Billionaire In-N-Out Owner Takes a Stand Against Soaring Food Prices Amid California’s Minimum Wage Rise

By: Georgia | Last updated: Apr 18, 2024

In confronting California’s escalating minimum wage hikes, Lynsi Snyder, the driving force behind In-N-Out Burger, has firmly declared her opposition to the industry’s inclination towards inflating prices.

In a revealing conversation with NBC’s Savannah Sellers, she expressed her determination, stating, “I was sitting in meetings going toe-to-toe saying we can’t raise the prices that much. We can’t.”

Climbing from the Ground Up

Rather than a narrative of entitlement, Snyder’s story at In-N-Out is marked by her gradual rise from entry-level positions to the presidency by age 27. 

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A woman with long blonde hair, wearing a black shirt with the In-N-Out Burger logo, leans on a service window ledge, smiling

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Her path demonstrates her deep commitment to grasping the intricacies of the company’s operations. Reflecting on her experiences, Snyder pointed out, “I think that there is a stigma that can come with being the owner’s kid.”

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Standing Firm on Price Integrity

At a time when many fast food restaurants are quick to shift rising operational costs onto their customers Snyder sets herself apart with a steadfast refusal to impose substantial menu price increases. 

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A person's hand is holding a triple cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and onions, wrapped in paper

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Her stance, particularly in wake of the minimum wage increase to $20 per hour in California, shows that she feels a duty  to keep dining affordable. 

Price Surges at Fast Food Giants

The New York Post reports that at a Burger King in Los Angeles, customers recently faced a shock when the price of a Double Texas Whopper jumped nearly 12%, going from $15.09 to $16.89 in just a few days. 

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Exterior view of a Burger King restaurant featuring modern architecture with a large logo sign, wooden panel accents, and a row of outdoor seating. Cars are parked in the foreground

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The cost of the store’s Big Fish sandwich also increased an astonishing 53%, a $4 increase that pushed its price from $7.49 all the way up to $11.49. This dramatic rise in prices is a clear sign of the times in the fast-food industry.

The Wider Economic Impact of Price Stability

As competitors increase their prices, In-N-Out’s relative stability provides a consumer-friendly alternative that can impact the wider market.

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Economists suggest that maintaining lower prices not only attracts more customers but also sets a competitive standard that might encourage restraint among other chains (via Faster Capital).

Community Engagement and Brand Loyalty

In-N-Out’s commitment to affordable pricing extends to its community engagement efforts.

A building of In-n-Out Burger in Los Angeles International Airport at night

Source: Moto "Club4AG" Miwa/Wikimedia Commons

By sponsoring local events and supporting charitable causes, the brand reinforces its connection with customers, fostering deep loyalty that transcends mere transactional relationships.

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A Minimal Price Adjustment Amidst Rising Costs

In the midst of competitors significantly raising their prices, one of Snyder’s Los Angeles-based In-N-Out locations made a modest adjustment, raising its burger prices by just 25 cents and adding merely a nickel to the cost of drinks.

A close-up view of two people sharing a meal at a fast-food restaurant. In the foreground, there's a burger in a wrapper and a pile of fries with a creamy sauce

Source: Kenny Eliason/Unsplash

Customer Shawn Fields shared with The New York Post, “It’s such a nominal increase.” He further commented, “It seems like a reasonable amount.”

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Exploring In-N-Out's Supply Chain Resilience

To maintain low price adjustments, In-N-Out has invested heavily in supply chain optimization.

Two semi trucks driving down a highway

Source: Freepik

This includes long-term partnerships with suppliers and innovations in logistics to handle rising costs without passing them on to customers. Their approach emphasizes sustainability and efficiency.

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Choosing Tradition Over Tech Trends

Faced with the dilemma of tradition versus technology, Snyder has chosen to uphold the former, especially in her stance against the implementation of mobile ordering at In-N-Out. 

Nighttime view of an In-N-Out Burger restaurant illuminated by neon lights

Source: Jocelyn Allen/Unsplash

“No to mobile ordering because that impacts the service experience,” she explained.

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Employee Training and Retention Strategies

In-N-Out is renowned for its employee training programs and above-average industry pay (via Business Insider).

Cars lined up at a fast food drive-thru while one customer pays for their food

Source: iStock

This focus on staff well-being contributes to lower turnover rates and a more consistent customer experience, which are crucial for maintaining quality as they resist widespread tech adoption.

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In-N-Out's Environmental Commitment

Sustainability is another pillar of In-N-Out’s operations. The company has implemented measures to reduce waste and promote recycling across its locations.

A burger surrounded by French fries still half wrapped

Source: Isaac Taylor/Pexels

This environmental consciousness is part of why the brand continues to earn public trust and customer loyalty.

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The Stance Against Mobile Ordering

For nearly ten years, In-N-Out has maintained a firm stance against mobile ordering, a policy that came to the forefront when the then-emerging DoorDash attempted to deliver its meals.

A group of workers behind the counter at In-n-Out, they are wearing hats and facemasks

Source: Qi Li/Unsplash

Back in 2015, the burger chain initiated legal action against the delivery service, as reported by TMZ, asserting a lack of trust in third-party services to meet its stringent standards for handling and delivering food.

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Tech Integration Without Losing Touch

Despite rejecting mobile ordering, In-N-Out has not completely shied away from technology.

Tech chips in a green motherboard

Source: PxHere

They’ve implemented tech upgrades that enhance kitchen efficiency and order accuracy (via SF Gate), proving that technology can be used to support service quality rather than diminish it.

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A Contrast in Fast Food Trends

Just a month before Snyder made her thoughts on mobile ordering known, Chick-Fil-A was making waves with the opening of a new ‘grab and go‘ spot in New York City. 

A Chick-fil-a restaurant storefront on a busy New York street corner, various pedestrians can be seen walking on the sidewalk

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This fresh take on fast food did away with the usual setup of cashiers, tables, and chairs. Instead, customers had to order ahead on their phones and swing by just to pick up their food, with no option to sit and eat inside.

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A Look into In-N-Out's Marketing Strategies

Unlike many competitors, In-N-Out maintains a unique marketing approach that relies heavily on word-of-mouth and minimal traditional advertising.

Woman smiling as she eats a to-go burger

Source: Freepik

This strategy keeps their marketing costs low and supports their commitment to not raising prices unnecessarily.

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Embracing Authentic Leadership

Reflecting on her early leadership days, Snyder recalls adopting a formal business attire to establish her authority. 

This photo shows Lynsi Snyder posing with two young men, she is in the center wearing a blue coat whilst the two guys either side of her are both wearing gray hooded jumpers

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“In the earlier days, I actually wore pant suits, and I did that because I felt like I was supposed to,” she said.

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Valuing Roots Over Convenience

Snyder remains a stalwart advocate for In-N-Out’s founding principles, despite the temptations of operational efficiency through advancements in tech. 

An open takeout container of In-N-Out Animal Fries, featuring fries topped with melted cheese and a signature creamy sauce

Source: Kevin Lanceplaine/Unsplash

“There are a lot of things that could be cheaper, easier, but that’s not the system we go through,” she asserts.

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Celebrating Over 70 Years of Tradition

Screenshot of In N Out 75th Anniversary

Source: In N Out

This milestone is celebrated through a series of customer appreciation events and limited-time offers that highlight the brand’s long-standing tradition and commitment to quality without compromising on modern expectations.

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A Considered Approach to Expansion

Expressing her vision for In-N-Out, Snyder prioritizes maintaining the brand’s distinct appeal over aggressive nationwide expansion. 

This image shows the exterior of an In-N-Out restaurant with a plane flying closely overhead

Source: Lukas Souza/Unsplash

She notes, “I don’t see us stretched across the whole U.S.,” suggesting a strategic choice to preserve the chain’s exclusivity and identity.

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Future Vision: Innovative Store Designs

Looking forward, In-N-Out is exploring innovative store designs that could integrate more efficiently into urban environments.

A close-up photo of a person's hand holding a double cheeseburger wrapped in paper. The burger features two beef patties, slices of melted cheese, tomato, and pickles, with a soft bun

Source: Blake Guidry/Unsplash

These concepts aim to maintain the speed and convenience of fast-food while enhancing the customer dining experience.

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In-N-Out's Approach to Digital Feedback

While resisting the trend towards mobile ordering, In-N-Out actively engages with customers through digital feedback mechanisms.

The exterior of an In-N-Out Burger restaurant in the evening, featuring its distinctive red awning with white palm tree decorations

Source: Kyle Smith/Unsplash

This allows the company to gather insights and respond to customer needs without changing the fundamental ordering process.

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In-N-Out's Commitment to Family Values

Snyder is no stranger to getting calls and messages pushing her to either sell In-N-Out or launch it into the public market with an IPO. 

This image shows a box of food from In-N-Out. There are two cheeseburgers, a portion of animal fries and two portions of regular fries

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Yet, her answer has always been a clear and firm no. She holds dear the fact that In-N-Out is a family-run, private business and doesn’t shy away from weaving her faith into its fabric, something that’s visibly echoed in the Bible verses you’ll find on the packaging. “We’re a family company, we’re a private company, and this is who we are. I’m unashamed of my faith,” Snyder says.

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Lynsi Snyder's Leadership Philosophy

Snyder’s leadership extends beyond business decisions. She actively mentors young entrepreneurs, emphasizing the importance of ethics and personal integrity in business.

A night-time view of the illuminated In-N-Out Burger sign, featuring its iconic yellow arrow on a red background. The sign is prominent against the dark sky, with light trails from passing vehicles

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Her approach reflects a blend of traditional values and modern leadership practices.

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The Next Generation of In-N-Out Leadership

As In-N-Out looks to the future, plans for nurturing the next generation of leadership include extensive training in the company’s foundational values combined with exposure to innovative business practices.

The iconic In-N-Out Burger sign with its red and white color scheme stands tall against a clear sky, framed by multiple palm trees

Source: Vanessa Serpas/Unsplash

This strategy ensures the brand’s enduring legacy and adherence to its core principles.

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