The “5 Guys” Fries Trick That Will Blow Your Mind (And Sales!)

For the past year or so, my family and I have been enjoying the occasional meal at 5 Guys Burgers and Fries. If you haven’t heard of the chain yet, don’t worry, you will. An east coast phenomenon consistently ranked among the top burger places by fans and publications alike, 5 Guys is growing like mad by offering delicious, affordable hand made patties (any way you want them), shakes and sodas, and a very generous portion of fries.While everything is delicious, it is that fries thing that I want to talk about for a moment.


5 Guys does such an amazing thing, such a cool little business trick, that I didn’t catch on until I really thought about it recently. And once I thought about it, I saw what a great idea it is for the rest of us.

Here’s what they do: When you order some fries from the counter, the server dutifully takes their little paper fries bucket, fills it up, and then puts it in a paper bag. Then they take an even bigger scoop of fries and dump it into the bag, on top of the regular order. I always think, and my kids always say, “I can’t believe how many extra fries we get!”

And then it finally dawned on me, we don’t really get any extra fries at all, do we?

The genius of this little show is that for all intents and purposes, it looks and feels like we get extra fries, that the guys and gals at 5 Guys are being cool and generous, but upon a little post-carb reflection the truth is that they planned on giving that amount of fries out anyway, and budget for that. But they package it in such a clever way that you think you are getting this great deal, this something for nothing.

People love getting a deal. We love saving money. And we like to think we are that special customer worthy of the extra fries. Does it cost 5 Guys anything extra? No way. Does it build goodwill? You bet.

It’s a great lesson for all of us.

Examples of how you might incorporate this little magic trick into your business:

  • When I practiced law, lawyer friends routinely offered “free consultations.” And it was free. If the lawyer didn’t’ get the gig, the potential client got a free half hour of advice. And for the lawyer, it was, either way, a marketing write-off. But it sure did bring in business.
  • You can, like 5 Guys, offer something for sale and throw in something extra at the end; just be sure you take into account that extra something when you price it in the first place.

And even beyond that, it behooves us to simply remember the psychology of the extra fries trick: Customers appreciate getting extra value for the same price. For instance, I do a podcast for a client and recently told them that I would like to give them the show for free for a month at the end of the contract, as a way to say thank you (and of course, hopefully as an incentive to get them to re-up for another year.)

By: Steve Strauss

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