The Sixth Man at Five Guys: Impromptu Fast Food Mystery Shopping

Though I live over 150 miles from the Five Guys in West Springfield, Massachusetts, I guess you would say I am a regular customer.

It is a good stopping point on our regular trips to Vermont – my kids love the burgers, we all love the fries and it doesn’t hurt that the cheapest gasoline anywhere is across the street at Pride.

And like many, I was introduced to Five Guys by one of the funniest viral videos I have ever seen.

I am a service junkie. You will often find me watching. Watching a car dealer handle exasperated customers in for repairs, figuring out what makes that particular Walmart greeter get so many smiles, or marveling at the server effortlessly handling a crazy station on a Friday night. I watch and I learn.

So I here I am at the aforementioned Five Guys in West Springfield wondering what this place has that literally dozens of competitors don’t. The place is always mobbed.

Here is what I see through the eyes of a fast food mystery shopper:

Good Music

Tom Petty, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Journey. While the selection is pretty mainstream, they play it pretty loud, giving the stark atmosphere some attitude, some vibe.


You get whole peanuts in the shell while you wait for your order. My daughter exclaimed happily that she got one that had three peanuts in the shell. Another customer told me that these peanuts reminded her of ski trips with her father. That, dear readers, is the sound of customers connecting on a deep and emotional level with the Five Guys brand.

The Sixth Man

While I was waiting for my order, a staff member came out from behind the counter and placed an empty cardboard container on the table, a silent acknowledgement that I needed something for my shells. Thank you, good man!

The cashier who rang my order, during a slow moment, came out and walked directly to a table and wiped it just as a family of four started milling about it. Presto, a clean table!

The guy that calls out the orders doesn’t just shout #89. He shouts #89 and then he flips up the counter and starts in the crowded dining area.

When someone stands up holding a receipt in hand, he walks directly to them, order in hand. Not one customer while I was there was handed their food across the counter. Make no mistake, this is fast food, but gosh, it felt full-service.


A Little Fast Food Mystery Shopping Proves That Five Guys “Gets It”

These little touches make a difference. They insert a bona fide sense of engagement into experiences that seem purposely engineered to efficiently limit human contact.

Five Guys connects people to the brand in emotional and lasting ways. No gimmicks, coupons, catchphrases or pandering ad campaigns seem to be needed. Just a few caring staff members who take initiative.

That hits the spot about as good as a hot cheeseburger on a road trip.

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