I'll admit it, I love watching any TV show with Gordon Ramsay in it, but "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" is my current favorite. He's the antithesis of the stereotypical woman leader; he's brazen and harsh. He swears like a sailor and belittles people. Not my style of leadership, but it makes for great TV.
I like the show because he gets down into the inner workings of a small business and peels away the onion to find any issues that might be hampering the business from growing.
So, I've outlined 6 things we can all learn from Gordon Ramsay, followed by a question you can ask yourself to see how you rate by his business strategy.
#1 - It all starts with the customer.
One of the first questions Chef asks the restaurant he is working with is how many people have reserved for the evening. More often than not, it's a pretty low number, so he observes for a night to find out why. In most cases (or there wouldn't be a TV show) there are serious issues with the way the entire restaurant is run.
He also takes to the streets; in many shows he walks the streets of the town to observe other restaurants and he'll stop people and ask what they think about the restaurant he's trying to help.
Question: When was the last time you surveyed your customers to find out what they think about your business, your product or your service?
#2 - Chef Ramsay gets at the foundation of the business.
He wants to get to know the owner of the place to find out how the business got into bad shape in the first place. He wants to see the owner's passion for what they do. He works with the staff to make sure they have a proper foundation and that the person leading the charge is truly leading the charge.
Then he gets into the real foundation of the business. According to Ramsay, success starts with a clean kitchen and in many cases that's the first thing that gets done.
Question: When was the last time you did a proper "cleaning" of your business to make sure it's in order? It could be cleaning out old inventory lying around or it could be actually cleaning up your office environment. Spring cleaning is always a great idea for a fresh start!
#3 - The product needs to be good.
Chef wants to know who is making the food and what ingredients are being used. He wants to know if the staff is capable of doing what needs to be done. Then he works with them to make a great product (in this case, menu) and changes the way they think about what they're making and how they're presenting it.
Question: Is your product or service the best it can be? What would it take to get it to the next level? Do you need to change the way your staff thinks?
#4 - The experience needs to be good.
Ramsay will go to the extent of training the staff himself to make sure that reservations are being booked in a way that doesn't overflow the kitchen. He'll make sure that the staff is offering entrées that the kitchen can make quickly and tries to get them thinking about the customer experience. Then he'll go to extremes and redesign the restaurant and give it a clean, friendly and updated look. Doing this has often given the staff a morale boost, which often leads to a great experience.
Question: When was the last time you looked at your location, or your website? Putting a fresh coat of paint on your walls, changing your front door entrance, or reducing the number of clicks your website visitors have to go through might be just the thing your business needs.
#5 - A business needs to market itself.
Obviously you can't get the word out without a great product and a great experience, but now there's something to talk about. My favorite thing about this show is that Chef knows how important it is to get the word out, from the signage out front to winning over customers on the street. For an Indian food restaurant, he had Indian dancers perform in the neighborhood and hand out food; for a Soul Food restaurant he set up an outdoor BBQ and gave food away. He's a true marketer at heart, which is what I love about him.
Question: What creative things are you doing to get the word out for your business?
#6 - Get back to the customer.
After it's all said and done, Chef Ramsay asks for feedback. After the dining experience, he wants to keep the business in check so getting comment cards back from the customers is critical.
Question: Are you asking your customers for feedback constantly?
There you have it, 6 reasons why I think there's a lot to learn from Gordon Ramsay. The meat of why he's effective is laid out above; imagine what can happen when you interpret these tips with your own special sauce.
Last updated: Aug 20, 2009
JANINE POPICK is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (a Deluxe company), a leading provider of self-service email and event marketing, online surveys, social media, and direct mail solutions. The company was ranked No. 2,802 on the 2012 Inc. 5000. @janinepopick