Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Guest post: Undercover Boss: Hooters

Thank you kindly to the blogger at A Blog Named Fred, for this guest post, which is cross-posted from her place.

Tonight I watched an episode of “Undercover Boss” which is where a CEO for a company goes undercover into the frontline of their business to see what it’s like, and supposedly where they can see a way to making improvements in the business (read: screw the workers down).

The boss that was on tonight was the CEO of ‘Hooters.’ Laugh out Loud. This dude- Colby is like the son of the guy who founded the concept. The concept being where women wear a white clingy tank top and uber-short orange shorts, whilst serving boneless chicken wings/thighs/and breasts.

He visits three of his franchisees. One store where he doesn’t last half a morning because he can’t keep up with the kitchen staff. The boss who is ex-military orders him about and he gets to feel what it is to be a ‘real worker.’

Then he hangs out with a couple of the staff. He goes out into the street with the girls and tries to sell the “Hooters” brand. Women (more than one!) in the street are telling him they think his company (and they don’t know it really is ‘his’ company) is degrading to women (quelle surprise?).

And then in true reality TV show form he goes to a store where the male manager “Jimbo” performs for the camera. I swear this guy was an actor injected into the plot to make it interesting. No way was this for real- then again this is America. So what he does- is he makes the “Hooters” girls in his store compete, by eating a plate of beans without their hands. And the first to win gets to go home early. And the CEO Undercover boss guy- does he jump in and say “no you sexist person, no, stop what you are doing.” No he doesn’t, because that would involve breaking cover.

This thing smells like a PR exercise for “Hooters.” Who am I kidding- this is obviously paid advertising for “Hooters.” I would love to know how many extra visits to their stores they got off the back of this programme.

Last but not least he visits one of his stores that has a female manager. A mother with two girls who has been a “Hooters” girl herself. She talks about the trials and tribulations of managing a fast food restaurant.

To finish he goes to the “Hooters” factory where they make all the fast food and he talks about the days when his father was the manager and how all the factory employees loved him. And sheds a tear and all that sort of thing. One of the employees talks to him (not knowing who he is) about how when the original guy was in charge there were bonuses, and now there’s not, and how morale is low.

So yeah- and then I’m thinking- well here is a great opportunity for a boss to do some good things for his company and his employees and improve on the image (if the “Hooters” image can be improved on).

He could change the dress code, do goodness knows what with the sexist manager, give the female manager and any other parent manager more domestic leave or childcare subsidy, up the pay for his staff- especially the ones working in the factory, bring in the union perhaps?

Instead he asks the “Hooters” girls he hung out with to help him out with a PR campaign in which they get to feature. They are going to do some ads about how “Hooters” contributes to the community. He donates $50,000 to a military charity out of respect to the ex-military manager he hung out with. He asks the stupid sexist manager to apologise to his staff. And he gives the female manager an all expenses paid holiday for her and her family to anywhere they want. And promises to go into Dad’s old factory a bit more often and say hi to the staff so they will feel like it’s a family business again. And then at the end he had a big day for his staff where he announced something but I missed that bit- I’m pretty sure he didn’t announce he was going to up pay and conditions.

Don’t think I’ll be watching “Undercover Boss” again. Like most reality TV it is purely paid advertising. Obviously “Hooters” wouldn’t agree to take part if they didn’t think there was something in it for their company. The really sad thing is that this was on TVNZ Channel One. Public Broadcasting- FAIL.


Lucy said...

He could change the dress code, do goodness knows what with the sexist manager, give the female manager and any other parent manager more domestic leave or childcare subsidy, up the pay for his staff- especially the ones working in the factory, bring in the union perhaps?

He did mention that they would be instituting more flexible hours for single parents, which is at least something. Not a lot. But something.

Anonymous said...

I found the bean eating competition horrific. The idea that an employer can treat his employees like that without having criminal charges pressed against him is ridiculous.

I'd like to point out that for a six month period of my life I worked as a stripper. I spent five days a week stripping naked and opening my legs for strangers.

Nobody I worked with (even the drug-addicted ones who slept with the customers) would have put up with crap like that. I think that's saying something.

stargazer said...

thanx for putting this up. i was planning to write about this as well but have been sick with a bad cold. i found this show quite disgusting as well - the guy made no changes of any significance at all, and certainly wasn't interested in what potential female customers had to say. nope, he planned to try to "re-educate" the women who thought hooters are degrading instead.

not only that, but the female manager who was also a stressed out mum? we were told that she was assigned to a "less stressful" position. what the f*** does that mean? was this a shift upwards, sideways or down? we don't know because they don't tell us, but i'm sincerely hoping it didn't involve a cut in pay or a lower position.

compared to last week's episode, where i did feel that we at least got some insight into what real working people's experiences were, this week we got none of that. notice that we never got to see how the "hooter girls" were treated (or mistreated) by the customers - and it's likely there's quite a bit of harassment they're having to face in that regard.

so yes, totally agree with the post and not likely to bother with this programme further.