According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Chick-fil-A is tops once again.
“We are honored by the results of this survey and we are grateful to our customers,” the Atlanta-based fast-food company said in a statement.
Chick-fil-A’s legion of “raving fans” are legendary, as evidenced by long lines at the drive thru and its consistently high scores with restaurant-goers in 47 states. It would be all fifty, but for the absence of the brand in Hawaii, Alaska and Vermont.
The company’s chicken sandwiches and waffle fries are undeniably good, but what are the distinctives that sets the chain apart from the rest? Here are just eight:
- It’s about more than selling chicken: Founded in 1946 by S. Truett Cathy, the group’s corporate purpose is lofty, but foundational, stating their desire is:
To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.
- It’s about more than making money: Corporate leadership has put a priority on staff care and personal development. Many of its store operators began as hourly workers. They pledge to their team:
Chick-fil-A is committed to a workplace culture where everyone is treated with honor, dignity and respect. And, our policies, practices and benefits support this goal.
- They follow biblical principles: Since their first store in Hapeville, Ga., the company has been closed on Sundays. Even as they’ve grown and expanded, leadership has resisted calls to open seven days a week. While this practice may “cost” them in extra Sunday revenue (some estimate $1 billion a year), the policy has seemed to attract personnel who share similar values and priorities.
“Closing our business on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is our way of honoring God and showing our loyalty to Him,” Chick-fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy, wrote. “My brother Ben and I closed our first restaurant on the first Sunday after we opened in 1946, and my children have committed to closing our restaurants on Sundays long after I’m gone. I believe God honors our decision and sets before us unexpected opportunities to do greater work for Him because of our loyalty.”
- They’re friendly, hospitable and well-mannered: It may not be that workers at every other fast-food restaurant are rude, but it’s clear Chick-fil-A workers are screened and trained to exude warmth and make guests feel welcome.
Mr. Cathy reportedly trained staffers to say, “My pleasure” after staying at a Ritz Carlton, where the company policy was to do likewise. It fit well into Cathy’s Southern upbringing, and he thought it would help distinguish his store from others. He was right.
- They’re accurate and efficient: According to QSR’s Drive-Thru Performance Study, Chick-fil-A lags in wait time at the drive-thru – but that’s only because 1) they’re super popular and 2) they take the extra time to make sure orders are correct.
They called it “second mile service.” Khalilah Cooper, Chick-fil-A’s director of service and hospitality, says, “We want to create the type of experience that guests trust time and time again. If they come to our restaurant, even if they see cars in the line, they know we’ll get them out as quickly as possible, but they’ll also get fresh food and a hospitable experience.”
- They give back to their community: The WinShape Foundation is the charitable arm of Chick-fil-A. Based in Rome, Ga., the group sponsors marriage and professional retreats, provides homes and care for children in foster care and helps fund numerous educational programs for youth.
Focus on the Family conducts its own “Hope Restored” marriage intensives at the WinShape retreat center, nestled high on a hill on the Berry College campus.
- They support our military, police and pastors and Bible studies: Whether wearing “Back the Blue” t-shirts in Texas, setting up a “Missing Man Table” in Georgia, or hosting weekly church groups, operators aren’t afraid to stand up for what is right and true and just.
- The Food and the Sauces: Okay, maybe Chick-fil-A’s long-standing popularity has something to do with its delicious food. The “secret sauce” is particularly good – though it would be nice if they would make those packets a little bigger, don’t you think?
It doesn’t always work out this way, but it’s especially satisfying when companies rooted in Christian principles do well in a secular environment. It should both encourage and embolden the rest of us to hold fast to God’s ways in the face of culture’s wickedness.