Why Can’t We Get a Chick-Fil-A?

Have you been wondering if and when your favorite business, whether it be a fast-food chain or retailer, will come to our community? You’re not the only one! Greater Fergus Falls often hears renditions of “We have a McDonald’s, why can’t we get a Chick-Fil-A?” On the surface, it may seem simple, but a lot of factors go into where a business will establish a new location, and much of that decision comes down to demographic data.

Truthfully, every business has different parameters, and understanding them can be a little tricky. Our goal is to help demystify the process, and our Executive Assistant, NeTia Bauman, recently hosted a Business for Breakfast event on the topic. The response we received was great, and we’ve decided to share some more insight into the site selection process. Scroll below to get the details!

Site Selection Basics

Why is demographic data important? Simply put, businesses can’t afford to open in a specific location without doing their due diligence. Before any decisions can be made, site selectors undergo a lengthy data collection process.

How is Demographic Data Collected?

Though it will vary by state or the organization, a common data collection tool in Minnesota is Minnesota Compass. Led by Wilder Research, Minnesota Compass is a social indicators project that measures progress and provides insight into Minnesota and its communities' data and trends.

Site selectors will typically compile demographic information such as:

  • Total population within a specified range

  • Total households

  • Average household income

  • Cost of living

  • Unemployment rates

  • Available buildings and their condition

In addition to building a demographic profile, they’ll perform focus groups, consumer surveys, and consultations. Only after sufficient data has been gathered and analyzed can a business determine whether or not opening a location in a certain community would be successful to its business model.

It’s important to note here that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this process. Most retailers will always rely on the Three L Principle — location, location, location. However, that’s not the end-all, be-all, and what appeals to one industry may not appeal to another. For example, McDonald’s focuses primarily on traffic patterns, market statistics, and competition. In contrast, Applebee’s ranks demographics, parking, and visibility much higher on its list of site selection criteria.