News that the Chick-fil-A would soon ascend to number three in the fast food rankings (in terms of sales) was first reported by BuzzFeed News, which claims the brand will rise from the seventh biggest fast food chain to third biggest in the next two years. McDonald's and Starbucks are the current number one and two ranked restaurants, respectively.
And while anyone who's been treated to one of Chick-fil-A's signature sandwiches can attest to their deliciousness, it's tough to imagine it's quietly grown more popular, and bigger, than some of the most prominent players in the fast food game. They're not even open on Sundays. Yet, there are quite a few surprising elements that've helped to catapult the premier purveyors of non-beef on-the-go meals around the country to the top.
As BuzzFeed notes, one of the biggest factors in its growth is its smart incorporation of technology, making the whole customer experience faster and arguably better with mobile ordering options and in-restaurant ordering by tablets. As a result, the average Chick-fil-A location makes more than $4 million in annual sales, which is millions more than any other major fast food chain in America. They've also doubled down on convenience by streamlining the drive-thru experience -- one location in Oklahoma City recently served 216 cars in under one hour, per the report. That's a rate of 3.6 customers per minute just at the drive-thru. The amped up velocity doesn't seem to be detracting from its image as a friendly place, either, since it ranks far above other chains in terms of "satisfaction, positive buzz, and likelihood of purchase," according to the YouGov BrandIndex.
With a relatively small 2,300 total US locations (for perspective, McDonald's has over 14,000 locations), it managed to rake in roughly $9 billion in sales in 2017. If it continues on its trend of opening roughly 100 new locations per year -- like the recently unveiled (and highly controversial) New York flagship -- it projects it will hit number three status by 2020.
Who knows, maybe people just really appreciate cows more than everyone thought.
h/t BuzzFeed News