Chipotle gave me a free burrito yesterday.
Grilled steak, fresh guacamole, grilled bell peppers, and all the other tasty ingredients that make me happy. I think I’ll go back and pay for one next time. And the time after that, too. For a healthy eater like me, it was just a wonderful indulgence.
Oh yeah, didn’t they have some sort of food contamination crisis??? Well, I certainly didn’t get sick. And that burrito was really good.
Chalk one up to textbook crisis management.
After a year of salmonella, E.coli, norovirus, negative press and severe stock market declines, you would think Chipotle would be on its heels. Think again.
On Monday of this week, Chipotle announced they would close all of its 2000 locations to inform its employees of new food safety programs to prevent further outbreaks. What a great way to acknowledge the problem and pivot. Last year’s issue is now a catalyst for positive change by establishing higher standards for in-store food safety, supplier food safety, as well as employee relations with a new sick leave program. Chipotle even live-tweeted its all-hands employee meeting! Great transparency – particularly for their target audience of Millennials that values transparency.
But the best part was how well they understood the critical importance of how to best drive customers back to the stores. Like it or not, we have all become the “ADD generation.” We have short memories and are easily distracted. Once we think you have solved a problem, we move on pretty quickly.
My millennial children, Marissa and Jason, sent me the free burrito offer:
We’re closed today to attend a meeting with all the other Chipotle employees. If we messed up your lunch plans, let us make it up to you. Visit chipotle.com/raincheck
I then got a text number to text RAINCHECK for the free burrito. I love that word – “raincheck.” It’s the second great pivot in managing this crisis. Everything is back to normal! It’s just an employee meeting! As simple as a rain check because we couldn’t serve you that day! Salmonella??? Solved that problem! Would you like chicken or steak?
In 72 hours, Chipotle has shifted the conversation completely. Damage control has been replaced by positive press and happy customers. Yes, there will be a financial hit as a result of all of those free burritos. But Chipotle is well on their way to restoring customer loyalty, regaining trust, and driving revenue growth.
I bet they even get a few new customers too. When I can’t take another kale salad, I know where I am going for lunch!