Chick-fil-a has quickly become one of the most dominant fast food brands around. The chain has been growing 15-20% per year according to Business Insider, and that put them as the third largest chain in the US at the end of 2019. They also jumped four spots, from number 7 to number 3 during the year.
Chick-fil-a started its history in 1946 by Truett Cathy as the Dwarf Grill in a suburb of Atlanta. It was there that his brother and business partner Ben, created the chicken sandwich that later became the signature item for Chick-fil-A. The original Dwarf House is still in operation, and the company operates other Dwarf House locations in the metro Atlanta area.
From there, Chick-fil-a started growing mall locations in 1967 and opened its first standalone restaurant in 1986. Today, each Chick-fil-a restaurant is a locally owned small business, operated by an independent franchise Operator who is committed to the neighborhood he or she serves.
So what does a Chick-fil-A franchise cost? We reviewed the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and found that the estimated cost to build a new Chick-fil-A ranges from $342,990 to $1,982,225, inclusive of a $10,000 franchise fee.
How Much Money Does a Chick-fil-a Franchise Operator Make?
According to franchise estimates and our understanding of the Franchise Disclosure Document, an average Franchisee Operator can expect to make around $200,000 per year per location. If they operate two locations (often the max), they could make between $400,000 – $500,000.
For the most part, Chick-fil-a operators split the profits after paying back a large royalty of sorts back to the corporation. We estimate that the average store does about $4,000,000 in sales and 20% operating margins that are split between Chick-fil-a corporate and the franchisee operator.
The real investment for a Chick-fil-A owner operator is the franchise fee. This $10,000 is really the bulk of the outlay that a franchisee should expect. The low entry point creates a great opportunity for the every day operator with restaurant experience but not a large net worth.
If you are ever offered the opportunity to operate an additional store, the franchise fee will be an additional $5,000 for the second store. It is very rare for a franchise operator to operate more than two stores.
Chick-fil-a is unlike all the other franchises listed on this site. As a franchisee / operator, you have the right to operate your store, but you don’t actually own the store.
This is reflected in your limited investment of $10,000, while Chick-fil-A spends the majority (possible a couple million dollars) to build and outfit the store.
Operators can be charged up to 3.25% for advertising, but starting in 1989, Chick-fil-A reduced this to 0%. Marketing is handled at the corporate level.
For local marketing, operators may be required to participate in other promotions for which they will not be reimbursed.
Initial Training Program: You must participate in an initial training program provided by Chickfil-A. The program commences at Chick-fil-A’s corporate headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. It lasts five to six weeks.
If you make it that far, consider yourself in rare company. If you don’t make it that far, you can just learn how to make their chicken here:
The program currently utilized by Chick-fil-A covers most aspects of operation, food preparation, accounting, service and customer relations, communications, maintenance, purchasing, planning, management styles, policies and marketing.
Each training program begins at a specific time and date to be determined by Chick-fil-A. Unless Chick-fil-A otherwise informs you, you must successfully complete your training prior to commencing the operation of your franchised Chick-fil-A Restaurant business.
Chick-fil-A pays for the entire cost and expense of providing this training program to each franchised Operator. You are not an employee of Chickfil-A and will not be compensated by Chick-fil-A for or during any training described in this Item.
The training program is conducted by Chick-fil-A’s professional training staff, which is directed by Mr. William Dunphy, Jr. The program’s principal instructional materials are the Chick-fil-A operations and training manuals and other materials.
Other employees of Chick-fil-A, including, but not limited to, Ms. Keri 35 Bilotti, Senior Director of Restaurant Training, may participate in the training program in their respective areas of expertise. Mr. Dunphy has twenty-five years of experience with Chick-fil-A in the restaurant field.