Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rape and Pillage

I once worked for a company that preached exceptional service to its customers. We focused, all of us, on what made a good experience for any one with whom we had contact in our business. It worked, in my unheeded, irrelevant opinion (according to most business leaders) we had our best years.

Then we began to talk of "stakeholders".....

Warning: if your company starts to speak of stakeholders, you are doomed.

The company I worked for is gone now, swallowed up, sold off, a great diaspora of talent spread amongst the world, some of us doing less than we used to, some more, some retired, some just dropping out.

I just read a KC Star article about the recent purchase of Overland Park Based Applebee's Restaurants by IHOP, the pancake people. I am sure, over the past few months, Applebee's employees have been hearing "stakeholder" a lot, and that is not someone serving a rib-eye.

Listen: "What does this mean for our associates? Well, typically, when costs are significantly reduced, there are headcount reductions, too. It’s expected that, over time, as company-owned restaurants are re-franchised, there will be reductions in positions directly associated with support for those re-franchised stores." ~ From the letter sent to Applebee's worker-bees from the CEO, too chickenshit to face them.

There is more:

"the board of directors believed the sale was in the best interests of shareholders (variation on "stakeholders") 'but is likely to create a level of uncertainty for many of us who have been on this journey we call the BIG Fun TRIP.'"

Oh really???

Then the kicker:

Employees were given two responsibilities, the soon to be richer through Golden Parachute CEO preached, "First and foremost, you will want to be focused on making the best decision for how you continue to support yourselves and your loved ones." (advice, get the fuck out NOW).

But while making that decision,the CEO asked employees to stay focused on supporting the more than 30,000 Applebee’s employees who operate the company-owned restaurants. Note the guilt, don't support us who you now despise, think of poor Billy who manages the restaurant in BFE, supporting his sick wife and kids. BARF! Thus speakest Judas: "Without our continued support, those associates will not be able to keep their restaurants running smoothly - none of us want those associates to lose their ability to support themselves." ( fucking what. They will survive, you will survive, I am the one who is fucked, says corporate manager who only wanted to do the best job in Accounting, HR, design, whatever..)

I think they are all fucked.

Someone got greedy. Someone saw a company making money, but not enough for the fat cats, saw an opportunity to rape it and then cast it to the wolves. People will lose jobs, good jobs. Restaurants will close as the franchise people come and go. Mini rapers, in a way, buying a restaurant and then taking what they can.

When is this bubble going to burst?

Meanwhile, support local owned restaurants. They are less likely to rape and pillage. And you get better service too.


Anonymous said...

As the parent of an Applebee's International employee I could not agree more with your comments. The manner in which this was handled went beyond tacky - it is just downright sleazy. But that's just my opinion!

Anonymous said...

Lots of good movies have been made of this subject, and of how the worker is always sacrificed (Start with Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times (1936) and move straight to Network (1976), and then for the ultimate corporate perversion, see Moore's Sicko (2007)).

The Applebee's deal was startling, since I thought the company was making money hand over fist. Wealth is not enough. Greed is not enough. Power is not enough. Millionaires are just frustrated billionaires; billionaires don't know what to do with all the money, so they use it to bury others and buy their way out of jail, make special laws for their companies, and when the CEO bonus isn't enough, they move the company to China (after having already moved it to Mexico).

One of those healthcare companies you worked for which was sold came up with the brilliant idea of having its entire staff wear Wal-Mart-like smocks of different colors depending on what your job was. I swear, they're all a bunch of goddamned idiots. Sorry, I couldn't think of a nicer description.

Even the conservatives at the Wall Street Journal are feeling the heat after being bought out by one of their own predators, Rupert Murdoch. He offered twice as much cash to the family who owned the controlling shares as the company was ever worth, and within a week, several members caved in and took the cash. Murdoch has already said he will reduce staff, add a Saturday edition to increase ad revenue, and replace all the managers. More Fox-ification of the news is what this country needs. How soon before they're using all those papers, radio stations, and christian broadcasting channels to call for the next (Democratic) president's impeachment?