Why Chik-Fil-A Doesn’T Sell Hamburgers

Why doesn’t Chik-fil-A sell hamburgers?

Chick-fil-A is the 3rd largest fast-food restaurant chain in the US, behind McDonald’s and Starbucks.

They just sell chicken sandwiches. $17 billion of them a year.

Chick-fil-A doesn’t sell hamburgers.

But their average revenue per restaurant is more than 50% higher than McDonald’s.

They are larger than other fast-food chains like Taco Bell, KFC, Wendy’s, Whataburger, Burger King, Subway, or Dunkin Donuts.

Chick-fil-A is not even open on Sundays. Which means they don’t appeal to everyone. They have both fans and haters.

How did Chick-fil-A grow so fast and become so successful while ignoring the most popular fast food category?

Is it because they can’t make a good hamburger?

Nope. I’m sure they could figure that out quickly. Any restaurant could figure out how to make any kind of food.

Is it because they don’t like hamburgers?

No. The founder’s previous “Dwarf House” restaurant in Atlanta sold hamburgers, steaks, and more.

Is it because there’s too much hamburger competition?

Doubtful. There are dozens of very successful hamburger chains. It’s a big market and getting bigger.

So why doesn’t Chick-fil-A add hamburgers to the menu, even though they easily could?

  • Wouldn’t they make more money?
  • Wouldn’t they provide better customer service by saying yes to customers instead of no?
  • Isn’t more always better than less?

The answer, of course, is No.

Chick-fil-A doesn’t sell hamburgers because they would stop being KNOWN AS THE BEST AT THE BIGGEST THING they are known for: fried chicken sandwiches.

They continue to grow because they are the well-known leader in a large and growing market, which they helped create.

They have great service too, but that’s not the primary reason for their success.

Chick-fil-A is simply the chicken sandwich LEADER IN THE MIND OF THE MARKET in most regions in the US, especially the South.

Generalists are never leaders in any growing market.

“We just sell chicken sandwiches” sounded even crazier when the company was small and nobody took them seriously.

How can you grow big when you serve just one kind of thing? How can you grow big if you don’t sell to everyone?

But the fastest-growing restaurant businesses always have the shortest menus and longest lines.

What about the talented chefs who can make any kind of food for anyone (or your Mom)?

The food may be delicious, but they are never good businesses.

That’s the trick.

You grow from small to big by BEING KNOWN AS THE LEADER AT SOMETHING IMPORTANT FOR SOMEONE SPECIFIC.

Big markets are led by the specialist who created them.

It worked for Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Chipotle, Duane “The Rock” Johnson, and every other company, celebrity, politician, and consumer product that scaled up fast to big success.

Specialization is the hidden superpower of fast growth.

It’s hidden in plain sight, everywhere you look.

Specialists Eat Generalists. But only always.

#practicalfounders

Get the weekly Practical Founders email and podcast update.

Share Practical Founders

FREE 60-PAGE EBOOK

Win the Startup Game Without VC Funding

Learn how all 75 founders on the Practical Founders Podcast created an average founder equity value of $50 million.