I am a huge fan of Gordon Ramsay, in particular his show, ‘Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares’. This show is all about Ramsay travelling around the world to visit failing restaurants and then turn them around. So naturally, I have an interest in the show being in business turnaround myself. Having watched this show for years, I have noticed common themes with Ramsay’s approach which I have personally used in business turnarounds. If you get past the fact that it’s entertainment and look for the lessons, you’ll discover that Ramsay is teaching us all some very important principles about business turnaround.
Let’s dive in…
Do The Taste-Test
What’s the first thing that Gordon does when he visits a failing restaurant? He tastes the food. He’s not bothered about looking at anything else. In essence, he’s doing a sort of mystery shop (without the mystery).
When did you last do the taste test on your product/service? When was the last time you did a mystery shop and paid attention to the service you provide, your staff’s attitude, the quality of your product/service?
I bet if you did that, you would quickly identify things that need fixing. Quite often in a business turnaround, a mystery shop is one of the best ways to find the problems.
Raise Your Standards
One of my favourite parts of the show is when Gordon does his audit of the kitchen. I’m sure we’ve all seen the clips of Ramsay finding rotten meat and veg, dirty environments, discovering people dropping food on the floor, picking it up and then putting it back in the pan.
If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll know that this is typically the time you will see Ramsay at his angriest. Ramsay will often hit the roof (and with good cause) because he is disgusted by their lack of standard and respect.
If a company’s standards are low, then are bound to be problems. When I go into a business to turn it around, one of the key long-term things I work on is their standards. Once people know that they have extremely high standards, then not only do they strive for those standards, they will aim to maintain and police them. That’s a great place to be.
Be Honest With Yourself About The Problem
What makes this a great show is that some of the people are in denial and are completely delusional about their circumstances. Ramsay often has to have tough conversations which make people look inside themselves and be honest. This is actually the turning point in the show. Ramsay can re-design the restaurant, re-work the menu, but if the leader of the business is not honest about their attitude, performance current position etc then it simply will all in be in vain.
Being honest with yourself is potentially harder than the actual business turnaround. Self-reflection and being self-critical is tough, but it’s necessary. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that I talk about doing what is necessary. Doing what is necessary is hard, but it’s the way forward.
Keep It Simple
The next thing on Ramsay’s to-do list is to sort out the menu. One of the most common problems that Ramsay comes across is a menu that is too complicated, has too much choice or is confused. When I say, “confused” I mean it has no identity and is confusing to the customer. Are you an Italian restaurant? Indian? Japanese? It’s all on the same menu!
Ramsay’s golden nugget is to simplify things. Do a few things and do them well. That’s it! And you know what? It works!
Ramsay’s approach is very similar to the Big 3 that can be found in ‘Free to Focus’ by Michael Hyatt, and ‘Extreme Ownership’ by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.
‘The Big 3’ structure is all about narrowing the focus down to a few high-value things that will make the most impact.
‘Extreme Ownership’ talks about the principle of keeping things so simple that even the most junior person in the team can understand it.
There you have it! 4 really simple yet powerful principles that you can learn from Gordon Ramsay. If you look at these principles, understand them and apply them in your business, there’s no telling how much transformation you’ll see.
Go on! Give it a go!