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"When we set this goal in 1989, we decided our focus had to be on providing quality customer experiences, not on how many stores we could build,'' said Jimmy Collins, president, Chick-fil-A, Inc. "If we pleased our customers, then we knew the demand to grow would exist.''
Generating only $232 million in sales in 1988, the company set out in 1989 to more than quadruple its sales performance by the year 2000. In order to do so, the company focused on creating customer satisfaction. One of the first steps in increasing customer satisfaction was to make sure the restaurant chain was meeting consumer demands, such as more locations.
The restaurant chain realized it needed to expand beyond shopping malls. Prior to 1990, Chick-fil-A free-standing units contributed to only a small percentage of total Chick-fil-A sales. Chick-fil-A aggressively expanded construction of free-standing units throughout its core markets during the 1990s.
"Because of the growing demand for our product, there was a demand for us to grow,'' Collins said. "However, during the course of the sales goal period, Truett Cathy, our founder and CEO, challenged us to 'get better, not just bigger' as we expanded beyond malls in order to supply the demand for our products.''
Chick-fil-A is a privately-held billion dollar company that was built through non-traditional business practices. Dedicated to family, the restaurant chain remains closed on Sundays, one of busiest and most profitable days of the week in the restaurant business, and boasts tremendous stability among its independent owner-operators, with retentions between 94 and 96 percent during the 11-year period.
"Sundays are a day to rest,'' Collins said. "Truett Cathy wanted to ensure that all Chick-fil-A employees and our operators would have the opportunity to worship, spend time with family, and to rest each week.''
The restaurant chain has been extremely successful operating under such nonconventional business practices. With more than 950 restaurant locations, Chick-fil-A is now the third-largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain based on sales in the United States. The restaurant chain currently sponsors major sporting events including NCAA football's Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship hosted by Nancy Lopez, one of the most popular stops on the LPGA Tour schedule. The chain also sponsors NCAA championship events for both the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Continuing its dedication to operating by family values, in June 1999, Chick-fil-A introduced a new tag line for its Kid's Meals program - "Growing Kid's Inside & Out.'' The new branding reinforces Chick-fil-A's unique approach to creating educational and character-based Kid's Meal premiums.
Another component contributing to the success of the company, was the introduction of the famous "Eat Mor Chikin®''' Cows. Debuting in 1995, the Chick-fil-A Cows made their mark via a clever billboard campaign with the impassioned plea to "Eat Mor Chikin.'' Since that time, the Cows and the award-winning Eat Mor Chikin campaign have enjoyed such widespread public success that the chain has turned the theme into its most successful, fully- integrated marketing program. The campaign has evolved to include in-store point-of-purchase materials, promotions, and radio and TV advertising. Total sales of "Eat Mor Chikin'' themed clothing, merchandise and calendars are expected to surpass $13 million by the end of 2000.
Additionally, the Eat Mor Chikin campaign, created by Dallas-based The Richards Group, has attained critical success and recognition from the advertising community. Since the campaign's debut, the series of awards it has received include three of the advertising industry's most prestigious awards: 1996 OBIE Award (outdoor advertising); 1997 Silver Lion-Cannes International Festival (outdoor advertising); and 1998 Silver EFFIE-New York American Marketing Association (creativity and effectiveness in advertising).