How In-N-Out Withstood Competition By Not Changing Anything and Taking Care of Employees

burger

Under her three-year tenure, In‑N‑Out has expanded—cautiously—into Texas, a move she says has been in the works for a decade. That foray brought one rare, considerably less-than-daring change to the company’s formula: It added iced sweet tea to the menu. “We knew that everybody loves sweet tea there,” Snyder explains. “It’s not that hard. We just need to bring sugar in.” But don’t expect to see it on the menu in Orange County anytime soon, because, she says, “Texas is so separated from here.”

Instead, Snyder concentrates on subtle improvements. While she’s an iced-coffee lover, she has never considered adding that or any other fancy coffee drinks to the menu as McDonald’s has. Instead, she set out to improve In‑N‑Out’s basic brew. “I went to the [supplier’s] plant, and did the taste test, and learned about the beans, all the things related to coffee,” she says. “So now I feel like an educated coffee-ist.”

Similarly, she often takes a hand in what would seem like branding details too minor for the involvement of a CEO, such as supervising radio ads and overseeing the design of the classic car T-shirts the company sells in its gift store, in restaurants, and online. She runs teamwork-building workshops and conferences that, at another company, would be the province of a human resources subordinate.

Instead of focusing on the size of her restaurant chain, “I put more thought into how we’re going to maintain the family atmosphere and the closeness,” she says. “We do a lot more that we weren’t doing, getting everyone together more.” Indeed, In‑N‑Out Burger has a reputation for taking unusually good care of its workforce. According to the Web publication Business Insider, In‑N‑Out ranked highest among 13 fast-food chains in pay, with workers starting at $10.50 an hour—nearly $2 more than its next-closest competitor.

In Orange Coast magazine, Patrick Kiger profiles Lynsi Snyder, the 31-year-old president of In-N-Out Burger who is maintaining the legacy of the company her grandparents founded in the 1940s. Read more profiles at Longreads.

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Photo: Jeremy Hall

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Mike is the managing editor at Longreads, on the editorial team at WordPress.com, and is the editor of The Billfold. He has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, Pacific Standard, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.
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