Chick-fil-A Inc. reported that for the first time in its history, the chain surpassed $3 billion in annual sales—just nine years after the chain recorded its first $1 billion in sales and three years after hitting the $2 billion mark. A positive sales trend has become a trademark of the Atlanta-based company, which is poised to log its 42nd consecutive year of annual sales growth in 2009, a streak maintained since the chain’s inception in 1967.
“Chick-fil-A’s continued growth, despite uncertain economic times, is a strong testament to the caliber of people who work in our restaurants,” says Chick-fil-A president and chief operating officer Dan T. Cathy. “Our family of restaurant operators and their team members are among the best in the food service industry. Our operator retention rate continues to be among the highest in the industry—at 97 percent. Since more than 60 percent of the restaurant operators we select have previous Chick-fil-A experience, they truly understand the importance of delivering the highest quality in the food they prepare and the second-mile service they extend to our customers. God has truly blessed our business and we pray that He will continue to keep His hand upon us.”
In addition to remaining true to its core values of providing quality food and customer service, Chick-fil-A engaged its customers with an aggressive marketing approach in 2009 that included fun and memorable activities and plenty of free Chick-fil-A food. The chain kicked off 2009 with a free Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit giveaway system-wide on New Year’s Day, followed in the spring by the rollout of a limited-time flavor Peach Hand-Spun Milkshake. On July 10, the chain celebrated its Chick-fil-A “Eat Mor Chikin” Cows during its fifth-annual Cow Appreciation Day, which once again included a free Chick-fil-A Meal to customers who visited any of the participating restaurants fully dressed as a cow. This theme was repeated on Labor Day, in celebration of the second-annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff football game televised nationally on ABC-TV, as customers wearing any sports-related apparel received a free Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich.
As a result of the steady sales performance throughout 2009, the Chick-fil-A chain was able to surpass its own projections for new restaurant openings for the year, adding five additional restaurants during the summer. By year’s end, the company will have opened 69 new stand-alone Chick-fil-A restaurants, one new mall location, and 10 licensed outlets for a total of 80 restaurant openings for the year. In addition, the company is on pace to achieve its goal of reinvesting in an additional 65 of its current locations in 2009 with major remodels.
“Our customers truly define our growth and projection trends,” Cathy says. “Their loyalty is most evident by the fact that we determine our new store expansion projections each year based on our sales performance. After 33 years of operations, we reached $1 billion in sales in 2000 and have tripled the figure nine short years later. We like to say our ability to attract and maintain a loyal customer base determines our growth rate.”