Do you know how much it is to open a Chick-fil-A franchise? It could be as low as $10,000! And that’s relatively cheap when you consider your initial investment for a McDonald’s franchise could cost more than $1 million.
On top of that, the idea of owning a fast food franchise is undeniably intriguing. The fast food chain industry generates $570 billion annually. And it’s expected to grow to $931 billion by 2027!
So, opening a Chick-fil-A franchise sounds great, right? Well, there’s a catch. Chick-fil-A’s franchise selection process is extremely tough. Less than 1% of people who apply to become a Chick-fil-A franchisee actually succeed.
So, if you want a chance at being one of the few selected, you need to be prepared. And that’s what we’re going to help you do in this blog post! Specifically, we’ll be walking through what to expect from each stage of the selection process.
But, before we get into that, let’s go over some key information to help you decide if learning how to open a Chick-fil-A franchise is even worth your time and effort.
What to Know Before Applying to Open a Chick-fil-A Franchise
Among all the other fast food franchises you could open, Chick-fil-A stands out. Here’s why...
One of the Toughest Selection Processes in the Industry
Given the low franchise fee of $10,000, you would think that it would be easy to become a Chick-fil-A franchise owner. However, as mentioned above, Chick-fil-A selects its franchisees very carefully. How carefully?
Well, the selection process can take anywhere between 12 to 24 months! And during that time, you’ll go through multiple rounds of interviews and assessments. Why?
Because Chick-fil-A isn’t looking for someone who wants to earn a quick buck. Instead, they want people who are entrepreneurial, business-savvy, and dedicated to managing the restaurant full-time, six days a week.
Chick-fil-A Does Most of the Work for You
The business essentially runs itself. And you will have minimal involvement in the background operations. Chick-fil-A manages and makes most operational decisions for you, from choosing the location to purchasing the equipment. On top of that, they are also in charge of customer relations, maintenance, and marketing.
What are you in charge of? The day-to-day tasks involved with running the business, such as managing the staff and hiring new employees.
This is Not a Passive Investment
Chick-fil-A expects you to invest more than just the franchise opening fees. They want a franchisee that is willing to dedicate serious time and energy to the business.
For that reason, during the application process, you’ll be expected to demonstrate that you are a strong leader with relevant business and management skills.
Chick-fil-A Decides the Location of the Franchise
Chick-fil-A has strict control over the expansion of its fast food chain. They decide the future locations of restaurants based on the company’s goals. Currently, they focus their growth strategy on just 28 states.
You can check out which locations Chick-fil-A considers emerging markets on their website. There, they list which states they are focusing on for the next 12-24 months.
There are Additional Ongoing Fees
According to QSR Magazine, Chick-fil-A has an average per-unit sales of $4.2 million. This is impressive given that Chick-fil-A restaurants only run six days a week.
As a franchise owner, you’d be expected to pay 15% royalty fees on top of 50% net profit. But, according to The Hustle, a franchisee could earn around $600,000 annually. Given that most investments are taken care of by Chick-fil-A, this is still a great deal.
How to Open A Chick-fil-A Franchise (5 Key Steps)
So, you’ve read through the key facts and still want to apply to open a Chick-fil-A franchise? Great! But here’s an overview of what you’ll need to do.
Step 1: Attend an Information Session
This first step is optional. But we still recommend starting here. Why? Because the Chick-fil-A franchise model is different from other quick service restaurants.
As mentioned above, you should not go into this venture with the idea that it will be a passive investment. Chick-fil-A expects you to commit 100% in the daily operations as a franchise owner. And you’ll have a better chance of articulating that commitment during the interviews and assessments by attending one of their information sessions.
These information sessions will help you understand each part of Chick-fil-A’s extensive application and interview process. You'll also have the opportunity to hear from current franchisees and members of the franchisee selection team.
They are currently hosting information sessions online due to COVID-19. You can find information about how to register for an upcoming information session by clicking here.
Step 2: Submit an Expression of Interest
Remember how the selection process can take anywhere between 12 to 24 months? Well, that process starts with simply completing an “Expression of Interest” form.
You’ll need to start by submitting your email address. But, when you get the form, you’ll be asked for basic information that Chick-fil-A will use to determine if you’re potentially a good fit.
Step 3: Complete a Follow-Up Application
If you’re selected to move forward in the application process, you’ll be invited to submit a follow-up application that will ask for more detailed information regarding your:
- Personal finances
- Work experience
- Educational background
- Leadership style
- Community engagement
In this phase, Chick-fil-A will then process and prioritize your application based on their needs and strategy in their target markets.
In your follow-up application, you’ll also have the opportunity to indicate your geographical preference for a franchise location. As mentioned previously, Chick-fil-A wants to give back to the communities surrounding their franchises. So, mentioning any personal connection to the community you hope to serve may get you extra brownie points.
Step 4: Prepare for Virtual and In-Person Interviews
If you pass step 3, you’ll then be asked to participate in several rounds of interviews that can take more than a year to complete. Those interviews will take place by phone, via video chat, and in person.
This robust process is designed to review you holistically and make sure you’re capable of representing Chick-fil-A’s company values and mission. According to reviews on Glassdoor, if you make it to the first in-person interview, your family might even be invited for the interviews to verify your character and credentials.
You should also expect to answer one question in particular several times throughout the entire interview process. "Why do you want to own a Chick-fil-A franchise restaurant?" According to the executive director of franchisee selection for Chick-fil-A, your answer should change and mature throughout the interview process.
Step 5: Attend a Training Program for New Chick-fil-A Franchisees
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You’ve been selected to be one of the very few people who get to open a Chick-fil-A.
Your final step (before the real work begins) will be to attend a 6-week training program for new Chick-fil-A franchise owners. In this program, you’ll learn things like:
- How to make the Chick-fil-A sandwiches
- Legal aspects of running the franchise
- How to find and hire employees
- Business development
At the end of the training, you’ll also be paired with a mentor who is a successful Chick-fil-A franchise owner and get a chance to visit their location.
Opening your own Chick-fil-A franchise may not be the most expensive route to running your own quick service restaurant. But it’s definitely one of the most competitive!
If you’ve decided that you’d like to give it a shot, we hope that the information we’ve shared on how to open a Chick-fil-A franchise helps prepare you for the lengthy application process that awaits.
And, if you want to learn more about what it takes to run a quick service restaurant, check out our Ultimate Guide to Succeed in QSR Franchising.
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