Book Review: In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules (Amazon,) lays out the inside story of the family behind the California-based hamburger chain with a huge cult following. Excerpts are here.


Father starts a business. Son expands it. Grandson destroys it. It is an extremely common story. From the book:

According to the Family Business Forum at the University of North Carolina, only 30 percent of all family businesses are successfully transferred to the second generation, while only 12 percent make it to the third. After that, less than 3 percent make a successful transition to the fourth generation.

The saving grace of the In-N-Out Burger story is that they did not IPO or take in outside capital. Unlike so many of family owned Indian businesses that plough through minority shareholders (United Breweries, the Tata conglomerate, the Congress Party, etc…)

Scions of successful business family should be allowed to cash their trust fund checks while sipping cocktails in the Côte d’Azur. Either leave the business to be run by professions or sell out. Life is too short to be spent in a golden cage.

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