This week the wisest person I know, the person who is the reason why I believe so strongly in putting the Heart back into Business, received a huge betrayal from a company close to her heart. I had the honour to witness first hand how she dealt with the betrayal and how she has chosen to respond to the company in question.
Below is the letter she asked me to write to the CEO of Pizza Express. She asked me to write this letter so that no other child has to experience the same thing. The wisest person I know; my 6 year old daughter.
Dear Richard Hodgson,
My six year old daughter has asked me to send you the following message below as she would like Pizza Express Euston Road branch to stop harming children.
Yesterday my partner, myself and my 6 year old daughter visited the Euston Road branch of Pizza Express. Pizza Express has been my daughter’s favourite restaurant and she had even chosen to celebrate her last birthday with yourselves. However our visit to Pizza Express Euston Road branch has changed our opinion of your restaurants forever.
For dessert my daughter ordered her favourite dessert, strawberry ice cream. As she was finishing her scoop of ice cream, I discovered a piece of sharp glass in the ice cream. When we tried to get the attention of the staff and asked to speak to the manager, the first member of staff shrugged his shoulders and continued to serve other customers. My partner had to find the manager himself.
When the matter was looked into, the large tub of strawberry ice cream was brought out and inside was a lot of pieces of large and small pieces of broken glass. We were shocked and my 6 year old daughter was in tears.
My daughter and I went to the bathroom to check whether she’d eaten any glass and to calm her down. The disabled/family toilets had excrement on the floor and two of the three ladies toilets were blocked, one with excrement. This upset myself and my daughter even more.
We left the restaurant without a proper apology or acknowledgement of the situation. We felt we were being ignored, with staff hoping the situation would simply ‘go away’. My daughter took off her Pizza Express hat and said she never wanted to return again. Though we left our contact details with Pizza Express Euston branch, we have heard nothing from them today.
My daughter and I have spent the day at the doctors and we are still monitoring the situation in case she swallowed fragments of glass. My daughter and I are still shocked and traumatised by the whole situation.
My daughter asks that changes happen immediately in the Euston Road branch of Pizza Express to avoid such an incident ever happening again. She asks to visit the kitchen of the Euston Road branch once these changes have happened as she wants to ensure that no other child is harmed by Pizza Express.
I hope to hear from you regarding this matter.
My daughter went through the stages of: shock, devastation, loss of confidence in a brand, outrage at what happened, clarity to know what she could do to make sure this didn’t happen again, her decision to communicate the situation to Pizza Express and finally wanting to ensure she could inspect that the kitchen is cleaned up. One of the reasons why I am so impressed by my daughter is that she was able to process what happened and come to a clear conclusion about why this shouldn’t happen again.
Things go wrong in business all the time. The issue is how Pizza Express responded to the incident. My daughter needed a member of staff to connect with her, look her in the eyes and apologise, sincerely. Mechanisms need to be put in place for companies to respond heartfully to situations. To connect and actively listen to their staff and therefore their customers. Like many companies, Pizza Express are putting profits before their staff. And it’s the customer that looses out.
‘The restaurant chain [Pizza Express], which backed down this year over its controversial decision to skim 8% of tips left by credit and debit cards for staff, racked up a sales boost of 9.5% to £427.7 million in the year to June 28. Chief executive Richard Hodgson said a revamped menu, strong sales of its pizzas, dressings and pastas through supermarkets, and the takeover of 27 franchises in China helped underlying pre-tax profits rise 12.9% to £100.2 million’. Evening Standard, 27 October 2015.
In a week where Pizza Express announces its greatest profits of over £100 million, in its 50 year history, and the world celebrates successful profits, I’d rather see things through the eyes of a six year old and work on improving strawberry ice cream.
If six year-olds are prepared to take on multinational companies, then we adults had better make sure there is a future for everyone who loves strawberry ice cream.
As I finish writing this blog, I have received an encouraging email from Richard Hodgson, the CEO of Pizza Express. I look forward to telling my daughter that change has started.
Eudora Ralph Pascall
Eudora Ralph Pascall is a founding partner of Heart in Business Limited and the founder and director of Dare to Rethink, which encourages businesses and individuals to Rethink their patterns of behaviour and Reconnect to their life purpose.