Tom Garrity

Garduno Effort Falters

In Crisis Communication on March 3, 2010 at 3:06 am

Garduno’s has had it share of problems lately.  The Albuquerque Mexican restaurant has had issues with tax payments to the State of New Mexico, lost its lease on a location at Balloon Fiesta Park and has had very public issues with an alleged embezzlement by a former employee.

On Sunday, the news stories started that the eatery was going to restructure.  On Monday, they announced three of their five stores would close and that the company was going to seek protection from creditors by declaring bankruptcy.  In the wake of the announcement, 100 jobs, uninformed employees and bewildered customers.

This was a text book case of how not to make this kind of announcement.  Here is a quick overview:

The announcement was leaked on Sunday, announced Monday.  It is Tuesday evening now and the news media is still talking about Garduno’s problems.  Want an example of how bad this media play was?  Look at the ABQ Journal Headlines, Monday: Garduño’s To File for Bankruptcy; Tuesday: Bankruptcy Fallout.  Lesson: If you want to give a story legs, announce this kind of information on Monday… they will be talking about it all week long.  Announce it on a Friday, the story will likely stall on over the weekend.

The announcement was made at a news conference.  This is great for media outlets because they get to pick apart everything they say.. and they did.  It allows the media to shape the discussion instead of Garduno’s.  Lesson: Celebrate good news in public and share bad news one-on-one.

And the third great mistake, their employees and customers were the last to know.  According to Monday’s media reports, Garduno’s was planning to have a staff meeting on Tuesday to talk about the issue.  They left their customers out to dry, their website http://www.gardunosrestaurants.com/ still lists all locations as opened and there is no word of the reorganization.  Lesson: The level of compassion you show to your victims will determine how successful you will be surviving the crisis.

I wish Mr. Garduno the best of luck to survive this downturn. I hear he is a class act, a down to earth guy, it is just too bad that the “spin” didn’t reflect his good character.

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  1. Nice, Tom. Some good pointers here, especially about letting your people know so they don’t have to first hear about it through the media.

  2. Tom, I agree with you it seems this company wants the publicity, especially now saying they are busier now and want to rehire workers. They have my no#. I worked there about 2 years, talked to winrock mananger to see if indeed they were hiring. Only bussers one of the harder jobs there, but have not been called. I feel if I were to go back, what does the future have in store, closed down again and kicked to the curb. No thanks. I like your site, more people should comment about Employers doing thier employees wrong!

  3. Back in the 1990s, the state Tourism Department endured two Crisis in Communications moments. The first involved the Hantavirus and the second was New Mexico Magazine’s accidental interpolation of the Carlsbad chamber’s toll-free telephone number for tourist info in the department’s New Mexico Vacation Guide (the incorrect number reached a sex-talk line). In the first moment, the department initially stumbled but recovered quickly and correctly. In the second, the department took control at once, launched corrective measures, made phone calls, announced its mistake and outlined the problem and its under-way solution in one fell swoop, and everyone walked away happy. The national travel media, whom the department alerted to the error, made jokes about it in columns and included the Carlsbad chamber’s correct 800 telephone number (free publicity) in more than 135 newspapers. Now that’s how to do it!

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