
7. Progressive Attitudes Towards Nutrition And Animal Welfare
To match the progressiveness of the times, Chick-fil-A pledged to provide fresh chicken, prepared in-house, consisting of whole breast meat with no antibiotics, trans fats, fillers, or added hormones.
It is hand-breaded at each location.
Fresh produce for salads is delivered multiple times a week and all foods are prepared to order.
The lemonade only consists of lemon juice, pure cane sugar, and water—no high-fructose corn syrup.
It also lists the caloric information and nutrition facts right on the menu, so customers know what they are putting in their bodies before they even order it.
The company prides itself on transparency.
The world is becoming more health-conscious, so this nutritional information is part of what makes Chick-fil-A so popular.
The restaurant chain offers several healthier options for people who do not want to ingest a lot of carbs or fried chicken.
For example, the Spicy Deluxe Sandwich also comes grilled for 380 calories per entrée.
Customers can opt for grilled chicken nuggets as well, for just 130 calories per entrée.
These healthy options come quickly and cheaply, just like their breaded and fried counterparts, which generates a more health-conscious customer base as tastes and priorities change.
All of the chicken comes from farms in the USA and is raised in accordance with the company’s Animal Wellbeing Standards—ensuring safe, clean conditions for the animals, unlike stereotypical factory farms that cage multiple animals together in a small area and are given hormones that their bodies cannot safely handle.
Chick-fil-A has made a promise to its consumers to raise its chickens completely cage-free within the next ten years.
Chick-fil-A recently established the Innovation Center where food scientists, dieticians, and chefs can work together to generate high-quality recipes that taste good and are good for you.
The company’s allegiance to the welfare of both customers and animals has increased Chick-fil-A’s popularity over the years as social justice and corporate responsibility become more integral to an organization’s success.
8. They Over-Deliver
One customer reported waiting in the drive-thru line for ten minutes.
When he finally reached the customer service window, the Chick-fil-a employee was so apologetic for the wait time that he offered the customer a free meal.
The customer service at Chick-fil-a is top-notch, and they abide by a “customer is always right” policy that keeps people coming back for more.
Who would turn down a free meal?
Another customer reported asking for six sides of Ranch dressing and getting ten instead.
It is this amazing customer service, that is so rarely seen at fast-food chains now, that makes Chick-fil-a truly stand out.
9. Fantastic Rewards Program And Mobile App
Chick-fil-A One of the brand’s rewards program that has continuously been rated as one of the best.
For every dollar spent at Chick-fil-A, customers earn ten points.
These points can be used towards a future Chick-fil-A meal.
Rewards are also available for customers’ birthdays, via bonus point challenges, and just because.
It is a tiered membership system, which includes different levels of membership: silver member, red member, and signature member.
Silver members earn 11 points for every dollar spent and can give points to friends and family.
Red members earn 12 points per dollar and can unlock exclusive rewards.
Signature members receive 13 points per dollar, participate in customer input opportunities, and have access to insider content and special events.
As members buy more Chick-fil-A and accumulate rewards, they can move up their tier status.
Unlike a lot of rewards programs, this one pays off, allowing customers to redeem their rewards moderately quickly.
For example, the hash browns or a chocolate chip cookie are only 150 points, which comes after spending $15 at a Chick-fil-A (for basic members).
This is easily attainable and keeps customers coming back for more.
The Chick-fil-A mobile app has also been a proven success.
It allows customers to order online for takeout, choose a favorite store, and log all their rewards.
It is a very simple and user-friendly interface.
Customers can see how many points they have and what they are eligible to redeem.
It also allows customers to use contactless payment through debit/credit card or PayPal, a highly sought-after feature in the age of the pandemic.
Customers can even click “I’m here” on the app to avoid long wait times.
10. Great Dessert Options As Well
Unlike other well-known fast-food chains (cough, cough, McDonald’s), the ice cream machine at Chick-fil-a is never “broken.”
It consistently dispenses quality soft serve.
They have expanded their dessert options over the years to include hand-spun milkshakes, Icedream® cones, chocolate chunk cookies, frosted lemonade, fruit, and more.
This makes Chick-fil-A a one-stop shop for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.
The ability to go to a restaurant that almost always has a working ice cream machine cannot be underestimated.
Chick-fil-A is one of the fastest-growing food franchises in the United States, but the brand is not without controversy.
The founder comes from a religious Baptist background, whose values permeate the brand, such as being closed on Sunday to observe their faith.
The company faced outrage in 2012 when Dan Cathy, son of founder Truett Cathy, made remarks about the “biblical definition of a family” that seemed to pledge support to anti-LGBTQ activists.
Several reports later emerged of the company donating to various organizations that oppose gay marriage.
Since then, the franchise warned its employees against speaking out about social justice issues and politics, to avoid negative press.
David Farmer, vice president of menu strategy and development, said, “We are not a political organization. We are not a social change organization. We are a restaurant.”
This seems to have become the new company policy going forward, as the company realizes that its political views could anger some loyal customers.
Despite the company’s religious stance, customers overcome their political differences with the chain in pursuit of good fried chicken.