Karon Warren

Why Corporate Responsibility is Part of Your Job

In today’s business environment, corporate social responsibility (CSR) receives a lot of lip service from media and public relations. But experts say a CEO who steps up his company’s CSR efforts will find that his organization receives more than just media accolades.

In fact, chief executives could find that many of the big-picture business components they struggle with daily become a little bit easier with a solid CSR plan in place. Maximizing the benefits of corporate social responsibility, however, requires a CEO who is willing to play point and maintain a clear CSR strategy.

A CEO's Mission Sets Pace for Entire Brand

As another year draws to a close, it’s natural for business leaders to reflect upon the past 12 months even as they look forward to the coming year. In fact, experts say, the transition from one year to another is the perfect time to reevaluate your brand and, if necessary, redevelop its strategic plan.

And for many, the company’s mission statement is the best place to start with any new brand strategy.

Should CEOs Weigh in on Politics?

On August 15, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sent a letter to customers complaining of the political gridlock in Washington. The letter called for positive change in the U.S., but also called into question the level of involvement quick-serve executives should have in politics.

For Schultz, the actions of politicians demanded that someone, no matter if he was the head of a global coffee corporation, take action. As he stated in his letter, elected officials “have chosen to put partisan and ideological purity over the well-being of the people.”

CEOs Turn Eye to Employees' Health

As quick-serve operations are figuring out how to comply with menu-labeling requirements and consumer demand for healthier menu items, many corporate executives are tackling another health-related issue: the health of their employees. Studies show that healthy employees are more productive employees, something that could benefit quick-serve executives and consumers.

Is Your Brand Star Struck?

Zaxby’s has Doris Roberts, Terry Bradshaw, and Ryan Stiles. Subway has Apolo Anton Ohno, Michael Phelps, and Blake Griffin. Now Starbucks and Lady Gaga are teaming up. The question remains, however, whether star power in a quick serve’s marketing efforts can add up to big sales.

To fully harness the powerful influence of a celebrity, experts say, quick-serve operators must clearly define the role of that celebrity, not just go for the instant name recognition.

Working with Your Board is a Give, Take

Headlines touting a power struggle between the CEO and board of directors of a company usually garner more attention than those championing the successes of such relationships. But the partnership between a CEO and his company’s board of directors is crucial to the success of many companies.

For this reason, many in the quick-serve industry say it’s imperative for CEOs to not only establish effective relations with the board, but to also maintain and improve those relations at every opportunity.

CEOs Miss What Motivates their Team

According to a new survey by ExecuNet Inc., a professional network for C-level executives, non-CEO C-suite members cite work-life balance, their work location, and relationships with coworkers and subordinates as motivation for their jobs.

CEOs, however, seem to believe that cash compensation, liking the actual work they do, and trust with the company’s owner are motivating factors. This apparent disconnect in how CEOs and C-level executives approach their jobs, some insiders say, could have a big impact on overall business operations.

Rise of Interim CEOs

In an economic climate full of uncertainty and change, many businesses have turned to interim executives to right the ship. The quick-serve industry is no different. In June, Denny’s Corp. named chairwoman Debra Smithart-Oglesby interim CEO after Nelson Marchioli left the company. In August, El Pollo Loco chose Steve Sather to serve as acting president and chief executive when former CEO Steve Carley left for the same position at Red Robin.

Due Process

For Scott Rubin, vice president of Chicago-based Double P Corporation, which owns 53 Auntie Anne’s locations, credit and debit card processing remains a nagging presence in day-to-day business. 

“I get calls every week from processors,” he says. “Everyone can guarantee they will do better than my existing provider.” 

Say This, Not That

As Berry Chill founder and CEO Michael Farah implemented his plans to open the first of his three Chicago-area locations, he took a bizarre step for a business yet to open: He set up a Facebook page before ever selling its first treat.

“I wanted to build buzz on the brand,” he says. “I wanted to target a younger audience, and Facebook was an easy way to find our customer base.” His friends initially comprised the majority of his fans, but thanks to strong word-of-mouth, the Berry Chill page had 500 fans before the grand opening.