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Five Guys, BurgerFi Show Better Burger Strength on FT Top 200+


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Five Guys moved up four spots on the Franchise Times Top 200+ to No. 66.

Though it remains a small portion of the overall burger category, which sits at $154 billion in total sales, better burger franchises on the Franchise Times Top 200+ grew their top lines by nearly 7 percent to $2.9 billion in 2018. The Top 200+ is Franchise Times’ exclusive ranking of the 500 largest franchises based on global systemwide sales.

No. 66-ranked Five Guys, by far the largest in both unit count (1,579) and total sales ($1.96 billion), is also the top grower at 13.4 percent. Co-founder Jerry Murrell said there’s no big secret behind the brand’s success. “We don’t do anything that magical,” he said of Five Guys’ simple menu that eschews limited-time offers. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing and stay consistent.” The brand did get a boost from delivery, which Murrell said was “more profitable than we thought it would be. We were pleasantly surprised by that.”

Murrell, however, was “absolutely dead set against delivery” early on, he said, concerned that quality would suffer. “But it just started happening and we couldn’t go against the grain,” he continued, so Five Guys began building relationships with third-party services and testing providers to see who was executing the best.

“We had all kinds of bags and boxes that we looked at” to find the ideal packaging combination, Murrell said. “It was a lot more complicated that we thought. But it’s profitable and it’s doable.”

The total investment to open a Five Guys location ranges from $306,200 to $641,250.

North Palm Beach, Florida-based BurgerFi, ranked No. 293, also saw a double-digit sales increase of 13.3 percent in 2018, to $136 million. Founded in 2011, BurgerFi is “still at an infancy level” compared to other burger giants, said Director of Brand Development Charlie Guzzetta, but the brand is seeing results as it touts its “Never-Ever” program using beef that’s never exposed to steroids, antibiotics, growth hormones chemicals, or additives.

“We’re in a good place,” said Guzzetta, and BurgerFi is focused on attracting more multi-unit operators as its restaurant count crossed the 100-unit mark in 2018 and it ended the year with 109 locations. The total investment to open a BurgerFi ranges from $613,600 to $987,250.

BurgerFi was the first national chain to launch the vegan Beyond Burger at all its location in late 2017. “It’s making up a tremendous number systemwide that we’re really excited about,” said Guzzetta, and more recently BurgerFi added three grilled and fried chicken items to its menu. “That’s been big. We want to cancel out that veto vote” from customer who don’t each red meat or any meat.

Like Five Guys, BurgerFi has seen sales grow from online orders and delivery, but Guzzetta notes those orders can be “very intrusive” for restaurants that aren’t prepared. That’s why BurgerFi made sizeable infrastructure investments to streamline digital orders directly to its restaurant kitchens. It also introduced self-order kiosks at some locations and rolled out a new order app that integrates its loyalty program.

“You have to invest in tech,” said Guzzetta. “It’s really the only way to survive and excel.” 

Search the Top 200+ database and see category breakdowns at FranchiseTimes.com/Top200-2019.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
 
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
 
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
 twitter.com/mlarson1011.
 

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