It's 30 times harder to become a Chick-fil-A franchisee than to get into Harvard
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
- Chick-fil-A accepted just 0.15% of people who applied to become franchise operators in 2018.
- For comparison, Harvard had an acceptance rate of 4.5% for the class of 2023, roughly 30 times that of Chick-fil-A.
- Quincy L.A. Springs IV, a Chick-fil-A operator in Atlanta, Georgia, told Business Insider he wrote at least 12 essays, went through 10 rounds of interviews, and had to submit his high-school transcript before being selected.
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Chick-fil-A is one of the biggest names in fast food. And, its success can be directly tied to its army of operators.
Operators pay just $10,000 to open a location - far less than at fast-food rivals. Chick-fil-A only allows franchise operators to open a single location.
But getting permission to open that location isn't easy.
Yutong Yuan/Business Insider
In 2018, Chick-fil-A received roughly 68,000 inquiries from franchisee candidates and accepted around 100 new operators, the company told Business Insider. That's an acceptance rate of 0.15%.
For comparison, Harvard had an acceptance rate of 4.5% for the class of 2023, roughly 30 times that of Chick-fil-A.
Franchise operators who spoke with Business Insider said the application process required months of interviews and essays.
Quincy L.A. Springs IV, a Chick-fil-A operator in Atlanta, Georgia, said he wrote at least 12 essays. He went through about 10 interviews. His wife accompanied him on three: two informal dinner interviews as well as his final interview. Chick-fil-A also asked for his high-school and college transcripts.
"I'm a US Army Ranger," Springs told Business Insider. "I've been deployed to Afghanistan. When I got the opportunity to become an operator, I cried."
Springs and other franchise operators who spoke with Business Insider said they were attracted to the company because of its emphasis on values and the local community. Operators are encouraged to work with local organizations and charities.
Yutong Yuan/Business Insider
There is also a financial payoff. Operators split sales evenly with Chick-fil-A after subtracting an annual licensing fee and expenses associated with running the restaurant.
Chick-fil-A's sales have been exploding in recent years. Average unit volumes went from $2.8 million in 2012 to $4.6 million in 2018, meaning the average operator is bringing home more cash than ever before. Experts say the sales growth can be linked to operators and Chick-fil-A's rigorous process in selecting them.
"They are in the stores tending to guests," John Hamburger, president of the trade publication Franchise Times, said. "They also have an ownership mentality, much more than the general managers of the large multi-unit franchisees."
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