Talking “Undercover Boss” at the 2014 National Restaurant Association Show

I recently had the opportunity to sit on a 2014 National Restaurant Association Show panel which included Amit Kleinberger of Menchie’s and Anthony Wedo of Ovation Brands. We were present to discuss each of our appearances on the television show “Undercover Boss” and how it allowed each of us to observe our brand’s culture up close.

The panel brought forward some interesting ideas and discussion about how important brand culture is to its overall success, while at the same time, how difficult it is to discern that culture unless you’re down in the trenches with the employees. Fortunately, our mutual appearances on the show allowed us to do exactly that.

Please read the entire article over at Nation’s Restaurant News, but I’ll highlight some of my statements from the panel below.

“Your best ideas always come from your employees,” Wiederhorn said. “But they have to feel empowered to give you that feedback. We learned that there was a barrier there — to the extent that they’re talking to their managers, it wasn’t flowing up. Now questions and suggestions will get answered.”

Since his episode aired, Wiederhorn has expanded Fatburger’s program for soliciting opinions and suggestions from all employees at the restaurant level, and that feedback is quickly shared across the enterprise with the marketing, training and operations teams at headquarters.

“Where your risk is, is if you see something wrong and keep walking,” Wiederhorn said. “I found some cultural things I wanted to change … and employees rallied behind it, and I think your franchise partners and customers will rally behind it.”

Thanks again to Mark Brandau, who covered our panel brilliantly.