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July 1, 2021

Why customers have no real beef with Five Guys

David Vanamburg

Customers got beef with burger joints.

According to our Restaurant Study 2020-2021, burger chains hold four of the bottom five spots among fast food restaurants. Jack in the Box (unchanged), Sonic (down 1%), and Wendy’s (down 4%) all have ACSI scores of 73, while McDonald’s sits at the bottom of the industry, stable at 70.

Although you might think this spells trouble for the patty pioneers, a closer look reveals that the burger experience isn’t all bad.

In its ACSI debut, Five Guys finishes near the top of the limited-service restaurant industry with a score of 78. Let’s see how this newcomer managed to outshine its fellow burger makers in its first appearance.

Five Guys offers 5-star experience with a mouth-watering burger

Five Guys outperforms the other burger chains in most customer experience benchmarks.

For starters, the fast casual burger chain has the most helpful and courteous staff. Food orders are most accurate at Five Guys, and it boasts superior restaurant layout and cleanliness.

Five Guys also stands out for store speed, reliability of mobile app, and likely the most appealing, food quality. We’re not saying it’s the best burger you’ll ever have, but some customers legitimately feel that way.

In truth, it’s easy to get behind the Five Guys way of doing burgers: The patties are fresh and made to order (no frozen patties here), there are free unlimited toppings (15 different toppings really, but that’s still pretty good), and the fries are crispy, tasty, fresh (obviously), and you get them by the boatload.

This burger joint may be in the fast food category, but make no mistake, this thing is gourmet.

Identifying the secret sauce

Although Five Guys has quickly established itself as the burger place to beat, some aspects of the customer experience do allow room for improvement.

Customers agree, for instance, that Five Guys’ mobile app, while reliable, lacks the quality of other fast food restaurants. Beverage quality and variety fall behind those of its burger brethren as well.

Five Guys also doesn’t offer as wide a variety of food. However, it’s difficult to hold this last point against them. They’re known for their burgers, and they consistently deliver excellent burgers.

Certainly, there’s something to be said for not spreading yourself out too thin. Chick-fil-A has led the fast food industry – and all restaurants – for seven straight years, and its bread and butter is chicken. Specializing seems to be working out well for them so far.

Other traditional burger places have attempted to branch out. Wendy’s launched a breakfast menu, and the brand is near the bottom in food quality and the fast food category overall (73 ACSI score). Burger King is expanding its palate with the new Ch’King sandwich, and the jury’s still out on that one. But the restaurant’s ACSI score of 76 places it below the industry average.

The lackluster performance of burger joints in this year’s Restaurant Study could be a reflection of the sheer volume of quick-service restaurants customers can now choose from. Diners have either tired of burgers altogether, or if they’re ordering one, their expectations for quality are high.

And this is where Five Guys performs well. So, while the company could choose to improve the quality of its mobile app, it will likely have no bearing on its burgers (which is all that really matters). As long as those patties remain fresh and delicious, customers should stay plenty satisfied.

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