I have been watching Chef Gordon Ramsey’s “Kitchen Nightmares” program recently. Chef Ramsey owns a dozen world-class super-profitable restaurants worldwide. He knows how to run a restaurant business.
His show documents how he helps other people fix unprofitable restaurants. I am always amazed that I notice things that could be done better that Gordon Ramsey completely ignores. He sometimes completely ignores incompetent employees.
But there are several elements that he always focuses on. These are the elements that apparently matter for any successful restaurant. He focuses on:
1. Cleanliness and sanitary food handling and storage.
2. Freshness of food.
3. Taste of food.
5. Speed of service.
6. Passion of owners.
Because he is a chef, you might assume that he would focus on the stature, reputation, education and expertise of the chef. He doesn’t. He has worked with completely untrained young people as “chefs” and turned the restaurant around.
I actually suspect that he only looks at the decor and the speed of service for the sake of the TV show. The show almost always redecorates the dining area as part of the retreading. That makes good TV, but from watching Chef Ramsey and his focus, it really appears that he doesn’t care that much about decor. You also seldom hear customers comment about the decor.
The same goes for speed of service. Although he simplifies menus to improve service time and harps on fixing systems in the kitchen to get food out faster, you really don’t see massive focus in that area either. And many episodes show that even the people who are unhappy about the speed of service completely change their mind and say, “This was worth the wait” when they get quality, fresh, tasty food.
The passion of the owners is really only important to Gordon Ramsey because it affects how clean they keep the kitchen, how willing they are to buy and prepare fresh food, and how committed they are to prepare high quality food that is tasty.
It always comes back to those first three items in a successful restaurant. Everything else is secondary. If you have a clean kitchen, buy local, fresh food, and prepare it well so that it tastes yummy, your restaurant will be successful.
People will put up with attitudes from service staff. People will accept high prices. People will even forget about the long wait when they taste something truly fresh and delicious. So where’s the focus?
To borrow a cliché, “It’s the food, stupid!”
What is the focus in an Internet business? You have to decide that for your own business model. But there are a lot of things that people focus on that simply don’t seem to matter:
1. Fancy graphics on their web site.
2. Twenty different payment methods.
3. Easy communication, so people can chat with customer service reps forever without every buying anything.
4. Easy refund processes.
5. Coupons and discounts.
All of those things can impact an Internet business, but they aren’t core areas. They don’t increase sales or earn customer loyalty in an impressive way.
With an Internet business, it is the product–just like it is the food with a restaurant. If the food is tasty, people come back. If the product purchased from an Internet business satisfies the buyer, they will come back.
So, what’s the focus for an Internet business?
“It’s the product, stupid!”
If you don’t forget that, your Internet businesses will thrive, just like Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants (and television career).