How Focus Made Chick-fil-A a 50 Billion Dollar Company
As a business thinker, I'm always on the lookout for companies that are doing things differently and achieving outsized success. Recently, I came across the incredible success of Chick-fil-A, a company that makes over $50 billion in revenue, more than McDonald's, Starbucks, and Subway combined.
For more than 76 years, this company has never had a year where sales decreased and has done it without taking on a lot of debt.
But what really caught my attention was the way Chick-fil-A has achieved this success: by focusing relentlessly on a core product (chicken sandwiches), and by constantly working to improve that product over time.
I have always maintained that focus is the missing ingredient in most companies. This is why I’m super happy to write about the results of a company that focussed.
This focus has allowed them to achieve leverage, where the same input (effort and resources) leads to more output (sales and profit). For example, they sell one-quarter the number of items of any other franchise and have a net margin of 7.5% compared to Chick-fil-A's 15%.
What's more, Chick-fil-A has done this while operating on a unique franchising model, with a controversial social setting (Being an outspoken Christian organization), high standards for franchisees, and closed on Sundays (working only 6 days). Chick-fil-A awards less than 1% of the 60,000 applications they receive per year and all stores are closed on Sundays, unlike any other franchise.
This is a reminder that the key to success is often not about doing something new, but about doing something better or differently. And in today's fast-paced world, it's easy to get caught up in the pursuit of the new and shiny, but it's important to remember that the real magic lies in making incremental improvements to something that already works well.
In short, Chick-fil-A's success serves as a powerful reminder that success comes from a focus on the essential few, and a commitment to improving those things over time. It's a lesson that all of us can take to heart in our own businesses, despite any controversial social setting.