Can I get fries with that great attitude?

By | May 15th, 2016

Steve Gamlin enjoys meat with his potatoes. Eating them at his local Five Guys Burgers & Fries led to a chance discovery that not all french fries are created equal.

This spud connoisseur and customer service expert from Goffstown, N.H., ranks this popular eatery that combines fast food convenience with restaurant quality burgers as a top potato purveyor.

Many establishments are known for their premium food service, so why this one? And why here? The manager clearly takes quality fries as seriously as personalized and polite customer service. You’ll see.

But Gamlin’s experience also revealed that fries taste that much better when served with positive attitude, and focused the spotlight just a little bit back on the consumer.

Gamlin has a knack for attracting and telling a good news story, whether about Staples or a mom-and-pop laundromat. And he makes me want to listen.

Public opinion on over-the-top customer service can be varied depending on sources. (I didn’t get the memo about Chick-fil-A?)

Being of the beef persuasion, I love Five Guys for high-quality, fast, any-way-you-want burgers at a reasonable price. They include Burgers & Fries in their name for a reason featuring two types of fries. Gamlin is not alone regarding a Five Guys fries following, which includes ChowHound and SeriousEats.

When he and his companion found themselves stuck in midday Manchester, N.H., traffic, Gamlin heard all he needed to hear: an invitation to a Five Guys lunch. “Delicious burgers, awesome fries and my favorite orange soda,” he thought.

The pleasant consumer moment was not over after the consuming, as Gamlin’s good nature was again looking for an outlet. He observed an employee quietly working hard to straighten rows of chairs and tables cleaning up crumbs along the way to assure a perfect meal experience — all without any fanfare.

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Gamlin wanted to create some. “How does it feel to be serving the best french fries around?” he asked.

She smiled and thanked him, and many might have stopped there. Then she added, “If they’re ever cold, and not perfectly hot and fresh, please come and tell us! I try to stress to my team to do their best, always.”

She shook Gamlin’s hand, saying, “My name is Denise. I am the manager.”

An author and speaker, Gamlin says he gets to be positive for a living. And so can a lot of other people in the service industry. But sometimes they forget. This manager didn’t.

While no one else providing us a service or product should forget either, the global message is that we can all do our part as consumers to encourage a positive interaction, by realizing it goes both ways.

What do I mean?

Have you met people like Denise in your busy day, who take pride in their work no matter what it is? Do you say something positive? Or are we in a default what-can-I-complain-about-today mood seemingly so prevalent in our privileged society? And if you think they are just doing what you are paying for, how do you feel when you go back to your work after your burger (oops, I mean fries) to hear a compliment? What happened to — gasp — manners?

And at the end of the day, how do people talk about you when they go home?

When we have more burgers (and other products) to choose from than ever, fries are really not the issue. Attitude is.

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Both theirs and yours.

  • Lee

    Actually, I always make a point of telling someone when they have provided good customer service. Have done for years. Have gone out of my way in some situations to email a manager to do so. So many people work so hard without getting positive feedback, only negative.

    For all those people who offer only what the company line/script tells them, there are many others who will spend the extra time and effort to find a way to make something right.

    I am not patting myself on the back for this effort at all – but, I did learn along the way how much it can make a difference when needing assistance and also how important it is for morale for employees. To ask their name, to say thank you and why you felt they did great – how can that not mean something to anyone regardless of what business they are in?

  • Regina Litman

    Friday, I had to visit four retail/service establishments to get some satisfactions. The person who waited on me at the first place had a pretty negative attitude. I feared I’d get similar treatment at the other places, but at each one, I had such a positive experience that I would not hesitate to return. But I probably won’t return to the first place I visited.

    It was Friday the 13th, and it was mostly lucky for me.

  • AAGK

    I love 5 Guys!

  • Peter Varhol

    I finally ate at a Five Guys about two years ago. I was really unimpressed by the quality of the burger; it was really no more (and probably less) than a Wendys. That doesn’t mean that Gamlin didn’t have a good customer service experience, but I don’t see any distinction between Five Guys and most other fast food joints, I’m sorry.

  • Stephen0118

    I’ll have to agree with you, Peter. I ate at Five Guys once and it was ok. Personally, I prefer In-n-Out. Their fries are great (better than McDonald’s) and the customer service is great also.

  • MarkKelling

    When Five Guys first opened around me, their burgers and everything else on the menu was the best I ever had. But then something happened. I don’t know what, maybe expanding too fast?, but the food quality suffered. the burgers became greasy, the fried were undercooked or had absorbed so much fat they were inedible. So I stopped going. However, recently I ate at a couple of them in opposite ends of the country and they both were very good again. Maybe not the excellent level they were when I first ate their food, but much improved. It seems they are better during peak meal hours. Might be worth a try again.

  • MarkKelling

    I am still waiting for IN-n-Out to make it to my part of the world. They are now a drivable distance from my home (it I want make a full day of it).

    The fresh cut fries are unbeatable. The burgers are well prepared and tasty. Every time I get to San Francisco, which is fairly often for work, I eat at the first In-n-Out i ever ate at and the food has never changed.

  • MarkKelling

    I have noticed I get much better customer service at places where the employees seem happy to be there. Five Guys is one of those places. Another is Chick-fil-a, and Starbucks. I don’t know why their employees are happier, but because they are it seems they make fewer mistakes that require customer service to fix. And every happy employee at those places seem to have the ability to make decisions to fix problems for their customers without involving management for simple things. Maybe other companies who have customer service problems could do what these companies are doing.

  • Peter

    I think Five Guys has great fries but it is their corporate policy to have all meat well-done and cover the dryness with cheese or sauce. It is what happens when lawyers run the kitchen. I am lucky to live in an area with many burger options. At In N Out you can get medium rare, and at other providers as well.

  • AMA

    I’m sure it varies by location, but the Lowes I use is exemplary. When they installed my carpeting, I received THREE follow-up calls – one the same day from Lowes, making sure that everything was done to my satisfaction, another call the next day from the actual contractor to make sure everything was okay, and to double-check that I knew about their one-year service warranty, and yet a THIRD call a few days later from the flooring department manager. Recently I was buying appliances and a sink for our kitchen renovation. The appliance manager got me set up with the appliances (and actually steered me away from a model that he said was “too expensive”) and then personally walked me over to the plumbing manager because I had to buy the sink from the plumbing department. Both of them did some sort of computer inventory magic to make sure everything arrived on the same truck instead of the sink one day and the appliances the next. Ten gold stars for Lowes.

  • Lindabator

    It is SO nice to hear something positive as well. Years ago, was working for United Airlines, and a supervisor came over to me to say we needed to talk. So joined her in the office, where she handed me a file. Inside was a wonderful letter from a guest I had assisted the previous week. She had written because she not only wanted to thank me for being kind and compassionate, but because she also wanted my bosses to know. My sup smiled, told me this orchid letter (as they were called) would go into my permanent file, and to my surprise, go a paid day off and a small personal gift as a good going from UAL. NICE surprise, and nice to know you are appreciated – went a long way to brightening up the day!

  • Lindabator

    Don’t know where that is – I always order medium well, and they are great

  • Tricia K

    I have worked in the miserable retail area for more years than I care to remember in spite of a degree in journalism. Everywhere you go these days, you are are asked to fill out a survey about your experience and it makes me crazy, but not why you probably think. If the employer or the customer did a good job (beyond not crushing my bread with a can of tomatoes), I will let their manager know, either in person or by mail. Same goes for lousy service. There are always those who will go above and beyond, no matter what they are paid. As one who had been in the trenches, I assure you those “thank you’s” and “nice job” comments go a long way. And I have witnessed customers who reported a bad experience to a manager, and watched a few co-workers see their job titles reduced fairly swiftly afterwards. I used to have customers who looked for me when they had an issue at the store where I worked in Memphis, because whether I could help them when their check got turned down or not, I did so with kindness and compassion. And they would cut me a break when the lines at the registers got long because they knew I was doing everything I could with the number of employees management allowed at any given time. Too bad I can’t give customer service training to some of the TSA agents I’ve had the misfortune of dealing with –especially yesterday leaving CMH.

  • Tricia K

    I think it’s kind of a love/hate thing, and depends greatly on what else is in your area. When I get stuck at at Reagan airport because my flight is delayed, I am quite happy to pass the time enjoying one of their burgers–although I learned the hard way to order the small burgers and the smallest serving of fries–especially if I don’t have someone to share it with.

  • Peter

    I don’t much difference between “medium well” and “well done” meat. Both are grey, dry, and flavorless.

  • gpx21dlr

    Uh, never been in person but you say “it is really good. Great fries.” Duh, how do you know?

  • cscasi

    My wife and I visited the local Five Guys and we were disappointed. The hamburgers were good but the fries are not that great (at least that is our opinion). The prices are a bit higher than several other comparable places and the seating area is average. You have to place your order at the counter and then when the food is finally ready, you go to a different part of the counter and collect it. The fries came in a cup and were sorta soggy. They say they cook them in peanut oil, but there was not a lot of flavor in them. Again, this is just our first hand account for one visit; our first and last.

  • AAGK

    It is called delivery. Who upvoted you?!

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