Refreshing Success, Bar Rescue Style

I’m trying to understand my fascination with SPIKE TV’s Bar Rescue. In the show, Jon Taffer, the “Gordon Ramsay of the bar and nightclub business,” drops in on one struggling bar after another, berating ownership and staff for days, just before he leads a complete retrain, rebuild and rebrand of the place. Then, voila! The business thrives, money’s made and everyone goes home happy.

While I rarely watch reality TV because it tends to be filled with unnecessary drama and emotional rollercoasters I tend to avoid in my own life, there are things about Bar Rescue I’ve grown to understand and even respect.

If you can get past the theatrics of Taffer yelling most of the show, there’s plenty of knowledge to be gained, most of which can be easily translated to your own business:

Give a care, or give up. Unless you’re in an incredibly niche business – like boxer face tattoo artistry or internet cat choreography – there are lots of people willing to do your job. If you aren’t willing to pour your passion, energy and self into it, choose a new career. Some of the most popular shows I’ve seen begin with an owner who’s given up or don’t seem to want to be in the bar and restaurant business in the first place. Those are the ones Taffer yells at the most. Most of the time, it sparks excitement, energy and a love for business that ultimately pays off. Other times, the owners go right back to their old tricks and you can foresee failure taking over the place before Taffer’s famous goodbye hugs. The interest and passion for success needs to be there, from leadership on down, for any goals to be achieved. Let it start with you, the leader.

Use smart data to make improvements. One of the show’s sponsors, ESRI, helps provide local business and demographics data to understand the market to make informed business decisions in each rescue. It doesn’t come cheap. While we can’t all be lucky enough to have a screaming knight in shining armor bring their paid-for licenses into the rescue, finding out what data is available to you about your services and customer base is critical to success. If you’re rebuilding a website, dig into the analytics of your site to understand where your customers are coming from, what they spend the most time on, where your referral points are and what they’re searching for the most. If you can find room in your budget for ESRI or another software that helps you better understand customers, invest. It’ll pay off in the end, making smarter improvements and not just throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping it sticks.

Get back to the basics. Is your team properly trained? Do any of them have bad habits that slow down productivity or quality? Is your process focused on providing a high quality, positive customer experience? Answers to each of these could make the difference between success and failure. It always seems like the way to success is too far out of reach because of budget or staffing constraints, but in reality it can often be reached by starting back from square one with the basics. Training, process evaluations and improvements to communication methods could be a simple place to start the upward trend of your productivity and success. Go out of your way to avoid overlooking this.

Presentation is everything. How you present your work is almost as important as the job you do. Taking the time to show your work, and detail the intricacies that went into it, pays off. For instance, anyone can build a website nowadays. Squarespace, Wordpress and Wix make it easy for the average business owner to throw up a site in a single day. But a well-oiled web team takes the time make calculated design choices, sharp development decisions and carefully crafted content strategy to build a site that delivers specific results. Presenting this to clients reinforces why they didn’t just get their son-in-law’s-friend’s-college-roomie to throw together a site overnight they can’t rely on. Taking the time to explain why every choice is made in a way your team and customers understand can take a project on a positive trajectory, and pay off in the end.

You don’t have to scream at your team to make any these improvements. In fact, please don’t do that. Sometimes all you need is a little extra care in what you do, a focus on the right things to focus on, and the grit to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Go forth, and rescue your work.

Originally posted on LinkedIn on April 18, 2016