Could you handle the harsh truth from Gordon Ramsay?

- March 12, 2018 3 MIN READ

Love him or hate him, I think Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares is marketing at its finest. Simple, honest and action-focused. Here’s why.

I am sure you’ve heard of multi-Michelin-starred swearing chef Gordon Ramsay, but if you’ve never watched Kitchen Nightmares let me bring you up to speed.

In the show, Ramsay and his team visit struggling restaurants with the aim of making them more popular and profitable.

It’s relatively formulaic in that the restaurants he visits more often than not have the same issues – poor quality food, under performing staff, unsanitary hygiene and outdated décor.

With the help of his team he sets about fixing the issues and turning their business from a nightmare into a dream… in theory.

In my opinion it’s a brilliant example of marketing best practice. Let me tell you why.

Poor Food = Poor Product

Ramsay always begins by sampling the food on offer, and quickly concluding in a brash and honest way that it’s rubbish. He often asks real customers for their honest opinions too.

It’s a harsh and confronting lesson for the chef and restaurant owner to learn that their product just isn’t up to scratch. Ramsay then sets about changing the menu.

Marketing Lesson #1: Quality

The very first rule of marketing (first of the four Ps) is to ensure you have a quality product. Ensure that you are offering a product that is in demand or one that you can create demand for. All other marketing lives or dies on that.

Plus, if you truly believe in your product and have faith in its benefit and value, it becomes easy to promote and sell.

Sloppy Staff = Poor Service

Next, Ramsay shifts his focus to the staff (service). Examining how the chef commands the kitchen, how waiting staff operate the front of house, and their passion for the role.

More importantly he observes how the manager runs the restaurant (leadership). His opinions are raw, honest and confronting.

Marketing Lesson #2: Service

A motivated and disciplined crew – even if it’s just you – is the backbone of a successful business. Any sense of boredom or sloppiness destroys the customer experience.

A great product is essential, but exceptional service is equally as important in any competitive industry (such as in my mattress business). Always look to go above and beyond and strive for excellence.

Outdated Décor = Poor Branding

All of the restaurants that Gordon Ramsay visits look like they are from another era. The décor is outdated, the furniture old and clunky, the kitchen dirty and unhygienic, the menu tired and old fashioned.

With the help of his team of decorators and designers, Ramsay transforms each restaurant and brings it to life with a facelift. Usually it brings the owner to tears!

Marketing Lesson #3: Design

It’s critical to regularly take a step back and review your brand identity. You may or may not have a shop or premises to makeover, but the same concept applies.

Is your logo fresh? Is your website engaging? Is your packaging sleek? Are your proposals compelling? Are you presenting your best self? Are you communicating consistently across all channels? Are you connecting with your customers on relevant social media?

In a nutshell: Look at your business from the customer’s point of view.

The Revisit = Accepting Change

At the end of the show Ramsay leaves the restaurant full and booming with trade. He leaves a newly motivated and rejuvenated restauranteur with a business to be proud of.

What I like next is that Ramsay revisits each establishment several months later to see how they are getting on, whether his changes have continued to be implemented, or whether in fact the restaurant has reverted back to its old ways.

Marketing Lesson #4: Innovation

Change is daunting, but if you’re standing still you’re falling behind. Invest in training yourself, and your team, so you don’t return to old habits. Have your business evaluated or shopped by an outsider as it can be an eye-opening and positive experience in the long run.

Whether or not you like Gordon Ramsay or not, he is successful because he implements these lessons himself… all seasoned with a pinch of profanity.

Is there a tough question you need to ask yourself?

In this piece from a while back, Robert Gerrish also identified the value in hearing harsh truths. Gordon Ramsay cuts through ego and pretence and goes for what matters.

He seeks honest answers from restaurateurs, asking:

  • Are you passionate about what you do?
  • Is what you’re offering what the market wants?
  • Are you competent enough to provide a quality product?
  • Do you have the support to allow you to do your best work?
  • Do you give the best value for the price, or just do the minimum?

You may not have a foul-mouthed Gordon Ramsay bursting into your office this afternoon, but you can still challenge yourself to make some powerful changes in your business.

Is there something you need to change?