What Happened to a Once-Successful Premium Burger Restaurant?
Red Robin Burger Restaurant chose in January of 2018 to eliminate the busboy position to save $8 million dollars, at a time when the restaurant was valued at $711 million dollars. This move was applauded by critics and market analysts without a second thought as to how it might affect overall operations and profitablity.
The result? The stock market price of Red Robin Burgers dropped 50% by May of 2019, with “walkaways” to the restaurant increasing by 85% during peak times. The CEO, Denny Marie Post, eventually stepped down in April of 2019, and a new CEO has not been appointed, as let’s be honest- who wants to be in charge of a failed restaurant?
Short-Sighted Corporate Greed = Business Suicide
Perhaps proof that the corporate world is incredibly insulated from operational realities, the destruction of Red Robin happened in a climate of group-think and a corporate cult atmosphere.
Did they really think that the tables would clear themselves, or that the waiters would be able to replace busboys at their jobs without some type of time and opportunity cost during the course of dining hours?
Who Didn’t See This Coming?
Beyond the obvious flaws in a concept to lose 50% of the value of your company to save 8 million dollars, the CEO herself uses some strange language when describing customers and guests of the restaurant:
“Over time, we believe affordable abundance is Red Robin’s greatest opportunity to further differentiate and drive sustainable profitable traffic. By making it easier for our forecast to say yes to Red Robin any day of the week without hesitating over budget, we can unlock greater usage frequency going forward.”— Denny Marie Post, Red Robin CEO
Honestly, anyone who does not refer to her customers and guests as human beings, but rather calls them “traffic” and “our forecast” demonstrates a lack of basic human empathy, and consequently, common sense.
This is what happens when you let certain people “play CEO” of a major company.
Here’s a pic of the CEO getting a tattoo a month after the decision was made to get rid of busboys, after she “lost a bet to employees”. She actually got a tattoo of a Red Robin Burger.
If you were one of the busboys whose services were no longer required, just consider yourself lucky.
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