Texas Roadhouse President and CEO G.J. Hart drew scrutiny for a five-day, 1,000 person employee appreciation the company held in San Francisco recently.
“How dare you have a good time,” scolded a CNBC commentator during an April 6 interview. Managing partners and their spouses were treated to posh rooms at the Fairmont and Ritz-Carlton hotels, big-name entertainment and a street festival during the event.
“We’re going to have a good time, but we’re also going to be serious about what we’re all about … our people and our culture,” Hart responded. “Our people are the biggest asset we’ve got. … We have a philosophy in our company that if we take care of our people, they will take care of our guests.”
That philosophy is paying off. While other restaurants are struggling to attract diners, 89 percent of Texas Roadhouse customers plan to return; 71 percent eat there more than two times a month. In an industry known for its high turnover rates, employee turnover has dropped by 15 percent in the last two years. Incidentally, those employees also have bought $100,000 worth of “I Love My Job” T-shirts to wear at work.
Hart pointed out that Texas Roadhouse wasn’t just spending $2 to $2.5 million on meetings and entertainment. Nearly half the event’s budget was going towards labor and supplies for a full-day of humanitarian work in San Francisco.
“We believe that giving back and doing these types of things make all the sense in the world,” Hart said. “But I’ll tell you something else: I’m not sure it’s enough.”
Here’s the CNBC interview in its entirety: