Monday, October 17, 2011

"Kitchen Nightmares" Inspires Thoughts on Business Salvation

On Friday night, I stumbled upon "Kitchen Nightmares" on television, and the entrepreneur (and Italian food lover in me) felt compelled to watch the entire program. The premise: a dysfunctional Italian family is struggling to keep their Anaheim restaurant, Luigi's, afloat. Family and staff infighting, along with a head chef who has lost his mojo (an appetizer of frozen fried ravioli with questionable filling does not bode well), leave chef-preneur Gordon Ramsey wringing his hands a lot, not to mention pacing the restaurant floor like a shnauzer in heat, running his hands through his hair and firing off existentialist food questions at the owners: Why are you cooking this? Where is everyone? Do you want your business to survive?

Flash forward to an hour later, and you'll see a much refreshed business, with family members hugging Ramsay and each other, greeting new customers at a well planned relaunch, and vowing never to travel the road of restaurant suicide again.

But that's not before a few roadblocks and rites of passage along the way, that set the stage for the restaurant's rebirth.

If your business is in trouble, you may need to take similar steps to stay afloat.

1. Stage An Intervention
"When was the last time you had a meeting?" Ramsay asks the family. Not surprisingly, no one can remember. A quick but emotional intervention, in which it's revealed how the brothers have opposing styles which interfere with productivity and quality, and how the staff members are intimidated by the owners, lays the groundwork for what problems need to be overcome.
When was the last time you had a meeting?Would your staff benefit from an airing out of issues?Would you?

2. Rekindle Your Passion
Chef Luigi's cooking was suffering, as he had lost his spark in the kitchen. A brief cooking therapy session in which the whole family made homemade sausage together, reminded them of their roots, and the joys of cooking.
Where is your passion for your business, and how do you get it back? Maybe you need to travel or take a vacation, focus on a different niche, or rediscover your strengths. Whatever it is you think you need to do, find a way to do it.

3. Redecorate
The family was thrilled to see their restaurant transformed from a dreary coffee shop environment with shabby booths and outdated decor, to a refreshed remodel, with cool photos of Italy on the walls, branded table napkins, and areas for communal seating.
Do you need to redecorate? If your business is your website, upgrade your look with a customized platform and inviting features that make your visitors want to stay. Refresh or update your logo. Get on social media if you aren't already, and find new ways to reach out to customers.

4. Update Your Offerings
Chef Ramsay overhauled the menu, replacing tired dishes with robust offerings, like fresh sausage, lasagne with organic vegetables, and a range of hearty beef and poultry offerings.
If you're offering the same menu as you did ten years ago, chances are you're bored, and so are your customers. Find out what the current trends are in your industry, and upgrade your offerings.
Are your products outdated? When was the last time you took a look at current industry standards, or even what your competition was selling.

5. Seek Feedback
Luigi's had a relaunch night, where customers were invited to sample the new decor and food. This also helped the restaurant tweak anything that wasn't working.
Have you surveyed your customers to find out their preferences? How many recent business decisions have been based on your choices, and not your customers'?

6. Be Classy, Not Petty
Whatever problems the family was having, they weren't worth losing the business over, which they realized once they looked at the big picture.
Are you being classy in your business? Next time a problem comes up, look at the big picture when arriving at a solution, and stay flexible. Sometimes, what may seem like a great idea one day, may turn out to be a terrible one the next, and vice versa. It's important to be open to multiple points of view, and be willing to compromise.

Summary :
*"Kitchen Nightmares" can inspire great entrpreneurial ideas for all kinds of businesses.
* The success of your business is more important then petty arguments--whatever the problem is, get over it.
*Rediscovering your passion and why you launched your business to begin with, are crucial to your success. Embrace your entrepreneurial spirit and get cooking on getting your business to flow! There's nothing cheesy
about it!

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