Case Study: How Chick-fil-A Uses Texting to Ask Employees to Refer Their Friends

The Problem

Unemployment has reached a 17-year low and restaurants are struggling to hire and retain workers, according to Business Insider. Filling jobs in a timely manner is critical to operating a successful franchise. With a tight labor market, franchise owners need to have a strategy for recruiting and retaining their employees.

The Solution

Employees hired through employee referrals consistently outperform hires from other sources such as job boards or walk-ins. Numerous studies have shown employee referrals are hired up to 50% faster and remain employed up to twice as long. A simple employee referral program can be an effective way to recruit and retain employees.

During a pilot-program at select Chick-fil-A locations, employee referrals accounted for up to 30% of new hires. Owner-operators can choose to offer referral bonuses, typically ranging from $25 to $100, if an employee referral remains employed for a defined period of time. Some owners opted to not offer rewards and instead we recognize top employees during weekly meetings instead.

By leveraging an automated chatbot to assist their recruiting teams, owner-operators were able to send a text-message based campaign to all of their employees. Each store had different participation levels ranging between 30% to 90%, but across all locations on average 1 in 5 referrals were hired. One employee at Chick-fil-A said, “It was so easy to refer my friend who was hired just a few days later.”