It costs nearly nothing to open a Chick-fil-A -- but there's a catch

Chick-fil-A is among the most successful fast-food chains in the US, and it's also one of the cheapest to open.

The company grew by $1 billion to achieve more than $6.8 billion in sales in 2015, making it larger than every pizza chain in the country, according to QSR magazine.

Chick-fil-A is now the eighth-largest fast-food chain in the US by total sales, and it generates more revenue per restaurant than any other chain nationally, according to QSR.

Despite its success, Chick-fil-A charges franchisees only $10,000 to open a new restaurant, and it doesn't require candidates meet a threshold for net worth or liquid assets, the company told Business Insider.

That's cheaper than every major fast-food chain in the US.

McDonald's, for example, requires potential franchisees to pay between $955,708 and $2.3 million in startup costs — including a $45,000 franchise fee — as well as have liquid assets of at least $750,000. Taco Bell's startup costs average $1.2 million to $2.5 million and the company requires a minimum net worth of $1.5 million and liquid assets of at least $750,000.

Chick-fil-A, on the other hand, pays for all startup costs — including real estate, restaurant construction, and equipment.

Chick-Fil-A In turn, the company leases everything to its franchisees for an ongoing fee equal to 15% of sales plus 50% of pretax profit remaining, Chick-fil-A spokeswoman Amanda Hannah told Business Insider.

"The barrier to entry for being a franchisee is never going to be money," Hannah said. "We seek to find the very best business partners who find great joy in making other people's days. They do so with a combination of great business acumen, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a passion for serving others."

So what's the catch?

While Chick-fil-A's startup costs are low, the ongoing fees are higher than those charged by many of its rivals.

McDonald's, for example, charges an ongoing monthly service fee equal to 4% of gross sales and an additional fee for rent, which is also a percentage of sales. McDonald's franchisees have historically paid about 8.5% of sales in rent costs, though some pay as much as 12%, according to a 2013 Bloomberg report.

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Fricker's 

Excessive Noise Levels: 22%
Poor Service: 22%
Problematic Food Prep: 12%
Dirty Environment: 22%

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Dave & Buster's 

Excessive Noise Levels: 32%
Poor Service: 23%
Problematic Food Prep: 13%
Dirty Environment: 14%

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Taco Mac

Excessive Noise Levels: 24%
Poor Service: 28%
Problematic Food Prep: 13%
Dirty Environment: 9%

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Native Grill & Wings

Excessive Noise Levels: 23%
Poor Service: 19%
Problematic Food Prep: 13%
Dirty Environment: 15%

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Quaker Steak & Lube

Excessive Noise Levels: 25%
Poor Service: 18%
Problematic Food Prep: 11%
Dirty Environment: 12%

Photo credit: Getty

Buffalo Wild Wings 

Excessive Noise Levels: 30%
Poor Service: 17%
Problematic Food Prep: 12%
Dirty Environment: 10%

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The Green Turtle Sports Bar & Grille

Excessive Noise Levels: 25%
Poor Service: 20%
Problematic Food Prep: 12%
Dirty Environment: 10%

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Huddle House

Excessive Noise Levels: 15%
Poor Service: 20%
Problematic Food Prep: 13%
Dirty Environment: 23%

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P.J. Whelihan's Pub and Restaurant 

Excessive Noise Levels: 31%
Poor Service: 13%
Problematic Food Prep: 8%
Dirty Environment: 10%

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Joe's Crab Shack 

Excessive Noise Levels: 24%
Poor Service: 18%
Problematic Food Prep: 11%
Dirty Environment: 11%

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Hurricane Grill & Wings

Excessive Noise Levels: 21%
Poor Service: 20%
Problematic Food Prep: 11%
Dirty Environment: 10%

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Wild Wing Cafe

Excessive Noise Levels: 24%
Poor Service: 20%
Problematic Food Prep: 10%
Dirty Environment: 11%

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Hard Rock Cafe 

Excessive Noise Levels: 24%
Poor Service: 20%
Problematic Food Prep: 11%
Dirty Environment: 7%

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Rainforest Cafe

Excessive Noise Levels: NA
Poor Service: NA
Problematic Food Prep: NA
Dirty Environment: NA

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Iron Skillet 

Excessive Noise Levels: 11%
Poor Service: 19%
Problematic Food Prep: 16%
Dirty Environment: 16%

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Texas Roadhouse

Excessive Noise Levels: 38%
Poor Service: 10%
Problematic Food Prep: 7%
Dirty Environment: 10%

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Buffalo Wings & Rings

Excessive Noise Levels: 31%
Poor Service: 31%
Problematic Food Prep: 10%
Dirty Environment: 9%

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Dick's Last Resort 

Excessive Noise Levels: 18%
Poor Service: 20%
Problematic Food Prep: 9%
Dirty Environment: 16%

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Logan's Roadhouse

Excessive Noise Levels: 24%
Poor Service: 15%
Problematic Food Prep: 12%
Dirty Environment: 14%

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House Of Blues 

Excessive Noise Levels: 19%
Poor Service: 19%
Problematic Food Prep: 14%
Dirty Environment: 10%

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Bar Louie 

Excessive Noise Levels: 25%
Poor Service: 16%
Problematic Food Prep: 10%
Dirty Environment: 8%

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Red Robin Gourmet Burger and Brews 

Excessive Noise Levels: 26%
Poor Service: 16%
Problematic Food Prep: 10%
Dirty Environment: 9%

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Waffle House 

Excessive Noise Levels: 17%
Poor Service: 12%
Problematic Food Prep: 9%
Dirty Environment: 22%

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Flanigan's Seafood Bar and Grill

Excessive Noise Levels: 27%
Poor Service: 11%
Problematic Food Prep: 12%
Dirty Environment: 11%

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Duffy's Sports Grill

Excessive Noise Levels: 33%
Poor Service: 14%
Problematic Food Prep: 10%
Dirty Environment: 5%

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Chick-fil-A also prohibits most of its franchisees from opening multiple units, which can limit franchisees' potential profits.

This limitation is meant to enable Chick-fil-A's franchisees to be intimately involved in the day-to-day operations of their restaurants.

"Chick-fil-A operators must be as comfortable rolling up their sleeves in the kitchen as they are shaking hands in the dining room," Hannah said.

The company also puts a big emphasis on community service and encourages franchisees to be actively involved in the communities where they live and work.

"Oftentimes, several operators in a market will combine resources to market events through advertising and promotion," Hannah said. "Our daddy-daughter date nights are an example of this."

The application process

Chick-fil-A gets more than 20,000 inquiries from franchisee candidates every year. From those candidates, Chick-fil-A selects between 75 to 80 new franchisees annually, Hannah said.

To apply, candidates have to submit a form through the company's website expressing their interest.

Chick-fil-A will then contact the candidates for interviews. The company may also interview candidates' friends, family members, and business partners.

Once they are selected and hired, franchisees have to undergo a multi-week training program before they can open and operate their own restaurant.

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