I don’t watch a lot of television, but recently watched a show called Kitchen Nightmares hosted by the infamous Gordon Ramsay .
If you are not familiar with the show, Gordon, one of the world’s best chefs and restaurateurs, goes into a failing restaurant with the goal of helping the owners turn it back to profit within just five days.
After watching a couple of episodes, it became apparent that he follows a simple formula. Five steps which are universal and principles which can be applied to any business or industry.
So if you’d like to break through your business plateau and achieve greater heights, read on and consider putting these ideas into practice.
1. Get Re-Inspired
When Gordon Ramsay arrives at a restaurant, the business owner is completely flat, bereft of ideas and hope.
Months or even years of hard work and dwindling profits have taken there toll and the owner is in complete survival mode and stressed to the max. At this point, Gordon could launch into ‘lets fix this’ and ‘lets fix that’, but it would be a complete waste of time, because you can’t achieve anything if you are mentally and emotionally spent.
So Gordon initially works with the owner to help them re-ignite their passion. He believes that if a business stinks it’s because the owner stinks, so that’s where he starts – from the top down. Often he will start with a basic question: “Why did you go into business?”
When you are in a state of perpetual stress or exhaustion, you can't possibly expect to run at optimum capacity. No wonder you cant get inspired or excited. So if that’s you: stop now, take a breather, break and do whatever you need to do to get re-inspired. Think about why you went into business in the first place? What are the things you love about what you do. Get back to basics.....
Question : What can you do to re-ignite the passion for your business?
2. Own a Niche
Once the owner is in a more positive state and has restored some energy, they can start to look at fixing their problems. The first step is is to clarify their niche. What’s a niche? It’s the position that you hold in someone else’s mind. The problem is, that many businesses try to play it safe and when they start struggling they go after any opportunity that moves. They try to be "all things to all people".
Someone says, “Do you do pizza?” And the owner says, “No, but we will tomorrow,” The owner then tells their chef, “Go buy whatever you need to buy because we’re making pizza.” “Oh and arrive two hours earlier because you need to prepare all of the dough.” Once this happens a few times you start to lose your edge. You go from ‘that business that does amazing food and great service’ to ’that restaurant that tries to cater for everyone but not very well’. This then spills over to the culture and 'feel' of the restaurant which looks sloppy and unstructured.
Gordon coaches "you need to stake your claim". “We’re going to be the most authentic Mexican restaurant in Sydney”. Then make all your food, decor and service decisions based on that claim, without deviating. Remember you can’t be all things to all people, so pick something you are passionate about and put all your focus and energy into it...consistently and stick to it!
Question: What's your niche? Is it clear and can customers see and feel it?
3. Trim the Fat
Once Ramsay has helped the owner to identify and own their niche, the conversation invariably rolls onto the menu ie the products they are selling. In almost every single case I have seen they are offering way too many things on their menu. In fact, one Indian restaurant was offering over 150 items. Gordon says, “We need to cut this down to around 12″.
As you can imagine this conversation goes down like a lead balloon, because it sounds crazy, right? And completely counter intuitive. But as Gordon explains, you can’t be remarkable if you are doing too many things. And remarkable is what you need to be because people can get "average" anywhere and what's more never go back.
Furthermore, with a smaller menu you can buy stock in bulk, preparation is much easier and meals get served a lot faster. The result is lower costs, better quality and faster service, which ultimately means a lot more profit.
Question: What can you 'trim' in your business?
4. Communicate Effectively
Once the niche and products are nailed, the next major problem area to work on is People and Culture. After years of stress and financial pressure, relationships are usually at breaking point. Gordon normally handles this by getting everyone together.
He then goes through one person at a time and asks, “What’s going wrong? What’s broken? And how should we fix it?” Now whenever this happens I’m always amazed at the looks on people’s faces. They’re shocked, because they’re literally hearing everyone’s ground breaking wisdom for the first time. You think if a business was struggling they would be talking about this sooner, but in most cases, these owners have never bothered to ask anyone else’s opinion.
Once everyone has shared and the owner has really listened, Gordon encourages everyone to start adopting their new behaviours and work together as a unit, rather than despondent individuals. Over the next few days he keeps reinforcing and reminding people to speak up and to listen intently when others are doing the same.
Question: How often are you asking your team questions and 'really' listening?
5. Create an Experience
With staff communication back on track, now it’s time to focus on the most important person in any business – the customer. Usually the business owner has been so preoccupied with his or her own drama they don't see they are coming across often cold to their customers and at worst, completely rude!
With their focus back on track, Gordon rallies the troops and tells the team, “We need to create a knock-their-socks-off experience for your customer.” This involves all of the things that staff know, but over time have forgotten or lost – things like being enthusiastic, eye contact, smiling and helping customers into their seats. Then once customers are feeling good, Gordon encourages them to bring alive the menu and continually ask if they’d like another drink or if they’d care for dessert. Clearly all factors that help increase the restaurants average dollar sale.
But ultimate true test is to create an experience that will make the customer want to come back and feel compelled to share with friends and family. Repeat customers and referrals – the life-blood of any business.
Question: What are 10 things you can do to 'WOW' your customers?
While Gordon is over the top at times and the subject matter about restaurants, the lessons learnt are valuable and apply to any business or industry.
The biggest 'takeaway' for me is that every business is a reflection of the owner or 'leader'. It all starts with "me". Ofcourse, staff have a role to play, but if they are not performing, it is up to the 'leader' to show the way, be clear and demonstrate the desired behaviours and mindset. Only then can we expect our staff to follow.
So try it. What have you got to lose? Follow the principles above and enjoy putting them into practice. You may be very surprised with the outcome !