'Undercover Boss' at White Castle: It's good to inherit the company; not so good if you have to work there
This week’s Undercover Boss offered abundant evidence that big businesses inherited by family members can be a bad idea. Dave Rife, a great-grandson of the founder of the White Castle hamburger chain, began the hour in the standard Boss format — by telling his executives that he was going undercover. But instead of a board-room table ringed with attentive business-people, a gaggle of indifferently-attired relatives clomped in to what looked like a hotel ballroom to hear what their brother/nephew/uncle/whatever Dave planned to do. This, along with footage of Dave tooling around in a sporty red car saying he has “a lot of toys,” set the sour tone for this week.
Sure enough, Dave encountered poorly-managed stores staffed (in some cases over-staffed) by low-morale employees. The boss endured the usual Undercover embarrassments: he couldn’t keep up on the hamburger-bun assembly line or the cheese-straightening-on-the-cheeseburger assembly line. We were told Dave ruined 4,800 buns. Earlier, he had commented, “I have not had a great deal of time to spend in our bakeries.” Gee, no time, when we saw you riding in your sports car and dropping pounds with a trainer? You had the time, Dave; you just didn’t give a damn until the Boss camera crew came a-callin’.
Saturday Night Live‘s spoof of Undercover Boss gave us better bosses than Rife.
This was the third Boss in a row to deal with a food-related business, so some repetition has set in. But the tweaks Dave Rife proposed before returning to the wealthy lifestyle he did nothing to earn beyond being born into it seemed measly even by Undercover Boss standards. An employee who’d survived a serious heart attack was told the company would start a “wellness program.” Thanks, Dave! Hard-working Jose, who dreams of going to culinary school and introduces Dave to some of his own recipe salsa that tastes great on White Castle burgers, gets a $5,000 scholarship. Thanks, Dave! Couldn’t the boss at least have promised to test-market Jose’s salsa in some of his stores?
And Joe, an incredibly dexterous, charming man who works a dizzyingly busy night-shift drive-up window, is told he’ll help start a “leaders of tomorrow” program (yawn) and, because he has a son who’s “visually impaired,” a $5,000 check. Why do I suspect five grand is what Dave spends detailing his sports car every few months?
I began the hour kinda wanting a White Castle slider or two. By the end, I wanted to fire Dave and his entire entitled family, and put Jose and Joe in charge of the whole company.
How about you?