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Similarly, Tristano recommends staying true to the menu items, dayparts, and price points to which customers have typically responded well.
“Remember what made it great at the beginning,” Garutti says. “Always look back and make sure you’re still doing that.”
Tip #5: Pick the Right People
With any concept, staff help define the customer experience. But in brands looking to maintain a small-chain feel, this becomes especially important.
“We start with the general manager,” Garutti says. “We then work with them to build a team, and that’s a balance of people already in the company looking to grow and people outside the company who are new.”
Just as with all other aspects of the expansion process, Shake Shack makes sure not to rush anything, including the hiring of hourly workers.
“It’s easy to shop while you’re hungry, but you can’t do that,” Garutti says. “You have to take your time to really get to know people and make sure they’re right for your culture.”
For Shake Shack, that means finding people who have an innate sense of hospitality and customer service.
“We can teach them how to make a great shake, but we can’t teach them to be great human beings,” Garutti says. “All we’re really looking for is a genuine sincere sense of hospitality. If that exists, there’s a spot on our team for you.”
Once a store’s crew is in place, Shake Shack makes an effort to keep them happy and motivated.
In addition to paying higher-than-average wages, the company has a program called Shack Dollars through which it gives the hourly team 1 percent of sales off the top line every day.
“We wanted to say ‘thank you’ and ‘we’re all in this together,’” Garutti says.
That way the whole crew is invested in the store’s success and Shake Shack attracts employees who are happy—not annoyed—when the store is busy.
“They’re managing against the human elements,” Tristano says. “It’s probably the best way to enhance your brand without increasing your cost.”
Shake Shack executives talk about future plans less in terms of numbers or specific markets and more in terms of the experience it wants to spread to new customers.
“It’s not our intention to open hundreds of Shake Shacks a year,” Garutti says. “When a Shake Shack is coming to town, we want people to say, ‘Wow, we’re getting a Shake Shack in our neighborhood!’ There are few brands out there where people have that reaction. That’s what we’ve been able to do so far, and we want to continue doing that.”