I used to love the first series of ‘Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares’. I loved the fact that every week Gordon Ramsey would do what the Dragons never seem to: roll his sleeves up, get stuck in and swear a lot.
And every week the story was more or less the same: creative chef-cum ‘entrepreuner’ puts big idea before their profit margin. Ramsey comes in, puts his head in his hands, then promptly slashes the size of the menu by 50 per cent. Cue lots of roadside market research, and Bob’s your uncle.
What I really liked was the basic, simple, business rules at the core of every episode:
1. Give people what they want at a price they can afford
2. Make a profit and sod your dream (you can live the dream when you’ve made the profit)
3. Delegate. Every business has three roles to fulfil: Create, Administrate and Sell. If you can’t do all three really well, then you need to delegate
On that last point I thoroughly recommend reading The E-Myth Revisited.
Why am I blogging about this now? For two quite different reasons.
The first is that almost 12 months ago to the day, I walked away from a business that did not take heed of the above principles. The past year has proved to be one of my most successful to date and until the anniversary arrived I had forgotten how perilous life before that had seemed.
The second reason for recalling Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares and its solid business principles was – bizarrely – the battle between the trendy pubs that have sprouted up all over Camberwell. I have sampled most of them, and commented on some at Beer in the Evening. But what has struck me most is their fundamentally different approaches to selling food and drink. One in particular, which will remain nameless because it is my ‘local’, insists on pushing a slightly pretentious and expensive (£15 + per head) menu, despite being located off the main drag and in an area popular with students and low-middle income families. Sometimes it is reasonably busy, but there are many evenings a week when I walk past and it is decidedly quiet. Surely it must need more business to survive?
Around the corner, a very similar establishment prices its meals at approx. £10 per head and offers gastro-pub fare, but with something for everyone.
So tomorrow night I’m planning on visiting the aforementioned local, rolling my sleeves up, drafting a new menu and business plan, and maybe dropping the odd swear word. All advice free of charge.