Leave Your Politics at Home – a Restaurant Broker’s Opinion in the Light of the Grub Hub Debacle.
This particular restaurant broker was raised in the South where certain things were never spoken of in polite company. That includes some of the vulgarities tossed about with impunity in song lyrics (think Jay-Z) along with the big two – politics and religion. Seems like that’s still sound advice based on recent events.
The CEO of GrubHub, Matt Maloney, is in hot water today for making his personal political views not only felt within his company but thanks to the power of social media, literally “around the world.” When you are trending at the top of Twitter with a handle that says “Boycott” in front of your company name, face it, it’s too late to recover. What was his faux paus? He issued a post-election memo instructing employees who shared Donald Trump’s views to “reply to this email with your resignation.”
No matter what your political leanings, consider that the vote in this country has a history of roughly 50/50 or at the most, 60/40. Think back to names like Theodore Roosevelt, Bill Clinton and Calvin Coolidge for anyone who got over 70%. For restaurant owners trying to figure out the math; that means for everyone you attract with your political opinion, you are sure to lose someone else. Are you ready to gamble on 50% of your business like the ill advised GrubHub CEO? 59 million Americans voted against his candidate (or inversely, voted for the other guy - in this case gal). Now, how many will vote against his product?
Take a look at his stock value as shown on the New York Stock Exchange (GRUB) today. Here’s a screen shot over a five day period since Maloney decided he would take up political issues within his company. That would be a down trending line and it’s no surprise.
As a restaurant owner, what do you do if you use Grub Hub services? According to Wikipedia, they have 44,000 restaurant partners in over 1,000 cities across the United States and the United Kingdom. Do you have a sign on your door or your menu on their app? If you take it down, do you face a backlash? If you keep it up are you publicly identifying with his opinion and asking for trouble? Some loyal Trump supporters may be ready to pull the plug on GrubHub while Hillary backers are probably ordering extra. But my point is simple. Why ever mix your business and restaurant sales with politics? It’s obviously not working for Mr. Maloney. He’s in a publicly traded company with a board of directors and I suspect he won’t last
another week in that role.
GrubHub is struggling with a deluge of bad press (and some support) today. Of course they are now back pedaling and issuing statements saying they, “welcome all employees regardless of political beliefs” but it’s going to be a struggle to put that genie back in the bottle and a Twitter stream filled with “How do I cancel?” is never a good thing.
These troubling considerations are all part of the reason we should just stick to what we do best in the restaurant business especially in this hyper-charged election year. Social media has changed the dynamics and decisions are amplified in moments to literally millions. Ten years ago it was not a big deal for you to deliver the food along with your opinion. Unfortunately, with today’s instant online environment and hyper partisan politics, it simply puts your business at risk.