In-N-Out Stuns Fans with Controversial Announcement After 75 Years: A Bold Move of Genius

Few brands have the loyal following of In-N-Out Burger. If you live outside of California, it’s hard to really understand just how beIoved the brand is among its fans. If you live in California, it’s just a part of the experience. Until you leave, that is.
Most of that love comes from the fact that, as far as fast food goes, In-N-Out is about as good as it gets. Of course, a lot of its appeal also comes from the fact that the company’s 385 locations are located almost entirely in California and its neighboring states.

If, however, you live any further east of the Rockies, you’ve been out of luck. If that’s you, your only opportunity has been to find one when you travel west. Well, until now.
Last week, the company announced that it would be opening a corporate hub in Franklin, Tennessee, which will allow it to expand further east. In-N-Out also says it will be opening its first stores in the Nashville area by 2026.
If you’re a fan of animal-style fries, you understand that this is a big deal. It’s also a huge risk for the company and its brand. Here’s why:

This is a company that is fiercely opposed to change. It hasn’t added a menu item since 2018 (hot chocolate). It still sells just burgers, fries, soft drinks, and milkshakes. As a result, the restaurant is known for both fresh, great-tasting food and incredible customer service. I can think of only one other restaurant where you can get in a drive-thru line 30 cars deep and still have hot food in just a few minutes, and that one isn’t open on Sundays.
There is clearly a lot of demand for new locations. That seems like an argument for expanding to new states, but it’s also why the move is risky.

You see, over the past 75 years, In-N-Out has jeaIously guarded its brand. A big part of that has meant recognizing that fast growth isn’t everything if it means compromising quality. After all, quality is its brand.
In-N-Out only uses fresh, never-frozen ingredients–including its beef. That makes its burgers and fries taste better, but it also means the restaurant is limited in the areas it can serve.
The company also doesn’t franchise its locations. That has allowed it to maintain far more control over the level of service its restaurants provide, but has also meant it kept things close to home.
“You put us in every state and it takes away some of its luster,” said In-N-Out president Lynsi Snyder in a 2018 interview. She was right. Part of the reason the company’s burgers have such a loyal following is because they’re hard to get–especially if you live east of the Rocky Mountains.

It takes a lot of courage–if you think about it–to resist the temptation to grow at all costs. The thing is, most companies don’t consider that those costs are real, even if they aren’t immediately obvious. If the quaIity of your product gets worse the more customers you serve, you’re doing it wrong.
If, suddenly, there are In-N-Out Burger locations everywhere, it’s not as special. If you’re used to swinging by the Sepulvida location when you land at Los Angeles International Airport, and eating a Double-Double while watching planes land, it’s not quite as special an experience if you can get one on your way home from work.

On the other hand, there is value in meeting your customers where they are. In-N-Out is a restaurant, after all, not an amusement park. Sure, people look forward to eating there when they travel, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to grow–even if that means cautiously.

“Our Customers are our most important asset at In-N-Out, and we very much look forward to serving them in years to come, and becoming part of the wonderfuI communities in The Volunteer State,” said Synder in a statement. That’s an important acknowledgment–the part about customers being the company’s most important asset.

The interesting lesson here is that there is a balance between exclusivity and meeting your customers where they are. For a variety of reasons, In-N-Out has erred on the side of sticking close to home, even if that means it can’t serve all of its customers. That’s been a winning strategy so far, and I don’t think that will change just because it’s sIowly starting to open more locations farther east.

Trypophobia

Trypophobia is a relatively lesser-known psychological phenomenon characterized by an intense aversion or fear of clustered patterns of small holes, bumps, or irregular shapes. While not officially recognized as a distinct mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), trypophobia has gained attention in recent years due to its prevalence and the emotional distress it can cause in individuals who experience it.

People with trypophobia often react strongly to images or objects that exhibit repetitive and closely packed small holes, such as lotus seed pods, honeycombs, or certain types of coral. The term “trypophobia” itself is derived from the Greek words “trypo,” meaning “hole,” and “phobia,” indicating an irrational fear. It’s important to note that trypophobia is not limited to specific shapes or textures; it encompasses a wide range of stimuli, and triggers can vary from person to person.

The fear response associated with trypophobia may manifest as feelings of discomfort, anxiety, nausea, or even panic attacks. Some individuals may go to great lengths to avoid situations or objects that could trigger their trypophobia, impacting their daily lives. While the exact cause of trypophobia remains unclear, researchers speculate that it may be linked to evolutionary factors, as some dangerous animals and plants exhibit similar patterns in nature.

Social media and the internet have played a significant role in popularizing trypophobia, with numerous online communities sharing images and discussions related to this phenomenon. The widespread dissemination of trypophobic triggers has led to increased awareness and recognition of this condition. However, it’s crucial to approach the topic with sensitivity, as exposure to triggering images can genuinely distress individuals who experience trypophobia.

Despite its prevalence, trypophobia remains an area of ongoing research, and professionals in psychology and psychiatry continue to explore its origins, manifestations, and potential treatments. Understanding trypophobia can contribute to more compassionate and informed discussions about mental health, promoting empathy and support for those who grapple with this unique fear.

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