Five Guys Burgers and Fries: A Simple Recipe for Success

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Jerry Murrell, influenced by his two eldest sons, formed Five Guys and Burgers, a fast-food chain. This was after the sons declared that they would not attend college. Murrell supported their decision, and in order to keep them busy and employed, he and his wife decided to divert the money set aside for college fees to opening a hamburger take-away shop in Virginia. From such humble beginnings, Five Guys and Burgers, named after Murrell’s five sons, grew to become a leading fast-food chain, with over 570 franchises in both Canada and the United States. The entire Murrell family, including all his sons, eventually joined the business. The company is still owned and run by the Murrell family (Boone & Kurtz, 2012).

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In order to set the company apart from other fast-food chains, Five Guys and Burgers has adopted a brilliant business strategy right from its inception. During the start of the business, Murrell figured out that it would have to concentrate on food in order to compete with other fast-food chains. In addition, they would need to concentrate on improving their products’ quality as well as satisfy their customers’ needs. Therefore, they constructed all their restaurants in such a way that they feature a similar basic red-and-white-tile decor. The meat used to make their burgers is always 80 percent lean, fresh, and never stored in refrigerators or frozen. Burgers are made on order, with the customer having a choice from seventeen toppings. For a better taste, the buns are toasted on grills, as opposed to toast burners. The potatoes used for making fries are imported from northern Idaho, where they are grown slowly and are then cooked in peanut oil. Another strategy is changing the price of their foods depending on the cost of supply (Longenecker, Petty, Palich, & Hoy, 2011).

Some of the values that the company relied on during its formative years are still applied to date. The company tried some experiments that proved unsuccessful. One such experiment was serving a chicken sandwich with coffee. Apart from a few hot dog kinds, they have stuck to their initial burger-and-fries formula that first brought them profit. Moreover, all their burgers are made-to-order, a business strategy initially thought to be time-consuming. Despite some people thinking it was not a wise move, customers appreciated it, leading to more sales and profits (Pride, Hughes & Kapoor, 2011).

There are several factors that have contributed to the success of Five Guys and Burgers, one of them being their advertising policy. The company does not invest much in advertising, believing that customers are their best salespersons. From the start, the company wanted their customers to know that they get value for their money. They instead rely on word-of-mouth advertising, whereby they hope that a satisfied customer will spread the word to others. This has enabled the company to save on its advertising costs and focus on improving the quality of its food (Rust & Raffetto, 2009).

Another factor is in the form of how the company treats its employees. It creates and nurtures a sense of accountability and ownership through motivation and bonuses. The company carries out audits on their employees and those who get a satisfactory score receive a certain amount of money to be shared amongst crew members. A crew is made up of five to six members. Therefore, while other companies allocate a certain percentage of their revenue to marketing, the company uses this percentage to offer bonuses to employees (Smith, 2011).

Internal auditing is another factor that has significantly contributed to the success of Five Guys and Burgers. At the company, two third-party auditors visit each of the company’s stores every week. During the visit, they pose as customers and rate employees on courtesy, bathroom cleanliness, and food preparation. They also perform a safety audit whereby all the kitchen equipment is checked to see if it is in proper working condition. These audits have contributed a lot to the efficiency of employees and business in general (Boone & Kurtz, 2012).


Ethical and social practices are part and parcel of the company’s culture, as seen in the way it runs its operations. The company ensures that each and every store gets fresh bread every morning, irrespective of the distance from the bakery. Since the company makes and sells fast foods with fats, which are considered by nutritionists as unhealthy, it ensures that customers are aware of what they consume. For example, the company publishes on its official website some nutritional information based on representative values provided by suppliers and published resources. The information is presented in values based on applicable regulations. Moreover, the company admits that the nutritional information provided may not be accurate since it relates to menu items in all their franchises. This shows that the company is not merely interested in profits alone, but also in the welfare of its customers and other stakeholders.


Boone, L. E. & Kurtz, D. L. (2012). Contemporary business. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Longenecker, J.G., Petty, J.W., Palich, L.E. & Hoy, F. (2011). Small Business Management: Launching and Growing Entrepreneurial Ventures. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

Pride, W.M., Hughes, R.J. & Kapoor, J.R. (2011). Business. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

Rust, R. & Raffetto, M. (2009). The Calorie Counter for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Smith, A.F. (2011). Fast Food and Junk Food: An Encyclopedia of What We Love to Eat. New York, NY: ABC-CLIO.

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BusinessEssay. "Five Guys Burgers and Fries: A Simple Recipe for Success." December 15, 2022.