Smoothie King is joining 7-Eleven, Twin Peaks, Nestlé Toll House Café, and Taco Bueno on the list of North Texas-based companies that have braved the challenge to investigate (and publicly air) what actually goes on behind-the-scenes on the hit television show ‘Undercover Boss.’
Wan Kim, the CEO of Coppell-based Smoothie King, will be the star of the newest ‘Undercover Boss’ episode premiering this Friday, Oct. 23 on CBS. He follows North Texas neighbor Ray Blanchette, the CEO of TGI Fridays, whose episode premiered for the show’s 10th season on Oct. 2.
The reality series trails high-level executives—typically the chief executive officer—as they go incognito to examine the inner workings of franchise operations. Most often, the c-suite leader poses as a contestant for a made-up television show to inconspicuously travel to various locations and try their hand at lower level positions within the company.
For Kim’s disguise, he’ll don shoulder-length hair, a Van Dyke-style beard, a Hawaiian shirt, black chinos, and checkered Vans, per a news release.
Smoothie King said he looks more like an extra on “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” than its chief executive, but that’s the whole point—the bosses need to see if their company’s vision, culture, and guidelines are being followed when no one is watching.
“We are driven by our mission, which is to inspire people to live healthy and active lifestyles, and it was amazing to see how we live out that mission inside a Smoothie King,” Kim said in a statement. “Being able to wear a disguise was an invaluable experience. Getting a first-hand look at what our guests see and what our team members do on a daily basis provided an incredibly moving, humbling, and eye-opening perspective.”
Kim will perform front-of-house tasks at five locations of the made to-order healthy smoothie giant during his episode. Those jobs include working the cash register, making smoothies, cleaning the floors, prepping work stations, and taking drive-thru orders.
“One of the main reasons I wanted to be on this show was because we had recently finished rolling out our Clean Blends menu systemwide, and I wanted to see for myself how our employees were adjusting to the new operational procedures and how guests were responding to the healthier options,” he said.
Unlike most executives that go on the show though, it wasn’t a new experience for Kim. (Unlike the Massage Heights episode when the co-founder had never given a massage, or the Subway episode when the CDO had never made a sandwich).
In 2003, Kim started his journey at Smoothie King as a franchisee when he opened the brand’s first-ever international location in South Korea. He later went on to open an additional 120 locations there.
Now a Smoothie King master franchiser, Kim took the reins of the company in 2012, building it to more than 1,200 global locations.
Despite holding the top spot at Smoothie King for almost a decade, Kim said his undercover experience gave him a new appreciation for how hard employees work on the front lines.
‘Undercover Boss’ episodes often conclude with the bosses handing out money, cars, or scholarships to the hardest-working, most passionate employees who have had to endure unprecedented hardships to retain their jobs.
“Truthfully, you don’t realize how much our employees are doing until you get to see it with your own eyes and you’re actually there doing their job with them,” Kim said. “It’s so much more than just making smoothies. There’s an expectation our guests have when visiting Smoothie King, and these managers and franchisees have done an excellent job demonstrating our core values to maintain the kind of in-store experience we pride ourselves on.”
Here’s a glimpse of what to expect during Kim’s episode.
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