If you are looking for great basic meat and potatoes cooking in a casual atmosphere, you can’t do much better than Five Guys Burgers and Fries. While working on a client project, I had the opportunity to learn about the way they operate their restaurants–and how they think about their customers and their employees.
The company launched with a single restaurant in the Washington, DC area in the 1980s and expanded conservatively through the use of 100% company owned outlets until very recently. The family that owns Five Guys were concerned that they could not maintain a high level of customer experience if they were to expand too far or to move into franchising. Ultimately, they did make the move but have worked very hard to ensure excellence in every one of their restaurants whether company owned or franchised.
The Secret: Outstanding in Person Content Marketing
Five Guys is all about great food and very happy customers. That’s where in person content marketing enters the picture. They understand their customers. They know what they’re looking for. And they know how to make them happy.
The challenge then becomes how to translate that understanding into consistently high operating behavior across all of their stores. Of course, they know how to run great restaurants. And, they have great processes in place. But they have added something unique that helps ensure the delivery of a terrific customer experience time after time. It has to do with their consistent and creative approach to secret shoppers.
My guess is that when most of us think about the concept of a secret shopper, we assume that the parent company, the owner or the franchisor wants to uncover less than excellent customer service. When that sub optimal behavior is observed, a store operator will be informed so that they can take corrective action. This approach is probably effective, but would contribute to an unending cycle of criticism. It also suggests to the employees that you don’t trust them to do the right thing. This might keep poor performers on their toes, but will almost certainly be the motivating the great performers
Five Guys takes exactly the opposite approach. The restaurant chain has integrated a secret shopping program to ensure a consistent and pervasive level of quality customer experience. They look to catch restaurant staffers performing outstanding work on behalf of their customers. And, when they do, the employees and the individual operators can earn substantial bonuses based on how they rank relative to their sister establishments.
Their secret shopper strategy is not kept secret from the employees. Far from it. In fact it’s a big deal in a very positive way. If you are an outstanding performer as an individual or as a store, you can count on lots of positive recognition and remuneration. The bottom line: happy employees and happy customers.
I like the way these Five Guys think.