It's one of the most lucrative markets in the U.S.: Each year, Americans open their wallets and shell out over $160 billion for their favorite fast foods.
But competition is insane--over 200,000 restaurant locations across the country vie for a greater share of the fast-food revenue pie. Major brands like McDonald's, Yum Brands, and Wendy's dominate, with McDonald's alone cornering a massive 21.7 percent of the market. Chick-fil-A sits at No. 8 in the national fast-food revenue rankings.
Chick-fil-A wants to steal away a bit more of that fast-food revenue with an unusual strategy that marks a departure from their heavy emphasis on quality over speed.
With $5.8 billion in 2014 sales, Chick-fil-A is no slouch. It's already generating more revenue than every pizza brand in the U.S.
But fast-food restaurants are battling increasing food costs--the rising prices of corn, wheat, and livestock have seriously damaged margins over the past year. Until now, Chick-fil-A's strategy has been a hardcore focus on "great tasting, high quality" food--on fresh ingredients, and on eschewing fillers and additives in their food products.
It's an entirely different strategy from say, McDonald's, which has focused on introducing new product lines, like McCafé coffees, and speeding up service for an ever-demanding crowd of time-constrained customers.
Chick-fil-A, in its quest to steal a bit of business away from McDonald's, has launched a new service to make their offerings more attractive for moms, particularly Millennial moms between the ages of 18 and 35.
David Farmer, Chick-fil-A's vice president of menu strategy and development, told Business Insider that the idea took root when the restaurant's management noticed how hectic ordering could be for parents of young children.
The solution? Mom's Valet.
Now, parents can pull into the drive-thru to order their meal, then come inside to their prepared table. With their order already in, service is a snap, and kids spend less time in the restaurant--meaning parents can spend less time wrangling their impatient kids inside the restaurant.
It's the first time a major restaurant brand has offered a service like this.
In a story published on the Chick-fil-A website, one North Carolina mom wrote, "Our local Chick-fil-A does Mom's Valet and they know us by name now!"
While other restaurant chains are focusing on creating efficiencies, even where it may mean a lesser service or experience for customers, Chick-fil-A wants to make life easier for moms and, in doing so, win them over from restaurants better known for their lightning-quick service.
It's the latest in a series of steps the brand has taken to make its service faster and more efficient for customers. , it launched mobile payments and began piloting mobile ordering, in which customers could place an order from the Chick-fil-A app and check in to start the order-making process once they reached the physical location. Late in 2014
They also removed coleslaw, a staple menu item since 1946, from the menu, replacing it with a healthier kale salad as an alternative to French fries. In fact, Chick-fil-A has made eight major changes over the last year in an effort to compete with brands like KFC and McDonald's.
Will its willingness to reinvent itself pay off? Time will tell, but time and again, companies have had to look beyond what everyone else in the market is doing--to get super creative--to really stand out and make the kinds of gains that have the potential to fell giants.
Chick-fil-A may not steal McDonald's crown, but they're sure going to try. And they're going to do it their way.