A ramsay recipe - 6 ingredients for your fitness business success

by Robert Gerrish

So, there you are quietly going about your work when foul-mouthed Gordon Ramsay bursts in and gives it to you with both barrels. Are you getting worried?

OK, it’s unlikely that the straight-talking TV chef will really burst in, and to the best of my knowledge he has his hands (and mouth) full with the restaurant trade. He’s not heading towards the fitness industry any day soon, but what if he did? How would you stack up?

After watching one of his television shows recently, I found myself imagining what he would say if he observed me for a few days. Scary stuff.

In my opinion, what makes Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares the best accidental business show I have ever seen on Australian television is how he tells it absolutely as he sees it. There’s nowhere to hide. For the uninitiated, the show sees Ramsay visiting struggling restaurants and telling the owners some home truths about their ailing business.

As a very successful restaurateur he is in a fine position to comment, and while his delivery may leave a little to be desired, I don’t think his content can be questioned.

Ramsay cuts through ego and pretence and goes for what matters. He seeks honest answers from his prey, asking:

1. A re you passionate about what you do?
2. I s what you’re offering what the market wants?
3. Are you competent enough to provide a quality product?
4. Do you have the support to allow you to do your best work?
5. Do you give the best value for the price, or look to do as little as possible?
6. What’s the purpose of offering your customers a lot of choice?

So what would he say to you? (And I’m not talking about your cooking).

Let’s pull his areas of focus apart a little and see how they may apply to your work:

1. Passion
Is passion sufficiently evident in your business? Is it as prominent as the day you started? If you are having to think too hard about these questions, then the answer is ‘no’.

Passion attracts. It attracts customers, good staff and countless opportunities. If the fire of your passion has subsided somewhat, take steps to reignite it. Better still, take leaps.

2. Offerings
If your customers are not buying what you’re offering, something is out of whack.

Take a lesson from Gordon Ramsay’s actions, grab yourself a notepad and get out there to talk to your customers and potential customers. Uncover their major health and fitness ‘hot buttons’ and then assess the extent to which you are pressing them.

As Ramsay often demonstrates, by getting customers through the door chasing what they want, you can turn them into raving fans, upsell them and take them to a brave, new world.

3. Competence
So are you and your staff really up to scratch? Ouch! Take your eyes off equipment and facilities for a moment and look at professional and personal development. Putting focus on upskilling is a great way of retaining staff and it may also help you get back in touch with that important ingredient we looked at in point 1.

4. Support
Some research recently undertaken by my company has revealed that small business owners continue to try and do everything themselves. This is not a good idea. You simply cannot be chef and front of house. Get the right people around you and be aware that, as Gordon discovers, they’re usually already there, they are just not being used effectively.

If you’re struggling, type ‘how to delegate’ into Google and sit somewhere quiet – away from people, e-mails and phones. It is possible.

5. Value
Another thing that devotees of the fiery chef regularly witness is the distinction between those who provide ‘as little as possible for the money’ and those who provide ‘as much as possible’.

Which camp are you in?

6. Choice
Offering a wide choice is fine, so long as your customers can make sense of it and your staff can handle it.

If you’re forever seeing people scratching their heads or asking for clarification when confronted with choice – be it in connection with programs or memberships – it’s probably time you looked at reducing the menu. Make it easy to satisfy an appetite and your ‘kitchen’ will never be quiet.

Now, as Chef Ramsay would say, get up off your @*$# and get on with it!


Robert Gerrish
Robert is a coach, author and presenter who works with small business owners to help them develop structure and balance and attract more customers. In 2005 he founded the online resource for independent professionals, www.flyingsolo.com.au, and co-authored the book 'Flying Solo'.