In 1969, the first Habit Burger debuted in Santa Barbara, California. Since then, the company went public and approximately 120 locations around the country have opened, serving made-to-order burgers, salads, milkshakes and sides.

At the National Restaurant Association's Fall 2015 Marketing Executives Group meeting, Matt Hood, Habit Burger’s chief marketing officer, said the burger brand differentiates itself from the pack by offering customers fresh food, an inviting environment, above and beyond hospitality and a strong value proposition.

Exceeding guests’ expectations begins with employees. “We spend a lot of time teaching employees why we do what we do,” Hood said. “Every manager is a teacher; every restaurant is a trainee store.”

Here are five ways Habit Burger nurtures employees and, in turn, the customer experience:

  • Value staff. When employees feel valued, they’re more likely to provide top-notch customer service. “The biggest component of our manager bonus is ‘Did you develop your team?’. When I first heard that, I thought ‘That’s why they’re so happy. Someone is caring about their career. They’ll help them get to that next level they want to be,’” Hood said.
  • Define roles. Every team member should know what their responsibilities are and receive training to perform each.
  • Limit the span of control. The number of stores each Habit Burger manager oversees is intentionally kept low. By doing so, “We’re able to have more human touch points,” Hood said.
  • Prioritize quality. Habit Burger believes product speed is secondary. This philosophy starts at the top of the organization and is emphasized with all team members.
  • Remember that everyone’s connected in the industry. “Take great care in knowing who came before you; take great care in leaving in a good place for those who come after you; and take care to do your work well,” Hood said.