What can 5 Guys teach you about business?

I had the chance to go to 5 Guys Burgers and Fries over the long weekend (the closest one for me is over in Olathe on 119th and Blackbob.

If you haven’t been to 5 Guys, it’s a burger franchise originally started in Washington D.C. about 20 years ago and it’s growing really fast.  They do one thing really well – and that’s more than enough reason to make a 25 minute trip to pick up a really good burger! 

Although they’re fast food, you will wait a while to get your food – generally there are some lines and more importantly, they don’t start cooking your burger until you order it, so it comes out fresh and custom made with your fixins.

As I was waiting for my burger this weekend, I thought about what really made this an excellent operation – and how that could apply to any business.

Focus on your Strengths

Something that every business would benefit from is the idea of finding that one thing you do really well (better than almost anyone) and just focusing on that.

5 Guys does burgers and fries.  You can get variations on that basic idea (cheese, bacon, a whole bunch of toppings) but the centerpiece is the burger – and they do a great job with that burger!

What does your business do better than almost anyone else?  Is that your primary (almost single) focus?  If not, why not?

Keep it simple

This kind of goes along with focusing on your strength, but consider the menu at 5 Guys:

That’s it – they almost have to stretch to get a full menu out of that.  The toppings are free, the refills are free and everything is very straightforward.  The potatoes are from Idaho, they only use peanut oil and they don’t have any freezers in the stores (only coolers).  This keeps it easy for the employees, easy for the customers and keeps things moving.

Could you simplify your products?  How about your pricing?  Do all of your employees really understand everything your business does?  If not, maybe you should simplify.

Invest in the Product

If you’re not familiar with 5 Guys, that may be due to the fact that they don’t advertise – instead they spend their marketing budget on secret shoppers that instantly reward employees with cash bonuses when they see things being done the right way. 

The philosophy is that the best thing they can do is to continue making the product and service the best that it can be and word of mouth will take care of the rest.  Judging by the lines I’ve seen when I’ve been in there, it seems to be working.

You probably have a good product, but wouldn’t you love to have a great product that speaks for itself?  That people lined up to by and more importantly, told all their friends to check out as well?

Make the customer happy

There are several signs prominently displayed where you pick up your drinks that talk about their customer philosophy – the employees are there to serve the customers, without the customers there wouldn’t be a business.  It sounds simple (and it is) but shouldn’t all of your employees embrace that kind of attitude?

How good is it?

If you’ve ever been out west to a Fatburger or an In and Out Burger – 5 Guys is every bit as good as those legendary places.  In Kansas City you can get a great burger at Chef Burger or Blanc Burgers and Bottles (love the inside out burger) – however that’s a different experience, almost a gourmet burger experience. 

5 Guys has nothing gourmet about it, it’s just extremely high quality product, simply served that happens to be really good.  If you get a chance, go and check one out.

And let me know if you learn anything that might help out your business – I’d love to hear your thoughts (share them in the comments below).

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

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