🔓Central Florida franchisees featured on ‘Undercover Boss’

CEO goes undercover, visits local store on latest episode airing January 28 at 8 p.m. on News 6

It’s a show that has high-level executives taking on roles of their employees, in disguise. The experience through ‘Undercover Boss’ aims to examine the inner workings of their operation.

“We were told we were filming a documentary about starting over after COVID,” said Rita’s Italian Ice Franchisee co-owner Chip Byers.

Andrew and Chip Byers, both co-owners of the Rita’s Italian Ice Lake Buena Vista location, opened their doors to camera crews back in September. They thought they’d be evaluating a potential franchisee, Marcey Morgan, as part of the documentary.

“I had her do inventory with me, which counting cups is tedious,” said Andrew Byers.

[WATCH NOW: Undercover Boss: Rita’s Italian Ice episode]

Later on, they’d find out she is Rita’s CEO Linda Chadwick, and they were filming the show ‘Undercover Boss.’

“The only regret I have is not figuring it out sooner. I probably embarrassed myself in front of our CEO,” said Andrew.

Linda went undercover visiting a few franchises and a warehouse, participating in the day-to-day roles of its employees. Video teasing the latest episode shows Linda struggling to use outdated registers and card-readers as customers lined up to pay.

“It’s not as easy as it looks,” said Linda. “I was so nervous about having customers wait in line. I couldn’t see the buttons. We’ve fixed that since my experience.”

Andrew said since opening the store, he’d only communicated with the CEO through email and over the phone. Although she was in disguise, he said she was genuine.

“I liked how open and friendly and honest she was about everything. I know she was undercover, but you can tell she wasn’t faking it for the show,” said Andrew.

During the show, Chip brings awareness to a challenge many people are facing in the workforce.

“I am an autistic person and seeing autistic people as business owners is not that common,” said Chip. “I got this job after years of being rejected for no reason whatsoever. You mention on your resume that you are autistic and that you need special accommodations, and that application goes in the trash. A supervisor once told me ‘you’re good at cleaning, but we’ll never promote you.’ I told myself ‘I’m not spending my life doing that.’”

It’s the experience through “Undercover Boss” that Linda said opened the door for more conversation that led to improvements in the company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.

“Any good CEO should get in the trenches with the franchisees and understand every level of the job and find ways to improve together,” said Chip.

[FULL EPISODE: Undercover Boss: Rita’s Italian Ice]

About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a multimedia journalist who joined the News 6 team in February 2020. Crystal comes to Central Florida from WKMG’s sister station, WJXT in Jacksonville, where she worked as a traffic anchor and MMJ.