I had a brutal case of the flu last week and the only thing that sounded good at the tail end of it was cheeseburgers with raw onions. I have no idea why, but it did give me an opportunity to compare my local In-N-Out and Five Guys burger shops. And boy was it interesting!
I blog about In-N-Out often, as I simply love their model of raving fans, high quality, superb systems, congenial employees, and the fact that they do not have to do ANY marketing. Their stores are not just busy, they are packed!
Five Guys has certainly been successful too, but the Five Guys shop near my home charges about $2 more for its combo meal than In-N-Out does, its cashiers are noticeably less friendly, and the store is not as clean. In addition – and this is what most amazed me – despite having fewer than 1/4 of the customers of In-N-Out at any given time, their service is much slower – every time!
This is of course b/c they have not come even close to refining their systems in the same way that In-N-Out does.
When I visited In-N-Out on a Saturday night, the drive-through line was at least thirty cars long, the parking lot was 100% full of cars, and the store was 100% full of people. But despite the crowds, I still received my order in half the time that I received my recent Five Guys order.
So, despite charging less for its food, In-N-Out makes far more money than Five Guys b/c their pristine systems allow them to serve at least four times the number of customers – with faster and friendlier service to boot.
The lesson here? No matter what kind of business you have, In-N-Out illuminates the need to constantly hone systems in order to provide better service and more value at a lower price.
I’ve seen large real estate teams do this stunningly well. This is also an obsession of ours at JVM where we invest massively in faster pre-approvals, more pre-approvals per person, faster closes, and better service.
It is often exhausting and extremely expensive but ultimately worth it b/c we want to be the In-N-Out of mortgage companies. :)
Final Point: I suspect if you asked Five Guys to improve their systems, they would say they have done everything possible. But, one only needs to visit an In-N-Out to quickly realize that Five Guys could make massive improvements. This is the case for most every business including JVM.
Final Final Point: if you think you can’t systematize what you do, you’re not alone; everyone does. The book E-myth is what turned us around and I strongly suggest reading it.
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