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(Courtesy of Lynsi Snyder)

In-N-Out President Lynsi Snyder: Honoring Family Legacy of Faith, ‘Servant Leadership’ Is Key to Burger Chain’s Success

The Snyder family runs the famous burger chain on the basis of faith, hard work, and the philosophy of treating both employees and customers with respect.

Seventy-five years ago, California got its first taste of a drive-thru hamburger. Harry and Esther Snyder opened a modest 10-by-10-foot hamburger stand in Baldwin Park just east of Los Angeles. The sign read: “In-N-Out Hamburgers: No Delay.” Had the original location not stood in the way of the incoming Interstate 10 that stretches across the continental United States, it would still be standing. In 2014, as an homage to the original, the fast food chain constructed an exact replica of the hamburger stand near its original location. Since that first hamburger stand opened on October 22, 1948, at 4:15 pm, In-N-Out Burger has built more than 400 locations, and it has expanded as far north as Oregon and as far east as Texas.

Lynsi Snyder is the granddaughter of Harry and Esther and became president of the major fast food company in 2010. Under her guiding hand, In-N-Out Burger has continued to thrive and expand, not as a corporate conglomerate, but as a family business. As with the reconstruction of the original location, the third-generation Snyder has vowed to use the company’s history to guide its future.

(Courtesy of In-N-Out Burger)

The core of that history originates from what was known as “Harry’s bible”—a collection of managerial principles concerning how to serve customers and treat employees, ranging from how to properly toast buns to accurately filling out a daily report. “Most of the basics that my grandfather taught his managers are followed to this day,” Ms. Snyder said.

She noted that the priorities of the company are always its customers and employees, and that In-N-Out Burger seeks ways to go beyond what is expected in both customer service and work environment. “Our customers are our number one asset. They are what drive our commitment to quality, friendliness, and cleanliness,” she said. “It’s about giving the customer exactly what they want as long as it doesn’t compromise food safety or throw off our operation. Saying yes whenever possible is part of who we are.”

Lynsi Snyder with her grandmother Esther. (Courtesy of Lynsi Snyder)

From the Top

Ms. Snyder details what gave rise to this company culture in her new book, “The Ins-N-Outs of In-N-Out Burger: The Inside Story of California’s First Drive-Thru and How It Became a Beloved Cultural Icon.” The book is an amalgamation exemplifying how today’s restaurant chain continues to embrace yesterday’s core values.

In order for customers to remain satisfied, or more than satisfied, with their experience, Ms. Snyder acknowledged that it has to start from the top. It has to start with training. Like any good owner, CEO, or president knows, a company is only as good as its employees. Or to use Snyder’s term: associates. “To me, our associates are family, and we take care of them as such,” she said. “We want people to grow with us, … then stay with our company for the long-term. That’s the legacy of our family life down through the years.”

(This is a short preview of a story from the March Issue, Volume 4.)