Posted tagged ‘Sustainable Practices’

Burgerville Affordable Health Care Program Featured on FOX & Friends

September 8, 2009

Be sure to check out footage of client Burgerville from FOX & Friends this morning which features President and CEO Jeff Harvey discussing the chain’s affordable health care program for hourly employees.

Under Burgerville’s health care plan, employees who have been with the company for at least six months, and work 20 hours a week, are eligible for health insurance which costs the employee $15 per month. The cost for an employee and children is $30, employee and spouse is $60 and a full family plan is just $90. This coverage comes with no deductible.

Burgerville pays more than 90 percent of the premium for employees and their dependents. The most recent survey by the company found that nearly all of Burgerville’s 579 eligible hourly employees are enrolled.

The Pacific Northwest chain has been able to offer their affordable health care plan for nearly 4 years, and as a result, has experienced reduced turnover, increased long-term retention and increased operational productivity.

Burgerville saw turnover drop from 128% in 2005 to 54% in 2006 (the first year of the program).

Initiatives such as this industry leading health care program, an expanded leadership development training program for employees, the company wide use of wind power, recycling of used trans fat free cooking oil into biodiesel, as well as an expanded recycling and composting program, are all based around Burgerville’s belief that it is good business to adopt practices that are good for their guests, employees, the local community and the environment.

WSJ: Burgerville’s Health-Care Recipe

August 31, 2009

A great article in today’s Wall Street Journal, written by Sarah Needleman, featuring client Burgerville and their affordable employee health care program.

If you don’t believe that a fast food, quick serve or fast casual restaurant chain can provide their employees with affordable health care, you will be pleasantly surprised!

From the Wall Street Journal:

Four years ago, executives of Burgerville, a regional restaurant chain, agreed to pay at least 90% of health-care premiums for hourly employees who work at least 20 hours a week. Today, the executives say the unusual move has saved money by cutting turnover, boosting sales and improving productivity.

Burgerville’s experience is notable for the food-service industry, where turnover is high and fewer than half of chains offer health insurance for part-time hourly employees, according to People Report, a research firm. The chains that do offer benefits pay on average 49% of the cost for employees working at least 30 hours a week, People Report says.

Burgerville’s initiative “not only improves quality of service but it saves money by not having to replace staff as frequently,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic Inc., a Chicago consulting and research firm for the food industry.

Burgerville, a 39-restaurant chain based in Vancouver, Wash., and owned by closely held Holland Inc., has long followed a distinctive path. It offers hormone-free meat, uses wind energy to power its stores and prints nutritional information on its receipts.

Under Burgerville’s plan, individual hourly workers can enroll in a health-maintenance organization for $15 a month, with no deductible. A worker and spouse pay $30 monthly; family plans cost $90. Salaried employees, whose plans didn’t change significantly, pay $84 a month for individual and $240 monthly for family coverage, and have an annual deductible of $500.

Executives say the plan paid for itself, and more. Turnover in 2006 plunged to 54%, from 128% in 2005. That’s a big deal when it costs an average of $1,700 to replace and train a restaurant worker, according to People Report.

Burgerville Once Again Redefines Fast Food

May 27, 2009

If you’ve been dying to try the new, seasonal, gourmet menu offerings at client Burgerville, be sure to check out a sample of this mouth-watering review by Jake Ten Pas of the Columbian on the latest May offerings: the Grilled Asparagus and Tomato Melt and Golden Fried Asparagus Spears. The full review can be found on the Columbian Web site by clicking the link below.

Over the last four decades, Burgerville has become nationally honored for its innovative approach to quick service and fresh, local, sustainable offerings, winning numerous awards for its healthcare, wind power and recycling/composting programs. But what has always set Burgerville apart from the competition has been its commitment to local purchasing and its high quality, seasonal menu items such as their real ice cream milkshakes made with local berries from Liepold Farms and of course their Walla Walla Sweet Onion Rings.

Starting in February of this year, Burgerville added two gourmet, seasonal food offerings to its menu each month that feature a high quality, local ingredient sourced from local partners who share the chain’s commitment to sustainable business practices. With these new, gourmet menu items, Burgerville is not only catering to their current guests ever-changing tastes, they are answering the demand of their younger consumers who want the convenience and cost savings of quick service with the quality and uniqueness of a more high-end gourmet establishment.

If you’re in the Portland/Vancouver area, be sure to stop by!

From the Columbian:

Burgerville has long existed in its own niche among fast-food burger chains by featuring seasonal ingredients grown in the Pacific Northwest. It espoused the ideals of the locavore before that term was in wide use, with seasonal specials such as Walla Walla Sweet Onion Rings and Yukon Gold Fries. As of February, however, Burgerville upped the ante in its bid to appeal to folks looking for a fresh, ever-changing culinary approach. Each month of the year, it will unveil a featured gourmet menu item using a local ingredient that is in season. In March it was rosemary, in April spinach and this month asparagus is in the spotlight. So, the question becomes, is Burgerville high-quality fast food, fine dining at a reasonable price, or something else altogether?

To get a sense of the variety offered when the menu changes monthly, I went to Burgerville in April to sample the spinach offerings, which were built around spinach grown in the Corvallis-Albany, Ore., area. The first was a spinach salad with Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese, grilled chicken, walnuts and dried cranberries from Dallas, Ore. The spinach was a vivid, pine green, which combined visually with the creamy white and blue cheese and the magenta cranberries to create a roughage rainbow. The chicken was moist, though I wouldn’t have minded a couple more pieces. It was served with a red wine vinaigrette that locked down the trifecta of sweet, creamy and slightly bitter flavors that is essential to a good spinach salad, with the nuts providing the textural counterpoint. Their second spinach offering was a breakfast pastry stuffed with sausage, egg and, of course, spinach. The pastry itself was both flaky and chewy, and there was no shortage of egg and sausage, making it filling. If anything, I could have used a bit more spinach, and cheese might have helped to bind the ingredients together.

To display this month’s ingredient, Burgerville unveiled a Grilled Asparagus and Tomato Melt and Golden Fried Asparagus Spears, both made with locally grown produce. The fries, in lesser hands, could have been a disaster. I worried that the delicate flavor of the vegetable would get lost behind batter and oil, but my concern turned out to be totally unfounded. Instead, a light batter clung tenuously to the crisp stalks, allowing the flavor of the main ingredient to shine. Not only that, but there was hardly a hint of grease on the fries, which were served with a delicious garlic aioli. Aioli is like mayonnaise, and the condiment was so simple and tasty that, were it not for the company’s emphasis on locally procured ingredients, they could consider opening up shop in France. Not to denigrate their bar-setting special sauce, but the aioli should be on the menu year-round.

The asparagus melt was similarly delicious, even though it lacked somewhat in presentation.  Again, the asparagus was a rich green and was paired with ripe, thinly sliced tomatoes and a gooey mass of mozzarella and provolone cheese. The bread was golden and buttery, if a bit greasier than the fries, and cradled the subtly Italian flavors admirably.

Restaurants Using Facebook and MySpace to Reach Out to Guests

November 10, 2008

Quick service chains are finding ways to connect with young customers who are used to communicating with their mobile phones or through social-networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Pizza Hut has recently rolled out a Facebook application that will enable users to order the chain’s food without exiting their profile pages. Some Subway franchisees offer ordering by text or through iPhone apps.

Our own client, Burgerville, has created a Facebook fan page so guests can keep up to date with happenings at the company. New fresh, local and sustainable seasonal menu items are featured and guests can share stories of their favorite menu items and their memories and experiences at Burgerville.

Burgerville is committed to fresh, local and sustainable practices, living this commitment through partnerships with local businesses, farms and producers. Initiatives such as an industry leading health care program, an expanded leadership development training program for employees, the company wide use of wind power, recycling used trans fat free cooking oil into biodiesel, as well as an expanded recycling and composting program, are all based around the belief that it is good business to adopt practices that are good for guests, employees, the environment and the local communities that they serve with restaurants. Did I mention they make great food?

From Advertisting Age:

Pizza Hut, which recently crossed the $1 billion benchmark in online sales, is launching a Facebook application that allows fans to place orders without leaving their profiles.

Pizza Hut’s not alone: A number of the nation’s biggest fast-food chains are beginning to embrace text and iPhone ordering capabilities, at least as tests. Already for the three months ending in August, food marketers sent almost 1.4 million text-message ads, up 37% from the same period last year, according to ComScore’s M:Metrics data. Consumers seem to want the offers: of all the ad categories using SMS marketing, restaurants had the highest response rates, with 15.5% of consumers responding to the ads.

Subway spokesman Les Winograd said some of the chain’s franchisees have begun to offer ordering via text and iPhone apps. The chain has an unusually open policy that lets individual franchisees experiment with their businesses.

“Some of that is stuff that they’re doing on their own, but they share information,” Mr. Winograd said. “We’re constantly encouraging franchisees to think out of the box and try something new. You never know, it might take off.” (He said adding turkey to the menu was a franchisee experiment in the chain’s early days.)

Burgerville Names Janice Williams As New Chief Operations Officer

November 8, 2008

Client Burgerville has named Janice Williams as the company’s new Chief Operations Officer. Williams began her career with Burgerville as a teenager working in the restaurants and quickly learned how to powerfully manage change and serve with love no matter what circumstances she encountered.

As COO, Williams will be accountable for restaurant performance and all resources that impact the operation of each of the company’s 39 restaurants in Oregon and Southwest Washington.  Williams led the creation of Burgerville’s Center for Responsible Community Leadership (CRCL) where she redesigned the company’s management curriculum and training programs.

Burgerville believes in investing in their people’s growth and development. Their business has always been about people: their employees, guests and the people of the communities they serve. Burgerville focuses on growing their people’s leadership abilities in all areas of the company and they have seen the return on investment in developing people to powerfully manage change, contribute fully and serve others while sustainably growing the business.

The Columbian of Vancouver, Washington, has an in-depth article featuring this announcement.

From the article:

Janice Williams, 41, is filling a seat that has been empty since January, when the last COO, Jeff Harvey, was elevated to president and chief executive officer.

“We will continue to look at how to improve our sustainable practices, how we source products from local growers, how we continue to maintain our people and leaders,” Williams said. “We’re always looking to grow our business.”

Before her promotion, Williams headed human resources for Burgerville, which employs 1,600 people in the region, including 430 in Clark County.

“She has been an essential member of our executive team and has demonstrated a deep appreciation of Burgerville’s commitment to the development of our people and each of our sustainable business practices,” Harvey said. “In her new role, Janice will continue to reinforce the relationships within the communities we presently serve and (will) uphold our operating strategies.”

Williams is a strong believer in the company that has defined her career, she said.

The Business of Blogging

August 28, 2008

Check out QSR Magazine where this month Karon Warren, with whom I have had the pleasure of working with in the past, discusses how embracing social media and blogging could enhance a corporations identity and appeal to younger audiences.

From the article:

If done right, a corporate blog might be just what your business needs to take your brand to the next level, becoming the best marketing tool for your company.

For example, McDonald’s started a blog dedicated to corporate social responsibility ( with topics such as “Reducing Our Footprint” and “Defining Sustainability.” Through its blog (, Stone Creek Coffee provides an outlet for news and events, such as promoting the Stone Creek Road Trip, wherein customers receive free coffee after visiting a certain number of store locations.

In fact, according to, which tracks corporate blogging, almost 300 corporate blogs authored by CEOs and other personnel in a leadership position were up and running as of February. Industry experts believe this number will continue to rapidly increase.

Blogs also provide quick-serve restaurants with an innovative way to reach today’s young audience, who play key roles with quick-serves as both customers and employees. “As a very large population in the quick-service industry is 16 to 22, blogging will become a great way to engage them, their ideas, concerns, and suggestions,” says David Nour, founder of Relationship Economics and CEO of BeOne Now Inc.

And it’s a marketing strategy that’s here to stay. “Blogging and social networking are an integral part of the DNA of the new generation entering the work force,” he says.

Social media is very important in our society right now and it has been a great way for people to reach out to audiences they might not have been able to reach in the past.  Thoughts?

Burgerville Interview Discusses Award Winning Employee Healthcare Program

August 22, 2008

Client Burgerville was recently featured on the “Taking Care of Business” show on the Employee Benefits News Web site. Jack Graves, Chief Cultural Officer of Burgerville, was interviewed by McLean Robbins who focused the 10 minute interview on the company’s award winning employee healthcare program.

Jack Graves, Chief Cultural Officer, Burgerville

Jack Graves, Chief Cultural Officer, Burgerville

For the complete interview, please click here.

Burgerville is a Pacific Northwest quick service restaurant chain with more than 1,300 employees and 39 restaurants located throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington. Initiatives such as an industry leading healthcare program, an expanded leadership development training program for employees, the company wide use of wind power credits, recycling of used trans-fat free cooking oil into biodiesel, as well as an expanded recycling and composting program, are all based around Burgerville’s belief that it is good business to adopt sustainable practices that are good for their guests, employees, the local community and the environment.

Burgerville, Vancouver, Washington

In a time when many companies were cutting back on healthcare for employees, Burgerville took a bold step in the opposite direction. Effective January 2006, the company introduced new healthcare packages for hourly employees and their families that decreased the employees’ premium costs. These packages are unique in that Burgerville contributes more than 90 percent of the cost of both its employees’ and their dependents’ healthcare plan, following through on its commitment to ensure that the company’s employees remain healthy and well.

Hourly employees with six months of service and working 20 hours a week are eligible for coverage at a cost of only $15 per month with no deductible. Employees are the company’s most important asset and are key to Burgerville’s success. Decisions like their health care program come from a deep commitment to invest in their people. Without strong, vibrant, healthy people, there can be no healthy family or healthy community.

Serve With Love

Mission: Serve With Love

For more on Burgerville and their sustainable business practices, please read these articles which have been featured in Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Fast Casual, The Consultant, and the Vancouver Business Journal.