When you’re running a business, don’t ever lose touch with the front lines. It’s a credo that Pizza Pizza CEO Paul Goddard has long championed. But when he agreed to star in an episode of Undercover Boss Canada, he got a rare opportunity to view the business from an entirely different perspective. He went undercover and worked directly with his employees. “[Going undercover] afforded me an opportunity to go out – and under different auspices than I would normally go,” says Goddard, who took over the top job at Canada’s top pizza chain in 2010 following the passing of founder (and Goddard’s father-in-law) Michael Overs.
Posing as a trainee under an assumed name and in disguise, Goddard spent a week working in a variety of front-line roles: riding along with a pizza delivery driver; making pizzas at one of the chain’s Pizza 73 locations in Edmonton; taking an overnight shift helping to transport supplies from Pizza Pizza’s Toronto-area warehouse to various GTA locations; and making dough at the company’s dough factory. “[The experience] was pretty mentally and physically exhausting,” says Goddard.
Since the show, Goddard has also vowed to improve the lines of communications between the various departments. It always comes back to that central rule: don’t lose touch. The risk of doing so can be fatal in any business, but especially in the restaurant and food services sector, where good customer service is everything. “Essentially, if you do not open those lines [of communication],” he says, “then I think you’re at risk of not being as in touch as your customers.”
Goddard’s advice to other CEOs and senior managers, including his co-workers at Pizza Pizza: stay connected to the grassroots level of your organization. “Make sure that you’re actually seeing for yourself and hearing for yourself,” he says.