Sunday, December 27, 2015

Chipotle's Challenge: Crisis Management

Chipotle has had months of negative headlines over the contamination crises at some of its restaurants.

Search for "Chipotle AND crisis" and you'll find more than 2 million links. Some of these links relate to the E. coli outbreak in the Pacific Northwest, some relate to a norovirus problem in Boston. Many look at the company's management of this crisis.

Food safety is at the core of the crisis. When consumers eat out, they expect their food will not make them sick. And since Chipotle has made its reputation on the basis of natural food prepared fresh, this crisis is especially challenging.

The restaurant chain's reputation has definitely suffered. Rebuilding trust and reassuring customers that they can safely enjoy Chipotle's food will be a top priority in 2016, once the source(s) of the outbreaks have been identified and dealt with.

Chipotle's CEO has publicly apologized and outlined a number of steps to strengthen food safety. Yet until the outbreaks are out of the headlines, Chipotle's marketing activities can't get back into high gear.

Maybe one way to reassure the public and start to resture trust is for Chipotle's management to be seen (with their families) eating at local Chipotle's all around the country, every day, especially in restaurants affected by these outbreaks. That would go a long way toward reassuring consumers IMHO.

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