Wolfgang Puck, Jamie Oliver, Curtis Stone, Gordon Ramsay, and the late Anthony Bourdain. All great chefs with businesses on both sides of the Atlantic, and some all over the world. They host TV shows. They maintain individual culinary empires built on hard work and education. How did they get to where they are now? To become a chef, you’ll have to spend around $10,000 to $40,000 a year, depending on the culinary school.
But what makes this group of people great is their ability to conquer challenges. Being a chef isn’t all glamour, especially if you are running your own business. There are hardships. Ramsay talks about his failures before opening other restaurant branches, yet now he owns and operates dozens of companies around the world. Bourdain battled with his demons but got his act together, rebranded himself as the rebel chef, and became well-loved as CNN’s food and travel journalist.
Whether you’re investing in franchise restaurants or starting your business, one of the most exciting things you’ll face as a chef is overcoming challenges. Here are some insights that might inspire you when you face your challenges:
What You Can Control
To prepare for your challenges, you must be mentally tough, and you must learn how to handle things that you can control and things that you can’t.
Maintaining the high-level quality of your food is something that you can control. Deciding on your operating hours to maximize earnings, is something you can control. But you don’t have a say when a person turns vegan. Build your strategy based on the things that you can manage to help you overcome challenges.
This is within the realm of things you can control. You spend long hours standing, near heat, and looming customer complaints always stress you. These take a toll on your body. The only way to overcome fatigue and tiredness is to rest and sleep. Stick to a schedule that allows you to steal those power naps. Decide whether it’s worthwhile to be open seven days a week, or will it quickly send you to the OR table for bypass surgery? You can also hire an apprentice or a sous-chef, with whom you can share responsibilities.
Getting to the Top
This is perhaps the biggest challenge you will face. The goal is to be unique and to be special, which hopefully are parts of the reasons why you will attract customers. Yes, you need to be unique in relation to your competitors. But uniqueness is also about innovating and understanding the pulse of the customers. You can’t control when a person suddenly decides to become a vegan. But you can decide on adding more vegan flair on your menu and thus expanding your target market.
Your uniqueness and the quality of your food, among others, have taken you to the top. Don’t ever slide down the slope, because the resulting challenge is how to maintain customer satisfaction. They recognize portions in relation to price. They know the taste of your food. Always maintain the quality of your food. Find suppliers that are reliable and with high-quality products. Return customers only happen when their expectations about their dining experience are met.
Working with people in itself is a challenge. Sub-performing staff can destroy your business. Training, open communication, and some positive reinforcements will discourage people from leaving your company or from stealing your money. Invest heavily in these efforts.
Inflation and high unemployment rates can become your challenges too. But if you’re nimble, you have the proper mindset, and know what resources to tap, you will be alright.