Like you I’m serious about building businesses and over the years I’ve become an avid studier of many of the world’s top performers.
Most of the hoteliers, restaurateurs, pub owners and boutique retail shops owners I’ve seen and met over the years read about and watch those famous experts working their magic on TV, turning places around with both speed and precision.
Like me you may even have a few of their books stacked on your shelf somewhere which you take down every now again to have a thumb through and remind yourself of the magical reasons you started in business.
It’s not always clear though what exact steps these famous experts take that make those significant differences and I know I struggled to get it in the early days.
There is a principal called the 80/20 rule which governs most of what happens, which you’ve probably heard banded around.
You can use it to demonstrate all sorts of things in business and its equally applicable in determining that 80% of success usually comes from just 20% of what you and your business do.
I’ve discovered that the key to tapping into that significant 20% is what is known as systematisation. Where you focus on a few simple steps where the majority of success has been proven to come from and it’s the same process that one of TV’s most vocal and effective restaurateurs, Gordon Ramsey uses when he turns a restaurant around.
Gordon was working on his 25th restaurant the last time I looked and many of his have multiple Michelin stars to their names. As well as the restaurants he has best selling cookbooks, four television shows and a DVD series to his name, so he should know a thing or two about the restaurant business.
In short he visits restaurants that are just about ready to close their doors, for any one of many different reasons and he has a week to turn the business around and make it a success.
He’s a hard hitting guy and when he gets going, there is just no stopping him.
So why could this be important to you?
Because Gordon’s formula for a seven-day business turnaround is one that each and every one of us should pay close attention to and forms the basis of the same approach which Mary Porta on the retail side and Ruth Watson in the Hotelier world use, even though they are all different personalities.
Nevertheless if you are looking to increase your sales, the ideas on the following pages may help you to see things you’ve not thought of before or just overlooked.
So, if you are struggling in your business or just fighting for cash flow – go through each step and try reconstruct your business from the ground up.
Step 1 – Figure out what the business is doing right now.
It may sound basic – but is it really? Every time Gordon steps into one of these restaurants the first things he does is sit down for a meal.
He watches carefully for the way the staff work, how customers are treated, and whether they are enjoying (or not) the food.
When the food does show up, he is usually served something pretty poor which gets his blood boiling as they have the audacity to try and fob people off with this rubbish and don’t realise it.
You usually get an idea things are bad very early on because as Gordon step through the door its usually like a vacant car lot, absent of the one important ingredient for a successful business and that’s customers.
Only proceed once you have your benchmark, which is a truthful snapshot of what is actually happening, no matter how painful.
Step 2 – Find what is behind the problems in the business?
This is where the real truth starts to come out and things get messy. Gordon interviews the owners, the servers, the head chef and the kitchen staff to get a real insight into how things are running.
It doesn’t take him long to find one or two members of staff passionate about the business, while the rest are just putting in time between pay wage packets.
As he digs deeper into the food he usually find ingredients that are sub-par, a menu which is confusing with too many options, and the resulting food not worthy of a beat up roadside burger stand.
The bottom line here is that you’ve got to have a good product or service at the core of your business and have competent people capable of delivering it.
Personal beliefs and attitudes can be destructive when they are not aligned with the true purpose of your business.
Step 3 – Find out what customers REALLY want from you.
You may have guessed already but rarely is it what is being delivered!
So the first thing to be done is…go as them!.
Find out what is missing on the restaurant scene in the local area, what foods they want the most, or that they have a tough time finding.
Then seek out the regulars (if there are any left) and what they want.
Go looking for the restaurants that are doing best in your area – sample their food and service, and look for ways to improve what they are doing.
And, very important, if it is a seasonal business or location – make sure that the restaurant caters to those who live there all year round as they are the people who will keep the place open. If your catering to one-time tourists its a sure-fire way to bankruptcy.
Give your customers what THEY want, not what you want them to have.
Step 4 – Find your signature dish or something that makes you different.
This is such a simple concept that so many businesses (in every possible niche) completely ignore.
Find out what is the one dish that the head chef enjoys making the most?
Usually, Gordon finds out that the chef has an incredible signature plate that is not on the menu. Why? A lot of the time its because the owner is getting in the way and as Gordon says, “owners should never write the menu – the head chef should be the one to design the menu”.
Give your customers a reason to come back and your staff the opportunity to excel.
Step 5 – Make things easy and simplify the number of choices.
Too many choices leave people confused and lacking in direction.
It also overcomplicates what is required to meet the demand by the kitchen which will result in inferior quality on all the plates, meaning your back at the beginning again.
Gordon usually cuts the menu in less than half and the customers are very happy with the change.
Don’t be mistaken that large portion are a secret to restaurant success, far from it. Smaller portions reduce waste, and keep customers coming back for more.
Nobody likes things to be any more difficult than life can be at times, so make it simple and effective and your customers will love you for it.
Step 6 – Systems ARE the key to success.
Once the new menu has been created, putting systems in place to ensure consistent (and fast) delivery is key to continuing to delight your customers.
Being able to double business in a week, without loss in quality or increased in wait times is something that Gordon does in every restaurant he walks into.
Systems ensure that your business continually does more with less and that your customers get what they expect every time.
Step 7 – Feet on the street marketing
Now that you have everything in place and the systems have been tested on a smaller scale, its time to get tell everybody and make the place busy.
Getting the staff all geared up in uniforms, loaded up with their new signature dishes, they hit the street and let anyone and everyone try out the new menu choices.
Usually, an afternoon of that and they have enough curiosity built up to guarantee their first night’s dinner is packed with diners and hungry new customers.
You have to tell them, and show them and keep doing it.
Before reading on take a moment to look back at the 7 steps and see if you can honestly say whether each step has been done, or is being done well ?
The seven-step formula above sounds simple, but it consistently turns failing businesses around in one single week.
Almost always customers love the new choices (the ones they told you to start making), the staff become much more motivated to deliver consistent service, and the restaurant very quickly starts to make a profit.
Gordon usually revisits the restaurant after a month or two to see if they have held together all of the new changes.
Nine times out of ten they held it together, stuck with the changes, and are now enjoying more money than they have experienced in years.
And yes, this does apply to your business as well…
Finally, a few side lessons from Gordon …
So, when you hire a professional to help – try listening to their advice for a change (not that any customers who hire a copywriter or marketing consultant would ever ignore the advice of an expert )
The things that sticks in most peoples mind about the show is what they hear: “%^&#ing HELL!” which Gordon says every time he sees something destroying the business, which is usually every couple of minutes.
The one thing I remember about Gordon’s are his quotes like: “Who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on desert?”
Now its your turn…