Chick-fil-A, Inc. announced that it has exceeded $4 billion in annual sales in 2011, which is a record for the Atlanta-based chain. Annual systemwide sales at Chick-fil-A totaled $4,050,992.837, a 13.08-percent increase over the 2010 overall sales performance.  The chain also had a strong same-store sales increase of 7 percent and marked the 44th consecutive year of sales growth since the company began in 1967.

In 2011, the chain introduced to new products to the breakfast menu, including a Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Biscuit and multigrain oatmeal.  Restaurant expansion efforts continued with 92 new locations, including 75 stand-alone restaurants and 17 licensed location such as at college campuses, hospitals, airports, and industrial sites.  Chick-fil-A also renovated nearly 200 of its existing restaurants. This month, Chick-fil- debuted  new nutritious kids meals with the addition of the Grilled Chicken Nuggets entree option with side offerings such as Buddy Fruits Pure Blended Fruit to Go applesauce.

Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A was rated number one out of the 10 top fast-food chain (chains with 500 or more U.S. units) with an “excellent” overall rating of 63 percent, according to a recent study by Sandelman & Associates.   Zaxby’s, another chicken chain,  was rated number seven with a rating of 51 percent.  “Excellent” means an overall rating of “5” on a 5-point scale.

“Some of the best-rated large chains have so ingrained excellence in the minds of their employees, not only have they grown, but they’ve grown better in the minds of their customers,” says Bob Sandelman, CEO of Sandelman & Associates. “These top chains offer high-quality fresh food, served in comfortable and inviting surroundings.     The study found that the nation’s best-rated chains are the ones that have sustained their “overall customer satisfaction ratings” as they have grown.  In fact, most have improved their ratings as they have grown, the report noted.  These top-rated chains have made excellence a part of their “institutional DNA” and that has allowed these chains to grow at a rapid pace at a time when many businesses are stuck in neutral,” the study concluded.