Papa John’s new CEO Steve Ritchie faced a public relations nightmare when he took over the company. Thankfully, he was able to prevent what could have been a disaster for the company with a well-crafted letter he wrote to Papa John’s customers. Steve Ritchie began his career with Papa John’s in 1996 as a $6 an hour customer service representative. Ten years later, he became a Papa John’s franchise owner and operator. According to Wikipedia, in 2014, Steve Ritchie was promoted to Chief Operating Officer, then he became president of the company in 2015. He was added to the company’s succession plan later that year.
Steve Ritchie’s letter to Papa John’s customers addresses several issues that occurred before he took over the company and how he plans to correct these issues moving forward. First, he points out that racist or any of type of insensitive language is unacceptable at any level in the company. Second, he points out that Papa John’s is not an individual, but a team of over 120,000 corporate and franchise employees around the world. Third, Steve Ritchie said he will be personally involved in helping to regain the trust of the customers. This includes auditing the company’s cultural diversity and inclusion practices, getting feedback from franchisees and employees, and having corporate transparency. You can also know more about Steve by visiting his profile on Bloomberg.com.
The most important aspect of Steve Ritchie’s letter to Papa John’s customers is that he apologizes to the customers. He had previously written an open letter that was posted on Papa John’s website that did not have an explicit apology. The second letter to the customers had the apology that was needed for this situation, showed a level of empathy that was missing in the first letter, and laid out the steps that will be taken to rectify this situation. Steve Ritchie also showed a willingness to be held accountable for what happens to the company. This second letter is a step toward improving Papa John’s brand and image.