By looking deeper into the lives of franchise CEOs, employees, and franchisees, Undercover Boss features moral dilemmas that are at the core of the franchise industry. Started in 2009 and modeled after the “reality television” concept, this TV series follows incognito CEOs as they step into the shoes of franchisees and respective employees, working in another aspect of the business while experiencing various forms of feedback and challenges along the way.
The popularity of the first season with viewers in the United States highlights the real interest that the general populace has in understanding how CEOs, or top level executives of businesses, including franchisors, may interact with franchisees and franchise employees. This also targets the fact that the franchise industry is an integral aspect of many lives, in America and around the globe, whether employees or consumers of franchise concepts. A business model that creates over $500 billion in payroll and employs over 8 million people in the U.S. alone, franchising remains a pivotal enterprise.
Winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality Program in 2012, Undercover Boss points to discussion worthy connections (or lack thereof) between management officials and employees of small businesses. The consistent popularity of the series also reveals that how headquarters executives handle the feedback they receive from employees not only holds entertainment value but actually concerns consumers, who are after all the viewers. Whether a cashier, an inventory clerk, a sales representative, or a CEO of a company, the series focuses on the challenges that many encounter in everyday life and how they are dealt with on the job.
Connections between human compassion and entrepreneurialism are frequently made. The series develops a theme: starting and running a business can only work well when people actually care about what they do, how they do it, and who does it with them.
The franchises featured in the series cover the globe with different countries running their own version of the show based on local franchise companies and the individuals who support their success. The value of the program lies in its universal appeal, with franchise business continually expanding throughout the United States and all over the globe. Some of the franchises featured in the U.S. include Budget Blinds, Philly Pretzel Company, Southern Fried Chicken, and The Grounds Guys.
Scenarios between undercover CEOs and employees consistently reiterate the fact that management training and accessibility absolutely affects employee morale and the condition of the company. Improving the sustainability of a company from the ground up involves recurring effort and deep consideration, and this is only evident when management is aware of the challenges faced by employees while remaining receptive to feedback.