Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Miracle of In-n-Out

I overheard someone at work today who said, "In-n-Out is basically the same as MacDonald's except for higher quality burgers." Okay, I agree that In-n-Out's quality standards are exemplary. But otherwise, I completely disagree with his statement. And, being a PITA curmudgeon, I had to tell him so. Here's more or less what I said (edited to improve clarity, wit and logical structure):

I like In-n-Out's food, but I looove the way they run their business. Here's a list of reasons why:
(I love lists. You'll see...)
  1. The menu; it's simple, focused and never changes. They serve a small number of excellent items. They do not insult their customers by trotting out crazy ass stuff like Choco Tacos or McRib sandwiches. Burgers, fries, soft drinks, lemonade and shakes. That's it.
  2. Service. The staff are always well trained, well managed and well paid; as a result, service is uniformly excellent. Ask yourself: Have you ever been to an In-n-Out and NOT been spoken to in a genuinely (or at least convincingly) friendly and enthusiastic manner? Have you ever heard a rude comment from an employee? Have you ever been ignored by an employee who was chatting with a co-worker? I haven't. maybe that's because In-n-Out pays significantly more than California's already high minimum wage, and every store is corporate owned and managed. (In-n-Out is not a franchise.)
  3. Cleanliness. The place is clean. The counters, the tables, the bathrooms, everything.
  4. Meaningful innovation. Not the ice cream as taco innovation of Taco Bell. For instance, when the drive-thru lines began snaking out through parking lots, In-n-Out began employing walk-up staff who take orders ahead of the kiosk via wireless handheld devices. This makes the drive-thru line go much faster. I don't know if In-n-Out invented this technique or not, but they've surely done well in their implementation.
  5. Quality. Fresh, high quality ingredients, nothing's frozen (except the ice cream in the milkshakes) and your burgers are always made to order, not in advance. The fries are made on the spot from real potatoes.
  6. Value. I can eat a complete meal at In-n-Out for $4. And I know it will be fresh and tasty. Mmmmm, boy.
By the way, the only fast food burger I like better than In-n-Out? Tommy's. Tommy's actually shares a lot of the qualities of In-n-Out, but with chili sauce on top. ... And they do breakfast. Oh yeah, with chili sauce.

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