Shock Therapy: Focus on the Fundamentals

Have you ever seen the Fox reality show, Kitchen Nightmares? I love this show because it is a dramatic example of the highs and lows of running a small business.

In Kitchen NightmaresGordon Ramsay, a world-renowned chef and restaurateur, uses his culinary skills, business experience, and irreverent approach to put struggling restaurants back on track. Mr. Ramsay is tough. He screams, swears and insults to get his point across. I thinking he’s pretty entertaining (what’s better entertainment than uncomfortable). But putting the histrionics aside, Ramsay delivers a solid message every week: You can’t lose site of the fundamentals.

Chef-Gordon-Ramsay

Whether due to inexperience, arrogance, or lack of focus, these business owners are not executing the basics. Unfortunately, this happens all the time and, as business owners, we have to take an occasional step back and look at the big picture. Ramsay forces the issue in the show. He assess:

  • The marketplace. What is the demographic of the area? What is the competition doing? He walks the streets exploring other eateries in the area: types of food, prices, and quality. Most of his clients are out of synch with the market.
  • The product quality. First step, he eats the food. Often, it’s crap.
  • The service. He evaluates a dinner service to determine the team’s proficiency. Many of the restaurants can’t get the food delivered in a reasonable time.
  • The people. Demoralized employees that have lost their passion for creating a quality product or delivering an outstanding service plague these businesses.

By failing to execute on these basic elements, it’s not hard to see why these businesses are in trouble. Are you regularly assessing the big picture? Are you keeping your eye on the fundamentals? In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to have a smart outsider help you with a periodic assessment like Ramsay does. And if you do: Don’t be too proud. Don’t be defensive. Because if your “advisor” is anything like Ramsay, you could be in store for a little shock therapy.

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