In the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco, the fast chain In-N-Out Burger has a location.  It is a sort of big deal location-wise.  Tourists flock to this area of San Francisco, many of them from locations not served by In-N-Out.  So they make it a point to treat themselves to this legendary burger establishment.

This is many people’s first impression of the chain and they work hard to manage expectations there.  It is a decently sized location with a solid staff.

Unfortunately it was not designed to handle the large numbers of people who visit the location.  So you get overwhelming crowds that the location can barely accommodate.  

Some customers find this charming.  This is what they heard about, long lines for an iconic establishment.  Other’s though, many who I brought to that location, are underwhelmed.  All the hype, all the wait.  It was just a burger.

It is difficult to to manage first impressions.  They just keep happening.  When you identify a spot that is ripe for first impressions, make sure you focus more energy there. 

I used In-N-Out as an example because they appear to be trying to put their best foot forward.  The location is well-maintained and staffed,  its only problem is the size of the restaurant and the number of people can they service.

Despite those problems, they maintain a 4-star rating on TripAdvisor. A very decent rating for a fast food establishment.  Also the average rating for TripAdvisor.

Now let’s take a look at Seattle’s beloved fast food chain, Dick’s Drive-In.  They have a location near Seattle Center, an epicenter of tourist activity.

The majority of reviews on TripAdvisor are positive – the average bubble rating is more than 4 out of 5.

The Telegraph

That location, which is the only dine-in location for the chain, is more problematic.  It has a great staff, who are often busy, but the facility is rundown, and often described as “dirty” by visitors who comment on the location itself. 

It is no surprise that this location has a lower rating than In-N-Out Burger on TripAdvisor.

These flagship locations are a great reminder about how you often get one opportunity to make an impression with your audience.  People will dine at these locations and return home with stories to tell. 

Will they be talking about the burger they had?  

Odds are certainly better for In-N-Out. Why? Because they take more care, and Dick’s can learn a lesson here.

So can all of us.  What applies to fast food, also applies to anything people consume.  The other day I talked about how you should never release a podcast you do not think is up to your level of quality.  This should be the case with everything you release.  Assume this is the first impressions and always try and make it great.