Today, the gleaming restaurant on Perth’s Eastern Highway is a well-regarded local favourite. With menu options that vary from a range of seafood offerings to burgers, salads, roasts, and even delicious curries, the restaurant has managed to ride the wave of our Nation’s quickly transforming fast food movement. However, it didn’t happen overnight.
“The franchise we were with was at rock bottom,” the Managing Director recalls. “So it was a necessary to move out of that restrictive, expensive structure and become an independent business. We initially wanted to sell the restaurant and consulted a business broker. However his valuation fell well short of ours and another solution needed to be found. The broker suggested that we consult John Hardy from Peak Consultancy with a view to turning the business around and making it more sellable over time.
“In the scheme of things, that advice has proved to be profoundly important in helping us to move forwards and become far more profitable. We have still not sold the business, but we have grown it by 15% per annum over the past five years and it is delivering excellent salaries as well as returns to the family.”
When John became involved he recognised that there were many serious issues facing the business. These included:
- Unsatisfactory hours of operation which were not always profitable and which were exhausting the team;
- Uncertainty about marketing strategies – where and what to focus on?
- Personal and staff development – the need for training, but who was going to take on that role?
- Product development – the need to branch out and not just be tied to the restaurant; presentation of the business;
- The need to reinforce the brand and become more visible;
- Growth of sales to drive profitability;
- Business management;
- Equipment upgrades … and more;
Guided by John Hardy their business coach, and considering the look and feel of what the family team wanted to create, no expense was spared to make sure that they did not look like just another local family restaurant. As a result, everything is upmarket now, with professional signage, digital menus, and bright lights.
In addition to the aesthetics, the CEO knew he wanted nothing but the best when it came to his cleaning programme and staff performance, too. For him, it was about having the same high standards as the international fast-food franchises, but with the product and offering of a family-run, local business. The challenge was to deliver that professional look and feel without burdening the business with unbearable debt.
More about the Solution
With over 17 years’ coaching experience behind him, John Hardy needed to reach into his ‘toolbox’ of coaching competencies to locate and deploy the skills he needed to guide the family restaurant’s management team forward in the best direction.
In reflecting back on that highly successful business adventure, John points to some of the key tools that made the most significant differences to the project:
He says: “
- Business experience: Experience cannot be purchased – it can only be acquired by working with an extensive number of organisations with different needs over a lengthy period of time. I was able to bring this experience and the knowledge that came with it to the table and it made all the difference in helping my client to make the right decisions in a timely way.
- Intuition: In many instances, you need more than just hard data and empirical facts to guide you. That sense of inner ‘knowing’ was critically important in informing the decision making processes and allowing creativity to play its part in the overall process. With this project, we really did need to think outside the box from the ‘get go’.
- Listening skills: A good, experienced coach knows how to listen actively – not only to what’s being said but to what’s not being said. As I have stated elsewhere in my podcasts and e-published work, Questions are the Answer. In working with the restaurant’s top team, I was asking good questions all the time … and the team came to understand that the answers were, more often than not, within their own grasp.
- Excellent financial understanding and skills: My coaching is not life coaching, although in working with clients, we often touch on topics related to life, relationships and personal goals. My work is very much focused on turning businesses around – and therefore financial and accounting knowledge at a profound level is required. It’s no accident that we completely changed this business’s fortunes around within 18 months. I coach dollars, cents, productivity and profitability – and that’s the ‘bang for the buck’ for the vast majority of my clients.
- Strength and Determination: A coach needs to know how to listen and empathise –but he or she also needs to be tough minded enough to drive through membranes of resistance when it comes to necessary change management. Deploying tough love at times, leadership and knowing how to impart knowledge are key assets within my toolbox.
- Setting goals and measuring results: You cannot score goals unless there the goal posts are established. You cannot be sure of progress unless a system of measurement is identified and agreed upon. In the case of the family restaurant, we became very clear about the goals – and equally clear about the progress we were making in heading towards achieving those goals.
Theory was quickly translated into action, and before long, the team had introduced not only healthier menu options, but full on event catering and even take-home meal options. There were finger food platters, roast buffets for weddings, salad rolls, curries, and even a winter lamb shank every now and then. The team learned how to burst out of the confines of the restaurant walls and become profitable ‘on the road’.
Looking ahead, the CEO is quietly confident in the future of his business. Whilst he has embraced technology in the restaurant, he is wary of industry trends such as ordering apps, which he feels do not suit their core business.
“We have amazing foot traffic in our store which we would sacrifice if we started a full on delivery service. Also, given our product and location, many of our high quality food offerings would not taste great after travelling on a bike for half an hour. Our external catering business is, however, highly profitable – and it was created out of the process of sitting down with John and thinking outside the box. ”
With loyalty programmes and an ever-changing menu, the CEO knows that his formula is working. Whilst it’s certainly a brave move to steer away from the hugely popular ordering apps, the CEO and his family team now feel comfortable about trusting their gut instinct. It has, after all, served them well until now.
By investing in equipment after a careful review process with John Hardy, the kitchen is able to handle everything from large quantity catering orders for 400-plus people, to slow cooked, gourmet dishes that are pre-packaged for take home meal options.
The profitable new strategies are made even more impressive by the fact that the extent of the CEO’s hospitality training had come from his parents, both of whom had worked in hospitality. Whilst their business acumen was timeless, the CEO was still aware that he and his team was growing in a busy, rapidly changing industry environment.
“It took us about six months to get on our feet, but within 18 months it really turned around and we were on double digit growth for the following five or six years.”
Now new challenges are present to test the Board, including how to maintain steady performance after a period of intense growth. Happily John Hardy is close to hand to guide, mentor and continue asking good questions!