October 28. 2013
“If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it!” is a phrase that most people not raised by wolves or living under a rock have heard numerous times in their lifetime. It’s a simple enough idea; if you find something that works, especially if it works well, then let it work! It is that type of simplicity and originality that has kept Five Guys the fastest growing franchise in 2012, as described by Forbes (Burke, M. (2012. July 18)). The business was launched in 1986 by Jerry and Janie Murrell as a way to keep their two college-aged boys occupied and keep the family close to the DC Area. "They weren't scholars," Murrell jokes of his two eldest sons. "I always liked having my kids around me, so I thought that was a good way to do it." (Yu, 2009). So with the money they had saved to pay for the two boys’ college, they opened the first store as a small take-out only burger restaurant in Arlington, Va. The restaurant focused on what they knew best- burgers, hot dogs and fresh cut fries.
The main three factors that contributed to Five Guys success: 1. Sell a really good, juicy burger on a fresh bun. 2. Make perfect French fries. 3. Don’t cut corners. That has been the plan that Jerry and his boys have stuck to from the beginning. From the start he chose to “let the customer be your salesman” and the rest will fall in line. He doesn’t waste time on a fancy looking establishment or over the top advertisements. He has always put the focus on the customer and the product. Staying focus has proven to a big success. In 2009 while giving an interview President Barack Obama said: “Hey I am going on a burger run.” And then walked in on what he and his wife Michelle Obama referred to as their “favorite burger place” Five Guys. Having both the President and the First Lady proudly endorse your product is the word of mouth marketing that draws attention both near and far.
The Murrells all had a hand in the first store. His two oldest sons Jim and Matt (now 46 and 44), worked as cooks and took orders. Janie (wife & mom) handled all of the administrative work, while Jerry, already a financial planner with a business degree from the University of Michigan, handled all of the small business’ financial concerns. The three younger sons Chad (42); Ben (30) and Tyler (22) also joined the business later as they became old enough to work. When asked why he chose to go with a burger restaurant as opposed to something bigger or trendier, Murrell explained that when he grew up in Michigan, his parents often took him to a local burger stand called ‘Push’em up, Tony’. He recalled them saying. “‘When times are bad, (if) you run a good beauty parlor or serve a good hamburger, you can do well.” (Yu, 2009).
Most restaurants offer an ever evolving menu that caters to the shifting trends of the customers rather the simplistic ideals that lead them to their original success, Five Guys has not. They perfected their small menu to build a devout following, which is what they’ve done. More than 20 years after the first restaurant, the menu remains virtually unchanged despite pressure from some franchisees to add items, such as milkshakes. Their core philosophy has always been to stay humble. Staying steadfast to their core, Five Guys has grown to one most popular burger franchises in history. Murrell’s philosophy is simple ‘Know what you are good at and stick to it. Being true to who you are.’ (Yu, 2009).
The restaurant has never had a freezer, proof the beef is always fresh, never frozen. Quality that has pushed other industry leaders like Wendy’s and McDonald’s to take notice an push their quality higher Five Guys uses high quality beef (87/93) which is why none of their locations have a drive-thru; it would simply take too long. The potatoes that he uses to make French fries are from Idaho because the take longer to grow which in his mind makes for a much better quality French fries .The buns