Five Guys is a burger chain of restaurants with over 1,700 locations doing $2.3 billion in sales founded by a dad and his 4 sons (hence, the 5 guys).
Worth mentioning, in addition to the 1,700 locations, Five Guys has an additional 1,500 restaurants currently in development. So if you haven’t been to one yet, just wait.
In just 2 decades, Five Guys has become one of the fastest growing, successful restaurant chains in the United States making them a brand worth knowing and a model to look into.
The Five Guys Origin Story:
In 1986 the founder, Jerry Murrel, along with his 4 sons started a single burger restaurant. As the story goes: Parents Jerry and Janie Murrell offered an ultimatum to their four sons: “Start a business or go to college.”
The business route won and the Murrell family opened a carry-out burger joint in Arlington Virginia with the following business plan:
“Sell a really good, juicy burger on a fresh bun. Make perfect French fries. Don’t cut corners.”
When they say they don’t cut corners, they mean it. Fun fact: there are no freezers at any Five Guys locations, just coolers. Because freezers aren’t necessary when you only serve fresh food.
By concentrating on quality, they scaled the business model built on high ingredient costs, a limited menu, and absolutely zero paid advertising. They also refuse to deliver. Five guys doesn’t deviate from what they’re good at. Cooking badass cheeseburgers.
Five Guys Opened Franchise Locations in 2003
Early in 2003, the “Five Guys,” began offering franchise opportunities. In just under 18 months, Five Guys Enterprises sold options for more than 300 units. The overwhelming success of franchising a local restaurant made national news and word spread to new markets.
Getting hungry yet?
Three Key Lessons Driving the Success of Five Guys:
#1 Simplicity of menu – F#$% chicken sandwiches!
“When we first started, people asked for coffee. We thought, Why not? This was our first lesson in humility. We served coffee, but the problem was that the young kids working for us don’t know anything about coffee. It was terrible! We tried a chicken sandwich once, but that did not work, either. We do have hot dogs on our menu, and that works. But other than that, all you are going to get from Five Guys is hamburgers and fries.” – Jerry Murrell
#2 Obsession with old school quality control
“The magic to our hamburgers is quality control. We toast our buns on a grill – a bun toaster is faster, cheaper, and toasts more evenly, but it doesn’t give you that caramelized taste. Our beef is 80 percent lean, never frozen, and our plants are so clean, you could eat off the floor. The burgers are made to order. That’s why we can’t do drive-thru’s – it takes too long. We had a sign: “If you’re in a hurry, there are a lot of really good hamburger places within a short distance from here.” People thought I was nuts. But the customers appreciated it.” – Jerry Murrell
#3 No paid advertising. Word of mouth is still a thing?
You read that correctly. Five Guys doesn’t do advertising. Jerry believes that the customer is the biggest salesperson:
“Treat that person right, he’ll walk out the door and sell for you. From the beginning, I wanted people to know that we put all our money into the food. That’s why the décor is so simple – red and white tiles. We don’t spend our money on décor. Or on guys in chicken suits. But we’ll go overboard on food.” – Jerry Murrell
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