Tuesday, December 16, 2008


We are in the process of hiring our first General Manager, who we hope will become a partner in the business as it grows into what should be a $25M enterprise. This is not a post about that process (more on that when it's actually complete). It is a post on why we believe management matters and are willing to buy more than we need on day one.

First, an anecdote about getting our Marlborough store built. The process begins with architectural plans submitted to 5 Guys, who wants to make sure that we stuffed enough tables into the space and actually have a kitchen and bathrooms. Fair enough. This part was pain-free for us as we hired an architect who has done 5 Guys stores before and appears to be at the top of their game. Then, the plans are submitted along with a form to the Health Department in Marlborough, along with a check to cover the application fee.

That last piece is mundane, but think for a second about what has to happen there. They start the form. We have to finish the form, and someone has to write the check and mail it in. Mediocre management - which is inexpensive, easy-to-find, and retained by continuing to pay a salary - means they start the form, mail it to us, and then we mail it back to them along with a check, and then they mail it in to the town. This is how it's typically done, and it eats probably 7 business days.

Or, we could collaborate on filling it out, either electronically via email or over the phone, and then they could mail it in that day by writing the check themselves and billing us later. Thinking creatively about this is what good management gets you. Why does this matter? In 5 Guys world, getting open 7 days earlier equals thousands in cash flow. And cash flow is a linchpin of building a big fast-casual dining business.

Yes, great management is indeed more expensive, hard-to-find, and trickier to motivate and retain. But it is indispensable, which is why we are focused on hiring someone who can become a partner.

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