Gini Dietrich

Boners BBQ, Papa John’s Need Crisis Coaching

By: Gini Dietrich | January 10, 2012 | 

Last night I’m finally settling down after a very long day and I receive a Facebook message from Patrick Reyes (whom I’m not speaking to until after the Super Bowl) and a text message from Justin Brackett.

They both have sent me a photo that made my blood boil.

You see, Boners BBQ posted a photo of a customer, who apparently didn’t leave a tip, and used expletives to say what people should do to her if she comes into their restaurant.

Have a look for yourself.

The photo has since been taken down and an apology has been issued, but not before 71 people (overnight, by-the-way) chimed in.

I’m kind of astounded that the first post would even make its way to their Facebook wall.

Something rather similar happened at Papa John’s this past weekend. Shelly Kramer tells the story on her blog and you can read it here, but the gist of it is that a woman went into a restaurant, ordered, and rather than ask for her name, the kid behind the register wrote “lady chinky eyes” on the receipt.

Yes, in 2012 some kid actually wrote that on the receipt. The receipt the customer ended up seeing and posting on her social networks (rightfully so).

Here’s the deal. Neither one of these things are public relations issues. They both are culture, HR, and operations issues. But they both became public relations crisis because their customers now have this thing called social media at their disposal.

It used to be that the Papa John’s customer would have gone home and shown the receipt to her friends and family and they would have boycotted the restaurant. If she had any communication savvy, she may even have gone to the local news. But it would have stayed there – local.

Now she has access to hundreds, if not thousands, of people who will listen to her story and help her spread it far and wide.

On the flip side of things, your employees also have access to social media. I’m not entirely sure why the Boners BBQ employee thought it was OK to post a photo of a customer and say those awful things about her.

I waited tables in college. I know what it’s like to not get a tip, especially when the customer was extremely high-maintenance, but I’m pretty sure it never would have occurred to me to post a photo of that person on the wall of the restaurant…mostly from fear of losing my job.

It’s 2012. You can’t ignore the fact that, even if you don’t use social media, your customers do.

Because of that, you need to do two things right now:

  1. Write a social media policy. You can find a huge database of them so you have examples of what to include. But don’t just write the policy. Actually go through it with your employees. Give them examples like Kenneth Cole, Papa John’s, and Boners BBQ. Talk to them about the importance of being professional, no matter how much you want to tell your side of the story. In the public’s eye, and through social media, the customer is always right.
  2. Be prepared 24/7. Even if you don’t use social media 24/7 and give people time off, say so on your profiles. It’s pretty easy to write, “If there is an issue, we respond between the hours of X and X on Monday through Friday” (Comcast does this well). Boners BBQ deleted the post, but not until 107 people commented on it and it was shared nearly 40 times. They also issued an “apology,” which feels like an “I’m sorry, but” response. But they thought their job was done there. They’re being skewered in the comments and no one is responding. Crisis work is a 24/7 job. You must be prepared to not sleep one night, if that’s what it takes to manage the crisis…especially if you’re the one who created it.

Something bad is going to happen, just like it does offline. It’s just a matter of time. It’s in how you respond that makes or breaks you.

Update: Boners BBQ issued a real apology on their Facebook wall (see below). It took them 16 hours to do it, but they did it.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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223 responses to “Boners BBQ, Papa John’s Need Crisis Coaching”

  1. bobledrew says:

    I’d suggest facepalming, but that seems just a bit of an underreaction for such a boneheaded action. Stunningly insensitive.

  2. JustInTheSouth says:

    @Buncombian True other than the BBQ place would be considered Local. #buylocal

  3. jenzings says:

    Gini, I wrote about the Papa John’s thing yesterday–and found at least 6 other instances where employees have described customers in negative terms in the descriptor portion of the receipts. It is an employee training issue at this point–every single business should have as part of their training and orientation a “use your brain and common sense” section about how social media can damage their business.

    I differ slightly on the 24/7 thing–I think that given the issues involved (that it was a corporate Papa Johns twitter account and the weekend, and that this is a franchise relationship) their response time was fine. People seem to forget that franchises are usually independently owned and operated, and that this will present some social media challenges for the corporate teams. Let’s also remember that not everything that is tweeted is “real”–this clearly was, but the comms team doesn’t know that until they research it. They also don’t know if it’s something that has already been addressed at the store level until they check. I’m pleading for a humane approach to the comms team–it’s just inhumane to expect people to be always on.

    On the BBQ thing–good grief. Why do they call it “common sense” when it is so rare?

    • jenzings says:

      *adding here: I like the posting of availability. That is definitely something that should be done–that would definitely manage expectations.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @jenzings Good question on the common sense thing – I have NO idea. I, too, think Papa John’s handled the issue appropriately, but I don’t think Boners did. Their non-apology is out of control and making things worse. But I feel about Papa John’s like I did about Domino’s in 2008. Even though it was a franchise that had the issue, the Domino’s CEO issued an apology. Most customers aren’t going to say, “Oh well, it was this franchise so I just won’t go to that one anymore.” They equate the entire brand.

      • jenzings says:

        Oh, totally agree that customers aren’t going to separate it. It’s definitely something that I think franchise brands are going to need to figure out–I’m half expecting a social media monitoring requirement to make its way into franchise contracts. It’s the only way to protect the brand. My only point is that while customers see it one way, the contractual obligations make this not necessarily an easy task for corporate communicators. @ginidietrich

  4. jennwhinnem says:

    @ginidietrich oh my god.the second one.will comment later but oh my god

  5. elijahmay says:

    RT @bobledrew Boners BBQ demonstrates why it’s named that: #prfail #customerservice (from @ginidietrich)

  6. audio says:

    @jangles lol good lord.

  7. ginidietrich says:

    @JohnFalchetto Aren’t you ice climbing?

  8. ginidietrich says:

    @bdorman264 HAHAHAHAAH! I’m pretty sure they DO have a sense of humor.

  9. KenMueller says:

    Doggone you, I had a similar post waiting in the wings, but it might be sufficiently different that I’ll still use it. I guess I’ll have to tweak it a bit.

  10. patrickreyes says:

    Even though you’re not speaking to me until after the Super Bowl (because I was cheering for the Broncos and Tebow), I’m glad you wrote this! I still can’t believe Boners BBQ did what they did! The “apology” is a bit pathetic and they are still feeling the effects of it on Twitter too. I hope they learned their lesson. By the way, here is the review from Stephanie S. on Yelp. Not sure if it warranted the response Boners BBQ gave her…

  11. MirandaM_EComm says:

    @ginidietrich Good points, tho I’m not sure a SM policy could have helped @BonersBBQ since it was the OWNER who did this… unreal.

  12. When I saw the Papa John’s thing first crop up, I was gobsmacked. Like you, I spent my high school/college/grad school years waiting tables and bartending. Patrons could be insensitive, entitled douchecanoes but I would never even think of posting so idiotic where a customer might see it.

    The stupidity, it burns.

    • Edit to add: Every employee of your organization is your brand. While everyone who participates here understands this at a fundamental level, there’s a staggering number of businesses that simply don’t. Blergh.

      • ginidietrich says:

        @jasonkonopinski I can imagine it’s difficult when you have thousands of employees. But there has to be a brand steward who is diligent in making sure employees at all levels know how to behave. But, then, I guess that’s why Undercover Boss is on television. I can’t imagine any of my employees not knowing what I look like, or having a relationship with me, but it happens.

        • KenMueller says:

          @ginidietrich@jasonkonopinski I gotta tell ya. My son works for the new Chick Fil A that opened up here and you should see the manuals he was given and the training he went through. It’s amazing. They are so on top of it and are diligent in creating a culture that truly puts the customer first. Their manual is worth of a dozen blog posts about the importance of customer service. Truly amazing. Not to say it couldn’t happen there, but it would truly be odd if it did.

        • ginidietrich says:

          @KenMueller@jasonkonopinski And that’s the thing about Chick Fil A…they have values, a mission, and a vision and everyone knows what they are. There is a big difference between that and the owner of a BBQ joint posting a photo of a customer and making fun of her. I don’t get it.

        • jenzings says:

          Have you ever seen the Chris Rock sketch about jobs versus careers? That’s what I think of here. Bottom line: some people are there to earn a paycheck and really do not give a…hoot, shall we say, about the brand, or the boss, or the success of the company. That’s when there are problems, and frankly this will always be the case. There will always be people who do not care, who do not think, and, even worse, those who when irritated will set out to do the brand harm. @ginidietrich @jasonkonopinski

        • jenzings says:

          And yet, Chick Fil A had this exact same issue not long ago:

          Some people do not care, and apparently do not retain their training…@KenMueller @ginidietrich @jasonkonopinski

        • HowieSPM says:

          @ginidietrich@KenMueller@jasonkonopinski Chik-a-Fila has a lot more at stake I think. They have an image as a Good Christian Brand. Imagine if this happened to them. They don’t work on Sundays. It would be too late to fix.

        • HowieSPM says:

          @jenzings@ginidietrich@jasonkonopinski this goes to the heart of what is wrong with the US. It isn’t that the rich aren’t taxed enough. It is that the bottom 99% make so little in pay. Minimum wage = job and no buy in or care. Clock in. Clock out. Pay me and if I lose this crappy job who cares I will get another.

          80% of US jobs average under $30k per year. Yes we are a third world country already. But pay people more and give them a buy in for why they should care and you have careers.

        • KenMueller says:

          @HowieSPM@jenzings@ginidietrich@jasonkonopinski I’d have to disagree in part on that. That kind of thinking defines us by money. We are what we earn. I think there are plenty of people who make far less and have great attitudes.

          It cuts more to the core of whether we take pride in what we do, regardless of how much we earn. It’s whether we view our job merely as “work” or a calling/vocation.

          Yes, I agree that people on the front lines need to be paid more. It’s a matter of perspective though. And our perspective of entitlement is way off kilter.

        • @HowieSPM@ginidietrich@KenMueller I can hand it to Chick-Fil-A for staying true to their values, but their support of anti-gay organizations is one reason that I will never patronize their business. Ever.

        • ginidietrich says:

          @jasonkonopinski@HowieSPM@KenMueller They’re run by Mormons. It’s against their religion. I have a cousin who stopped going to church because her son is gay. It’s pretty heavy stuff.

        • KenMueller says:

          @ginidietrich@jasonkonopinski@HowieSPM actually, they aren’t Mormon, they are Baptist I believe. And I actually know one manager at a Chick Fil A who is gay, and openly so. Has been there for years.

        • ginidietrich says:

          @KenMueller@jasonkonopinski@HowieSPM Are you sure? I thought they were Mormon.

        • KenMueller says:

          @ginidietrich@jasonkonopinski@HowieSPM Nope. They provide a history to employees on DVD. The entire history is actually pretty amazing how they got to where they are and how they run things. The attention to product quality and detail is like no other.

        • @KenMueller@HowieSPM@jenzings@ginidietrich It doesn’t define us by money, but it does address the very real concept of wage slavery that plagues this country profoundly. What’s one of the core concepts in shaping a truily social business from the inside? Empower your employees and break down the silos. Restaurants have arguably the highest rate of attrition of any industry so keeping good talent is a major obstacle.

          Like all things, it’s about setting boundaries and having the right perspective. Entitlement definitely exists, but pursuing excellence keeps innovation up and production high.

        • KenMueller says:

          @jasonkonopinski@HowieSPM@jenzings@ginidietrich That’s why the restaurant industry is such a great case study, because despite wage issues, the attrition rate would still be high. When looking at chains and franchises, it is a lot harder to break down the silos, but the culture can filter from the top down in a way that attrition is lower, i.e. the Chick-Fil-A example. Our local Chick-Fil-A has two cooks working there who used to be chefs in high end restaurants in Lancaster. they both attended culinary schools but chose Chick-Fil-A for the experience and culture as it is the best stepping stone to owning your own restaurant.

          And I still don’t buy the wage slavery concept, especially as envisioned by Occupy Wall Street. There were some great ideas there, but the numbers were way too fuzzy and manipulated.

        • @ginidietrich@KenMueller@jasonkonopinski@HowieSPM Sorry to jump in on this one… but the Cathy’s are Christian and go to a church that is not affiliated with a denomination. They are family friend from my childhood.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @jasonkonopinski Like @jenzings asked…why is it called common sense when it’s not so common?

    • jenzings says:

      Here’s the thing with the receipts–this has happened repeatedly. There are numerous posts on Consumerist where employees have described customers in less than acceptable terms. Clearly, part of the training includes using the cash register and that field–which I’m guessing is supposed to have the customer’s name. I can almost hear the training “if it’s really busy and you don’t have time to ask each person’s name, use a word that describes the customer.” This is when there should be another few sentences: “DO NOT use offensive terms to describe customers. Here are some examples of things that are offensive. Again, do NOT use these. Use common sense. The receipts are handed to the customers, and there have been instances where they have ended up on social media.” Of course, all of this assumes that the (probably) minimum wage employee cares what happens to the brand–which may be the most difficult thing of all. @jasonkonopinski

  13. MattLaCasse says:

    @kmueller62 @ginidietrich Not to mention that the BBQ place should probably rethink their naming strategy…

  14. ginidietrich says:

    @Kristinesimpson Yep!

  15. belllindsay says:

    Um. Wow. I really can’t think of anything more to say, I’m *that* stunned by both of these examples.

  16. mthompson55 says:

    I think to be 100% fair you need to mention that Papa Johns was on this Saturday night and did not take the weekend off. I thought they actually managed the issue pretty well.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @mthompson55 I agree – they did manage the situation well. That was my point – you have to be available, even on weekends.

  17. HowieSPM says:

    Well who eats at Papa Johns unless you seriously are starving. I would rather have a box of frozen Elios Pizza and eat it frozen. And anyone reading this who says ‘but I like Papa Johns’ needs some pizza training. Papa Johns. Round Table. Little Caesars. Shakeys. are off limits. Dominos and Pizza Hut are only allowed if they are the only place that delivers and you are drunk and starving after 11pm and unable to drive.

    I am amazed at both these because the first one is public. I might of written in my new blog post that 80% of Facebook accounts are private…BUT BRAND PAGES ARE PUBLIC!

    And I also wrote in my new post about the limited super powers of social media because we are all lazy sods and actually share what we think is important but rarely re-share stuff or take action. Well you want to know what causes ‘Taking Action’? Outrage. That does it every time. And Papa Johns needs some culture training for sure.

    Yes @ginidietrich please never stop the case studies or moron awards.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @HowieSPM Oh I like Papa John’s pizza waaaaaay more than Domino’s. And Pizza Hut doesn’t deliver in the city. So that’s what we order the three times a year we eat pizza.

      • HowieSPM says:

        @ginidietrich sigh. maybe we should revisit the pizza thing and switch to say sushi?

        Want to know what really sucked today. I was planning another Dr Seuss comment and was so flabbergasted at these two things I was left utterly Seuss-less!

    • jennwhinnem says:

      @HowieSPM Sir, I could not agree more with you about your stance on pizza. As a one-time, six-year resident of New Haven, CT, I take pizza extremely seriously. Should you ever make your way to the third smallest state in the country, please meet me in New Haven for Sally’s Pizza, and we will bond while our minds are blown by the most perfect pizza in the world.

  18. richardhwells says:

    @annebuchanan @JustinKownacki Theorem: it used to take effort to display your ignorance to the world, but with the internet it’s easy.

  19. jennwhinnem says:

    Okay, the Papa Johns thing – I’ve had enough waitress friends that I understand the urge to do this, but of course not actually doing it.

    The BBQ story was much, much more painful to me. I think that place could also use some cultural competence training!

    • ginidietrich says:

      @jennwhinnem I think you have them backwards. Having been a server, I know there is an urge to talk about how stupid your customers are, but you don’t actually do it. But the Papa John’s thing is what’s disturbing. It’s racist and anti-American.

  20. michaelocc says:

    So here we see how the great leveller that is social media is actually, once again, an uneven seesaw (and that’s a good thing).

    Now that *anyone* can express an instant, unfiltered opinion online, anyone can be instantly revealed in all their stupid, rude, bigoted and insulting glory. Sometimes, it’s the customers behaving badly (but they often get away with it). It’s infinitely worse when it’s the vendor.

    Brand marketers have had to get used to the fact that customers have loud, powerful voices that can carry great distances; amplified and re-echoed by the social mediavines. Alas, some brand marketers have neglected to properly enlighten their employees about this potent shift in the balance of reputation power.

    Just as your customers now have the ability to be publicly obnoxious (or publicly panegyrical) online, so too do your employees, and while it has always been considered understandable for an unhappy customer to berate a company with which they’re dissatisfied, it is *never* acceptable for a company to deride one of its paying customers in a public forum. That’s just career suicide for whoever is holding the social media baton at the point the tweet, status update of blog post goes live.

    There’s a part of me that takes an evil delight in seeing such cluelessness washed in the sunlight of public view. I know I’m kind of old fashioned, but it disgusts me to ever hear companies talking trash about their customers in private. Why would you do that? These people are your business, for goodness sake. Sadly, we all know a company where this kind of behaviour is the norm. In my most idealistic moments, I dream of a day when social media will have outed and routed all of these ill-managed companies and cleansed the world of their toxic impact.

    Yeah, right. And then he woke up…

    • jenzings says:

      While I’m not going to defend trash-talking, I will relay some personal experience. I used to work at a retail location of a fairly high-end national chain. The vast majority of customers were a delight to work with. But there were some who treated the employees like DIRT. I mean jaw-droppingly bad, condescending, etc. When you have customers driving store employees to near-tears, it’s fully understandable that some of them are going to want to blow off some steam. The very reason that I ended up in the customer service role that I had was that I could handle the more…”difficult” customers without losing my cool–or my self worth. I’m not exaggerating there–some people seem to never outgrow the need to bully. @michaelocc

      • ginidietrich says:

        @jenzings@michaelocc It’s human nature to complain about people and how they treat us. After all, no one treats us as well as we do ourselves. What’s really awful to me is the OWNER posted this at Boners BBQ. I don’t get it. I get being upset by the no tip and maybe some rude behavior. But finding her photo and posting it to your own FB wall? Insensitive doesn’t begin to explain it.

        • michaelocc says:

          @ginidietrich@jenzings indeed. It’s more than just insensitive, it’s deliberately and consciously insensitive squared. On a bun.

      • michaelocc says:

        @jenzings@michaelocc That’s fair. I couldn’t truthfully claim to be innocent in this regard either. We’re all human and some customers (just like some customer service people) are just plain sodding rude.

      • jennwhinnem says:

        @jenzings@michaelocc You know what I learned this week at my local supermarket? When customers are mad at the cashiers, THEY THROW FOOD AT THEM. Three cashiers then proceeded to share which items of food hurt the most.

  21. anandp29 says:

    It’s just takes common sense to know not to post something like that on a public page. Do they know who is in charge of the social media at Boners BBQ?

  22. ShellyKramer says:

    Wow. What kind of bonehead would pull that move? I understand servers being angry about not being left a tip (yet another reason I’m not a fan of restaurants doing daily deals) but how hateful. Great points, Gini and yes – this is absolutely an HR issue, a corporate culture issue and something that will require ongoing training to address – on a regular basis.

    (still shaking head).


  23. […] Boners BBQ, Papa John's Need Crisis Coaching | Spin Sucks Boners BBQ and Papa John's need crisis coaching after employees run amok and it's all caught on the social networks, spreading more quickly than they expected. […]

  24. TheJackB says:

    I can’t help but wonder if the influence of “I deserve as much as the next guy” plays into some of this at all. I listen to some people talk about what they deserve but rarely do I hear about how hard they are going to work to get it.

  25. ryancox says:

    Wow. The BBQ one just baffles me. Talk about shooting yourself in your own foot (it was the owner). And the Papa Johns one is one of those “bound to happen” when you franchise. (or have that many restaurants). With the former being a NEVER do, the latter is a “set yourself up to best prevent” scenario. Papa Johns was on it pretty hard. @ShellyKramer I shared your post with some additional comments, twice on Twitter yesterday. And I was one of the handful of people that Papa Johns @ replied directly. It was one of 4-5 template tweets they were using, but I was pretty surprised to see that they did even that. @ginidietrich you summed up everything with your last 10 words: “It’s in how you respond that makes or breaks you.” Will we remember this Papa Johns situation in 2 years, probably not. — They went on the spin-control and apologizing same day. Will we remember this BBQ situation in 2 years, probably. — The owner found the person, attached their photo, and cursed on a public forum in talking about her.

    Like the two brilliant women, Gini and Shelly said — it’s an HR issue, corporate culture issue and something that will require regular ongoing training and future fires be put out.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @ryancox Oh I’ll remember this…but that’s because I have the mind of an elephant and I’ll also use the examples when I speak. So, during the next two years, I’ll tell this story more than 100 times. 🙂

  26. Leon says:

    G’Day Gini,

    Thanks for posting this. Bloody hell! I know some people are stupid;” how stupid still surprises me.

    But let’s get one thing clear.

    This is a management problem. These sort of things don’t occur in well- managed businesses. I’m not sure precisely what the problem is, but dismissing the employees concerned wont fix it.

    Over 25 years ago two of my children, while still at school, did a lot of part-time work at the local Maccas. My daughter although only a part-timer, was elevated to Crew Trainer. My son got into trouble when he and a management trainee had fun flicking spoonfuls of mayonaisse at each other one night when business was slow.

    My son was “given a good talking to” about standards and expectations and all that stuff. The young trainee was sacked because he didn’t behave as a manager should.

    Your examples from Boners and Papa Johns are wonderful examples of one of my pet concepts. “If your systems are poor, your people will fail.”

    Make sure and all that…..



  27. The early part of my career was in the service industry – I even ventured into hospitality management for a few years. It seemed like a good fit until I saw how people treated and talked down to me and my staff. No matter our role or position our guests often felt they were entitled to treat the staff as beneath them. With that experience, this whole situation reeks of poor management and a void of decency.

    The situation here is nothing new – it’s been happening for years. The only difference now is that social media has magnified everything. The whole world can see what happened in a small town and voice their thoughts on it. My biggest issue isn’t how these two restaurants handled their crisis it’s the lack of respect and value the establishment has for another human! I’m sure the owner did not wake up and say, “Today, I’m going to be a massive tool.” It’s a slow change. Somewhere in the past he chose to speak ill of someone, and it went unchecked. His actions demonstrated to his employees those thoughts are ok. Everyone got comfortable with it until at some point someone brazenly decides to post it in a public place.

    Unfortunately, we will probably have more of these experiences to talk about in the future because I don’t see a change in the lack of respect some people have for one another. Some people will continue to feel entitled to say whatever they want about someone no matter what damage it inflicts on themselves, their company or the people they insult from the safety of their keyboard or phone. It’s more important than ever to hire the right people and make sure everyone is on board with the company social media policy and its potential repercussions.

  28. ginidietrich says:

    @skypulsemedia #ohyestheydid

  29. ginidietrich says:

    @razoo Faceplam is right. Too bad I couldn’t get that emoticon in the blog post

  30. ginidietrich says:

    @kbloemendaal Fun little customer service issues today, huh?

  31. ginidietrich says:

    @dio_marketing Seriously

  32. byronfernandez says:

    @ginidietrich Um, WTF?!? First of all, what kind of name is Boners BBQ?!? Second, their behavior was absolutely appalling and unconscionable

  33. KevinVandever says:

    You’re right! Your message is needed because stupidity, incivility, and douche canoes abound!

  34. coffeewithjulie says:

    While both are just plain baffling in their lack of common courtesy to fellow human beings, the BBQ fiasco was initiated and kept alive by the owner (management) while the Papa John’s was a case of employee culture/training. I am currently in the process of writing a social media guide for employees at a small company and in reviewing the helpful link you shared, my favorite is the reminder to “think about your mom, CNN, and your employer — would you want them to read what you wrote?”

  35. Mark_Harai says:

    Hey Gini – the employees are not to blame, ownership is. Culture, attitude, how customers are treated – both the good ones and the meat heads, are direct result of how your employees are trained and groomed to deal with customers.

    My suggestions in no particular order:

    1.) Close the doors – this really is just so stupid, there really is no excuse.

    2.) Follow through with your recommendations.

    3.) Close the doors – this really is just so stupid, there really is no excuse.

    4.) Reinvent the culture.

    5.) Close the doors – this really is just so stupid, there really is no excuse.

    6.) While they’re at it; rename the dang place (I don’t even want to see their logo – lol!)

    7.) Did I mention; close the doors – this really is just so stupid, there really is no excuse.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @Mark_Harai So do you think they should close the doors?

      • Mark_Harai says:

        @ginidietrich@Mark_Harai The shocking thing is the owner was behind this. I’m sure he’s probably learning a few things right about now. I do believe in second chances.

        Business ownership comes with responsibility and those who rise to the occasion and make the community’s they serve better usually have a long and prosperous lifespan. Those who don’t usually struggle or fail.

        After a while, your reputation precedes you in the local marketplace and that can be good or bad for business owners, depending upon if their a douche bag, or someone who cares.

        This attitude doesn’t belong in business – he may well just put himself out of business. just my opinion and you know what they say about those : )

        • ginidietrich says:

          @Mark_Harai He issued an apology. I think he’s sincere. I’m pretty sure he’ll never do this again.

        • mthompson55 says:

          @ginidietrich@Mark_Harai See Scott Stratton’s post. He actually started liking posts that upheld the other POV after his apology.

  36. PattiRoseKnight says:

    most important thing in this post is – In the public’s eye, and through social media, the customer is always right.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @PattiRoseKnight Even when the customer isn’t right, the customer is right.

      • jenzings says:

        And when the customer is well and truly wrong, there are ways to manage the situation. Again, having worked retail I can give you some examples of outrageous customer demands (one wanted us to pay to repaint her bathroom because her towels kept discoloring). But we were always tactful and courteous when dealing with some of the more extreme demands. And we never told them they were wrong. We just suggested possible alternatives. @ginidietrich @PattiRoseKnight

        • ginidietrich says:

          @jenzings LOL!! That makes my day. She seriously wanted you to repaint her bathroom?! Wow.

        • jenzings says:

          Yes ma’am. She had purchased the paint to match the towels. Someone in the family was using a cleaner of some sort that was discoloring the towels. We replaced the towels–full sets–several times before recommending perhaps switching to white, which wouldn’t be affected by the cleaner. She then said she wanted us to pay to repaint the bathroom because it wasn’t the “aesthetic” she was looking for to have the walls and towels different colors. @ginidietrich

        • ginidietrich says:

          @jenzings Un-freaking-believable.

  37. PattiRoseKnight says:

    I have worked in Public Relations for 30+ years and the one thing I was taught over and over and over is: The client (or customer) is ALWAYS right.

  38. ifdyperez says:

    @rachaelseda hey girly, happy new year!

  39. Hajra says:

    What surprises me is that such people still exist; who actually do it and thanks to social media and (God also!) that people who are “victimized” now have a voice. The core issue is lack of courtesy to fellow human beings.

    And now this may be totally off track, but there’s a lil story I would like to share. I was travelling once and a fellow passenger, on learning that I was a Muslim, remarked “Hmm… will you blow up our plane?” It was offensive but not as much when the air hostess joined in and smirked and said “Oh, we shall be prepared, want to hold up your gun against our head” and that’s when I lost it. I actually shouted for a long time and humanity, customer, respect and lawsuit were a part of it. Maybe it was because I have had too much of it by then. Really, am I ever going to fly with that particular airline. Maybe yes, but I might be on my nerves!

    Sorry, for laying out my story, but when a customer is wrongly mistreated, it’s hard to keep me quiet! 🙂

    • ginidietrich says:

      @Hajra What the heck is wrong with people? Seriously. When do we get so bigoted in our lives? We don’t start out that way.

  40. MSchechter says:

    I simultaneously get the need for this kind of common sense training and lament the universe for it. The fact that we live in a time where, “don’t use derogatory terms in our system” needs to be trained is just depressing.

    As for the BBQ situation, much of my day is spent with our customers. Most of those exchanges are pleasant, some are difficult and others outright frustrating. That said, my job is to keep my crap together even when someone is totally doing wrong by us. One of our customers started a thread a few days ago saying Disappointed With Honora TSV (those all day items that we count on), setting the tone for other customers to jump in, but then in her comment goes on to say how she is buying it. Sure, I’d love to lose my mind. I’d love to say how that isn’t fair. But that customer has the right to do what she wants to do, even when it hurts. The web is taking the good with the bad, while not getting carried away by the good and not losing your mind over the bad.

    On the flip side, I’m also tired of seeing one off fireable offenses turn into so called social media kerfuffles. While they are great teaching situations (and I think both you and Shelly did exactly that), more often then not they are chum in the water type situations. Brands need to learn and they need to learn faster, but do they need to pay?

    • ginidietrich says:

      @MSchechter I’m not a believer in firing people over mistakes like this unless they’re biggies like, you know, illegal things or they keep happening over and over again. Like the kid who was fired from the Chrysler social media firm when he accidentally typed the F word on the Chrysler Twitter account. Reprimanded? In a big way? Fired? No. We all make mistakes. It’s in how we deal with them that is important.

      • belllindsay says:

        @ginidietrich@MSchechter God, I remember that one. Little did I know at the time that they were a client of the company I was working for. Heh. Not only did *he* get canned, but Chrysler dumped the entire agency! Overreact much!!?? Then you had the tact and class (and compassion) of the American Red Cross using humour to deal with the unfortunate “drinking” accidental tweet.

        • ginidietrich says:

          @belllindsay@MSchechter And they both happened about the same time. Great case study on different cultures.

        • belllindsay says:

          @ginidietrich@MSchechter Very true Gini, hadn’t thought of it that way. Dare I say it, almost “male-vs-female”…? Cars/compassion

        • MSchechter says:

          @belllindsay @ginidietrich even these were different. Red Cross was a post about getting drunk. Chrysler was an instance of someone talking disparagingly about the core customer. I agree they may have overreacted, but it’s hard to look at those as the same.

        • belllindsay says:

          @MSchechter@ginidietrich Actually (as my 12 year old would say to me – lol!) – I would debate that point Mike – and again – it’s the “Oh, lighten up” aspect I’m talking about – he tweeted about there being bad drivers in “Motor City” — I suppose you could say he upset all the people who might potentially buy a Chrysler one day, but I think it’s a stretch. Or maybe I’m just an ol’ softy. 😉

      • MSchechter says:

        @ginidietrich You’re right, and what I likely meant was potential firing offense (depending on how the employee handles the situation). That said (and maybe I’m drawing a line that I have no business drawing), I cant help but feel like there is a big difference between those situations. One was a very general statement that was not meant to be posted on the brands page (even though the Chrysler employee should understand the implications of that even on his personal account) the others were more than hurtful or inappropriate, they were malicious. You should certainly take the time to train your employees, but for some reason (and it could just be my own youth and impatience), this goes beyond training for me and into basic human decency.

        • ginidietrich says:

          @MSchechter I think the Papa John’s employee should be fired. It’s racist and inhumane. The Boners guy can’t be fired because he owns the joint. I guess we’ll see how people react to his apology. But, all-in-all, if you make a mistake in social media, it’s not always a fireable offense.

        • KenMueller says:

          @ginidietrich@MSchechter I’ll go a step further. I’m betting the Boners dude (wow, i feel dirty just saying that) is relishing this. He’s looking for the “spin”. Look at his website and the slogan. This is his M.O. Sadly, there are those who believe this is smart publicity, and he’ll get his hardcore fans to back him, and they will! Will he lose customers? yes, but he’ll probably gain some. I’d love to see him go out of business, but I bet if you look back, this wasn’t the first stupid thing he did, and it won’t be the last.

        • MSchechter says:

          @ginidietrich Oh, agree there and didn’t realize the owner was the poster in this case. I just think these two are specifically malicious.

  41. ginidietrich says:

    @kbkcomm Wow is right!

  42. ginidietrich says:

    @John_Trader1 No, no John. It’s 1955. It’s OK.

  43. ginidietrich says:

    This is from girlygrizzly :


    My blood was boiling as well when I opened Scott Stratten’s post this morning. (That is how I received it… This is what I said to him and anyone listening…

    “THIS is the type of BS that in the past would make me incredibly grateful to be so blessed to live out of reach and touch of dregs.

    Now? That thought just isn’t true anymore. As you have shown, as is shown every single day with the power we have right here at our fingertips… there is no place to hide anymore.

    If you are a lying, jerk… you can’t hide it…forever, there is just too much information, too many ways to share that information.. If you are a dreg, eventually your true self WILL be relieved.

    He says, she says has always been a problem. We like to think that we grow out of it, but the truth is, many do not.

    How shameful…as a business owner, this dreg should have been able to stand straight and be right. Instead, nastiness and ignorance are what we (on the outside) see.

    Whether Stephanie and her husband tipped or not, this was an absolute disgrace.

    My profession isn’t one that will EVER make me (or 99.99% of us) wealthy-rich. (Our -my profession- wealth comes from the WHY of what we do.) Tips are a REALLY BIG DEAL. No joke, no snark, very important, on so many levels.

    But. Scott is absolutely right. This whole disgrace completely nullifies what could have been an important talk, it is no longer about the tip or no tip.

    Will people NEVER learn?! THIS is NOT how to live a good and right life. ”

    I agree with @MSchechter the actual NEED for this “training” (Isn’t that what you get in Day-Care as toddlers?! Or, for cripes sake, at HOME?!) is depressing.

    @Hajra Now I am pissed all over again! Girl, I would have stood up and started screaming at right at your back! WTF.

    And last, I don’t think it can be said any simpler than what @Mark_Harai wrote in his comment. Close. The. Door.


  44. girlygrizzly says:

    @ginidietrich Ahh, you’re so cool…

  45. DTCchicago says:

    @ginidietrich We wont have to be as prepared, b/c we’ll never employ someone that bone(r)headed for our social

  46. rwohlner says:

    @ginidietrich good post, cold day in hell b4 I patronize Papa Johns again

  47. Tinu says:

    I heard about Papa Johns. Can’t even believe the Boners BBQ one even though I’m looking directly at it. Wow.

  48. kristopherwong says:

    @evanhamilton Thanks! WOW is all I can say! That is a bit Racy (pun intended) and I would have freaked out. Maybe #FreePizza4Life?

  49. […] is not a PR or social media crisis. It is a customer service crisis. But, like we talked about with Papa John’s and Boners BBQ yesterday, it was turned into a PR crisis when the customer posted the video on YouTube (which got five […]

  50. thedomesticexec says:

    RT @ginidietrich Papa John’s and Boners BBQ were both caught with their HR pants down…and had social media crisis. Are you prepared?

  51. adamkmiec says:

    @Genuine @ginidietrich both were wrong, but in the case of the BBQ place, was the customer right?

  52. DustBunnyMafia says:

    @ErinMFeldman @ginidietrich No kidding. #Business101

  53. ginidietrich says:

    @SweetSoaps Isn’t that an odd name for your business?

  54. Solid examples of employee issues that lead to PR problems. Dominos gave any company this happens to a great blueprint to follow in 2008. GD and friends, fyi, Papa John’s issued an apology the same day as well (Disclosure: PJ’s is an FH client and we were advising them on this issue). You can find it here — 3rd comment down from Papa Johns:

    Be prepared 24/7 is a great point and I still wish more companies did “fire drills” on scenarios like this one. Cheers!

  55. […] every time I turn around I’m hearing about another Marketing/PR crisis at some business. From Papa John’s and Boners BBQ to AAA to Ocean Marketing. It just feels like we’re seeing more and more of these stories, […]

  56. boursier says:

    @UserVoice What, my employees?

  57. […] treatment of customers this past week. And in true Gini Dietrich style, she’s given them the advice they need to avoid the post-screw-up PR disaster that they’ve just experienced should future mishaps […]

  58. CarolynTran29 says:

    This is simply another typical example of the ‘destruction’ one ignorant employee can inflict upon his/her employer via social networking. I agree, in the ‘good ol days’ similar situations would remain local (travelling through word of mouth); however, social networking can project these incidents onto a global platform, and unfortunately an issue that would have normally been considered an HR problem, will develop into a PR issue. Although contracts or agreements may help reduce similar acts of stupidity (darn teenagers), it will never completely resolve these blunders. Bad news will always travel faster than good news, and online it has the potential to damage the company’s image. What companies need to do now is enforce stricter rules on their employees regardless of their position within the corporation, create mandatory contract/agreements, and educate their employees on social networking etiquette.

    What I find appalling is the fact that these incidents as well as others similar to the Chrysler fiasco are becoming more and more common. People need to get their acts together – PR/Marketing Pros included! Don’t be stupid.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @CarolynTran29 Unfortunately, it wasn’t an employee. It was the owner. Which makes it 10,000 times worse. I agree people need to get their acts together. Enough is enough.

      • CarolynTran29 says:

        @ginidietrich Wow.. That is just wonderful. The owner should acknowledge that he is not only in a position of power, but he his actions will be used to exemplify or set the guideline’s to his staff’s ethics or social etiquette. His perverse sense of judgement should not be supported by his customers, the community or his staff. I agree, enough is enough.

        • ginidietrich says:

          @CarolynTran29 Apparently he’s really playing it up now, too. If you have any desire to watch a train wreck, go check out his Facebook wall.

  59. KenMueller says:

    I just went back to check out the Boners BBQ Facebook page, and wow. He’s really playing this up. Looks like a few local radio stations have interviewed him and thrown their support behind him, and he’s looking at the hubbub as international publicity and is really enjoying the attention with no apologies. So even after their apology, they clearly didn’t mean it.

  60. JacquelineCase says:

    Check out the Bonehead’s Facebook page @ He is STILL insulting anyone who posts to disagree. In fact, he goes so far as to copy their profile pics, “philosophy”, etc. and post them, with barely-literate mocking comments, on his wall. The guy is an idiot of epic proportions!. He is particularly nasty to the women, after one poster called a woman a bitch Capron fired back granting that “Boners BBQ Yeah but I bet she’s great in bed 18 January at 13:24 · Like · 1” The guy is a moron. He’s actually pleased that he is known internationally for being a jerk! Oh BTW – he also removes posts that disagree with him!

    • ginidietrich says:

      @JacquelineCase I have no idea what to say to this. I hope the guy goes out of business. I can’t imagine ANYONE would want to eat at his restaurant/food truck.

    • CarolynTran29 says:

      @JacquelineCase What makes this even more so depressing is that is not just an isolated issue – there are any business owners/entrepreneurs out there who lack professionalism and the foresight to address constructive criticism directed towards them or their business. At the moment he probably assumes that the free publicity will attract more potential customers; however, the case will be the complete opposite. Aside from attracting from a number of curious unique visitors, his arrogance and disrespect for the consumers will (in the longer-term) cost him business. Let’s all sit back and watch him and business spiral towards bankruptcy. In the end he will simply be dubbed the failure who happens to be a complete jerk – nobody sympathizes with egotistic idiot who contribute to their own downfall. Let it burn (as sung by Adele)!

  61. […] Boners BBQ, Papa John’s Need Crisis Coaching ( […]

  62. […] Bad. It’s no surprise the bad case studies are shared over and over and over again. The Papa John’s and Boners BBQ case study I wrote about employee communication and how to handle a PR crisis when they go rogue is our second […]

  63. […] not a PR or social media crisis. It is a customer service crisis. But, like we talked about with Papa John’s and Boners BBQ, it was turned into a PR crisis when the customer posted the video on YouTube (which got five […]

  64. […] not a PR or social media crisis. It is a customer service crisis. But, like we talked about with Papa John’s and Boners BBQ, it was turned into a PR crisis when the customer posted the video on YouTube (which got five […]

  65. […] what makes the difference. – Outrage does not take a day off. Papa John’s story about “Lady Chinky Eyes” is a good example of why you should have a social media policy. – You can use humour to […]

  66. […] is not a PR or social media crisis. It is a customer service crisis. But, like we talked about with Papa John’s and Boners BBQ yesterday, it was turned into a PR crisis when the customer posted the video on YouTube (which got five […]

  67. […] we talk about the Papa John’s receipt flap, but concentrate not on how the receipt went viral, but instead focus on questions that seem to […]

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