Members of the cult of Apple might give them a run for their money, but you won’t meet a more loyal customer than a customer of In-N-Out burgers. It’s common for overnight lines to develop before grand openings, despite the fact that the family owned restaurant does’t do anything intentional to build buzz. This fast-food hamburger restaurant actually beets Burger King and McDonald’s on per-store sales. In addition, they have one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the industry. Here are five things your business can learn from In-N-Out about building loyal customers.
1. They have a good product. From their inception, they have focused on the quality of their food. They are obsessed with fresh, peeling and cutting potatoes every day in every store. You won’t find a heat lamp or a freezer in one of their restaurants. Your business must have a good product or service. Without this fundamental feature, advertising dollars are wasted and websites are worthless.
2. They have a secret menu. Though they publicly offer a few standards – their menu hasn’t changed much since the first restaurant opened – loyal customers know how to ask for their burger animal style or order the flying dutchman. This feeds the frenzy because people love “exclusive.” There’s a culture build around being “in the know.” Your business needs to feed your regular customers from some kind of secret menu.
3. They aren’t everywhere. You can read stories of people who flew 300 miles just to buy a $3 hamburger. Road trips are common among the In-N-Out faithful. You don’t have to bend over backwards to meet the need of every potential customer. If your business is good enough, people will find you. They will wait in line and camp out.
4. They are simple. In-N-Out sticks to what they do, and they do it well. You won’t find salads or breakfast on the menu, which is remarkable simple. Your business cannot be good at everything. You must find the few things that you are good at doing and relentlessly focus on those things, even if it means letting good opportunities pass you by.
5. They pay people well. Historically, In-N-Out has paid their employees at least $2-3 above minimum wage. Store managers routinely make more than $100k, and the company has a great benefits plan. When you take care of your employees, they really will take care of you. Since the cost of finding great employees is high, it makes sense to take care of good people. There are ways you can do this in your business, and it doesn’t have to break the bank.