Papa John’s CEO, Steve Ritchie, has reached out to the company’s customers with a heartfelt apology for the racist remarks of John Schnatter. Papa John’s has suffered from several blows to their image and their bottom line. After being dropped by the NFL as their official pizza because of comments about the national anthem protests, Schnatter used a racial slur during a conference call. This second issue resulted in Schnatter being removed from all things related to Papa John’s.
Steve Ritchie realized that he needed to do some damage control. So, he penned a letter to the company’s customers. In the letter, he made a clear apology and accepted responsibility. He also encouraged customers to hold him accountable. One thing he did try to connect with the customers is that the company is more than just Schnatter. The company has over 100,000 employees and these employees are people from their community, people that they know, and people that are trying to support their families. So, while the company needs to be accountable for the words of one man, customers need to understand that it was just that – the words of one man. He did not downplay the horrendous language or try to make light of it. He just wanted to make sure that people know the company is apologetic and will do its best to gain back the public’s trust.
This letter was certainly done in an effort to win back customers. However, it was contrite and realistic. The letter was the second letter to the customers. The first letter had the same basic content, but did not issue a clear apology and lacked empathy. Steve Ritchie made sure to revamp the letter and include both the apology and the empathetic tone. And, this is probably what many people want to hear. People despise companies that make excuses and refuse to take accountability. Ritchie made sure to make it clear that he wants transparency and he wants to know when customers think there need to be changes. He also took on the responsibility of being on the front lines of these changes. Learn more about the new CEO by going to bizjournals.com.
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