How Much Does a Chick-fil-A Franchise Cost?

chick fil a cost franchise ownership

It’s a common question: “How much does a Chick-fil-A franchise cost?” If you’ve been thinking about owning a Chick-fil-A franchise, you’re not alone! Chick-fil-A receives over 40,000 applications from franchise candidates each year. The Chick-fil-A franchise brand is known for its “best chicken sandwich”—a crowd favorite that consistently tops several food blog lists yearly. But where does the company rank regarding franchise opportunity and investment value?

With an initial franchise fee of only $10,000 (in non-gifted, non-borrowed funds), the cost seems quite appealing! However, owning a Chick-fil-A franchise comes with some strict requirements, and the approval process is lengthy, resulting in an acceptance rate of less than one percent. This article will explore some important considerations regarding the full cost and potential returns of owning a Chick-fil-A franchise and some very specific franchisee requirements.

Here are some of the prequalifying requirements of owning a Chick-fil-A franchise:  

  • You must have a legal right to own and operate a franchise in the U.S. 
  • You must not have any bankruptcy in your financial history
  • You must be a full-time, hands-on, day-to-day owner-operator   
  • You must have led a team of people
  • You must divest yourself of all non-passive business opportunities
  • You must be able to prove 5+ years of work experience

Investing in a Chick-fil-A Franchise

The initial franchise fee for Chick-fil-A franchise ownership is only $10,000, significantly lower than the industry average of around $40,000 for other fast-food franchises like Taco Bell and McDonald’s. This lower fee is because Chick-fil-A retains franchise ownership and makes all purchasing decisions. The total initial investment ranges from $265,000 to $2.2 million, aligning with industry norms.

Chick-fil-A Financial Performance

As of April 2024, the average stand-alone Chick-fil-A restaurant generates over $9 million in revenue annually, not including mall locations. In 2022, Chick-fil-A’s total systemwide sales surpassed $21 billion, and the company reported $1.1 billion in after-tax earnings. Chick-fil-A’s revenue has grown year over year for the past six years.  Chick-fil-A charges franchisees an operating service fee equal to 15 percent of restaurant sales, less amounts charged to franchisees for equipment rentals and business services fees.

Profit margins in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) sector are typically slim, usually between 5 to 10 percent for top operators. The average food and beverage franchisee earns about $120,000 annually, with top-rated franchises yielding 15 to 20 percent higher. Although Chick-fil-A does not disclose operator earnings, estimates suggest that average earnings are around $150,000 annually. 

Support from Chick-fil-A Franchise Leadership

Chick-fil-A offers substantial support to its franchisees. The company handles location selection, real estate purchase, construction funding, and equipment procurement. Additionally, Chick-fil-A oversees accounting, customer service, maintenance, and marketing, allowing franchisees to focus on daily operations.

Chick-fil-A Has a Low Turnover Rate

The retention rate for Chick-fil-A operators is 96 percent, a testament to franchisee satisfaction and stability. Many franchisees find fulfillment in their roles and strive to maintain a positive environment for their employees.

Considerations Buying a Chick-fil-A Franchise

While there are many reasons to consider owning a Chick-fil-A franchise some factors may be deterrents:

  • Single-Unit Ownership—The Chick-fil-A franchise does not allow franchisees to own multiple units, which can limit overall profits compared to franchises that permit multi-unit ownership.
  • Exclusive Commitment—Franchisees must fully commit to their Chick-fil-A franchise and cannot engage in other business ventures. This policy ensures dedicated management but can be a drawback for serial entrepreneurs.
  • Company Values—Chick-fil-A’s franchise culture is rooted in conservative religious values, including closing on Sundays. Potential franchisees should ensure their personal values align with the company’s.
  • Rigorous Selection Process—Chick-fil-A’s selection process is extremely competitive. It accepts only 100 to 115 franchisees annually from a pool of 40,000 applicants.

Ownership Structure

Chick-fil-A franchisees do not own the land, buildings, or equipment. These are owned by Chick-fil-A corporate, making the arrangement more like renting than owning. This lack of equity can be a significant disadvantage for those looking to build long-term wealth through business ownership.

Alternatives to Owning a Chick-fil-A Franchise

For those who find Chick-fil-A’s model unsuitable or unattainable, other Food Franchises are available with excellent franchise opportunities. These award-winning brands were ranked highest in franchisee satisfaction based on survey feedback from 10,502 food franchise owners across today’s leading food franchise brands. 

Chicken Salad Chickchicken salad chick logo

Spread joy, enrich lives, and serve others. This unique franchise opportunity is becoming a fast-favorite chicken restaurant. The Chicken Salad Chick franchise opportunity provides franchisees with training, support, and a strong network of franchisees to help them succeed. Here’s how Chicken Salad Chick franchise owners rank their franchises.

  • 98% of franchisees rated the business’s long-term growth opportunity as moderate, strong, or very strong—4% higher than the food segment average.
  • 91% of franchisees strongly agree or agree they enjoy being part of the organization.
  • 91% of franchisees said they would recommend the franchise to others.

East Coast Wings and Grilleast coast wings and grill

is a full-service, family dining restaurant known for serving up savory, spicy, and delectable wings. The East Coast Wings + Grill franchise opportunity provides a robust franchisee support program, including in-depth training, operations, marketing, supply chain, financial guidance, culinary real estate selection, construction, and development. Here’s how East Coast Wings and Grill franchise owners rank their franchises:

  • 100%of franchisees agree that they enjoy operating this business.
  • 100% of franchisees agree that Senior Management cares about their success.
  • 100% of franchisees believe that the franchisor acts with a high level of honesty & integrity.

Checkers and Rally’scheckers and rallys logo

Checkers & Rally’s franchisees achieve their goals quickly and enjoy a strong return on investment. Because of their metrics-driven management style, Checkers & Rally’s improves profitability by developing efficiencies across the business model. Due to their small footprint, they will also go where other brands can not. Here’s how Checkers and Rally’s franchise owners rank their franchises:

  • 86% of franchisees enjoy operating their business.
  • 89% of franchisees are likely to invest in Checkers & Rally’s all over again.
  • Checkers & Rally’s franchisees rate the “operational procedures & systems” +9% higher than the industry benchmark.

Pizza Factorypizza factory logo

The Pizza Factory franchise system is looking to add franchise locations in key markets nationwide. The pizzeria brand has broad appeal and offers franchise owners flexible build options—from traditional dine-in restaurants to express models for seamless delivery and carryout orders. Here’s how actual Pizza Factory franchise owners rank their franchises:

  • 91% of franchisees agree that they respect their franchisor.
  • 96% of franchisees believe that their franchisor acts with a high level of honesty & integrity.
  • 90% of franchisees agree that they trust their franchisor.

See all Top Food Franchises on this year’s list of award winners

Conclusion – Is Owning a Chick-fil-A Franchise Right for You? 

The food and beverage franchise sector offers numerous viable and profitable options. While the Chick-fil-A cost may be appealing at first glance, and it’s a highly sought-after franchise, it may not suit everyone due to its unique franchise business model and franchisee requirements. Prospective franchisees should thoroughly research and consider their options to find the best fit for their goals and values.

Includes owner satisfaction report
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Cruise ship on water city lights
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Investment: $2,295 - $23,465 Cash Required: $10,995