Small Businesses Can Learn from Kitchen Nightmares

kitchen nightmaresKitchen Nightmares is a show about turning failing restaurants and turning them around. Chef Ramsay’s whole job it to go into an existing restaurant, assess the situation and then fix the problems. Then entire show offers us a great look at how small businesses can begin to remake themselves. It’s also an interesting model for small business consulting.

Ramsay follows a simple formula:

  1. Start with a great vision – This is a simple, but important step. Ramsay always seems to go into every situation hoping to rebuild a restaurant so it is truly differentiated from other local restaurants and it offers a high quality experience for its customers.
  2. Assess the situation – His first step is to talk to the business’ employees and its customers to find out what is wrong with the establishment. More often than not the businesses he consults with have a variety of issues going on; however, you might be surprised by how similar the problems are (i.e., bosses that are too stubborn to change, lack of differentiation in both the business and menu, little branding, trying to do too much, poor customer experience).
  3. Rally the people – Ramsay understands that if he is going to be successful, he has to get the team on board. This starts with the restaurant’s owner/leadership. This often makes for some intense, yet hilarious moments. He then moves onto the team, who are usually eager for change and more than willing to help. He talks to everyone and asks them what is going on, what problems they see, and what solutions they might have.
  4. Make changes – Ramsay is not afraid of making drastic changes to a business if it will make a difference. He understands that improving a business often means making changes across the entire business, from people to decor.
  5. Celebrate change – He then makes every team member feel special and includes them in some sort of event or re-grand opening. This is an important psychological tactic for both the team and customers.
  6. Reassess and make adjustments – Ramsay listens to his customers throughout the process to better understand what they are looking for. He doesn’t do this just at the beginning of the process; he continually does this and is always refining what he does.

It is a simple formula and if you watch the show a few times, you will begin to see this pattern every single time. It is a pattern that can easily be replicated by small business owners. However, it is often helpful to get outside help and this is where a great business consultant can help.


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