Three years, 60 CEOs and several Emmy awards later, CBS’ “Undercover Boss” highlighted 10 CEOs on May 17 whose lives were most affected by their appearance on the popular reality series, including six IFA franchise member executives. Despite challenges and unforeseen twists during their undercover episodes, these franchise executives used the experience to implement business-building programs and some personal life changes. Here are some highlights from the show by order of appearance.
Former Hooter’s of America CEO Coby Brooks, who is now a Twin Peaks operator, called the experience positive. Despite a controversial bean-eating contest overseen by a Hooter’s manager, Brooks said of the show, “morale was actually heightened and everyone felt more of a sense of family.” Brooks said he’d do it again and would recommend appearing on the show “with or without the cameras.”
Another Hooter’s alumna and youngest boss to be featured on the program was Kat Cole, president of Cinnabon International Inc. Cole’s episode featured a go-getter employee named Mayra Vargas, who since the program aired, was invited to corporate headquarters for training to see what is possible for her, which could include becoming a CEO.
The show also captured how CEOs reached out to help their employees. Since “Undercover Boss” first aired, more than $5 million has been distributed to reward employees.
Cole said one of the best things was the show “helped remind me how important it is to give back at every opportunity.” Cinnabon supported and facilitated a nationwide fundraiser on learning that Vargas’ mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Cinnabon will match the first $10,000 in charitable donations.
Subway Chief Development Officer Don Fertman learned during his appearance that “this is a great opportunity to hear from our sandwich artists” after hearing suggestions from an employee named Jesse who thought she’d never get the ear of someone at headquarters. Upon receiving a suggestion from their sandwich artists, Subway puts it through a market test through the research and development department.
But it was the personal journey that might have most affected Fertman, who during the initial show revealed that he was a 27-year recovered alcoholic. His earlier appearance on “Undercover Boss” led him to connect and encourage via email with a viewer named Harold who was struggling after two weeks of recovery. The two met during filming for the May 17 “Epic Bosses” segment where viewers learned Harold had been sober two years. “We’ve got to give each other hope,” said Fertman.
View additional IFA members BELFOR CEO Sheldon Yellen, The Dwyer Group Chairwoman and CEO Dina Dwyer-Owens, CFE, and Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc. President and CEO Rick Silva here.