Simple Brilliant Error Proofing at the Amazing In-N-Out Burger
I was in L.A. on Tuesday and I had a little extra time on my way to the Burbank airport, which meant a rare treat…. lunch at the famed In-N-Out. I don't mean to be that guy who tweets what he eats, but my lunch is pictured below.
The main picture I wanted to share is a simple example of perfect mistake proofing (a.k.a. error proofing or “poka yoke“). There is a possible customer error that could be made in many fast-food or deli restaurants – that error is throwing their reusable tray into the trash bin.
Ineffective organizations post signs, warning, and exhortations. Smart organizations error proof.
Here is the error proofing – the hole that you throw your wrapper, cup, and food waste into is round and it's SMALLER than the rectangular re-useable tray.
I didn't really fight or shove while staging this photo, but it was clear that they tray would NOT fit into the round hole. Problem prevented -it is physically impossible to trash the tray. Yes, I know you're not supposed to throw away the tray. I think this is likely obvious to MOST customers.
In comparison, most Quizno's locations merely admonish the customers. “Please Do Not Throw Away Baskets.”
The Quiznos tray fits into the trash hole (which is huge). I wonder how many trays they lose?
Does Quiznos really think their customers think the hard plastic trays are disposable?? If you do accidentally drop the tray into the dirty trash and food scraps, are you likely to want to retrieve it? I maybe could have titled this post “Quiznos Thinks You Are Dumb.”
Couldn't Quiznos better use that high-visibility space with a “Thank You For Your Business” message?
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