Despite all Chick-fil-A’s recent woes — the chain faced a steep dip in public approval after it came out against gay marriage earlier this year — it still came out on top of Market Force’s recent analysis of America’s chicken chains.
In a survey that tallied the responses of 7,600 consumers, Chick-fil-A was voted number one. It was followed by Raising Cane’s and Boston Market in second and third, and El Pollo Loco, Zaxby’s, Popeyes, KFC, Wingstop and Church’s Chicken brought up the rear in descending order.
Like previous Market Force studies, the chicken chain study looked at a total number of votes for each chain and the number of locations in each chain. Chick-fil-A has the most locations of any chain considered in the study — 1,600 stores in 39 states — and claimed the most favorite votes per location.
Chick-fil-A also fared well when considered on a regional basis; it was named the favorite chain in all regions except the South, where Raising Cane’s took top honors. Boston Market performed respectably in each region, remaining in the top three across the country.
Market Force attributed Chick-fil-A’s high performance to its high consumer-reported rankings of food quality and taste, customer service, cleanliness, atmosphere and overall value. Raising Cane’s also performed well in these categories. KFC, in contrast, ranked ninth in the food quality/taste and value categories.
In a company press release, Market Force’s chief marketing office Janet Eden-Harris explained Chick-fil-A’s appeal:
“Whether it’s wings, fingers or sandwiches, chicken is more popular than ever with the masses … With its quirky marketing campaign and consistent brand concept, Chick-fil-A has carved out a large stake in the expanding chicken segment, although regional competitors like Raising Cane’s and Zaxby’s are also seeing impressive growth.”
S. Truett Cathy
Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
“Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else – our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return.”
– Quote from “Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People” by S. Truett Cathy, published 2002.
S. Truett Cathy is founder and chairman of Chick-fil-A, Inc. Cathy started the business in 1946, when he and his brother, Ben, opened an Atlanta diner known as Dwarf Grill (later renamed Dwarf House®). Through the years, that restaurant prospered and led Cathy to further the success of his business. In 1967, Cathy founded and opened the first Chick-fil-A restaurant in Atlanta’s Greenbriar Shopping Center. Today, Chick-fil-A has the highest same-store sales and is the second-largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in the United States based on annual system-wide sales.
In 2011, Cathy celebrated his 65th anniversary in the restaurant business with industry-wide recognition: a local celebration at his first restaurant, Dwarf House in Hapeville, GA., and the opening of the third Truett’s Grill® location – a concept the chain first introduced in 1996 to recognize Cathy’s then-50th anniversary in the restaurant industry. In 2012, Cathy celebrated another exciting milestone – the 45th Anniversary of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain.
As of March 2013, there are more than 1, 700 Chick-fil-A restaurants in 39 states and Washington, D.C. Remarkably, Cathy has led Chick-fil-A on an unparalleled record of 45 consecutive years of annual sales increases. Cathy’s approach is largely driven by personal satisfaction and a sense of obligation to the community and its young people. His WinShape Foundation, founded in 1984, grew from his desire to “shape winners” by helping young people succeed in life through scholarships and other youth-support programs. The foundation provides 120 students at Berry College with experiential training in leadership and community. In addition to the training, WinShape Foundation provides a $4,000 scholarship to these students enrolled at Berry College. In addition, through its Leadership Scholarship Program, the Chick-fil-A chain has given more than $30 million in $1,000 scholarships to Chick-fil-A restaurant employees since 1973. This year, the company will award $1.7 million in scholarships to its restaurant team members.
As part of his WinShape Homes® program, nine foster care homes have been established in Georgia, two in Tennessee and one in Alabama that are operated by Cathy and the WinShape Foundation. These homes, accommodating up to 12 children with two full-time foster parents, provide long-term care for foster children with a positive family environment.
Another core component distinguishing WinShape programs is WinShape Camps®. It was founded in 1985 to impact young people and families through experiences which enhance their Christian faith, character and relationships. More than 18,000 campers from throughout the country and abroad will attend WinShape Camps in 2013.
In 2003, Truett helped his son and daughter-in-law, Bubba and Cindy, celebrate the opening of WinShape RetreatSM, a high-end retreat and conference facility also located on the Mountain Campus of Berry College. This multi-use facility hosts marriage-enrichment retreats, along with business and church-related conferences, and in summer months, houses WinShape Camp for girls.
Cathy built his life and business based on hard work, humility and biblical principles. Based on these principles, all of Chick-fil-A’s restaurants operate with a “Closed-on-Sunday” policy, without exception.
Cathy has received countless awards over the years, including William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership (2008); Paul M. Kuck Legacy Award (2008); President’s Call to Service Award (2008); The Cecil B. Day Ethics Award (2007); The Silver Buffalo Award presented by the Boy Scouts of America (2007); Tom Landry Excellence of Character Award (2007); Greater Dallas FCA Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Poultry & Food Distributors Association (2005); Norman Vincent & Ruth Stafford Peale Humanitarian Award (2003); Catalyst Lifetime Achievement Award from Injoy/John Maxwell (2003); Georgia Sports Hall of Fame – Chairman’s Award (2003); the Ernst & Young- Entrepreneur of the Year – Lifetime Achievement Award (2000); and Horatio Alger Award – Horatio Alger Association, Washington, D.C. (1989) He also is the author of It’s Easier to Succeed Than to Fail (Thomas Nelson Publishing, 1989); Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People (Looking Glass Books, 2002); It’s Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men (Looking Glass Books, 2004); How Did You Do It, Truett? (Looking Glass Books, 2007); and Wealth, Is It Worth It? (Looking Glass Books, 2011); and he is co-author of The Generosity Factor with Ken Blanchard (Zondervan Publishing, 2002).
In addition to presiding over one of the most successful restaurant chains in America, Cathy is a dedicated husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. His two sons, Dan and Don (“Bubba”), have both followed their father in learning the business from the ground-up. Dan became president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A in August 2001 and Bubba is senior vice president of Chick-fil-A, Inc., president of the Chick-fil-A Dwarf House division and vice president of the WinShape Foundation. Cathy’s daughter, Trudy Cathy White serves as the director of WinShape Girls Camps. In 2006, Cathy welcomed the third generation of Cathy family members to the business. Truett Cathy and his wife, Jeannette, have 12 grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren (as of February 2012) and more than 150 “foster grandchildren.”