Joe Koss, CEO of Culver’s, shares two stories of crisis

The Center runs semi-annual CEO Roundtable Intensives.  These are not lectures by experts to people sitting at tables that are round…  The peers pick the topics, a peer opens with a 15-minute setup talk which is immediately followed by three facilitated discussion segments at tables of five chief executives.  It’s intense, short and effective. You must be a chief executive to participate.

Best practice reference:  6.6.3 Disaster planning

The first of Joe Koss’s kick-off stories was about five words his predecessor said at the annual gathering of the franchise.  In the teeth of the 2008-09 recession, Phil Keiser stood up to say, “We choose not to participate.”  He didn’t mean they could ignore the very real problems of a drop in disposal income and the scarcity of capital.  He meant they chose not to participate in the pessimism.  Culver’s stayed true to their brand, the quality of their products and service and the rigorous selection process of new franchisees.

In 2018, a gas explosion in downtown of the city of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin killed two people. The operators of the nearest Culver’s restaurant instantly organized a fund-raising day, donating half their revenue to the fund for the victims.  The line for the drive up ran for blocks; the line ending at the counters literally wrapped around the block.  You’re more a part of your community than you realize.

Facilitated peer discussion

  1. When did a crisis open a small opportunity for you?
  2. What’s going to be your next crisis?
  3. What structural change would improve your crisis readiness?