In-n-Out Burger: Consistency, Animal Style

I recently took a trip out to California and had my first dinning experience with In-n-Out Burger. I really reveled in the experience, because they’ve really nailed, what in my mind, makes a great product.

Immediately In-n-Out Burger’s menu jumped out at me. In my day to day operations I’m often tasked with conveying information quickly. The web is my domain, but regardless of medium, the most easy to convey information is also simple information. I’ve commented before on how Apple has been successful following this mantra. So when I walked into In-and-Out, expecting to become quickly stressed with an overload of options, sizes, and extras, I was pleasantly surprised to find this instead:

In-n-Out Burger Menu

No tricks here. A simple set of options, listed by price. A whopping 34 possible menu options by my count. Which seems pretty easy when I compare it to any other fast food places - yeah, that’s right, no salads here. Even the option I found most delicious - “animal style”, is unlisted on the menu. Talk about restraint and compromise. So, we sit down to eat and I’m anxious. I’ve heard good things, and am happy thus far, but just because they have a simple menu, doesn’t say anything about the food. Fresh ingredients: crunchy lettuce, a thick tomato wedge you can actually sink your teeth into, tasty sauce, and real beef, all on a toasted buttery bun. French fries, cut from whole potatoes right before your eyes. Delicious.

First experience was a huge success. But what was really inspiring were the subsequent visits (I tallied 6 charges on my credit card statement after the trip). In-and-Out Burger, beyond making delicious burgers, wins because they’re consistent. The deliver the same experience every meal at every location. The menus, burgers, fries, outfits, tile, floor-plan, receipts, toilet paper - all, exactly the same from store to store. It’s like someone came through with a Chinook and just airdropped them into a lot. This serves the customers, while most not as detail obsessed as I, in making the experience more familiar and completely reliable. And it serves the franchise; just think how much money was saved not having to re-hash every detail.

I was really impressed, and will think back to my experiences there while working in my domain. But first… something to eat.

Thanks for reading! I'm Avand.

I am a full-stack software engineer, product designer, and teacher. I’ve been working on the web for over a decade and am passionate about building great products.

I currently work at Airbnb, where I help internal product teams stay abreast with customer feedback. Before that, I was at Mystery Science, transforming how elementary school teachers teach science. And since 2013, I’ve worked on-and-off with General Assembly, teaching aspiring developers what I know about front-end web development.

I was born in Boston, grew up in Salt Lake City, and spent many years living in Chicago. Now, I call San Francisco my home.

I’m an aspiring rock climber. I have a love affair with music and cars, especially vintage BMWs and Volkswagens. One day, I’ll buy a van and transform it into an offroad-capable camping rig.

But that’s enough about me. How can I help you?

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