Chick-fil-A vs. Mary Brown’s Franchise Comparison

Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit has likely considered joining a franchise. Restaurant franchises are a lucrative business opportunity, especially for those who are new to the industry. 

There are many benefits to joining a franchise and at the top of the list is brand recognition. When you join a franchise, you already have a customer base before you even market your business. You also receive the training and support you need to make your business a success–a valuable resource if you’re just starting out. Joining a franchise community means minimizing your business risks and maximizing your chances of success.

But with so many different franchises out there, how do you decide which one to join? Mary Brown’s and Chick-fil-A are two different franchise restaurants that specialize in chicken. But, as you will soon learn, there are vast differences in what they have to offer, both to their customers and to their franchisees. 

In this article, we will compare the different requirements and benefits of opening a Mary Brown’s vs. Chick-fil-A franchise in Canada. Specifically, we will examine product offerings, investment requirements, application processes, available training and support, and more.


Product Information:

Both Mary Brown’s and Chick-fil-A specialize in chicken. But just because they’re both known for their chicken does not mean that they have the same products. There are significant differences in the way they prepare their chicken as well as in other product offerings.

Chick-fil-A’s menu centers around chicken. They use 100% real chicken with no artificial preservatives, steroids, or fillers and only serve chicken raised without antibiotics. In particular, they specialize in preparing a variety of chicken sandwiches made using boneless chicken breast that is seasoned, hand-breaded, and pressure cooked in 100% peanut oil. Aside from their specialty chicken sandwiches, their Chick-fil-A Lemonade, made with only 3 ingredients, is another of their signature products. 

Unlike Chick-fil-A, Mary Brown’s chicken is Canadian-grown and delivered whole and fresh to every store location. Marinated, hand-cut, and breaded by hand, our chicken is cooked fresh using proprietary cookers rather than pressure cookers. Our proprietary cookers use heat to seal in the natural juiciness and flavour of the chicken. This is what sets our chicken apart from the competition.

We also offer a number of other signature dishes aside from the most flavourful fried chicken there is. Our Big Mary Chicken Sandwich is a Canadian favourite, as is our coleslaw, which is handmade from fresh carrots and cabbage. We are also famous for our taters which are made whole and fresh from Canadian-grown potatoes that are cut and seasoned to absolute perfection.


Franchise Investment Requirements:

Understanding the differences in product offerings across franchises is all well and good, but you’re probably wondering how much a Chick-fil-A or Mary Brown’s franchise costs.

The total cost to join a Chick-fil-A franchise is estimated to fall anywhere between $265,000 to $2.2 million. Meanwhile, the total average cost to join a Mary Brown’s franchise in Canada is estimated to be $840,000. Included within this start-up cost are all the upfront fees an individual must pay, including the franchise fee that secures you the rights to use the brand and the liquid capital needed to secure financial support from the franchise.

In addition to upfront fees, there are also ongoing fees the franchisee is required to pay on a monthly basis. These fees include royalty fees and marketing fees. Below we’ve provided a breakdown of these various expenses so you can compare the different financial requirements across the two franchises.

franchise costs chick-fil-a vs mary brown's


Level of Involvement:

Ensure that you know the franchisor’s level of involvement in your business, as this will play a huge role in the decision you make. Depending on your personality and level of independence, you will be comfortable with different degrees of involvement.

The Chick-fil-A franchise is much more involved in its franchisees’ operations than most franchises are. They have a say in virtually every aspect of your restaurant’s operations, including other areas of your business life as well. And while this may work for some, for others with stronger entrepreneurial impulses who are in it to make money and learn how to run a business on their own, this might pose a problem. If you are looking for a business where you will have minimum involvement in the run of things, then Chick-fil-A is the right choice for you.

One of the reasons the Chick-fil-A franchise fee is so low is because they maintain ownership of the franchise. They make all purchasing decisions, choose the location of your restaurant, fund its construction, purchase necessary equipment, and oversee accounting, marketing, maintenance, and customer and service relations. As a result, they own the property and real estate–meaning you will not be able to sell the restaurant later or pass it on to the next generation.

Chick-fil-A also requires its franchisees to have hands-on involvement in the restaurant’s operations (training employees, cooking food, handling customers, etc.). As a Chick-fil-A franchisee, your role is more akin to that of an employee or branch manager than that of a business owner. 

Further, Chick-fil-A requires that the franchise be your full-time commitment–you cannot pursue any other business ventures at the same time. You also cannot own more than one Chick-fil-A franchise unit.

By contrast, Mary Brown’s allows its franchisees more latitude and freedom in the running of their franchise branch. To ensure brand integrity, consistency, and efficiency, Mary Brown’s uses a mirror reporting system. This system continually monitors operational procedures to evaluate processes and ensure quality control, service standards, and hygiene and food safety.

Franchisees are provided with mandatory training in managing the franchise’s operations, systems, and procedures when they first start out, but afterwards they are left largely to their own devices. However, ongoing support is always available to those who require a bit more assistance in running their business. 

Franchisees are also involved in the selection of the restaurant location, manage its construction and development, and are jointly responsible for overseeing the franchise’s accounting, marketing, maintenance, and customer service relations. There is no requirement that franchisees limit their business ventures to a single franchise unit nor are franchisees expected to have direct hands-on involvement.


Application Process:

It’s no secret that joining the Chick-fil-A franchise is very difficult. Less than one percent of applicants are accepted. As such, it’s no surprise that the application process is a bit more rigorous than others. 

For those interested in opening a Chick-fil-A in Canada, you will need to:

  1. Ensure you meet the Chick-fil-A financial, professional, and personal requirements
  2. Submit an online application
  3. Prepare for and complete the applicant interview. 
  4. If you pass the interview, you will receive a franchise agreement. Review and sign the franchise agreement and franchise disclosure document (you may also want to have a lawyer review it as well).
  5. Complete their mandatory training program.
  6. Prepare for the grand opening.


The application process to join a Mary Brown’s franchise is very similar to Chick-fil-A’s with one important distinction: there is no interview. Instead, prospective franchisees attend a discovery day where they meet with the franchisor to determine if it is the right fit for them. Joining the Mary Brown’s franchise is relatively simple and the chances of acceptance are much higher. 

Below we’ve outlined some of the steps you will need to take to open a Mary Brown’s franchise branch:

  1. Do your research to determine if the franchise is the right fit for you. To do this, consult our guide on questions to ask yourself when buying a franchise and talk to one of our franchise representatives. 
  2. Attend a discovery day. Similar to an interview though less formal, this is an opportunity for both franchisees and franchise owners to interview one another.
  3. Once you’ve determined that the franchise is a good fit for you, secure the necessary funds and ensure you meet all requirements.
  4. Complete an online application.
  5. If your application is approved you will receive a contract. Sign the contract, making sure to consult a lawyer during this process.
  6. Complete the franchise’s training program.
  7. Prepare for the grand opening: choose a location for your franchise branch, obtain licences, permits, and insurance to begin constructing it, and hire dependable staff. 

Training and Support Programs:

Since Chick-fil-A has so much control over running your business, they offer a limited number of training and support programs. As you are not involved in many of the decisions that will affect the operations of your franchise branch, you will not need extensive training. 

That being said, Chick-fil-A franchisees do undergo a 5-6 week-long training program at the company’s corporate headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. This training program covers everything about managing a business, from how to hire and train employees to delivering outstanding customer service.

Mary Brown’s on the other hand offers comprehensive pre- and post-opening training and support to new franchisees because they are less involved in your franchise branch’s operations. On top of our 3-week, in-class training program, we provide franchisees with the opportunity to shadow other franchisees and offer franchisees and their staff 24/7 access to an online training portal. 

In addition to ongoing training opportunities, franchising with Mary Brown’s provides you with access to an operations team that will help you optimize your restaurant’s results. Our team provides ongoing support to franchisees to help them meet industry standards, evaluating your operations using a mirror reporting system and then providing you with feedback on how to improve.

Mary Brown’s also has a start-up support team that helps franchisees with real-estate selection, design and construction management, and offers development support. Direct and indirect financial support is also available to franchisees through Mary Brown’s. We connect franchisees with expert business advisors and bankers that help you manage your financing, develop a business plan, and answer any loan inquiries you may have. We provide you with access to high-impact multi-media marketing to help you increase your profit margins and sales. And, with the help of our purchasing team, you can obtain high-quality products at competitive prices.

Considering owning a restaurant franchise of your own? Join one of the fastest growing restaurant franchises in Canada. When you franchise with Mary Brown’s you become part of a community with over 230 franchise members and more than 50 years of experience. We’re always looking to welcome new members into our growing family.