The Strict Rule That New Chick-Fil-A Franchisees Must Follow

Updated on 5/16/24 to clarify that this rule applies to new franchisees and some exceptions may be made later on.

Business ownership seems desirable when you consider the freedom involved with building a company. Strip away some of those freedoms and you might find yourself switching up goals. Becoming a franchisee takes hard work, time, and money — unless your plan is to open a Chick-fil-A. In that case, you'll still need to put forward the time and work ethic, but the initial cost comes in at only $10,000. Though it sounds nice, becoming a franchisee for Chick-fil-A still comes with its limitations.

New Chick-fil-A franchise owners are prohibited from operating multiple locations, which isn't a common rule in the fast food industry. In fact, 42.3% of franchise owners are in charge of two to five locations, according to Frandata (via Entrepreneur). On top of that, nearly 20% of franchisees own more than 50 stores, so Chick-fil-A's business model is limited to say the least. However, as Chick-fil-A notes on its website, exceptions are sometimes made for well-established franchisees with a proven record of success. 

The chicken sandwich chain has its reasoning. As a Chick-fil-A spokesperson told Business Insider, this rule is there to ensure owners are actively involved in the store they operate — that is, if you even get to that point, which also isn't easy for hopeful applicants.

The selection process is not an easy one

As the Chick-fil-A spokesperson explained to Business Insider, the rule about franchisees only owning one location ensures their attention isn't spread thin: "Chick-fil-A operators must be as comfortable rolling up their sleeves in the kitchen as they are shaking hands in the dining room," they said. Of course, you'll probably never own a Chick-fil-A franchise – statistically speaking, at least (Mashed believes you can do anything you set your mind to). Out of the 40,000 applications that come in each year, only 75 to 80 are chosen to open a restaurant. 

If you make it through the initial process, you'll have to partake in nearly 200 hours of classroom training, and many of your loved ones will be interviewed on your behalf. Those who are chosen as a franchisee must agree to several terms: You can't sell or transfer your store for any reason, and if you step out of bounds, the company can strip your title within 30 days.

As Chick-fil-A once stated on its website (which has since been updated), the company is looking for franchisees who "show evidence of personal financial integrity and stewardship, proven business leadership and business acumen, an entrepreneurial spirit, a growth mindset, and strong character." The application page surely didn't sugarcoat the work it will take or how selective the decision-making process will be. But if these restrictions don't bother you, and you're okay with owning just one store, it can never hurt to try.