Has anyone out there watched the TV show called Undercover Boss on CBS? I caught the first episode featuring the CEO of Waste Management after the Super Bowl. I finally had the chance to sit down and watch the episode featuring the CEO of the Hooters restaurant chain. I know what you’re thinking. It had nothing to do with catching a glimpse of the scantily clad waitresses. I read in February that Hooters wasn’t doing well financially due to the recession and was shopping itself to a number of private-equity firms.
I’m sure the recession has some bearing on the financials of Hooters but after watching the episode I think Hooters suffers from what Don Libey affectionately calls “Idiot Son Syndrome!” While his late father started and successfully built up Hooters, the second generation son who took over the chain, obviously born with a silver spoon in his mouth, seemed clueless about the obvious reasons why the chain was having not just sales issues, but major morale issues with its people.
I could not believe how clueless the CEO was about the day-to-day operations of his business. For example, in one undercover assignment he worked at one of the company’s packaging plants and stated to one of the managers that he hadn’t set foot in the place since he was 17. The manager told him most of the people in the plant have never seen the new CEO and don’t even realize it’s the son! The son has to be in his mid to late 40’s. Where has he been the past 25 years? Collecting a pay check and playing with his toys instead of making himself visible….obviously.
In another segment of the show the CEO participates in a street promotion-handing out coupons to a new restaurant that just opened in Dallas-with two Hooters gals at his side. Doing this he hears positive but mostly negative feelings people have towards the restaurant chain. The CEO seemed concerned and rather surprised to hear these remarks. He must have ear muffs on for the past 10 years sheltering him from the feminist cries! Again clueless!
In today’s economic climate, CEOs and business leaders have to be visionaries and at the same time not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get to know all the facets of the business they are in charge of.
I’ll be placing a call into Hooters pronto. They could definitely use Johnson Direct’s PR Services!
Director of Business Development