A reminder from Robert Irvine

Who is Robert Irvine? If you don’t know, he’s a famous celebrity chef often seen on the Food Network.

Sad to say but I watch the Food Network all the time (my wife just LOVES that I do) which is how I know about Robert. My favorite show is Restaurant Impossible — a show with Robert as the star. The show’s premise is simple: Robert turns around a struggling restaurants in 24 hours with only $10,000. The most obvious way he contributes to the turn around is:

  1. Creation of a new/simpler new menu
  2. Complete renovation of the restaurant decor designed by Robert’s team

It’s pretty amazing when they do this in just 24 hours (give or take a few).

To a casual observer that’s it. Pretty simple — a restaurant is transformed with a new menu and interior. But when you look at the show from a deeper perspective you see how Robert positively impacts the lives of the restaurant’s owner and staff.

The typical restaurant owner has a pretty shallow understanding of general business concepts and management. Robert helps elevate their knowledge of a balance sheet and P&L. He instills confidence and brings accountability to the staff. He teaches aspects of finance and marketing. As a business owner, that’s where I see the true transformation that can help sustain the menu and decor changes for the long term.

On a recent episode Robert made a point that I found so profound. For some background, Robert started with his usual assessment of the failing restaurant. Surprisingly, Robert found the food to be pretty good (which he typically never does). So what was the catch?  Why was this restaurant struggling?

The answer: the owner lost sight on why they were in business in the first place. The owner’s focus was solely on her staff which resulted in double or triple the staff per shift than what’s required. Robert found the owner was incurring over $3,000 monthly in additional employee costs to run the restaurant. Why would she do this?

  1. She probably wasn’t savvy or experienced enough to know how to staff
  2. She was so concerned about taking care of her staff

So what was the profound point that Robert made to straighten it out:  First and foremost we’re in business to make money.

It sounds pretty shallow but if anyone can argue against it, I’d love to hear from you. Yes we all want to run a great business with a great culture to support our employees and the local economy. But if we don’t make money, we won’t be in business and all our other goals don’t matter.


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