Success Formula for Consultants from Serial Entrepreneur Chef

When you’re in business for yourself one of the most important traits you must possess is being open-minded. I know this doesn’t sound like a very exciting secret to business consulting success – but I’m not referring to ‘open-minded’ in the way you might expect.

Not open-minded in the sense that you are fair, non-judgmental or take time to listen to others. No, I’m getting at being open-minded to the situations and opportunities all around you.

Most of us at one time or another get stuck in a rut. Either by procrastinating too much … believing you’re doing everything right and yet your business isn’t growing … or maybe you’re in a business situation and believe that because you have a ‘great’ product you’re the next millionaire in waiting.

By no means are consultants immune to this. And in just a bit I’ll explain how to cure this syndrome. But first let’s look at the opportunity here. You see because so many business owners are plagued by this common occurrence it provides an wonderful chance for consultants.

There’s actually a television show that doesn’t an amazing job of demonstrating this threat and the opportunity that lies within it. It’s called Kitchen Nightmares and you may have heard of it.

On the show a truly successful entrepreneur and chef, Gordon Ramsay, comes to the rescue of restaurants (a type of business) that are flailing to stay alive. In 7 days he helps these restaurants transform themselves.

Each show is not only entertaining, it provides a wonderful lesson of how you must keep your mind open to find the areas in your business causing the most trouble and then one after the other implement a solution.

At the end of the week, Gordon Ramsay has turned these places around. He hasn’t fixed them for good – only the owners can do that, but he’s shown them how.

Here is the success formula Chef Ramsay uses to breathe life back into these businesses:

  1. Find the problem
    Within a day of investigation he finds the problem. It’s either the food, the service, the decor or a person(s).
  2. Find out what customers really want
    During this step he approaches current and potential customers and asks them all kinds of questions, do they like the place, have they heard of it, what are they looking for in a restaurant, etc. This simple form of research is immensely powerful.
  3. Become unique
    Next he looks at what would make this restaurant unique and how it can fit what customers are looking for. Chef Ramsay often walks around the neighbourhood getting a good idea of the environment, the market and the opportunity. He then develops a unique theme to exploit that opportunity.
  4. KISS – Keep it simple stupid
    More often than not one of the main problems is that the kitchen breaks down. There are too many items on the menu and everyone is running around like a chicken with its head cut off. This step then works on implementing a system to make everything simple and straightforward so people know what they are doing at all times.
  5. Make the changes
    By this point any problems that haven’t been addressed are now taken care of. The old menus are out and the new ones in. The horrid 1970s decor is modernized and revitalized. And that chump of a chef has gotten his act together or he is out on the street looking for a new job.
  6. Marketing basics
    Now that the required changes have been made and the systems are in place, it’s time to bring in new customers. What’s amazing here is that Chef Ramsay uses the most basic marketing and publicity principles, but they work like gangbusters.

Many business owners make their marketing far too complicated – it doesn’t have to be. In the case of a restaurant, get out on the street and talk with people. Tell them about your fresh offerings and make them a special offer. Give them a little taste of your new delicious food and ask them to make a reservation. This last point is key.

Once they come in and are pleased with everything, word of mouth spreads like wildfire. Of course you can also email or mail your past customers or send direct mail to certain areas of your city with a ‘Welcome’ type offer.

If you’ve read this far congratulations because you’re smart enough to see that though this example is about a restaurant the principles can be applied to any business.

This formula in its basic form is perfect for business consultants that want to help their clients find the trouble spots and fix them so the business can grow.

Being open-minded enough to be able to find all the problem spots is sometimes hard to do when you’re living in them day in and day out. That’s why consultants are so well positioned to help business owners tackle these challenges and implement success.

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  • I totally agree with your assessment and I love watching Kitchen Nightmares. There are few of the owners who do not have open minds and have lost track of what their clientele wants. They are too busy concentrating on what they want and are unwilling to change. I believe that this is one of the biggest mistakes that an owner can make.

    If you want to make money in your business then you must provide a service or product that people want to buy. You need to be aware of who your neighboring competitors are and what type services they are providing. Separating yourself from your competition by providing a niche service or product is advisable provided that there are consumers who are willing to buy.

    The only exception is when are going to provide a new service or product. In this case you would want to do your due dilligence by doing sample marketing research to determine if there is a market out there. If there is a market prior to launch you will need to create a buzz letting people know about your product or service and why as consumers they would want to buy. I agree with your advice in regards to keeping it simple whenever possible.

    As a business owner you want to have an open mind because you will be able to see or hear about your mistakes and make changes. Brainstorming for new and good ideas becomes easier because you are more willing to listen to feedback rather than ignore it.

    Many business including Corporations have failed because they lost touch with their client or consumer base and were unwilling or too late to change. This is a mistake to avoid making.

  • Leah,

    Thanks for your comment. Great information. I had planned to reply to you earlier but I’ve been swamped with client and project work.

    As a fellow viewer of Kitchen Nightmares I wonder how you felt when you first watched the show? It was quite a shock at the beginning to hear Gordon Ramsay cursing and shouting at all those lost souls … owners that had forgotten what business is really about.

    I always find it interesting, when I watch the show with someone that has never seen it before – they tend to have the same first reaction. “How rude” or “what a jerk, he doesn’t have to be that way” … and they’re talking about Ramsay.

    The funny thing is that when you watch a few of those shows and if you really take the time to think what’s necessary sometimes to get the point across – his actions are very effective (and necessary).

    The fact is, he’s making a very strong impression and he’s prepared to do whatever it takes to get these business owners back into shape so they can start focusing on giving their customers what they really want. And that’s what’s all about isn’t it!

    -Michael