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10 Reasons Why In-N-Out Burger is a Business Success
The book In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules , is the story of the legendary California company and its sought-after burgers. In-N-Out burger fans will travel (in some cases) hundreds of miles for their burger fix. Why does In-N-Out Burger have such devoted customers, and what home-based business lessons can be gained from In-N-Out? Here are ten reasons, listed below:
- Well-paid employees. In-N-Out employees are paid more than other fast-food employees, given benefits, and extensive training. Employees aren't simply told (as employees are at most other companies) that they are "our company's best assets"; then paid pittances, forced to participate in indoctrinating pep rallies, and expected to be grateful for it.
- A very simple menu. Since In-N-Out's founding by Harry and Esther Snyder in 1948, the chain has maintained an extremely simple menu that focuses on its core products: burgers, fries, and drinks. No Asian Sesame Salads or Chipotle Chicken Wraps here.
- Regional mystique. Located only in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah - In-N-Out's lack of presence in the other 46 states and outside of the U.S. seems to enhance its iconic status, not detract from it.
- An awesome product. If what you sell is mediocre, the peripheral details don't matter.
- Location, location, location. Since its inception, In-N-Out has put stores near very busy freeway interchanges. This early years strategy put the chain in front of millions of busy but hungry California drivers looking for speed and quality. While the chain has since moved deeper into urban areas, it still craves high-traffic locations.
- Debt-free growth. In-N-Out maintained a policy of opening new stores in its earlier years only when they could be paid for without debt. This policy has been relaxed over the years, yet In-N-Out still refrains from overleveraging itself in the quest for expansion. A quest that has killed off less astute companies over the years.
- Privately held. There has never been a shortage of potential suitors willing to buy out the company or individuals seeking to purchase franchised locations. In-N-Out has steadfastly refused to take the company public or sell franchises - instead keeping a firm hand on every single store's operations.
- Fantastic service. The exchange between customer and cashier at any other fast-food joint is unremarkable. It's business as usual: place your order, then move on. At In-N-Out, the smiles you receive (you ALWAYS receive smiles) are genuine and impossible to ignore. In-N-Out employees are so genuinely pleased to deal with you that you'll feel slightly obnoxious if you don't feel as pleased dealing with them in return. It's refreshing.
- Lean marketing. In-N-Out uses well-placed freeway billboards, a rather spare television and radio budget in comparison to other chains, and a marketing message that changes so little that most Californians know the In-N-Out jingle by heart. It's always been hip to wear an In-N-Out t-shirt in places where the chain doesn't exist. Customers do most of the marketing, however, thanks largely to In-N-Out's...
- Iconic, cult-like status. All of the above points help to give In-N-Out the status that it enjoys from its devoted customers; a status that all other companies yearn for and spend millions of dollars to achieve. Customers aren't so much customers as they are fans. Unfortunately for those companies - it's a status that can't be purchased, and takes years to gain and maintain.
Please, dear In-N-Out: don't change a thing as you continue to grow! Signed, your fans. P.S.: the "crossed palms" in front of every In-N-Out store are an homage to founder Harry Snyder's fondness for the movie "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"*. The members of the Snyder family, especially former company head Rich Snyder, who died tragically in a plane crash in 1993, are very religious - hence the references to biblical quotes on some In-N-Out packaging over the years. *From "In-N-Out Burger..." by Stacy Perman; p. 159.