Analyzing an Unconventional Success Story Chick-fil-A Fast Food Restaurants in the USA
More details
Hide details
D.Sc., Assistant Professor of Graduate Business Studies – MBA in Business Analytics, Dahlkemper School of Business, Gannon University, Erie, PAUSA
Online publication date: 2022-07-28
Management 2022;26(1):118-143
The U.S. fast-food chain Chick-fil-A, Inc. has prospered financially and scored multiple rankings at or near the top of its industry by using unconventional management practices, including some that appear to be drawbacks. This paper attempts what previous academic research has not: a thorough analysis of Chick-fil-A’s practices and policies, looking at how they might function as “success factors” and how the company has turned apparent disadvantages into advantages. The practices and policies include an unusual approach to franchising, a limited menu, private ownership, absence of global expansion, a distinctive focus on customer service and employee relations, and an explicitly Christian corporate culture. Chick-fil-A’s success, with a business model that does not fit the mold of other fast-food chains, makes the company a promising subject for further research by anyone wishing to study unconventional forms of differentiation for competitive advantage.
American Marketing Association (n.d.). Common Language Marketing Dictionary: Quick-service restaurant. Accessed 14 July 2021 at https://marketing-dictionary.o....
Arcos Dorados (n.d.). Company overview. Accessed 12 July 2021 at
Associated Press, 2020. A year after LGBTQ spat, Chick-fil-A no longer heading to San Antonio airport. 15 September 2020; accessed at
Axios/The Harris Poll (2021). Corporate reputation rankings. Accessed 12 July 2021 at
Battaglia, Andy (2008). Under the toque: Sensing dishes’ potential spurs Chick-fil-A’s food scientist. Nation’s Restaurant News, 25 August 2008 at
Bell, David & Shelman, Mary L. (2011). KFC’s radical approach to China. Harvard Business Review, November 2011.
Brownwood Bulletin (2018). Chick-fil-A uses modern technology to innovate its drive-thru. Brownwood [Texas] Bulletin, 25 June 2018 at
Cathy, Dan T. (2010). Every Life Has a Story. Chick-fil-A video, posted on YouTube 15 December 2010.
Cathy, S. Truett (2002). Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People: Doing Business the Chick-Fil-A Way. Looking Glass Books, Inc.
CFA Properties, Inc. (2014). The Core 4. Chick-fil-A training materials, accessed 18 July 2021 at http://cfaroswellcorners.weebl....
Chick-fil-A (2021a). Who we are. Chick-fil-A website, accessed 22 June, 2021 at
Chick-fil-A (2021b). Franchising. Chick-fil-A website, accessed 17 July, 2021 at
Clifford, Stephanie (2008). Which came first, or does it matter? The New York Times, 22 May 2008 at
Dahms, Jeff (2021). 4 lessons in employee empowerment, courtesy of Chick-fil-A. Customer Service Profiles, accessed 17 July 2021 at
Del Valle, Gaby (2019). Chick-fil-A’s many controversies, explained. Vox, 19 November 2019 at
Dobrzynski, Judith (1996). Chicken done to a golden rule; fast-food chain treats its employees as family. The New York Times, 3 April 1996, at
Duffy, Nick (2020). In some clucking good news, the UK’s first Chick-fil-A has closed for good after fierce backlash. PinkNews, 30 March 2020 at
Duprey, Rich (2021). Chick-fil-A probably won’t be a SPAC or an IPO, and that’s too bad. The Motley Fool, 17 January 2021 at
Ehsan, Usaman. Factors important for the selection of fast food restaurants: an empirical study across three cities of Pakistan. British Food Journal, 31 August 2021, at
Fast Food Menu Prices (2021a). Chick-fil-A menu and prices 2021. Accessed 19 July 2021 for the state of Pennsylvania at https://www.fastfoodmenuprices....
Fast Food Menu Prices (2021b). McDonald’s menu prices. Accessed 19 July 2021 for the state of Pennsylvania at https://www.fastfoodmenuprices....
Fernando, Jason (2021). Initial public offering (IPO). Investopedia, 1 March 2021 at
First Baptist Jonesboro (2021). Our beliefs. First Baptist Jonesboro [Georgia] website, accessed 22 June 2021.
Gerhardt, Steve; Hazen, Samuel; Lewis, Sue & Reggie Hall (2015). Entrepreneur options: ‘franchising’ vs. ‘licensing’ (McDonald’s vs. Starbucks and Chick-fil-A). ASBBS eJournal, 11:1, Summer 2015.
Glanz, K., M. Basil, E. Maibach, J. Goldberg & D. Snyder (1998). Why Americans eat what they do: taste, nutrition, cost, convenience, and weight control concerns as influences on food consumption. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, October 1998, (10):1118-26. doi: 10.1016/S0002-8223(98)00260-0.
Gordon, S., & Parikh, A. (2021). Supporting employee well-being: The case of independent restaurants. Journal of Foodservice Business Research, 24(2), 215-234. doi:10.1080/15378020.2020.1842956.
Greeno, Arthur (2012). Dysfunctional Inspiration: A Back-roads Story to Success. Tulsa, Oklahoma: Expert Message Group, p. 6.
Greeno, Arthur (2020). Arthur Greeno. Personal website, accessed 17 July 2021 at
Gross, Daniel (1997). Ray Kroc, McDonald’s, and the fast-food industry. In Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Time, New York: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 176-193.
Gulati, Ranjay (2018). Structure that’s not stifling. Harvard Business Review, May-June 2018 at
Hoogeveen, Blake (2020). How Chick-fil-A exceeds at customer service. M1ndset, accessed 17 July 2020 at
32. (2021). Chick-fil-A employee reviews. Accessed 25 June 2021 at
KFC v. Sanders (1978). Kentucky Fried Chicken of Bowling Green, Inc. v. Sanders. Summary of legal proceedings in the Supreme Court of Kentucky, 14 March 1978 at
KFC (2021). KFC menu: fried chicken. Accessed 19 July 2021 at
Kim, Kyongseok; Kim, Jooyoung & Reid, Leonard N. (2017). Experiencing motivational conflict on social media in a crisis situation: The case of the Chick-fil-A same-sex marriage controversy. Computers in Human Behavior, 71: 32-41.
Kraig, Bruce & Taylor Sen, Colleen, eds (2013). Street Food Around the World: An Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO.
Lock, S. (2020). Leading quick-service restaurant (QSR) chains in the United States in 2019, by sales per unit. Statista, 10 August 2020 at
Lock, S. (2021). American Customer Satisfaction Index scores for leading quick service restaurant chains in the United States in 2020, by restaurant brand. Stasita, 25 January, 2021 at
Maze, Jonathan (2020). Popeyes sales continue to soar while Burger King and Tim Hortons fall. Restaurant Business, 14 October 2020 at https://www.restaurantbusiness....
National Center for Biotechnology Information (2010). History of nutrition labeling. In Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols: Phase I Report. Accessed 19 July 2021 at
Natural Resources Defense Council (2020). Industrial agriculture 101. NRDC website, 31 January 2020 at
Niche (2021). Working at Chick-fil-A College Park, Georgia. Accessed 18 July 2021 at
O’Connor, Clare (2012). Meet the Cathys: your guide to the billionaires behind Chick-fil-A., 3 August 2012 at
O’Connor, Clare (2014). Chick-fil-A CEO Cathy: Gay marriage still wrong, but I’ll shut up about it and sell chicken., 19 March 2014 at
Patel, Deep (2018). 8 success lessons entrepreneurs can learn from Chick-fil-A. Entrepreneur, 12 November 2018 at
Pew Research Center (2019). In U.S., decline of Christianity continues at a rapid pace. 17 October 2019 at
Plapler, Rina (2019). Chick-fil-A: climbing the Brand Intimacy Rankings. MLMB. Accessed 12 July 2021 at
Pritchard, Edd (2020). Local company pushes toward top among country’s largest McDonald’s franchisees. The Repository [Canton, Ohio, USA], 3 November 2020, at
QSR (2010). Chick-fil-A iced tea, now in giant size. QSR, 5 August 2010 at
Rahkovsky, Ilya; Jo, Young & Carlson, Andrea (2018). What drives consumers to purchase convenience foods? U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 24 July 2018 at
Restaurant Finance Monitor (2021). Chick-fil-A reports record revenue and profits in 2020 despite Covid-19 pandemic. 18 April 2021 at
Rossino, Greg (2018). From naval officer to Chick-fil-A restaurant owner. Chick-fil-A website, 7 November 2018 at
Rowe, Bradley D. (2013). It IS about chicken: Chick-fil-A, posthumanist intersectionality, and gastro-aesthetic pedagogy. Journal of Thought, 48(2): 89-111.
Schmall, Emily (2007). The cult of Chick-fil-A., 6 July 2007, at
Severson, Kim (2014). S. Truett Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s founder, dies at 93. The New York Times, 8 September 2014.
Siegel, Rachel (2018). Getting a Chick-fil-A franchise is harder than getting into Harvard. The Washington Post, 7 June 2018 at
Simko, Paul J.; Farris, Paul W.; Weiler, Virginia & Gerardo, Peter (2013). Chick-fil-A: A Bird of a Different Feather. HBR Case Studies, Smil, Vaclav (2019). How chicken beat beef in America. IEEE Spectrum, 26 December 2019. z.
Šmutović, S., Kalenjuk, B. & Grubor, B. (2020). Satisfaction with working conditions of employees in restaurants in Novi Sad. Turističko Poslovanje, 2020(25-26), 5-15. doi:10.5937/turpos0-28393.
Stice, Joel (2019a). Workers reveal what it’s really like to work at Chick-fil-A. Mashed, 19 April 2019 at
Stice, Joel (2019b). This is why Chick-fil-A’s chicken is so delicious. Mashed, 13 June 2019 at
Swimberghe, Krist Roland; Wooldrige, Barbara Ross; Ambort-Clark, Kerrie Anne & Jana Rutherford (2014). The influence of religious commitment on consumer perceptions of closed-on-Sunday policies: an exploratory study of Chick-fil-A in the southern United States. International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, 24(1):14-29.
Taylor, Bradley D. (2020). An examination of the relationship between the relational orientation of leaders and employee engagement at Chick-fil-A. PhD dissertation, Indiana University,
Thomas, Neil (2018). How KFC changed China and how China changed KFC. MacroPolo, 31 August 2018 at
Tramel, Jimmie (2017). My pleasure: Let’s get in uniform to learn Chick-fil-A’s customer service secrets. Tulsa World, 18 February 2017 at
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021). Average retail food and energy prices, U.S. and Midwest region. Accessed 19 July 2021 at
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service (2021). Per capita availability of chicken higher than that of beef. Updated 14 January 2021 at
University of New South Wales (n.d.). Case study: Wendy’s: a plan for international expansion. Accessed 20 July 2021 at
Ventura, William J. II (2006). The personal values communicated by Truett Cathy and their effect on the culture of Chick-fil-A: a qualitative case study. Regent University, May 2006.
Wallace, Trevor (2017). Chick-fil-A Boot Camp. Video on YouTube, posted 15 August 2017,
Yum! Brands (n.d.). Company. Yum! Brands website, accessed 22 June 2021 at
ISSN:1429-9321 (1997-2019)
Journals System - logo
Scroll to top