Checkers Drops the Bun with Weak Crisis Response

Erik Bernstein crisis management, Crisis Response, public relations, reputation management, social media, YouTube 2 Comments

Poor response to a predictable crisis compounds damage

Burger joint Checkers, also known as Rallys in some areas, is the latest fast food chain to find itself in crisis thanks to a stomach-turning video posted to social media. While the identity of the original poster is unclear, several individuals have used YouTube to re-share a video stated to have initially been found on Facebook that may have you reconsidering next time you’re tempted to head to the drive-through:

Ready for that burger yet? The video we shared was uploaded August 4, and the “Checkers and Rallys” Facebook page was quickly flooded with comments directing the organization’s attention there. On the plus side, Checkers did well putting out a response quickly and using the same medium in which the negative appeared. On the negative, well…watch this first:

  1. WHERE’S THE COMPASSION? The video starts off with Checkers’ head of HR stating, “I, like you, am appalled and disappointed by what I saw in that video”. Great. Except that she didn’t look or sound like she was appalled or disappointed for one second. Sounds good on paper, but you have to be able to communicate the emotion when it’s time to go on tape.
  2. Checkers didn’t learn from the mistakes of others. Dominos had one of the first large-scale issues with their own food contamination video crisis back in 2009 and won praise for its response. When you have a clear example of success in literally the same exact situation there’s no excuse for making mistakes.
  3. Reading from a script. It doesn’t take a pro to see the lack of eye contact and clear back-and-forth movements that show the speaker is reading word for word from a script. It strips emotion from the content and just looks silly.
  4. Get real! Do you think anyone believes that food wasn’t served? This wasn’t a bun thrown on the ground and then tossed in the trash. The employee continued making the burger, contaminating the mayo container and spreader she was using in the process, and the video cut off at her request before we could see any further. We were left thinking of not only that sandwich, but also the many others made on the same station and using the same tools afterward.
  5. Unclear resolution. We heard you spoke to the employee (and, strangely, her mother), we heard “the employees involved are no longer employed by that franchisee”, but, as Facebook commenters have pointed out repeatedly, it was left pretty open-ended as to their employment with other franchises in the area.
  6. Why are you smiling? The video wraps up with the speaker smiling, not at all the emotion anyone wants to see considering the situation.

A threat of this type is 100% predictable, and should be on the “likely crises” list for anyone in food service. To not have a stellar response practically in the can is inexcusable, and as you can see from the thousands of comments on Facebook stakeholders are lashing out even more after this poor showing.

Know the risks you’re likely to face, and be ready to respond. Choose not to do so, and you choose to multiply the damage taken when a crisis does hit.

Erik & Jonathan Bernstein

Comments 2

  1. Karl James & Company

    Seems as if the CEO, rather than HR, should be out front. Admittedly, we can only speculate on how this decision was made to put HR out front. But the CEO would provide stakeholders a sense of security and confidence with the top leader on the case.

    1. Post
      Erik Bernstein

      This is definitely a crisis that called for a C-suite level response, and if you’re not going to have the CEO on then you need someone who’s going to really put on a show. It’s not the HR rep’s fault really, for all we know she may have done as well as possible with what she was given. Someone there should have said “this isn’t working” and steered them towards another solution.

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