Amit Kleinberger got up close and personal with his employees—and the rest of America can, too. The CEO of the frozen yogurt concept Menchie’s is the most recent guest on Undercover Boss, and his episode airs on CBS on October 25.
In the past, the Emmy Award–winning reality show has featured multiple quick-serve leaders, including Kat Cole of Cinnabon, Lynne Zappone of Popeyes, and Rick Silva of Checkers. Undercover Boss gives those in the corner office a unique opportunity to experience the front lines of their business.
“Since I spend most of my time behind my desk, it was appealing for me to go and learn what takes place inside the stores,” Kleinberger says. “I have over 350 locations around the world today, and I can definitely appreciate having the ability to go visit … and see what’s happening on the ground level.”
For the Menchie’s CEO, the ground-level experience revolved around testing the Menchie’s mission to make people smile. “We have a guest care platform, which is our customer service component, which we believe is one of our key differentiators between who we are and other brands,” he says. “It’s about the greeting, the design, the warmth of our locations, how inviting they are, etc.”
Kleinberger swapped his suit for a lime green Menchie’s polo and red smock and can be seen interacting with guests, prepping Menchie’s frozen yogurt, and cleaning bathroom toilets. “We have a [character] costume, so I wore the costume,” he adds. “I even held a kid’s birthday party in one of our stores.”
But he says the most unexpected part of the experience was his time spent at Menchie’s dairy farm, which is the source of all of the company’s milk for its frozen yogurt products.
“My expectation for being on the farm was more about milking cows. That’s actually the least of what we did at the farm,” Kleinberger says. “A lot of fun things happened; you’ll be able to see them in the episode. One of them was birthing a calf.”
The CEO says that because of his participation in the show, he’ll be making some minor but key strategic changes to uniforms, back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house protocol, management training programs, and most importantly, employee recognition.
“There shouldn’t be a situation in which a team member doesn’t feel that they’re being recognized for their work, which is what I discovered on the show,” Kleinberger says. “And that’s something that absolutely warrants revisiting.”
And revisit he will—Kleinberger says he plans on getting out of the office more often to drop by different Menchie’s location on a monthly basis.
“Undercover Boss was a tremendous opportunity but should not be a one-time opportunity,” he says. “If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from the show personally is that I need to get more connected with what takes place in our stores, and that would probably be my best advice to any CEO in the industry.”
By Tamara Omazic