🍔 The $18B Menu

🍔 The $18B Menu

Most of you know Chick-fil-A - the fast food restaurant that’s home to the #1 chicken sandwich in the US.

(If not, they’re the ones putting the “eat more chicken” signs everywhere)

As of 2017, Chick-fil-A has made more money per restaurant than the top fast-food chains, and brought in over $18B in sales last year.

All while:

  • Being closed on Sundays

  • Operating only in the US and Canada

  • Not selling the #1 ordered fast-food item (cheeseburgers)

How did they do it? What’s their secret sauce? (no pun intended)

Is it because their chicken is just that good?

Great questions, and I’ll let you in on a little secret… It’s their menu.

Here’s what we got for you today:

  • 🐔 Our Business, Is Chicken

  • The 10,000 Hour Mark

  • 🤫 The Secret Sauce

Read time: 5 min 6 sec

 🐔 Our Business, Is Chicken

Not only does Chick-fil-A offer the smallest menu of all fast-food chains…

But it’s all about chicken.

Chick-fil-A is the only fast food chain that doesn’t offer tons of different options like cheeseburgers, hot dogs, bean burgers, etc.

On the surface, this seems odd… Why would you not want to appeal to a larger audience? Well, here’s why…

If someone wants a burger, where do they go?

Burger King? McDonalds? Wendys?

My guess is wherever’s closest.

But where do they go for the best chicken sandwich they’ve ever had?


So while Burger King and McDonald’s have to split every customer looking for a cheeseburger, Chick-fil-A gets EVERY customer looking for chicken.

This is what we call “differentiation.” It’s changing something about your business that puts you in a different category than your competition.

For example:

  • Loom = Screen recording

  • LinkedIn = Business networking

  • Rolex = Watches

In the end, Chick-fil-A has made more money by appealing to a smaller audience.

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The 10,000 Hour Mark

Turns out, there’s a clear correlation between profitability and menu size.

Is this a coincidence? I doubt it…

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about what it takes for someone to become an expert at something.

Did Steve Jobs become an expert in tech because he was born a programming wizard?

Is Chick-fil-A rated the #1 chicken sandwich in the US because they stumbled upon some secret chicken recipe?

Probably not. 

Gladwell says there’s one thing that makes someone the best in the world at something….10,000 hours of practice.

He talks about how every great musician, athlete, and billion-dollar CEO can attribute their success to repeated practice that compounds over time.

And it’s usually around the 10,000-hour mark that they become truly exceptional, or ‘an outlier.’

How long it takes to hit 10K hours

So while other chains like Subway and Starbucks have split their ‘hours’ between 200+ items…

Chick-fil-A has put their 10,000 into a few items which has compounded into the success they have today.

EX - Chick-fil-A launched the Innovation Center with food scientists and chefs who all work to make a 10/10 chicken sandwich.

The bottom line: As entrepreneurs, we like to keep things exciting by testing new opportunities, but by doing that we fail to put the time in to be truly exceptional.

🤫 The Secret Sauce

Chick-fil-A is known for two things: The chicken sandwich and great customer service.

How do they pull this off? You guessed it… their menu.

Here’s why:

#1 - Fewer order mishaps. With less variables (ingredients, drinks, sauces), customers have less options to change orders and employees make fewer mistakes.

#2 - Faster food prep. The CEO of Chick-fil-A (Andrew Cathy) frequently talks about ‘protecting their food prep time’ with a smaller menu.

The fewer order-by-order variables possible, the faster food can be prepared and more can be prepared in advance.

#3 - More brain power towards customer experience. Chick-fil-A doesn’t just sell chicken, they also sell the experience of Chick-fil-A.

By focusing less on changing the menu and seasonal offers, Chick-fil-A has given more attention to the overall customer experience than other fast-food chains.

For instance, Chick-fil-A pays full-time employees to participate in drive-thru simulations to shave off seconds.

And last July, they released their “futuristic elevated design’ for new buildings to speed up their drive-thru.

That’s it for today!

The Profit Snack Team

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