February 01, 2013 01:45 PM by Megan Wilson
Get ready, everyone! A brand new episode of Undercover Boss premieres tonight, and we’ve got an inside scoop on the most recent undercover boss, Sara Bittorf. As Boston Market’s Chief Brand Officer, Sara donned a hairnet and apron to get down to the basics of what it’s like being an employee at a Boston Market franchise. She’s not unfamiliar with position, as at just 13 years old Sara started working for fast food giant Burger King. She worked her way up the ranks to her current title, and went undercover to see how Boston Market works-from the inside out. This upcoming episode include something we’ve never seen before: the explosive firing of an employee! Read what Sara had to say about the ordeal after the jump!
During our interview, we discussed everything from carving chickens to a new fund created for the employees! Read what she had to say below!
Why was Sara chosen to go undercover?
“The CEO George Michelle is widely recognized and had just come back from doing a 26 market tour and had met with all the GM’s in those markets and didn’t seem like he could pull it off. Sara was also only 7 months into the job and could immerse herself into the job and the experience.”
If she could go back and change anything about the experience, what would she change?
“I wish I never would’ve met Ronnie in the Atlanta store.”
Did Sara have any preconceived notions before appearing on the show that were totally off base?
“I did have some preconceived notions, but nothing was off base. It was just a lot harder than it looks or it anticipated”
What did she think of being on camera? Was it weird?
“YES. But once you’re in it, it’s so engulfing that you forget that the cameras are there. You’re just so in the moment.”
Why did Boston Market decide to go on Undercover Boss, besides just for brand expansion?
“I really considered it an opportunity to learn about the business. So many companies have takeaways from the show and they’ve improved their business for the better. They can’t fix a problem if they don’t know it’s there. The CEO came back from the market tour and said all the answers that we need to any of our problems exist in the field-we should just go out and find them.”
How has her experience changed the way Boston Market works?
“I learned a lot. From a person in charge of market and personal development, I learned how things I do every day get translated to the front line service people and then gets translated to the customer.” She continued, “It’s a new filter that will make me a better leader and a better marketer. Boston Market has fantastic people in the field that love the brand and they need to develop them and provide them with advancement opportunities. Employees have so many good ideas and they just need to harness them. One thing that changed was that we discovered sometimes employees aren’t taking breaks like they should so we are retraining our managers on a break program.”
Sara performed three jobs during her undercover mission. She worked the drive through, the cash register, and the line. Which was the worst, and which was the best?
“The drive through was the most difficult. It’s so much pressure. Every time a car comes through a bell rings-then there’s a timer that dings to tell you that the person is waiting. Multitasking, taking one order, filling another, cashing one out; it was tough. AJ taught me that you can’t just deliver it fast, but it has to be fast and friendly. Cashing/serving was the best. I love being in front of the guests. Interacting with customers was the best. Seeing the customers in their element, seeing them look at the food and at the menu, taught me a lot.”
Boston Market has started an Innovation Fund for their employees. What did Sara have to say about it?
“The Innovation Fund hasn’t rolled out yet, but Boston Market has committed to spending money to reward employees for great ideas. August of last year they rolled out Market Bowls on the advice of their employees, which is the choice of 2 sides, a protein, and gravy or sauce on top in a bowl, which were a smashing success. At first they were just a limited time offering, but now they are a permanent fixture on the menu.”
Sara said that being left handed in the restaurant was challenging. What steps Boston Market has taken to make it easier for left handed people?
“Getting the chicken out of the rotisserie oven is difficult for lefties-the way most of the restaurants are designed, the carving station in particular, the units holding chicken are on the right, which makes it difficult. Also, when food is served, they want it to look beautiful and abundant and organized. Spoons are to be on the right hand side. Boston Market has started into a project to see if they can do anything to make the process more accommodating for left handed people; especially on the rotisserie!”
What kind of advice does Sara give to individuals who’d like to offer ideas to their employers?
“Because of the way that corporations are structured, where there’s a field location and corporate location, sometimes it feels as if there’s a huge disconnect. That doesn’t mean that they don’t want to hear the issues or that they don’t want ideas, however. Try and be heard; if it doesn’t work, try and try again. Somewhere in every good organization there is someone who needs to know and wants to know and wants to work to make things better.”
Not only are they making changes to their employee structure, but to their menu as well! During the taping, Boston Market revealed a new flavor addition to their menu: Tuscan chicken. The new flavor is their original signature flavor infused with Tuscan herbs and spices.
We’re so excited for Sara and the whole Boston Market crew. We’ll have a recap of the show tonight-but you don’t want to miss it! Sara did say to watch tonight’s episode on CBS at 8 PM EST, because the interaction with Ronnie is EXPLOSIVE!
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