Undercover Boss: Challenges for Franchises

Undercover Boss: Challenges for Franchises

This past Friday's Undercover Boss was definitely a change of pace! Past episodes have had a reoccurring theme of appreciation and recognizing the value of hardworking employees. Chad Hallock, CEO of Budget Blinds, encountered a different series of challenges when he went undercover in last week's episode. While he did learn how to better support a few of his franchises, he lost sight of the big picture and missed several opportunities to improve the employee experience and company as a whole.

Chad Hallock founded Budget Blinds with his twin brother at 19 years of age. The company is run by the two brothers and their three best friends, is based in California and has franchises reaching across the globe. The show begins with the group enjoying a BBQ on a sunny day and discussing what the week has in store for Chad. There is no indication that any of the partners check in with franchises frequently, or have open lines of communication should a franchise need their support.

As soon as the CEO is officially undercover, he hears feedback that the California office is out of touch with the frontlines. For example, several sites express the need for local advertising to help with their individual franchise, as opposed to national marketing campaigns that help the company as a whole. Another example is that the CEO discovers a franchise is not performing in quite the way he would hope or expect. At the end of the show, he pledges more local advertising for the two particular sites that requested it. He also decides to devote more training to the franchise that was performing less optimally than others. He does not, however, work to develop a company-wide policy to increase local advertising, or increase training more broadly so that others may also benefit from continuing development. 

Looking at these challenges franchise-by-franchise, unfortunately creates opportunities for the CEO to improve the company as a whole.

Finally, the CEO came across a woman whose family needed additional medical attention. In a very generous move, he offered her several thousands of dollars to put towards the health of her family. This is actually a common theme in the Undercover Boss series where one employee receives an extraordinary gift to help with a particular situation.  While it makes for good television, I can't help but cringe at the lost opportunity to further engage all employees by offering them access to benefits that would improve their lives.  Perhaps increasing healthcare for dependents across the board would be a wiser choice and better business culture change.

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Tiffany Barber is the Associate Manager of Marketing and Communications and guest blogger for Great Place To Work®.