Chick-fil-A is a privately owned fast-food restaurant chain specializing in chicken. Chick-fil-A is still a family-owned business but has always believed in the benefits of franchising as a way of doing business. Chick-fil-A continues to expand to new territories and has had 41 consecutive years of increased sales.
Chick-fil-A is the second-largest chicken fast-food restaurant chain in the United States; currently it operates in 38 states with 1,450 locations. There are different types of Chick-fil-A restaurant options: mall restaurants, stand-alone restaurants and nontraditional outlets such as in airports or on college campuses. Chick-fil-A's 2008 total sales were more than $2.9 billion, an increase of more than 12 percent compared to 2007 total sales.
Chick-fil-A Inc. was founded in the early 1960s by Truett Cathy, and the first restaurant was opened in 1967 in an Atlanta mall. Cathy is considered the first person to make and sell a boneless chicken breast sandwich, although it wasn't in a Chick-fil-A restaurant. The first boneless chicken sandwich was sold at Cathy's first restaurant, Dwarf Grill, which opened in 1946 in Georgia.
Franchising opportunities with Chick-fil-A differ from those available for most other restaurants. Chick-fil-A Inc. maintains full ownership of every location; individuals interested in franchising are only allowed to become operators rather than owners. Due to this setup, operators are only required to provide an up-front investment of $5,000, and the parent company selects locations and builds the restaurant, rather than the individual businessperson doing it. But the parent company takes a larger percentage of business profits compared to other franchise opportunities: half of the net profits each month. The operator receives the other half.
Chick-fil-A requires operators to have several years of business management experience, preferably in the restaurant industry. Operators must have displayed success in managing and building companies from the ground up and show strong leadership skills throughout their careers. Chick-fil-A offers and requires operators to enroll in extensive development and training programs before opening their own restaurants.
The parent company expects sustained growth from each location and holds operators completely responsible for this growth, although the company is willing to provide the necessary ongoing training to help. Chick-fil-A offers incentive programs for exceeding growth expectations, ranging from gift certificates to cars. Also, the company stresses the importance of family values and building a strong work team to ensure success; this is reflected by the requirement that every Chick-fil-A restaurant be closed on Sundays to allow operators and employees the opportunity to spend extra time with their families.