Archive for November 24th, 2013

Now for something a little different…In N Out Burger

Purchase: Amazon

This book was so good it made me go to In N Out and order a Double Double twice, while I was reading through it. There is no doubt that In N Out is one of California’s and now America’s most popular family owned burger chain that’s not franchised. Known for their old fashioned, simple and good quality food, In N Out is also known for their secret menus and references to Bible verses underneath their cups and wrappers. This book does a good job capturing the history of In N Out from it’s origin in Baldwin Park, to capturing details of the family behind the chain who tries to retain a lot of privacy, and the book even covered recent controversial history of executive infighting.

So what can Christians learn from this book about the business of In N Out Burger?

  • It was In N Out’s second generation owner Rich Snyder, the second and youngest son of Harry Snyder (the original founder) that was strongly Christian and put the Bible references in In N Out’s packaging. One shouldn’t be shy of their faith and Rich was not ashamed of the Gospel.
  • Success doesn’t always mean following what everyone else is doing, since much of In N Out business strategy goes against the rest of the industry of fast food chains. Ironically, this is what makes In N Out so popular.
  • In N Out demonstrate the truth of a Christian principle in business: It might seem paradoxical but there is some truth that if one is driven to take care of the customers and employees, the business ends up making a profit.
  • There is no substitute for quality if one wants to be successful. In N Out at the very beginning was acquiring the best meat, and everything made to precision with no compromise. It might be more costly but it brings in more business with their reputation of quality.
  • In N Out not only took care of its customers and employees, but they even paid good money above the industry’s typical costs to their suppliers as well. Taking care of their suppliers paid off during an unfortunate event in In N Out’s history, when their one and only distribution center at Baldwin Park was burned down, and fear arose as to the future of In N Out. The suppliers took the unusual step of going out of the way of delivering their good direct to each and every restaurant at the time, for a period of two years. What a lesson one can learn from this.
  • Harry Snyder has a non-jealous understanding of his competitors, seeing them as friends rather than enemies. Harry and his wife were even long time friends with the founders of Carl’s Jr., who themselves has the same understanding that competitors often made one’s business better due to competition rather than see rivals as enemies to hate.
  • Although most people today think it was Wendy’s Burger that first invented the the drive thru “talkies,” the book argues that it was really Harry Snyder, the founder of In N Out, who was the first to invent the drive thru “talkies” in the 1940s, over two decades before Wendy’s first drive thru. One should not be afraid to try something different from one’s competitor.
  • Harry’s innovation is also tampered with the idea that if something is not broken, then one must not try to fix it. As a result of knowing what “works,” In N Out is famous for their fierce resistance to change, such as changing or adding items to the menu. In contrast to this, one sees how franchise fast food’s multiple menu options don’t always translate into success, and can be a liability business wise.
  • Rich died young (age 41) and even before his death he always thought and spoke about how he could pass away. One sees a man with the understanding of the epistle of James that we don’t know about tomorrow.
  • Rich attended Calvary chapel and his funeral brought thousands of people who remembered him and his company.
  • The company has gone through a legal battle between an in-law, a long time company employee and the heiress of In and Out. There is an echo of Ecclesiastes 2:21 here: “When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge and skill, then he gives his [a]legacy to one who has not labored with them. This too is vanity and a great evil.”

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