Chick-fil-A is dominating fast food while teaching workers to say 'my pleasure' and putting flowers on tables — here are 6 strategies the chain has used to become the most polite in the industry

Hollis JohnsonChick-fil-A isn’t quite fine dining — but it comes closer than other fast-food chains.
  • Chick-fil-A’s success is at least partially built on its reputation for hospitality and incredible service.
  • Quirks such as workers saying “my pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome,” placing flowers on tables, and offering free food are all part of Chick-fil-A’s game plan.
  • Here are six ways that Chick-fil-A sets itself apart from the rest of the fast-food industry.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Chick-fil-A is a chain like no other.

Many fast-food chain visits conjure up images of grim dining rooms, dirty kitchens, and unthinkably gross bathrooms. Workers can be distracted at best, and – at worst – they might spit in your burger.

However, Chick-fil-A has achieved massive success while bucking this trend. The chicken chain is statistically the most polite chain in the restaurant business, according to QSR Magazine’s 2016 drive-thru report.

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Chick-fil-A is the most polite chain in fast food

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Kalinowski Equity Research founder Mark Kalinowski told Business Insider that Chick-fil-A’s unfailingly great service is a huge part of the chain’s success.

“Little things like being told ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – it feels like you’re appreciated as a customer and a human being at Chick-fil-A,” Kalinowski said. “And especially in today’s very complex world, it’s just very nice to be able to go to a place where you feel appreciated.”

These things don’t happen by chance. Chick-fil-A has developed an airtight training plan for employees and has added other little details to make locations feel more hospitable and friendly.

“We have this really … generous approach to our guests and we want them to feel restored and cared for – not necessarily that it’s like home for them, but it feels warm and inviting and that they want to come back and they want to spend time there,” Khalilah Cooper, Chick-fil-A’s director of service and hospitality, told Business Insider.

Here are six ways that Chick-fil-A cements its reputation as the most polite and hospitable chain in the fast-food industry:

Saying “my pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome”

Chick-fil-A employees are trained to use some specific language that differs slightly from the average fast-food worker’s vocabulary. One of the most noticeable among these is always saying “my pleasure” when customers say “thank you.”

Building a menu of “entrées”

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Another quirk of Chick-fil-A vocabulary elevation is swapping the language of fast-food “combos” for “entrées.”

“An entrée is different than a combo or a six-piece. It’s a different language. … That language is part of my experience in helping change the expectation,” said Quincy L.A. Springs IV, who runs a Chick-fil-A location in the Vine City neighbourhood in Atlanta, Georgia.

Unlimited refills or beverage “refreshments”


Chick-fil-A offers unlimited refills for customers who are dining in the chain’s locations. In fact, employees are told to go around to customers and ask: “May I refresh your beverage?”

Flowers on tables

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Chick-fil-A locations across America have flowers on their tables. It’s a small gesture that hints at pricier establishments, with more than a pinch of home-grown charm.

“My kids are four and two. … I want the restaurant experience, [but] I can’t take them anywhere because they’re animals,” Cooper said. “I can come and sit down here and get the essence of an experience: the flowers on the table and the … people that are serving me.”

Clearing customers’ trash

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Chick-fil-A employees walk around the restaurants, offering to clear customers’ trash. And, of course, there is specific language for this as well: “Can I clear your tray?” as opposed to “Can I pick up your trash?”

Free food

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Chick-fil-A rarely skimps on free food. Kevin Purcer, Chick-fil-A’s director of customer digital experience, says that as the company continues to tweak its mobile app, it is working to ensure that operators are given the tools needed to give away plenty of free food.

The free food ties into the chain’s more general goal of peak politeness and its stated mission “to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”

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