This could be a game changer for your culture!

By Steve Moran

A couple of weeks ago, Denise Scott and I took our Culture 2100 senior living leaders (an exclusive group of leaders who are intensely focused on creating compelling senior living cultures) on a field trip to In-N-Out University.   


If you are a Californian, you for sure know about In-N-Out — a drive-in burger joint with a very simple menu, a secret menu (that is not really all that secret), and an obsession with delivering amazing customer service along with high-quality food. They are so special and unique that they have a “cult-like” following of devoted fans. When they opened their first stores in Texas people actually camped out more than 24 hours in advance of the opening just to be first in line!

What you may not know about In-N-Out is that they have an amazing employee culture where you can advance from flipping burgers to store managers who make around $150,000 a year (total compensation). What particularly caught our attention was their low turnover rate of around 20% in a world of 100% turnover (for all of fast food). A good part of their workforce is very similar to senior living.

The Best Burger Company in the Whole World

In-N-Out University is just across the parking lot from a modern-day In-N-Out store, so part of our experience was lunch from that store. While we were eating, Tom Moon, their History & Culture Coordinator played a bunch of vintage TV commercials for us. They were really fun but there was one underlying theme in almost every one of them . . . 


Our ingredients are better, the meat and produce is fresher.  Nothing is ever frozen (except the milkshakes) — not the meat, not the french fries, which are made locally at each store.”

Their customers hear this message all the time, their team hears this message all the time. They all believe it — and because they believe it — they prepare and serve the food in a way that makes it true.

The Best Senior Living Organization in the Whole World

I am not sure I have ever heard any senior living organization or leader describe themselves as the best in the world, except maybe Dwayne Clark, the CEO of Aegis Senior Living. On one hand I kind get the idea that we don’t want to bash the competition, on the other hand, claiming to be the best (and living it out) has some huge benefits:

  1. First, if you are going to say it, you are going to need to make sure it is true. It can be and should be true in your class. In-N-Out is obviously not claiming to make a better burger than the one that has Kobi beef and sprinkles of gold. But what they are saying and executing on is the idea that they are the best drive-in burger place in the whole world.

  1. Saying it over and over again will get your residents and customers believing it.

  1. Saying it over and over again to your team will get them believing it (again assuming you treat them like they are working for the best senior living organization in the world).

  1. As your team starts to believe it they will behave like they believe it and perform to a much higher level.

  1. You need to have real examples, real stories about why it is true and how you are living it out.

This could be a game changer for your culture, but it will feel really weird at first.