In-N-Out Burger Employees Can Work Their Way Up To $120,000 A Year With No Degree Or Previous Experience

In-N-Out Employees Can Work Their Way Up To $120,000 A Year With No Degree Or Previous Experience

Ashley Lutz | Feb. 27, 2013, 11:49 AM | 2,624 | 4

In-And-Out Burger prides itself on being a better fast food chain.

Employees start at a higher-than-average salary and even have the opportunity to advance to make $120,000, according to a recent report from the Orange County Register.

The median pay for food service managers across restaurants nationwide is about $48,000 per year. 

The company’s benefits, which include vision, medical, and dental for part and full-time associates, are “almost unheard-of in fast food,” a line cook revealed in a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything[NOTE: While the source was verified by moderators on Reddit, Business Insider can’t independently confirm his identity.]

The man said he started out at $10 an hour but quickly moved his way up to $12.50 and will get another raise soon.

But he said he had his eye on a more prestigious management position with a big pay-out.

“Assistant managers make between $40,000 and $70,000,” he said. “You don’t need a degree or previous management experience.”

But the employee warned that everyone starts at the bottom of the hierarchy.

“You don’t start out cooking burgers actually you start at the bottom with a towel in your hand wiping down tables before you can even cook a burger,” he said.

Published: Feb. 22, 2013 Updated: Feb. 27, 2013 10:08 a.m.

Drag-racing heiress keeps In-N-Out on course

In-N-Out Burger President Lynsi Torres. 30, in front of the chain’s newest store, in Rancho Santa Margarita, on Feb. 13. Bloomberg News estimated In-N-Out’s value at $1.1 billion and called Torres the youngest female billionaire in the country.


On a recent morning, Lynsi Torres arrived in Rancho Santa Margarita for the opening of the latest In-N-Out Burger restaurant, where she mingled with cooks and counter workers and gave more than a few hugs.

Less than 24 hours later, the soft-spoken blonde was burning rubber behind the wheel of a Chevy Camaro at nearly 170 mph down a Pomona drag strip.

Lynsi Torres

Title: President of In-N-Out Burger

Born: Glendora, 1982

Home: Bradbury

Family: Married to Val Torres Jr., has two children from a previous marriage

History: The granddaughter of In-N-Out’s founders inherited the company after her grandmother, Esther Snyder, died in 2006.

Hobby: Drag races in NHRA’s Super Gas and Top Sportsman Division 7 competitions.

These are rare glimpses into the life of the elusive, intensely private In-N-Out Burger owner, a 30-year-old heiress who, after a series of family tragedies, inherited the burger empire far sooner than she ever imagined.

Torres has kept a low profile since taking the reins of the business started by her grandparents. But in a recent interview with the Orange County Register, she spoke about how she runs one of the most admired companies in the fast-food industry.

Under her watch, In-N-Out has expanded to 281 stores in five states and employs more than 16,000 people. She acknowledged the pressure to carry on the legacy that has earned In-N-Out a fanatical following.

“I really feel responsible to maintain those things that my family instilled in this company,” she said. “That’s challenging because the temptation is to cut corners and change things here and there and do what everyone else is doing.”

Doing what everyone else is doing has never been In-N-Out’s style.

Throughout its 65-year history, the Irvine-based company has grown at a deliberately slow pace and has refused to franchise its operations, which has helped it keep tight control over food quality, restaurant cleanliness and its overall image. While competitors routinely roll out new products and limited-time offers, In-N-Out’s menu has remained essentially unchanged: burgers, fries, soda and shakes.

“They’re focused like a laser beam,” said Dean Small, president of Synergy Food Consulting Group Inc. in Laguna Niguel. “They don’t have a chicken sandwich; they don’t have a fish sandwich; they don’t do breakfast. They are experts in their area because they are highly focused.”

Burger billionaire

Torres has managed to stay mostly behind the scenes by declining nearly every media interview request that has come her way. But interest in her story skyrocketed this month when Bloomberg News estimated In-N-Out’s value at $1.1 billion and called Torres the youngest female billionaire in the country.

Executives at the privately held company characterized the number as pure speculation, and Torres wasn’t interested in discussing her personal wealth. But she did say that any valuation is irrelevant because she refuses to sell In-N-Out. Ever. The thrice-married mother of twins hopes her own kids will run the company one day.

“We’re definitely not franchising, and we’re not going to sell,” she said.

Torres always figured her future was with In-N-Out, but she never expected to take over at such a young age. Her grandparents, Harry and Esther Snyder, founded the company in 1948. When Harry Snyder died in 1976, his son Rich Snyder, Torres’ uncle, took over and ran the company until he was killed in 1993 in a Santa Ana plane crash. That put the company in the hands of Torres’ father, Guy Snyder, but he died in 1999 of a prescription drug overdose. At that point, Esther Snyder took control until her death in 2006, leaving Torres, then 24 and with no college degree, as the only remaining heir.

“I had no idea In-N-Out was going to fall on my lap as soon as it did,” she said.

Torres had a partial ownership stake at the time of her grandmother’s death, and through a trust she gained 50 percent control when she turned 30 last year. She will become full owner at age 35.

Having grown up in the company, Torres had worked in a number of departments within In-N-Out, including human resources and merchandising, but she had little experience managing day-to-day operations. Initially, she was hands-off, but she has since taken on a larger role, becoming president in 2010.

“I’m definitely more involved now,” said Torres, who works primarily out of In-N-Out’s satellite corporate office in Baldwin Park, which is closer to her Bradbury home. “I do everything from design the shirts and the stuff in the company store to long-term planning. There’s nothing too big or small that I wouldn’t want to be involved with.”

Still, Torres doesn’t call the shots alone. Most major decisions are made by committee among the company’s seven-member senior management team.

The company’s leaders never discuss In-N-Out’s finances and rarely give much public insight into their operations, but analysts say there is little to suggest that Torres’ stewardship of the company has been anything but a success.

“I don’t see that she’s taken any actions to move away from their strategy,” said Randall Hiatt, president of restaurant consulting firm Fessel International Inc. in Costa Mesa. “In-N-Out has been so consistent. Their focused strategy has really worked. It’s highly admired throughout the industry.”

Slow growth

That doesn’t mean Torres’ tenure has been entirely smooth. In early 2006, Richard Boyd, a former vice president with the company, filed a lawsuit accusing Torres and other executives of conspiring to grab control of the company and expand rapidly; the company countersued. The two sides settled on confidential terms, but the episode garnered unwanted headlines for In-N-Out.

Since Esther Snyder died, the chain has grown from 202 restaurants to 281, or about 6 percent a year, roughly in line with historical averages.

“I give them a lot of credit for not trying to open up all across the country,” consultant Small said.

That slow growth, a hallmark of the company’s operations since the beginning, is a side-effect of its commitment to serve only high-quality, fresh food. Buns are baked fresh daily, lettuce is hand-leafed, whole Kennebec potatoes are sliced in-store, and the 100 percent American chuck beef is free of any additives or preservatives. Since In-N-Out restaurants do not have any freezers or microwaves, every new location must be within a short distance of its Baldwin Park or Dallas distribution facilities.

“Our focus (is) on quality. I think the customers really respect that,” said Torres, who added that her favorite In-N-Out meal is a double meat burger with extra spread, pickles and chopped chilies.

In-N-Out has a passionate following – Torres doesn’t like the term “cult.” Customers often line up hours in advance of new-store openings, and renowned chefs from Julia Child to Thomas Keller have professed admiration for the chain.

Torres points to In-N-Out’s consistency.

“We’re not changing things like many other companies do,” she said. “That’s kept us unique; it’s kept the customers feeling like we’re not a sellout.”

In-N-Out has long held a reputation as an attractive place to work. And that starts with salaries.

New hires earn $10 an hour, and the company prefers to promote from within for management positions.

In 2012, In-N-Out store managers made more than $120,000 on average. By comparison, the median pay for food service managers across restaurants nationwide is around $48,000 per year, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Keeping employees happy is a point of pride for Torres, who tries to connect with workers on a personal level.

“I do try to keep that family atmosphere here. That’s very important to me,” she said. “It’s really hard to keep that today, with 281 stores, it’s really hard. But I’m doing my best to keep that going.”

Barbie Fowler, who has worked for In-N-Out cleaning tables and taking orders for 18 years, called Torres “one of the most humble” people she has met.

“She is just one of us,” said Fowler, 70, noting that Torres came to her dinner celebrating 15 years with the company. “She never isn’t accommodating to anyone.”

History of racing

Torres’ attempts to carry on her family legacy extend beyond In-N-Out. Like her father, Torres is an avid drag racer, competing in amateur categories at National Hot Rod Association events.

This month, Torres, who is married to racecar driver Val Torres Jr., bested more than half the field before bowing out in the third round of the Super Gas competition at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona. In her 1984 Camaro, painted dark gray with purple flames crawling up the hood, she hit speeds of 167 mph.

Her family – and In-N-Out – has deep roots in the racing community. In 1965, Harry Snyder invested in the newly built Irwindale Raceway and remained half-owner until it was demolished in the mid-1970s. The track developed a reputation among racers for having top-notch food, supplied by Snyder.

“There’s always been a connection between In-N-Out and hot-rodders,” said Steve Gibbs, a retired NHRA executive and longtime friend of the Snyder family. “Harry was at the track a fair amount. Both his sons were fans, and it seems to have come through in Lynsi as well.”

When she was still a toddler, Torres would go with her father to the racetrack; she began competing when she turned 18. When Guy Snyder died in 1999, he left behind more than two dozen vehicles, including a number of hot rods.

Since then, racing has become more than just a hobby for Torres.

“It’s important to me,” she said, “because I feel the connection with my dad.”.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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