Everyone interested in ‘natural’ fast food custom made in front of your eyes has tried Chipotle at least once. I can guess you’ve been there a dozen times, like me, because the food is that good. These days, however, Chipotle is not on my most-frequented list; I went next door yesterday to Piada, a similar-concept eatery with the food made fresh as I order it. It’s too bad.
Loyal customers truly want to support Chipotle and resume eating at a favorite restaurant. We return over and over because of the quality, the fresh ingredients, the buy-local, the price point, and convenience. Today, however, we’re making other choices, and Chipotle is taking a royal beating at the same time. Perhaps this is the fourth time we’ve avoided Chipotle due to viruses and bacteria in the foodstuffs? At any rate, the media is having a hay day; it’s time to make Chipotle the bad guy of fast, casual ‘natural’ food.
Chipotle has had a long history of being accountable to its customers. In fact, it also has ribbed the McDonald’s of the world in video marketing and poked fun at its, somewhat, competitor. I have to ask, when was the last time McDonald’s had a norovirus outbreak on its tomatoes or lettuce? I can’t recall. I can’t recall through its storied 100-year-plus history with its gazillion restaurants dotted on every neighborhood street corner in the U.S. and globally. That’s quite a comparison, but we can’t fault Chipotle for trying to bring us naturally healthful ingredients, can we?
The accountability goes beyond just the customer. This food company has to be accountable to all its stakeholders and that includes making the farmers accountable, too, and having hygiene stops along the supply chain route.
John Gregory Olson and I dip our toes (because we’re not eating) into the ruckus and point out some of the PR perspective, crisis management, message mapping, and other thoughts around the Chipotle crisis giving us brand indigestion.
Listen through to the Heart of the Matter so your business can learn a few tips from this national debacle. It doesn’t matter if you run a smaller business or not, crises happen to everyone in business…honest. It’s only a matter of time.