Chick-fil-A was rated the top fast-food restaurant once again. What’s the appeal?
The results are in and Chick-fil-A wins big (again) with a score of 83, and McDonald’s pulls in last, scoring 70, according to findings recently released by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI). Never heard of that survey? Well, the ACSI has been logging and analyzing the opinions of thousands of diners regarding limited-service restaurant chains in the U.S. for more than 25 years. For the latest ratings, the ACSI interviewed nearly 20,000 random customers via email from April 1, 2020-March 29, 2021.
Some other franchises that were evaluated include Domino’s, second with a score of 80; KFC (Yum! Brands), third at 79; and further down the list were Five Guys and Pizza Hut (Yum! Brands) at 78, Dunkin’ (Inspire Brands) at 77, Burger King (RBI) at 76, and Subway at 74. Rounding out the bottom three were Sonic (Inspire Brands) and Wendy’s at 73 and then McDonald’s.
The ACSI weighs a variety of factors, not just food. Benchmarks that feed into scores include staff courtesy and helpfulness, checkout/delivery speed, accuracy of order, restaurant layout and cleanliness, food and beverage variety and quality, mobile app quality and reliability, and website.
So why is Chick-fil-A, shall we say, winner-winner-chicken-dinner again this year? For one thing, corporate management is a study in extreme, deliberate care. According to BusinessInsider.com, the company receives up to 20,000 franchise applications per year but greenlights only about 80. A 2018 Wall Street Journal article cited statistics indicating it’s easier to be admitted to Harvard than it is to land a franchise with the 75-year-old restaurant group.
Wannabe franchisees must leap several hurdles. One prerequisite is completion of a multi-week training program. Chick-fil-A corporate execs seek store operators who are astute business leaders and money managers as well as compassionate employers whose caring attitudes seem to be contagious – customers’ feedback indicates they are generally very pleased with how they are treated. Indeed, the company strives for “positive impact on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A,” according to its website. These factors dovetail with its faith-based values – all shops close on Sundays.
The cultural aims stated on Chick-fil-A’s website include promoting a spirit of collaboration plus forward-thinking: “We pursue what’s next. We find energy in adapting and reinventing how we do things, from the way we work to how we care for others.” The company is committed to giving back, helping the environment, and taking good care of employees. Chick-fil-A is always doing great things from fighting hunger to supporting education. For example, this year, the company has awarded $19 million in scholarships to 7,492 Chick-Fil-A Team Members. Chick-fil-A’s approach to corporate social responsibility focuses on four pillars: Caring for people, caring for communities, caring for others through their food, and caring for the planet.
Food-wise, the franchise has always sourced high-quality ingredients and is committed to healthful menu offerings such as kale salad and fresh fruit. Since May 2019, Chick-fil-A has upheld a no-antibiotics-ever rule, meaning none of the animals sourced for meat in its 2,600-plus restaurants has been treated with an antibiotic. Chicken items are made from whole boneless chicken breasts that have never been ground or separated and contain no fillers. To ensure food is handled carefully and safely at farms and processing facilities, the company’s supply-chain team visits key suppliers and farms annually; new suppliers receive additional visits.
So when you’re munching on that tasty chicken sandwich or crisp salad after it’s handed to you by a smiling, helpful employee, you can be sure that the corporate policies and the food have a lot of top-notch ingredients baked into them… with great care and a proven strategy.