Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

If I asked you to name the third-biggest U.S. restaurant chain by sales, what would you say?

Burger King, perhaps? 

I'll give you a clue. McDonald's is the biggest. Starbucks is second.

And third?

The name's about to change. Because there's an upstart that's been at it for 52 years and has finally crept into the big time.

Yes, you don't have to open seven days a week to maximize your sales.

Simple, careful thought seemingly suffices.

As the Wall Street Journal outlined, Chick-fil-A decided not to be all things to all people.

It decided to be one thing and be that one thing very, very well.

The fast, simple, chicken sandwich purveyor is that one thing.

This made sense as people began to conclude that chicken was slightly healthier than beef.

But KFC already ruled that roost, didn't it?

Here's the one astounding statistic that might make you look at your business strategy again and wonder whether to simplify it a touch.

In the last 10 years, Chick-fil-A's market share in limited-service, chicken-biased U.S. restaurants went up from 18 percent to 33 percent.

As for KFC, it slipped from 29 percent to, oh, 15 percent.

It really does look like one ate the other for lunch, doesn't it?

Chick-fil-A doesn't give customers a lot of choice. It does, though, give them a deep familiarity that constantly resonates.

In recent years, McDonald's has added four times the number of new dishes to its menu than has Chick-fil-A.

Customers know, therefore, what they're going in for. And they seem to like it.

Here's another quaint quirk. Most Chick-fil-A operators own just one restaurant. It gives them something simple to focus on, perhaps.

Just as the Atlanta-based chain has. 

One thing research shows over and over again is that Chick-fil-A has the best fast-food service. (Although some surveys dispute this.)

Another survey showed what may be contributing to that. It named Chick-fil-A a better place to work than Google.

If employees are happy, it's remarkable how this gets transmitted to customers.

Of course, the chicken people did manage to step into an unpleasant mess when the anti-gay views of their CEO became known and when the company was shown to donate to what many regard as anti-LGBTQ groups.  

Humans are, however, famously hypocritical.

Even if some airports have decided a Chick-fil-A would defile their temples, as have some educational establishments, I wonder how people will react as the chain expands even further.

Will protests against Chick-fil-A increase? Or will people simply be desperate to eat this particular chicken?

Still, if you have a simple, winning formula, it can get diluted very quickly. Standards can slip. It's not a sure thing that Chick-fil-A will keep on rising.

What some might wonder, however, is why the chain's rivals never managed to copy it successfully.

Perhaps they were too busy thinking about too many things. Beyond the essentials, that is.

Published on: May 9, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.