The In & Out Way
For those of you who don't know, In & Out burger is one of the most admired brands on the West Coast. They are only in a few states, so if you haven't heard of them I'm not surprised. If you have, I'm sure you've heard things such as: Friendly service, fresh food, great business model, etc... All good things, short of waiting in line with a bunch of others that will sacrifice some time for cheap, fresh, delicious food that is served by a friendly staff.
So what does this have to do with my title "So...Just Tomatoes and Spread?"
I actually just got back from In & Out. I ordered the same thing I do everytime, and they confirmed my order the same way they do EVERYTIME. Literally, the conversation is exactly the same everytime I order. It goes like this.
Me: Hi, I'll take a number 1 with a coke.
Person taking my order: Would you like onions?
Me: No, and no lettuce either.
Person: So... Just tomatoes and spread?
Me: That's right.
They give me my total and go on my way.
I've never thought much of this, and you might not either. But after going here over 100 times, and it going the SAME EXACT WAY, EVERY SINGLE TIME, I couldn't help but notice. It made me wonder about the company, and what they're doing that they can have the kind of system wide coordination and execution of even the smallest detail. How can 100's of different people serve me, and all of them ask the same exact question? They doesn't happen anywhere else, at any other restaurant or store. It blew my mind.
Here's a little bit of what I discovered:
1. They pay top dollar in terms of fast food compensation. They out do the competition by 20% easily.
2. They promote solely from within. Managers pay their dues, but it's worth it if she sticks it out. Many of their store managers are making 6 figures, and the top store managers are making near 200,000. Not bad for managing a fast food restaurant, eh?
3. They are family owned and operated. A deeply religious family, that refuses to go public or franchise out.
4. Their rules are tough and they are strictly enforced. I know of a friend's brother who was fired for giving out a free cup to a friend. There is no grey area. Rules are set, and if you don't follow them you can find another job.
This culture of discipline is the same that we all could use more of. I know when building my franchise for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, I'm going to be thinking how can I get my employees to be the "Spread and Tomatoes" type of people.
If you got nothing else out of this, then maybe this insight will be useful at some point in time...
The company is now in the hands of young heiress of the family. Maybe she'll be the one to go public, or franchise? If she does, I'd highly suggest getting some stock, or buying a franchise. It's a winning brand!