Applebee’s Executive Gets Flak After Excitedly Outlining How To Take Advantage Of The Poor In An Email

Earlier this month, Wayne Pankratz, an executive director of operations for American Franchise Capital, which owns 50 Applebee’s in the Midwest, wrote a long email to his colleagues. The email, which bore the clickbaity subject line “Why gas increase is good for hiring,” described how the increasingly unaffordable cost of living, thanks to soaring gas prices and inflation, provides an opportunity for Applebee’s to hire people at lower wages.

Coldly, he reported the sad fact that most of the company’s employees and potential employees live paycheck to paycheck, and that with the higher costs and the end of enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus checks from the government, people will need to work more hours, maybe even two jobs, “to maintain their current level of living.” He also predicted that their competitors, particularly the mom-and-pop establishments, will have to “either raise prices, cut employee hours, or pay less hourly to hit their profit margins,” and therefore push more people into the hiring pool.

The email, which was then read and passed around by enraged employees, was leaked online via the Subreddit r/AntiWork, and caused outrage. 

Pankratz, obviously calloused and tragically one-track-minded, doesn’t seem to have as tight a grasp of macroeconomics as he thinks. He missed the part where when prices go up, people will not attempt to “maintain their current level of living,” but will instead cut down on expenses to save money. And one of the first things that they will cut down on is dining out, thereby impacting the bottom line of companies like Applebee’s.

And for a corporate executive — someone definitely not living from paycheck to paycheck — he does not seem to know when to apply discretion on opinions/predictions, especially in writing, much less in an email addressed to multiple people.

This also underlines how companies deal (or choose not to) with the sad state of labor in the US, and how low it stands in the hierarchy of concerns. A “CW” praised Pankratz in the leaked email thread: “Great message Sir!”

Scott Fischer, a representative for American Franchise Capital, spoke to the Kansas City Star and clarified that Pankratz’s email “in absolutely no way, shape, or form speaks to our policies or our culture, or anything like that with our brand.”

“He doesn’t have the authority to create policy for our company for the brand or anything,” Fischer said. “Maybe he wrote it in the middle of the night. I don’t know.”

Applebee’s Chief Operations Officer Kevin Carroll told Newsweek two days after the leak that the message in the email “is the opinion of an individual, not Applebee’s. This issue is being addressed internally by the franchisee who employs this individual and who owns and operates the restaurants in this market.” 

Carroll also added that the food chain’s “team members are the lifeblood of our restaurants, and our franchisees are always looking to reward and incentivize team members, new and current, to remain within the Applebee’s family.”

Pankratz confidently — and maybe in his mind, inspiringly — closed his email with a few pointers: “Do things to make sure you are the employer of choice,” he wrote. “Get schedules completed early so they can plan their other jobs around yours. Most importantly, have the culture and environment that will attract people.”

Information for this briefing was found via Reuters and the companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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