Case Study on Truett Cathy/ Chick-Fil-A

CaseStudy on Truett Cathy/ Chick-Fil-A


Chick-Fil-Astarted in 1967 following the successful operation of Dwarf Grillthat was established in 1946 by Truett Cathy. As a devotee of theBaptist Church, Cathy adopted the Christian values and Biblicalprinciples in designing the culture of operation and ethical identityof Chick-Fil-A. The Cathy family continues to apply theServant-leadership and Spiritual leadership theories that require themanagement to set the precedence of a working example in theworkplace. Servant-leadership helped Cathy to establish a culture ofmanagement working closely with the operators, team members, andstaff to enforce quality of service, maintain food taste,cleanliness, and a positive business atmosphere. A family-friendlybusiness environment in Chick-Fil-A accommodates all customers.Chick-Fil-A’s culture and identity is supported by the applicationof the principles of serving all with honor, respect, and dignityregardless of the background differences such as race, sexualorientation, or gender. Equally, Cathy’s family applies thePositive Organizational Scholarship (POS) theory, which identifiespositive intentional behaviors that influence the implementation ofethical values in Chick-Fil-A. Positive attitudes and behaviors havecreated a Christian culture that makes Chick-Fil-A stand out as thebest in the chicken food service market. Consistent application ofChristian values that are supported by Servant-leadership have helpedCathy to expand Chick-Fil-A from a few to over 2,000 restaurants thatoperate across 43 states and generated $6 billion in 2015(, 2016). Besides, the management of the company hasestablished congruent disciplinary measures and a reward system thatmotivates entrepreneurs to work hard since they share the profitswith franchises at a 50/50%. Even the initial capital of only $5,000has inspired many entrepreneurs to consider opening Chick-Fil-A asthe best company since the management aids in setting up the entirefranchise without an additional cost on the operator of a startuprestaurant.

TreuttCathy started operating the first food restaurant called The DwarfGrill in 1946 in Hapeville, Georgia where he invented the Chick-Fil-Aboneless breast of chicken sandwich. The Dwarf Grill grew from ahumble background to become the second largest chicken restaurant inAmerica because Cathy started a foundation of culture of managementbased on Biblical principles that embrace the Christian values oftreating all customers with respect, dignity, and honor. The businessgrew until 1967 when Cathy opened the first Chick-Fil-A restaurantthat specialize in serving boneless chicken-based menus in Atlanta. Adevotee of the Southern Baptist, Cathy developed a business modelsthat applied Christian values to attract likeminded employees andcustomers. The family-run company has recorded profit consecutivelysince its launch in 1967 because Cathy incorporated Christian valuesto establish a positive corporate identity and brand image amongfranchisees and customers.

LiteratureReview on Chick-A-Fil

TheManagement of Chick-Fil-A trains franchisees to treat all customerswith honor, dignity, and respect regardless of their backgroundreligion, race, or gender. Positive influence of the management hasensured that the company works as a fellowship that is a steward ofworkers and customers. According to the 2012 edition of “TeamMember Policy Handbook for Chick-Fil-A” all the employees areemployed at will and they have the right to terminate work with orwithout a notice, cause, or reason (Chick-A-Fil, 2012). Besides, acommitment to hospitality requires staff to create and maintain afamily-friendly atmosphere for families and customers from differentraces.

Cathyand Dan Cathy have both provided authentic leadership based onpersonal conviction of supporting traditional family values. PositiveOrganizational Scholarship (POS) theory recognizes the intentionalbehaviors of leaders to assert specific ethical norms and values thatguide their organization (Russell, 2013). POS theory of leadershiprequires organizations to create an organizational culture based onpositive beliefs and values that enforce a moral corporate identity.Cathy as the founder of Chick-Fil-A integrated a servant leadershipapproach, which is widely accepted as a Christian belief.Chick-Fil-A’s success in opening and maintaining over 2,000restaurants operating across 43 states with revenue returns of $6billion in 2015 (, 2016).

Servant-leadershipis characterized by the capacity of the Chick-Fil-A Operator tolisten and express empathy. For example, Chick-Fil-A is closed onSundays to honor God’s command of keeping the Sabbath holy.Operators and team managers working in Chick-Fil-A apply the Biblicalprinciple founded by Moses that emphasizes proper delegation ofduties to staff. When Jethro visited Moses in the wilderness, headvised him to “Selectfrom all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hatebribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, onehundred, fifty, and ten” (Exodus 18:21 New Living Translation).Similarly, Operators of Chick-Fil-Aonly solve matters that are beyond the grasp of team leaders, whileCathy and the franchise management handle difficult disputes.Delegation of work in Chick-Fil-Ahas ensured smooth operations of daily activities and that hasincreased the productivity of workers since each is assigned to aspecific task. Thus, failure of a an individual to perform at theChick-Fil-A workplace is easily noticed and rectified due to properdelegation of duties and tasks that follows Jethro’s advice toMoses.

Similarly,the management of Chick-Fil-A is applying the Spiritual LeadershipTheory by incorporating a culture based on a Christian value,creating a congruent platform, and inculcating workplace sanctity(Russell, 2013). Spiritual leadership encourages integration ofChristian vision of success that includes hope, faith, and altruisticlove that are based on the Beatitudes of Jesus. Consisted empowermentof employees through spiritual revival has created commitmentthroughout all level of service and ensured higher productivity.Cathy and his family remain focused on using Biblical ethics andprinciples to create a living code of ethics that supports businessesto succeed.

Cathybuild a Christian living code of ethics that establishes the ethicalorganizational culture and authentic leadership that uses theattraction-selection-attrition process in which a leader asserts thebehavior of all employees during recruitment and termination. Allworkers in Chick-A-Fil are expected to match the ethical identity ofthe company or terminate their services. Thus, the organizationalstandards of the restaurant are high because the employees serve witha supportive, ethical, and honest approach. Similarly, Cathy formallycontrols the socialization process in Chick-A-Fil and he usesorientation programs, training, and mentoring to assert the ethicalperspective of the restaurant (Russell, 2013). Every member of thestaff is trained to serve customers with a supportive attitude andthe appreciative culture attracts more clients to the business. Themanagement and operators control the application of ethicalprinciples support organizational learning. For example, Chick-A-Filmanagement is under the operator who selects team members under asingle head to ensure quality of work and service. Application of theOperator model has ensured efficient management of Chick-A-Filrestaurants as management policies and daily activities are assignedto particular individuals. Only the operator is charged with theresponsibility of changing the work positions of each employee tomaintain a streamlined activity in the organization. Moreover, Cathycreated a consistent reward system that to all his franchiseeswhereby profits are shared on a 50/50% basis, which has createdhardworking entrepreneurs that operate Chick-A-Fil chain ofrestaurants (Russell, 2013). Besides, the decision-making process isdone independently to guarantee freedom, while requiring preservationof Biblical moral values.

RobertGreenleaf, an executive in AT&ampT, developed servant leadershiptheory in the 1970s to emphasize service to other. The model assertsthat leaders must enforce the culture of serving others as the numberone priority by incorporating “Six Pillars of Character” whichare “Trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring,and citizenship” (Spears, 2010). Cathy adopted theservant-leadership model as opposed to using hierarchical orautocratic models of leadership that alienate the leader from thesubordinates. Cathy accommodates Chick-Fil-A staff in management anddecision-making platforms to ensure the establishment of ethicalbehavior guided by caring attitude. Besides, listening and constantcommunicating reinforces Chick-Fil-A brand throughout the environmentin which the restaurants operate. Servant leadership is exemplifiedby Cathy as the founder of Chick-A-Fil chain of restaurants. Theleadership of the organization is characterized by servant approachwhereby Cathy provides resources and nurtures business offranchisees. “Whoeverwants to be a leader among you must be your servant,andwhoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyoneelse” (Mark 10 10:43-44 NewLiving Translation).Jesus’ lauds the approach of coming down from heaven as ransom forall human beings as the best strategy for leaders to follow.Similarly, Cathy established a company in which his family remainsthe great shepherds providing information and resources to supportthe growth of all franchised restaurants. Furthermore, according tothe NewLiving Translation 1stPeter 5:3 asserts for servant leadership that provide exemplarysupport and guidance to their subordinates “Don’tlord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by yourown good example”. Cathy led by an example as a servant leadersinceChick-Fil-A maintains a policy of serving customers with humility bylistening to people and their business reflections.

Successof Applying Christian Principles

Highfranchise sales associated with Chick-Fil-A founder’s culture ofusing a low-cost approach of only $5,000 per location. Cathy startedthe business policy of funding business operation for all Chick-Fil-Astartups plus identifying the location. The founder set in place apolicy of guiding franchises and opening for them a business in hightraffic locations to ensure sustainability. In addition, Chick-Fil-Atrains all franchisees to ensure duplication of company culture in ascale manner to maintain Christian values of honor, dignity, andrespect. Moreover, Cathy opened 1,800 Chick-Fil-A restaurants by theend on 2014 spanning 40 states and held a record of 47 consecutiveyears of profitability because of establishing a credible culture ofmanagement that incorporates Christian values (Chick-Fil-A, 2016).

Chick-A-Filchain of restaurants represent a top-notch corporate that hassustained its business operations successful for over 50 yearsbecause of establishing a fostering environment that nurtures peoplein the hospitality industry exceptionally by incorporating Christianvalues and beliefs. Cathy created a company that treats wellcustomers to make money. Effective service to customers in businesscorrelates with higher customer loyalty, which results in higherreturn on investment. Customer satisfaction is achieved by using aservant-leadership model that embraces the belief of putting otherfirst. Serving customers with dignity strengthens brand image toensure business sustainability. Chick-A-Fil requires employees toserve with a friendly smile besides exhibiting respect, dignity, andhonor to all customers regardless of background differences. Inaddition, efficient service delivery is maintained by the culture ofattending to customers within 60 seconds. Team leaders are chargedwith the responsibility of responding to customer inquiries andcomplaints that staff cannot handle properly.

Chick-A-Filculture prohibits falsification of business documents to ensureproper rotation of inventory. Customers’ orders are double-checkedbefore clearance to reduce complaints. Staff upholds high standardsof accountability as representative of the church ministering throughactions. Besides, the company’s policy prohibits profanity,obscenity, cursing, and use of foul or offensive language in theChick-A-Fil restaurant environment by either customers or staff.Violence at Chick-A-Fil workplace is banned and employees are trainedto handle customers with dignity and without blame since a client isalways right. Compliance with standards of conduct and rules iscompulsory and the management applied disciplinary actions likeissuing a verbal or written warning, suspension without pay, ortermination to enforce appropriate behavior among employees.Discipline is a major virtue that Christians observe in church andtheir workplace to ensure compliance to set laws. God gave Moses theHoly Commandment as guiding principles, but consistent disciplinewould ensure that a person followed the rules. Similarly, Cathyasserts that all workers must observe the rules and remain compliantto continue working with Chick-A-Fil.

Consistentapplication of Christian values had established Chick-A-Fil as astrong brand image with the second largest fast food market share inAmerica. Statistics show that Chick-A-Fil is rated second with 73%preference after Raising Cane’s 78% in chicken food quality andtaste compared to KFC’s score of 38% (Scanlan, 2012). A reportasserts that Chick-Fil-A policy prohibits the routine use of allantibiotics for disease prevention and growth promotion in chicken(Hamerschlag &amp Stashwick, 2015). The restaurant collaborated withUSDA to create a verification process that ensures all suppliers ofchicken meet antibiotic free requirements. Even though KFC hold awide market share in the restaurant industry, Chick-A-Fil holds thelargest market share of the chicken food service sector because ofusing the best quality standards that retain good taste. Similarly,Chick-A-Fil is the best in service delivery scoring 68%, followed byRaising Cane’s rate of 65%, and KFC’s 28% (Scanlan, 2012). Cathyintroduced Chick-A-Fil’s 60-seconds service delivery policy hasreduced customer-waiting time and improved the quality of rating. Inreference to the factor of cleanliness, KFC managed to get 26%,Raising Cane’s 64%, and Chick-A-Fil emerged the cleanest restaurantwith 67% of customers being satisfied (Scanlan, 2012). Christiansconsider cleanliness as a part of God’s attributes. Lastly, theatmosphere at Raising’s Cane is better by 1% only, which putsChick-A-Fil at the second place with 56%. Therefore, Chick-A-Fil isthe most preferred restaurant in chicken food service marketaccording to customer ratings at 49% and Raising Cane’s takes thesecond position at 46% (Scanlan, 2012). Other restaurants that scoredhighly include Zaxby’s with 46% and Wingstop’s 38%, while KFCmanaged 22% as the least preferred eating location based on qualityof service delivery (Scanlan, 2012). Survey results assert thatChick-A-Fil was ranked the best in provision of chicken products likesandwiches. The success of Chick-A-Fil is attributed to the positiveeffects of using a Christian-based culture that values provision ofthe best services with an open and welcoming attitude free of fraudand malpractices. Chick-A-Fil’s high rating in cleanliness, servicedelivery, food quality, and excellent Christian atmosphere defined byhonor, dignity, and respect for customers is a culture based onBiblical principles. Staff serves customers with dedication asdemanded by the Bible and that translates to higher profitability,which asserts the reason behind the success of Chick-A-Fil for thepast 50 years.

Inconclusion, Chick-Fil-A remains the best chicken restaurant operatingover 2,000 franchises that report profits every year due to efficientmanagement based on Biblical principles. Workers are oriented to workin a Christian environment and sworn to serve with a smile and theright attitude. Customers rate the restaurant highly on food quality,cleanliness, quality of service, and overall reputation ofChick-Fil-A among Americans very highly because of applying Biblicalprinciples and values that honor, respect, and ensure treatment ofcustomers with dignity regardless of background differences likerace, sexual orientation, and gender. Cathy established a familybased company and created an ethical culture based on Christianvalues that would ensure the success of the company beyond his life.


Chick-A-Fil.(2012). Team member policy handbook for Chick-A-Fil a t MesaRiverview.CFA Properties, Inc.

Chick-A-Fil.(2016). S. Truett Cathy: Founder. from

Hamerschlag,K., &amp Stashwick, S. (2015). Chain reaction: How top restaurantsrate on reducing use of antibiotics in their meat supply. Friendsof the Earth &amp Natural Resources Defense Council.

Russell,M. B. (2013). Defining a positive ethical organization: DoesChick-A-Fil exemplify a living code of ethics? RegentUniversity.

Spears,L. C. (2010). Character and servant leadership: Ten characteristicsof effective, caring leaders. Journalof Virtues&amp Leadership, 1(1),25-30.

Scanlan,R. (2012, November 14). Chick-Fil-A is America’s favorite chickenchain, according to market force study. from

TyndaleHouse Publishers. (2004).&nbspHolyBible: New Living Translation.Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers.