It's official: Chick-fil-A is the most polite restaurant chain in America.

Yesterday, fast-food industry magazine QSR published the 2016 Drive-Thru Study, which rated the country's various fast-food chains on their customer service. Chick-fil-A employees ranked first in the following three categories:

  • Smiling
  • Saying "please"
  • Saying "thank you"

Chick-fil-A workers also ranked second in the category "pleasant demeanor," fourth for making eye contact, and second for order accuracy, getting orders right 95% of the time.

All of that great service is translating into big numbers.

A separate report published by QSR earlier this year revealed that the brand, which is headquartered in Atlanta and specializes in chicken sandwiches, produced revenue of almost $4 million per store, blowing away its closest competition by over $1.3 million. Chick-fil-A also ranked eighth overall in total sales, despite a relatively low number of locations. (Chic-fil-A has only 1,646 franchised units in the U.S., in contrast with total-revenue leader McDonald's, which reported 12,899 franchised units.)


But even with a small number of stores, the chicken chain regularly outperforms competitors. Hayley Peterson of Business Insider reported that Chick-fil-A "generates more annual revenue than dozens of other chains that have more than twice as many US locations, including KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's, and Arby's." In fact, a single Chick-fil-A restaurant produces about four times as much revenue as a single KFC, on average.

And when comparing these numbers, keep in mind that all Chick-fil-A restaurants are closed on Sundays, due to a national corporate policy--whereas most of their competitors are open seven days a week.

No doubt, treating consumers well is only part of the equation when it comes to fast-food success. (Chick-fil-A's menu items also rate high among customers.) But many analysts point to that exceptional service as a major reason people keep coming back.

Which leads to the next question:

How does the company get employees working in traditionally low-paying positions to perform so high?

Going back to that Business Insider report:

Chick-fil-A says its service is so consistent because it invests more than other companies in training its employees and helping them advance their careers--regardless of whether those careers are in fast food.

Franchisees are encouraged to ask their new hires what their career goals are and then to try to help them achieve those goals.

"I've found people are more motivated and respond better when you care about them," said Kevin Moss, a Chick-fil-A manager of 20 years.

Of course, in the world of fast food, having every Sunday off ain't too bad, either.

Oct 4, 2016