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4 Secrets of In-N-Out Burger’s Sustained Success

Completing our Bazaarvoice Press tour, I visited my brother in California. After a week of eating in nice restaurants, he thought I was crazy when I said, for our one night together, I wanted to have dinner at In-N-Out Burger.

Why? First, they have great food. I think there’s something about the fresh ingredients and the contrast of the thousand island sauce sweetness and the hamburgers are very salty. But they’ve had that for years.

In my experience many restaurants start to decline in quality over the years. They become complacent, unfocused, cut costs, cut quality and it’s a death spiral from there. Tony Romas is this way. But for In-N-Out, each restaurant up and down the CA coast (and I assume in other states) has been packed with customers every day I’ve visited them, as long as I can remember.

I believe the secret to In-N-Out’s sustained success is they have creative discipline. It’s an oxymoron in business and very hard to do. Balance the execution and process with the appreciation for the human side of the business and product.

Evidence of this idea, I believe there are several principles at work that have sustained In-N-Out’s success.

1) Execute Processes

2) Focus the Product and Create Simple Choices

3) Value Employees

4) Develop a Community Brand

Companies succeed with different strengths, but In-N-Out is able to balance personality with process and execution. They have their left and right brains working. Similar to companies like Southwest Airlines, Costco, and USAA. That’s good company to keep.


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