Chicken Salad Chick Is Well-Prepared for a Crisis - Is Your System?

Chicken Salad Chick Is Well-Prepared for a Crisis - Is Your System?

We asked Tom Carr, vice president of marketing at Chicken Salad Chick, if his company is prepared for a crisis - and how he's made sure that every franchisee's team members also know how to respond.

Tom CarrChicken Salad Chick operates with our purpose to "spread joy, enrich lives and serve others," so having readiness plans to assist our guests and restaurant teams in the event of a crisis is part of our DNA. Despite our servant culture, training, food safety monitoring, and commitment to operational excellence, we understand the risk of a potential crisis. Therefore we have a solid process in place to avoid these situations and, in the event they happen, have a protocol for responding.

Our detailed crisis preparedness plan is available to every franchise owner. It is meant to address a variety of crises, including everything from foodborne illness to hurricane closings, with specific steps to follow. In the event of a crisis, and after ensuring the immediate safety of guests and staff, our restaurant teams, primarily general managers and shift leaders, may be directed on this protocol. Everyone knows that they are to contact Chicken Salad Chick's corporate crisis response team, which enables us to mobilize quickly, gathering all the key players from relevant business functions: operations, public relations and marketing, quality assurance, legal, etc.

Restaurant teams are made aware that constant, ongoing communication is critical during any crisis so we can stay up to speed on what's happening at the restaurant level and make adjustments to our response plan, as needed. To that end, we share direct contact information, including cell phone numbers, for every member of our CSC crisis response team; but a central point of contact on the CSC crisis response team is named to mitigate misunderstanding during what can be a very confusing and unsettling situation.

Media and social media are coordinated through our CSC corporate crisis response team, and we make sure that our franchisees' restaurant teams understand the types of questions they may receive from guests and local media during and following a crisis. Talking points and sample scripts, edited for each particular situation, are provided so they can be prepared to respond or, in the case of media requests, gather the right information for our public relations team to handle.

Now with more than 90 restaurants across nine states, having a formal crisis communications protocol is even more critical, and the process of developing it highlighted potential vulnerabilities we hadn't previously been aware of. I strongly recommend any franchisor that has not created a written plan, and trained their franchise and company teams, to make it a priority for 2018.

Published: September 9th, 2018

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