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In-N-Out Burger Leadership – Does Micro-Managing Work?

Innout_logo I am currently reading “In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules” by Stacy Perman. It is an interesting story of one of the most successful fast food chains ever.


What is it about In-N-Out Burger that has led to its huge success? What is it that creates a cult like following for these hamburgers, which is never more apparent then when a new In-N-Out Burger opens and people wait in line up to four hours to get a cheeseburger? Is it the fanatical attention to quality? Is it the careful, non-franchise and early on debt free approach (though they lease today) to opening new burger joints? Is it the simplicity of the menu and focus on customer service? Or is it the troops of fiercely loyal and well paid employees? Certainly you could argue for each of these and more, but I believe it is founded in its homegrown and loyal leadership.


The only way you become an In-N-Out Burger is through sound and solid leadership – period. And Harry Snyder, the founder, was a great one. And though he would be considered a micro-manager, it worked for him. Without his attention to detail in the early days and putting his hand into everything they did, In-N-Out would have been nothing more than a 99 cent Whopper.


One of Harry’s and his wife Esther’s biggest dilemmas early on was whether they open another stand. Harry knew that every time they opened a new place, he would lose more control. But because he had employees he cared about that had been loyal to him for several years and showed managerial promise, they decided to do so. These early leaders were home grown and had started by peeling potatoes like everyone else. They knew what Harry expected because he managed every detail. Because of Harry’s micro-managing style and expectations, his vision has lived on through his home grown, family leadership. Have you seen other examples of micro-managing that have led to successful teams, departments or companies? Is it always a bad thing to micro-manage?


Okay, that’s enough blogging. I think I will take a drive 48 miles south. I all of a sudden have this craving.

You can order the book In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules through amazon by clicking on the link below.

Mike Rogers
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