Chick-fil-A Boasts Of Its Family Environment
Chick-fil-A has about 1,600 restaurants in the U.S. Although some fast foods experienced slump in recent years, Chick-fil-A showed continuous growth. In 2011, it posted $4 billion sales. The chain focuses on family and community. “With the shift in the economy, some of the people who were going to sit-down restaurants with their families came into our restaurants for that sit-down experience without the added expense of tipping,” Amy Lawson told the NewsObserver.com. “But they get the experience of a family environment.” Amy’s family – her father, brother and sister – all own Chick-fil-A franchises. Unlike other franchises, Chick-fil-A leases the restaurant to the franchisees. This arrangement removes a huge initial investment cost – the real estate and building – for franchisees.
When Amy, Ashlee and Michael Lawson were young, they hung around the mall at Christmas like most kids. But while others were sitting on Santa’s lap, they were working at dad’s Chick-fil-A restaurant.
The three went off to college – each to Appalachian State University – and embarked on completely different careers.
Now they’re back home, each an owner-operator of his or her own Chick-fil-A.
Beyond the lure of family, the chain is attractive to entrepreneurs who prefer less risk and have less upfront cash to invest.
Unlike most companies that franchise, Chick-fil-A pays for the real estate and the building – a huge chunk of the cost of most franchisees. Owner-operators like the Lawsons basically lease the restaurant, paying the company a $5,000 franchise fee and a share of profits and sales.
Chick-fil-A’s deal with its operators hasn’t changed since Mike Lawson signed on 37 years ago with company founder S. Truett Cathy.
The entire Cathy family helped him open his first Chick-fil-A at Durham’s old South Square Mall.
Chick-fil-A has about 1,600 restaurants in 39 states and Washington, D.C.
But while some fast-food chains have seen sales slump over the past few years as the young males who made up their customer base suffered from high unemployment, Chick-fil-A continued to see sales growth. As a private company it does not release profits, but last year it had $4 billion in sales.
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