Good morning readers;
My blog today is going to warm the cockles of our dear liberal friend, Jerry's heart. So "lettuce" begin;
Yesterday I was on my way to pick up my week's bread supply at Wildflower Bread company. They are up on Bell Road, in the Arrowhead area which probably has more restaurants per square mile than anywhere I've ever seen. Many of them do well because the area is venue to theaters, MLB spring training and other entertainment places.
So I pick up my bread and I head back toward the freeway when I look over and see that maintenance crews are busy shutting down and shuttering the area Jack in The Box. "Well, I'll be damned," said I. You see, I had them going out of business a couple of years ago and somehow they prevailed. You see, the franchise owner built his Jack in the Box not thirty feet from an In N Out Burger franchise. Now that took all kinds of stupidity.
Folks, if you're not familiar with In N Out Burger, you may as well skip over to your crossword puzzle or to the Huffington Post, cause you probably won't enjoy the irony of this. In N Out Burger is a private hamburger chain, still owned by the pioneering family who started it. Although expanding, they are now only in selective locations in California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. Their menu is pretty basic...they serve hamburgers, fries, cokes and shakes and that's it. But they do it in an open kitchen where you can see them grill and assemble your burgers, peel the potatoes for the fries and then present it to you hot and juicy....cause there's not a microwave in the place.
They operate from 10AM to Midnight or so and their parking lot is usually full and their restaurant is busy throughout the day and night. Along with your burger and fries and strawberry shake you're gonna get a huge smile from the employee as he/she seem really pleased to serve you. When the drive-thru is backed up, they send a worker out into the parade of cars and begin taking your order on a electronic tablet and send it to the kitchen. The only draw back to frequenting an In N Out Burger is that your lap will be soaked from salivating in anticipation of those wonderful fat burgers loaded with fresh crispy lettuce, thick slices of fresh tomato and sweet slices of Georgia onion!
And they charge a dollar more for a combo than Jack's or Mickey or The King. So how do they do all that? How do they get employees working like a fast paced, well-oiled team, working together, laughing and truly enjoying their work?
Well In N Out starting pay is $10.50 an hour...and that's for a "clean up associate"...you know the ones that run the hourly bathroom checks, sweep up and mop the floors in front and back, take out the garbage? Once you've mastered "clean up associate" you get to join the cashier team! If you can learn to smile and press "2" for the "Double-Double" you'll soon be on the championship cooking team! They're kinda like those Japanese chef's who split shrimp in mid air in those Japanese restaurants...everybody likes watching them do their thing.
Oh! And if you stick around a while, and if you really want to , In N Out will promote you to management and let you run one of their franchises (they own them all, no individual owners).Once you're elevated to management you get bonuses and profit sharing and support if you want to advance your education.
But, let's get back to those kids out in the kitchen. They also get flexible scheduling to accommodate their high school or college classes, or special family events. They all get paid vacations, free meals and a 401K retirement fund!
Meanwhile, the shuttered Jack in The Box next door hired out at $7.75 an hour. And you got that whether you were a good worker or a bad one, whether you secretly spit on Jumbo Jacks back in the kitchen, or not, whether you dared to serve cold fries and lukewarm burgers, or not.
Uninspiring Jumbo Jack
And Jerry, my friend, I cannot think of a better example of "what the market will bear"...provide an outstanding product or service, do it with goodwill, and the customers will flood to you. Hire good workers, motivate them, give them a sense of pride in what they do, and they will knock themselves out for you and your business. But no amount of government heavy-handedness and no government mandate setting a minimum wage will make the "wonderfulness" happen.
And yes, Jerry...I did turn in to In N Out and ordered their Double-Double with fries and a coke...and loved every minute of it.