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Whatever you may think of him, Gordon Ramsay’s popular television programme, Kitchen Nightmares, is something business owners can learn a lot from.

Here are some key steps Gordon Ramsay follows when he’s helping a failing restaurant increase profits, all within just five days! These same principles can be applied to any business that is going through a difficult period.

1. Get re-inspired

When Gordon Ramsay arrives at a restaurant, the business owner is almost always completely deflated. The owner is stressed and in survival mode after months or sometimes years of hard work, and dwindling profits. Rather than launching into solution mode, making suggestions as to what improvements are needed, Gordon spends time with the owner to help them re-ignite their passion; taking time to understand why they went into business in the first place, and what it is they loved about it before things started to head south.

If this sounds a bit like you—exhausted and stressed—then you’re probably not being productive or efficient. So now is the time to take a break and do what’s needed to get re-inspired and fall back in love with the job. Understand what it was that ignited that passion in the first instance.

2. Own your place in the market

Only when the owner has regained some energy and is in a more positive state of mind can Gordon start to help fix things. The first part is to understand what the restaurant’s niche is; what place does it hold in the market? Are you a seafood restaurant, or do you specialise in Italian food? Are you just trying to grab different opportunities as they come with no clear direction, and falling into the trap of offering too much? It’s impossible to be everything to everyone, and this can be the downfall of any business, restaurant or not.

Instead, you need to outline a clear focus. For example, ‘to be the most authentic Italian in your location’. Only then should you create all your food, décor, and service decisions, without deviating from your vision. What do you stand for in the market, and is it clear to all your customers? If you feel that the lines are blurred, now is the time to re-evaluate your niche.

3. Less is more

Once Gordon Ramsay has helped the owner to identify their target market and own their niche, the focus generally turns to the menu and the products they are selling. In many cases, the restaurant is offering too much variety, and it’s often suggested that they reduce the number of items on offer, in order to focus on making a few key offerings really amazing.

It may seem counterintuitive that narrowing your product or service offerings will help you get more customers, but it’s often true! What are some of the things you can consider eliminating in your business, in order to become leaner, more efficient, and more profitable?

4. Effective communication

It’s amazing what impact broken lines of communication can have on the effectiveness of a team. Stress and financial pressure can create an undesirable atmosphere for everyone, and this is when people can start working to their own agendas. The way Gordon overcomes this is by bringing everyone together.

By asking questions and getting everyone to voice their opinion, Gordon finds out what bothers the staff, and most of the time, this is an eye-opener for all involved, especially the owner.

Once everyone has had their say, Gordon encourages them to start adopting new behaviours and working together, rather than as individuals. They are continually reminded to speak up and listen to one another.

When you look at your business and your team, think about how often you ask for feedback. Are you actively listening to your employees concerns, and suggestions? Remember, effective communication can build trust, provide clarity and direction, and creates better relationships, ultimately improving productivity.

5. The customer experience

While the drama is unfolding within the restaurant, it’s not uncommon that the most important person has been forgotten about—the customer! With that in mind, Gordon rallies the team and explains the need to create that all-important experience that will leave the customer wanting to come back again; things like being enthusiastic, smiling, making eye contact, and being polite. Often, it’s the little things that aren’t difficult to do, but sometimes get forgotten when we’re consumed by other forces, that can make the biggest difference. It’s only then that the tide starts to turn, and it becomes a bit of a lightbulb moment for the owner and their staff.

In your own business, how do you create that unique customer experience? What incentives do you your customers have to come back again?

Sometimes it’s easy to be distracted by other things around you—take a step back every now and then and evaluate what’s happening within your business. Try to determine what’s working well and what isn’t. Are the lines of communication working properly, and is everyone working towards a common goal, or their own agenda?  Don’t be like some of the restaurant owners and wait until you’ve reached a breaking point before springing into action.

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This blog has been adapted since from original copy by Dale Beaumont for Bartercard use. Dale is one of Australia’s most successful young entrepreneurs. He is the founder and CEO of Business Blueprint, Australia’s fastest-growing business education company. Dale is also the author and publisher of 19 best-selling books.

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