Grand Rapids. Wyoming. Detroit. Ypsilanti. Holland. Lansing. Okemos. Rochester. Troy. Portage. And as of January 2020, Allen Park. What do all of these Michigan cities have in common? They all “eat mor chikin” at their local Chick-fil-A restaurant.
In 2019, there was a huge buzz around Southeast Michigan when it was announced that 4 new Chick-fil-A locations would open in 2020. Allen Park’s location was scheduled to open in January 2020 at the Fairlane Green Shopping Center (better known as “The Hill”) and indeed opened on time, much to the enjoyment of the local U of M Dearborn college students. 2 months later, there are still lines upon lines of people waiting to order their Frosted Lemonade and Chick-fil-A Nuggets despite the blustery Michigan cold. Just the other day I heard from a friend that he had to wait 60 minutes just to receive his order due to the popularity of the restaurant. In addition to the Allen Park location, 3 more locations are scheduled to roll out in 2020: Novi, Northville, and Shelby Township.
As a native Northville resident and a frequenter of Novi’s shopping areas, I am extremely pleased with the locations selected in this lineup. The 4,990 square-foot standalone Novi location, which will be located on the outskirts of Twelve Oaks Mall, was scheduled to replace the Denny’s adjacent to the La-Z-Boy store in March 2020. While no articles have confirmed the exact launch date of this Novi restaurant, it’s a great sign that Allen Park was revealed on time, even if the date might be pushed back because of the COVID-19 epidemic. The official Chick-fil-A website has also already listed Novi as one of their searchable locations (the address will be 27750 Novi Rd, Novi, MI 48377 for any curious chicks out there.) This is egg-cellent news- but what does the opening of this new Novi Chick-fil-A mean for your local business?
Due to the extreme popularity of this restaurant, there will be a lot more traffic (in both senses of the word) to all of the businesses around Twelve Oaks and Novi in general. According to YouGov, Chick-fil-A is the 17th most popular dining brand in the U.S., described by fans as good quality, family-oriented, family-friendly, wholesome, and having excellent customer service. Having the 17th most popular dining brand ain’t a bad thing to have near your store. And the awesome indoor play areas and free Wifi will only encourage families to stop by Chick-fil-A as part of their day, thereby increasing the number of consumers, young and old, in the area. The 4 new restaurants will also add around 400 jobs to Metro Detroit- not only improving the economy, but additionally providing more consumers in Novi every day (except Sunday!) I’m telling you, if I had to work near the mall every single day, I would be strongly fighting all of my wallet’s urges- and eventually, I would have to give in. Traffic was a concern for the community when approving the project, but as Mayor Bob Gatt stated:
“You’re going to provide a service to the community that is going to be one of the most popular places, probably in the whole city,” Gatt told Chick-fil-A representatives. “For 30 some years, there was a very very popular restaurant named Denny’s there. There were times when Denny’s was one of the hottest spots in town. They operated seven days a week and 24 hours a day, and people came in and out of that restaurant and getting on that ring road without any problems.”
I don’t see traffic being much of a problem, especially with the location that was chosen for the restaurant- in fact, this increase in vehicle traffic will ultimately just drive physical traffic to your brick-and-mortar store.
There are a lot of ways to tie your store’s marketing with Chick-fil-A’s. Your business can advertise gift card giveaways associated with Chick-fil-A in-store and on social media. For example, if someone buys an item worth $25 or more, they receive a $5 Chick-fil-A gift card. Or maybe if they take a survey, they get free nuggets. Maybe your store can partner with Chick-fil-A to drive hungry customers to your store by placing ads in the restaurant or on their receipts. Get creative: Chick-fil-A is relevant, and the name of the marketing game is to stay relevant and continually adapt to your surroundings. Chick-fil-A is known for their community events as well; oftentimes, they are done with the intent to give back to the community (see more on giving back in the section below), but sometimes they incorporate fun with these events as well. See this video for the Florida Chick-fil-A who put on a sleepover event for kids’ stuffed animals in their community. While this gives back in the way that it provides a positive memory for children, it’s also some great marketing- who ever heard of a restaurant organizing a sleepover… for stuffed animals? It’s cute, it’s family-friendly, and it’s newsworthy. Your local Novi business can pair with Chick-fil-A to put on these types of events together- and as a result, you’ll both make the headline.
Chick-fil-A has always been very involved in their communities. One way in which they give back is through scholarships for their employees:
“Scholarships at Chick-fil-A began when Truett Cathy set a mayonnaise jar on his first restaurant counter to help Team Member Eddie White pursue his dream of a college education. Through contributions from customers and Truett himself, Eddie’s dream came true. Since 1973, Chick-fil-A has helped 53,000 Team Members achieve their remarkable futures through a total investment of $75 million in scholarships.”
More scholarships mean more college-educated individuals with higher incomes, which means more moolah to spend at your store and also means more hard-working, sharp individuals to work for your brand. It also means that the community will be benefitted at large through their cash flow and education. Chick-fil-A also donates food to those in need in their communities through the Chick-fil-A Shared Table program:
“Chick-fil-A started Shared Table in 2012 in an effort to make use of surplus food in restaurants, while also meeting a need in the community. Today, more than 1,000 Chick-fil-A restaurants take part in the program, which continues to grow each year. With the help of Food Donation Connection, Shared Table bridges the gap between Chick-fil-A franchise Operators and local agencies like shelters, soup kitchens and charities. After Chick-fil-A Team Members package and send the surplus food, the organizations then are able to incorporate into the meals they serve weekly.”
According to Chick-fil-A, a Missouri restaurant operator says that about 80 percent of what would have gone unused in his restaurant can now be distributed through the Shared Table program, including chicken, eggs, biscuits, salads and wraps. Even in Novi, there is hunger- and Chick-fil-A can be a part in fighting it. Benefiting the community at large ultimately leads to a better economy for everyone involved.
I don’t know many Michiganders who don’t love Chick-fil-A. Maybe it’s the high quality of their food, maybe it’s the fact that we’ve been starved of it for so many years, or maybe they put a little somethin’ somethin’ in their Chick-fil-A sauce. This Novi location means that both you and your workers get to enjoy a Chicken Sandwich, some Waffle Fries, and the yummy new Mac & Cheese. Catering in a Chick-fil-A meal for your workers once in a while shows goodwill towards your hardworking employees and boosts morale at the same time! While I have no quotes or scientific data to back this claim, just ask someone if they’d like to go to Chick-fil-A with you- they light up instantly. There’s something about their culture of kindness, the family-friendly atmosphere, and those Chick-n-Strips that just perks up any non-vegetarian. And a message to all of those vegetarians- I’m not kidding, that Mac & Cheese is dang good!
While March wasn’t our lucky month, everyone grab your four-leaf clovers and wish for an April Chick-fil-A release! Hopefully there’s no fowl play- we want mor chikin in the mitten!