Shake Shack CEO: The Bigger Your Business Grows, The Smaller You Need To Act

When your business is as popular as Shake Shack–the burger joint that produces some of the most impressive lines New York City has ever seen–how do you retain a sense of community, and intimate decision-making process, that comes from having a small team?

In other words: How do you make decisions like you did at the beginning?

“Every time you grow there’s a danger of people not communicating enough, people not being in touch the way that a small group of us used to,” says Randy Garutti, the company’s CEO. “So our challenge is to act small every time we decide to get bigger.”

Randy Garutti

In acting small, Garutti says, it’s important to remember, and respect, where you came from.

“The best way we think about acting smaller as we grow big, is running everything through the filter of when we built this little restaurant behind us,” he says, standing just outside Shake Shack’s first restaurant in New York City’s Madison Square Park. “It was never supposed to have a second version, so every time we look at a business decision we look at [the restaurant] and say ‘Would we have made that same decision when we only had one restaurant?'”

“And if we can say yes to that, that means it’s probably a good decision.”SS