Amplifier Articles

Undercover Boss

 Kirsten Flynn thought she had a good team. But she didn't know how good they were until she became an Undercover Boss

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Tougher. Grimier. Riskier. Are you game?

Kirsten Flynn, Vice President, Premiere Van Lines (8060 Corporate Head Office), faced this proposition last spring when she was approached by the producers of Undercover Boss Canada. With operations in 22 key markets across Canada, Premiere Van Lines is a large player in Canada.

"You don't audition or apply to get on the show," says Kirsten. "The producers pitch to you based on their research. Among the requirements for consideration are Canadian ownership, coast-to-coast operations, and a minimum of 1,000 employees."

Kirsten says the decision wasn't easy. Filming would have to take place in the last week of June and first week of July, which meant she would be absent from her executive duties during the busiest week of the year. But the upside was great. Here was a rare opportunity to portray a positive message about her company, about Atlas, and about the industry.

"Professional moving requires trucks, employees, insurance, brick-and-mortar locations," says Kirsten. "This was a chance to educate the public on what is involved. People should know that if they get a quote that is too low, the best thing they can do is ignore it...otherwise the repercussions can be expensive."

With Kirsten's agreement, the producers proceeded to scout locations. Because the show is character-driven, they looked for employees whose personal stories would most likely resonate with viewers. To deter suspicion about the presence of a camera crew, the producers told employees they were filming an industry documentary. After visits to several Premiere branches, they had found the people they wanted to feature.

For her part, Kirsten received a complete makeover. The crew cut and dyed her hair and outfitted her with different clothing.

"I was introduced as Helen, a new employee," says Kirsten. "Helen was a stay-at-home mom whose kids are now grown, so she decided to take a job outside the home."

Kirsten as Helen

Kirsten, aka Helen, gains experience in packing under guidance of veteran packer Lisa Inglis. Lisa was 1 of 5 employees featured in the show.

"I always knew and bragged that Premiere Van Lines was unique and had a huge heart," says Kirsten. "The time I spent with the crews solidified this for me...we truly are a family who cares about our customers and each other."

The production schedule was intense. The 46 minutes that make up the finished episode represent the distillation of 300 hours of shooting. What ended up on screen can be described as "magical."

Kirsten says the experience has made her a better manager and better attuned to communication. She is now using social media more to share individual successes and strengthen teamwork. "When you are praised by and in front of your peers, your heart soars and you have a strong sense of belonging."

"I have a lot of respect for the show... it has a lot of honesty," says Kirsten. "I love this industry and I love Premiere Van Lines. I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity to show people how they can choose a good and reputable mover."

What People Said After the Show...

After the Premiere Van Lines episode aired, Kirsten received dozens of emails from viewers. "People just opened their hearts," says Kirsten. "It was wonderful to read how they had been touched by the show. I replied to every one of them."

"I was not able to watch the episode when it originally aired but saw the rerun the other night. It was excellent. Congratulations to all involved. You also did a nice job of giving our industry credibility. Well done!"

"I just had to write to you to say how much I loved watching an episode of Undercover Boss Canada. Our family has been watching this program for a while, but I have to say honestly that the story covered in this episode bar none was the most enjoyable one I have seen. . . ."

"I am just a regular English truck driver from across the pond and it was a pleasure watching you on TV. If ever you visit my country England my wife and I could show you around my part of England. I think you would love it."

"...You have some great staff and it was nice to see that you appreciated them. You must be proud of your achievements and good for you. Just had to say it was great to watch."

"Saw your episode on Undercover Boss Canada last night. Wow, best episode yet on that great show..."

"I've been in the moving business for over 25 years. The purpose of this email is simply to say how impressed I was with your performance on Undercover Boss Canada last night. Moving is tough and margins are tight, but I believe it is people like you who "walk the talk" that make the difference..."


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