retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Inc. has an interview with Randy Garutti, CEO of Shake Shack, the popular and fast growing burger-and-shake format owned by Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group that has gone from being a kiosk in a NYC park to a global restaurant chain. There were three passages from the piece that stood out to me and that seemed really worth repeating - one about the importance of challenging conventional wisdom, one about dealing with employees, and one that concerns a very specific piece of wisdom that seems like it ought to be adopted by a lot of companies:

• "We kept asking the question, 'Who wrote that rule?'

"We posed that question on everything we did: Why can't burgers be ground fresh every day from the best cuts of beef? Why do ranchers have to use hormones and antibiotics? Why can't milkshakes be handspun from ice cream, or in our case frozen custard, that is made fresh all day long? Why can't a burger joint have a happy team, one that's well taken care of, to provide the same hospitality you expect from our fine-dining restaurants?

"And so it went. We asked this question about everything we did, and every year, we just got busier, the lines just got longer, and we kept having more fun."

• "For us, it all begins with our concept of enlightened hospitality. Our team comes first. If they feel taken care of, they will do great work caring for our guests, our community, our purveyors, and our investors.

"Once that's established, we do a few things to add to their opportunity. We pay up to 1% of total revenue--top line, not bottom line--as a monthly bonus. We pay employees extra bonuses for things like coming to work 30 days straight without any issues and/or for recommending their friends. We also offer medical/dental/flex spending benefits and a 401(k) to any employees working over 25 hours a week.

"But most important, we give you the opportunity to grow. 'Leaders training future leaders' is how we put it. Nothing matters more than our leaders giving our team a pat on the back. For a lot of our team, this is their first job... or at least it's the first place they've come to work where they've been respected and thanked."

• "A picture hangs on my office wall to remind me and everyone who walks in my door that this is our key: 'The bigger we get, the smaller we need to act'."

Eye-Openers, all.
KC's View: