Shake Shack has never been a play-by-the-book burger chain. It’s no surprise, then, that CEO Randy Garutti’s pre-shift pep talk—given to employees minutes before the opening of the 66th Shake Shack location—went far beyond the bland “go get ’em, team”-type spiel most leaders default to.

Here’s what Garutti told a room full of employees at the brand-new Boston Shake Shack:

I bet no CEO of a company has said this to his team. I want to challenge you to put us out of business.

What do I mean by that? Put us out of business because you are so damn generous with what you give the people who walk in this door. If there’s a kid crying, who’s going to walk over with a free cup of custard? I challenge you to put us out of business with how generous you are. Go do it. Give away free stuff.


The “better burger” chain now has 41 U.S. locations and 29 overseas locations, from Dubai to Moscow. In January, Shake Shack went public in an IPO that ballooned to $1.6 billion. You think the company’s “do thoughtful things” mantra has little to do with that success? Think again.n8rl6In an in-depth look at Shake Shack’s strategy, Fast Company editor Rob Brunner writes,

Shake Shack’s approach in particular—sourcing high-quality natural ingredients, cooking food to order, and placing a major emphasis on the happiness of its customers and employees—both reflects and is driving real change in the marketplace.


If you’d like to learn more about that approach, take a look at the company’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. In the manifesto, employees are instructed to stop and think about the following before making a decision:

Always stop to understand the broader implications of the decision:

  • Who will it effect and how will it affect them?
  • Would you be proud to have it printed on the front page of the newspaper?
  • Would every level of the Company respect it?
  • Is it for the right reasons?
  • Does it Stand for Something Good?
  • What would you tell a loved one to do?
  • At the end of your career, will you be proud of this when you look back at it?

Shake Shack pays its employees $10 an hour in NYC, and $9.50 everywhere else. In return, Shake Shack wants employees to take care of customers—even if that means giving away free custard. Garutti tells Brunner,

You go to a fast-food restaurant, your expectation is generally low. You are almost always dreading what’s going to happen. So, cool, thank you for creating such a low bar for us. We’re going to go way above that. We’re going to make it so that everybody who walks out is saying, ‘I can’t believe what that guy did at Shake Shack!’

Maybe Garutti’s words and the Shack philosophy will inspire other fast-food chains to stop short changing their employees when it comes to wages, and in turn their employees might stop making out with taco shells and peeing on peoples’ nachos. This will undoubtedly lead to an all-around superior customer experience.

[via Fast Company]