May 27, 2014

Kitchen Nightmares

Have you ever watched this show?

Mr. Ramsey visits a restaurant. He doesn't visit successful restaurants, does he?

At a restaurant, the merchandise is the food. Inevitably, Mr. Ramsey finds out that the food is awful. For if the food tasted great, then the restaurant would be full of paying customers, right?

When Mr. Ramsey points out that the food isn't very good, the owner(s) and employees get frustrated. You'll see employees quietly nodding their heads, as if to say, "see, I told you so".

The owner ... well, the owner takes it personally. Very personally. This is where we learn that the food is just fine, that the chef is screwing up or the staff are messing up or the customers simply "don't get it".

Mr. Ramsey gets to see a dinner service. The dinner service doesn't go well, does it? Employees fight, customers send food back, it takes 90 minutes to serve an appetizer, it's action made for television!

Ultimately, problems are identified. It's easy for all of us to see what the problems are.
  • Dated menu.
  • Bad food.
  • Decor from the 1970s.
  • Employees who don't like each other.
  • Poor processes.
  • Poor equipment.
  • Filth.
  • Mold.
  • Trust.
  • Owner vs. employee accountability issues.
Eventually, Mr. Ramsey "blows his lid":

Once he blows his lid, it is time for change, it is time for the re-launch of the restaurant. There are several aspects of a re-launch.
  • Menu is revamped, and often, scaled way, way back.
  • No more frozen foods.
  • Fresh food.
  • New kitchen processes.
Often, customers love the new food. But the in-fighting, and the internal processes, well, they often reappear, don't they?

At the end of the show, you'll hear what happened to the restaurant in the months after Mr. Ramsey departs. Sometimes, you learn that the owner went back to the old ways. Sometimes, you learn that the staff embraced the changes. Most often, a bit of both happens.

Why am I sharing this with you?

I'm twenty-six years into my professional career. I've decided that many of the situations we all deal with are terribly similar to Kitchen Nightmares. We all, every single one of us, work in our own little version of Kitchen Nightmares ... call 'em "Commerce Nightmares".

Commerce Nightmares can be corrected as easily as Mr. Ramsey fixes the restaurants he encounters. When you are watching an episode, you can easily see what needs to be fixed. Similarly, an outsider can easily see what needs to be fixed within your business. But it doesn't matter that it is easy to see what can be fixed. It's terribly hard to fix problems when the people within the "Commerce Nightmare" cannot see them.

We'll spend the next week or so talking about "Commerce Nightmares". Think about how the stories correlate with your experiences.

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