John Benson Smith

John Benson Smith's Culinary Strategy Revolution

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Updated on March 20, 2024

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Just as a chef combines ingredients to create a unique dish, John Benson Smith stirs together his vast experience, innovative strategies, and modern technology to revolutionize the culinary industry.

His unique approach, like a secret recipe, fuels a conversation about the transformation of traditional gastronomy. He’s not just changing the game; he’s redesigning it.

How does he manage it, and what makes his strategy so successful? There’s a lot to uncover about Smith’s impact on this dynamic industry. Let’s embark on this culinary journey and discover the secret ingredients of his success.

Background: John Benson Smith

httpss://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osbwI0IdbWU&t=9s

With over four decades of experience in the food industry, John Benson Smith started his illustrious career as an apprentice chef at 16 before transitioning into consultancy, offering his expertise in restaurants, hotels, and Michelin-starred establishments across France.

His culinary innovation paved the way for strategic consulting, reinventing the industry’s approach to business. Smith’s dynamic and strategic approach has reshaped how establishments view their operations. He doesn’t merely suggest changes; he reimagines and reinvents, challenging the status quo.

Smith’s expertise isn’t restricted to culinary practices alone; he’s a master of many trades. From logistics and mobilization to change management and new openings, he’s been instrumental in transforming businesses. His expansive career boasts a myriad of achievements, all echoing his dedication to excellence.

Journey Through the Food Industry

Smith’s journey in the food industry, spanning over four decades, has seen him progress from a young apprentice chef to a seasoned consultant, shaping and influencing establishments across Europe and the Middle East. His culinary innovations, driven by his keen industry insights, have been instrumental in transforming gastronomic landscapes.

Smith’s expertise extends beyond the kitchen, where his strategic approach towards operational efficiency and adaptability has led to significant business growth. He’s known for rigorously training staff, prioritizing customer satisfaction, and utilizing digital tools for effective communication. This has engendered a culture of continual improvement.

His global thinking and enthusiasm for change have established him as not just a leader in his field, but a revolutionary, setting benchmarks for others to follow.

Business Strategy Development

Developing a robust business strategy is central to John Benson Smith’s success in the food industry. His strategic prowess lies not just in formulation, but also in effective strategy implementation.

He uses detailed market research to anticipate trends, discern customer preferences, and tailor his culinary offerings accordingly. This ability to transform insights into action sets him apart in the highly competitive food industry.

His strategy is dynamic, evolving with changing market conditions and customer tastes. By doing so, Smith ensures his strategies remain relevant, profitable, and ahead of the competition.

His approach to business strategy development is a testament to his mastery in the industry, demonstrating the power of combining market research and effective strategy implementation.

Leadership and Management Insights

While the culinary world may be his playground, John Benson Smith also excels in the arena of leadership and management, applying strategic insights to steer his teams towards success. His leadership techniques are honed by decades in the industry, marked by a straightforward, down-to-earth approach.

He differentiates between leadership and management, understanding that both are necessary for success, but require different styles. He trains and mentors his staff, not just in culinary skills, but also in understanding customer expectations.

His management style is focused on delivering value in their services, continually rethinking and realigning business strategies. His ability to adapt, combined with his extensive experience, equips him to lead his teams effectively, revolutionizing the culinary strategy landscape.

Improving Operational Efficiency

John Benson Smith

In the realm of operational efficiency, John Benson Smith is a trailblazer, leveraging his expertise to train staff rigorously, prioritize customer satisfaction, and utilize digital tools for optimum communication. His innovative approach to improving kitchen workflow integrates technology and human skill, enhancing efficiency and productivity.

Smith’s staff training programs focus on skill development, fostering a culture of excellence, and driving performance. He’s revamped traditional kitchen dynamics, enabling seamless coordination between team members. This optimal utilization of resources reduces waste and elevates service quality.

Smith’s methodology ensures a well-oiled operational model that delivers consistent, high-quality customer experiences. His strategy revolution is an object lesson in combining tech-savvy practices with an uncompromising commitment to quality.

Adapting to Market Changes

John Benson Smith’s adept maneuvering through the ever-changing culinary landscape showcases his ability to adapt to market changes, a critical quality that has aided his resilience in the food industry.

His deep understanding of market trends, combined with an uncanny ability to anticipate customer preferences, has positioned him as a forward-thinking leader. Smith’s strategy extends beyond mere recognition of these trends. He skillfully integrates them into his business operations, ensuring his offerings consistently meet or exceed customer expectations.

This willingness to adapt doesn’t compromise his core values but enhances them, keeping his brand relevant and competitive. By proactively responding to market dynamics, Smith sends a clear message: success in the culinary field demands flexibility, foresight, and a finger firmly on the pulse of consumer desires.

Customer-Centric Approach in Business

Smith’s adaptability isn’t his sole strength; his customer-centric approach to business also sets him apart in the culinary industry. His strategy revolves around maximizing customer satisfaction, putting the customer’s needs and preferences at the heart of his business decisions.

Smith understands that each customer is unique and seeks to provide personalized experiences wherever possible. In doing so, he’s not just selling a product or a service, but an experience that resonates with his clientele. This approach fosters a loyal customer base, repeat business, and positive word-of-mouth referrals.

In an industry where competition is stiff, Smith’s customer-centric approach is a powerful strategy to differentiate himself from the pack, creating a strong, sustainable brand identity.

Harnessing Market Analysis Techniques

Harnessing the power of market analysis, Smith navigates the culinary landscape with an intuitive understanding of market trends and customer preferences. He employs market research to anticipate shifts in consumer behavior, strategically positioning his culinary ventures for maximum success.

His approach isn’t just about data; it’s about interpreting the story that data tells. Smith discerns patterns that predict trends, revealing opportunities for innovation in menu design and service delivery. His methodology isn’t static; he adjusts strategies based on market findings, ensuring his culinary businesses stay relevant and competitive.

Smith’s market analysis techniques are a testament to his mastery of the culinary business, illustrating how a deep understanding of the market can drive success in a saturated industry.

Online Presence and Impact

Beyond his adeptness in navigating market trends, Smith’s impact extends to the digital realm where his robust online presence serves as a platform for engagement and knowledge sharing.

His approach to online marketing strategies is rooted in the principle of customer outreach, ensuring that his brand visibility is optimized across various social media platforms. This strategic positioning allows Smith to enhance his social media engagement, providing a deeper connection with his audience.

Moreover, his digital footprint serves as a testament to his innovative approach to culinary strategy, providing a wealth of knowledge to those who seek mastery in this field. Consequently, Smith’s online presence not only advocates for his brand but also facilitates the propagation of his pioneering culinary strategies.

Engaging the Audience Digitally

In the digital arena, John Benson Smith masterfully engages his audience, leveraging social media platforms to share valuable insights and foster interactive discussions. His digital marketing strategy isn’t about self-promotion, but about creating a space for learning and conversation.

Audience interaction is at the heart of his approach, as he frequently responds to comments, answers questions, and sparks debates on culinary trends. Smith’s digital presence isn’t a one-way dissemination of information, but a dynamic exchange that keeps his followers actively engaged.

This strategy not only builds a loyal audience but also positions him as a thought leader in the culinary world. Smith’s digital engagement method exemplifies how modern chefs can create meaningful connections in an increasingly digital world.

Innovation in Culinary Strategy

As he cultivates meaningful digital relationships, Smith also demonstrates a remarkable penchant for innovative culinary strategies. His approach doesn’t simply rest on creating delicious dishes but extends to revolutionizing the way such dishes are conceived, developed, and offered to consumers.

This culinary innovation is the crux of his success, a testament to his creativity, and a cornerstone in his strategy implementation. Smith’s fusion of traditional techniques with modern trends exemplifies his innovative mindset. He leverages technology to streamline operations, boost efficiency, and improve customer experience.

His strategies aren’t static but evolve, keeping pace with changing tastes and trends. Through this innovation-centric approach, Smith has managed to stay ahead of the curve in the ever-competitive culinary world.

Unique Selling Points Identification

John Benson Smith

Smith’s knack for identifying unique selling points in his culinary strategy sets him apart in the competitive food industry. His approach isn’t merely about creating delicious food, but understanding what strengths can be leveraged to create a culinary experience that’s distinctive.

Smith’s astute ability in identifying strengths, such as a dish’s uniqueness or a team’s talent, and converting them into selling points is commendable. His competitive edge discovery involves a deep-dive into the business’s core capabilities, assessing how these can be amplified to stand out in the market.

Feedback and Customer Engagement Strategy

With a keen eye on customer feedback and engagement, John Benson Smith has crafted a strategy that prioritizes customer interaction and satisfaction above all. His approach involves a comprehensive feedback analysis system, enabling him to gauge customers’ experiences accurately and adapt accordingly.

Smith’s dedication to customer satisfaction drives the continual evolution of his culinary strategies, ensuring they consistently meet or exceed expectations. This customer-centric approach not only fosters a loyal clientele but also enables him to anticipate and cater to emerging trends.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Did John Benson Smith Transition From Being an Apprentice Chef to a Consultant in the Food Industry?

John Benson Smith began as an apprentice chef, honing his skills in fine establishments. His apprenticeship insights provided a solid foundation.

Over time, he’s transitioned into consulting, using his vast experience to guide others in the food industry. He’s not just changed roles, he’s revolutionized his career.

His journey is a testament to adaptability and continuous learning, showing that a step-by-step transition can lead to significant professional evolution.

How Does John Benson Smith Differentiate Between Leadership and Management in His Business Strategy?

John Benson Smith views leadership and management as distinct yet complementary concepts. In his leadership philosophy, he’s a visionary, setting the direction and inspiring his team. He’s all about empowerment and innovation.

When it comes to management styles, he’s more tactical. He focuses on implementing the vision, controlling processes, and problem-solving. For John, it’s not about choosing one over the other, but mastering both to achieve success.

How Does John Benson Smith Use Digital Tools to Improve Operational Efficiency and Customer Engagement?

He’s harnessing digital transformation to boost efficiency and engagement. By utilizing digital tools, he’s streamlining operations, enhancing communication, and elevating service standards.

With customer analytics, he’s gaining insights into preferences and behaviors, enabling him to tailor experiences and foster deeper connections. It’s not just about adopting technology, but integrating it meaningfully into his strategy to deliver value.

This approach reflects his commitment to innovation and his customer-centric philosophy.

How Does John Benson Smith Adapt His Culinary Strategies to Changing Market Trends and Customer Preferences?

John adapts his culinary strategies by keeping an eye on market trends and adjusting his ‘Menu Evolution‘ accordingly. He’s not afraid to innovate, constantly tweaking his recipes to meet changing customer preferences.

Moreover, he values ‘Consumer Feedback’, using it as a tool to refine his strategy. His approach is flexible, allowing him to stay competitive while ensuring his offerings remain appealing and relevant to his customers.

How Does John Benson Smith Use His Online Presence to Engage With His Audience and Innovate in the Culinary Industry?

John Benson Smith harnesses his social media influence to engage and inspire his audience. He’s not just posting photos, he’s sharing innovative recipes, sparking culinary conversations, and offering valuable insights.

He’s creating a digital community where food lovers can learn, interact, and be part of the culinary revolution he’s leading. His online presence isn’t just about promotion, it’s about connection and innovation. That’s how he’s redefining the culinary industry.

Conclusion

John Benson Smith’s transformative culinary strategy has revolutionized the industry. His focus on differentiation, mentoring, and customer engagement, coupled with his use of digital tools and rigorous staff training, has fostered operational efficiency and adaptability.

His unique approach to market analysis and consumer-centric strategy has kept him ahead of trends, proving his resilience and adaptability. Smith’s relentless focus on customer satisfaction has set a new standard in the food industry.

His strategies offer valuable lessons for aspiring culinary entrepreneurs.

Video Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:06)
So, John, thank you very much for taking time out to talk to us today. We’re honoured and delighted to have you with us, really are. So for the few people who probably don’t know who you are, especially in the. In the food scene, you wouldn’t mind telling us a little bit about yourself and your background.

Speaker 2 (00:20)
Yeah. So I spent 40 plus years in the industry, but a genuine 40 plus years. In other words, I left school when I was 16 and became an apprentice chef. Dyslexic, not a rogue. Exactly. But I enjoyed food and I loved disappearing into food and everything that went with it. That whole kind of lifestyle, which I have to say is very different now to what it used to be in the middle 70s, if that kind of makes sense. So, worked in a whole variety of restaurants and kitchens and did my piece, which was primarily restaurants and hotels, really, from country house hotels to city centre hotels to London and Yorkshire, and you probably name it, but very structured. There was 18 months there, three years there, five years there. So it wasn’t just a job, because the number of the head chefs I worked for said to me, if you’re in it, make a success out of it or go and work on the supermarket checkout or whatever. So that was a kind of warning to me, to be successful. I don’t know what success means because to some people it’s all about money, to other people it’s about happiness and to others it’s about health, and that whole thing.

Speaker 2 (01:52)
Had a very good career and then I got to a stage, probably in my 40s, where I began to be aware of that the industry was changing and that people were becoming younger and there was a lot more to the. To the not people becoming younger, but chefs were becoming younger and then began to look probably at the chefs I knew that were 50 and 60 and thought, wow, I need to have a plan. But just by chance, over the period of six months, I was lucky enough to be approached by a guy called Lloyd Grossman and Tony Blair. Regards getting involved with the Better Hospital Food Initiative. In the early twenty s, I visited 48 hospitals, looking to how we could improve that. I then became the consultant chef of Manchester City Football club with their new stadium. I appeared on BBC Master chef as a judge, and then I became the original Walker sensation, flavorist for the crisps. So all these things kind of happened all at once, which made me think, wow, there’s a different world out there, if that makes sense. So since then, I’ve been involved with healthcare and education and heritage and the arts.

Speaker 2 (03:08)
I got a number of contracts with the Arts council, but to be clear with you, my venturing consultancy was completely accidental and was probably done out of demand. Oh, can you look at this? Because I found out early on I was really good at logistics. I understood, obviously food and all that kind of stuff, but I knew a fair bit about mobilisation. So I got involved with lots of new openings, lots of change management and lots of uturning. But the biggest bit I got involved with was forensics, if that makes sense. So it’s a bit like a doctor. I’ve got diarrhoea, I’ve got a headache, I got a sore throat. That probably means you’ve got tonsillitis. Do you kind of get my thinking? So that was a big piece. Forensics, new openings, uturning businesses and probably having a character like it or not, that was down to earth, no bull, straight talking and I don’t dress stuff up, but yeah, worked a lot in new product development and lucky enough to spend time in a three star Michelin rated restaurant in south of France. Worked a lot overseas in Italy and Greece and then Spain and then south of France the last three years.

Speaker 2 (04:22)
Spent a lot of time as a consultant in the Middle east, opened four new restaurants for a client, did a lot in saudi and then 20 years as a consultant for Manchester City football club, Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham, Watford FC, Byron, Real Madrid, lots of contract caterers, all sorts of stuff. People say to me, wow, you must be old. Yeah, I am, but I don’t really care and I’m as probably as sharp and as eager as I was 30 years ago. The last three years I’ve done all sorts of things, mainly Middle east, which I find is an amazing place. But I’ve also been working for a retail supermarket with their kind of ambition and aim where they want to mangle food service, catering into retail, which will be the first time because even though they’re very similar businesses, they’re very different. So been working with retail, of which we open two concepts and we’re planning another six or seven. So that’s a piece. But above all I’m probably commercial animal. I understand profit and people processes products, driving system. I’m at it and very much a confidant working for people and helping them out at the sh one t or helping them develop.

Speaker 2 (05:43)
But that’s it really. That is it in a box, if that makes sense. Incredible.

Speaker 1 (05:48)
What a journey. And again you’re listing off those list of names. Just incredible. You think you would have had those opportunities if you hadn’t put in all the hard work back in the early days.

Speaker 2 (05:58)
No.

Speaker 1 (06:00)
Simple as that. That’s it. You have to put in the groundwork.

Speaker 2 (06:03)
This thing about luck. Wow. I tell you what, I’ve been doing lottery tickets for a long time and that ain’t happened. So the look thing I don’t get, you got to put the graph to the opportunity. It’s easy nowadays to kind of merchandise yourself as a marketing pr celebrity in a box. That’s complete load of crap. Sorry to be rude. You’ve got to deliver. People will give you pounds, shillings and pence for services that have to be value that do make a difference. Otherwise there ain’t no future in it, if that makes sense.

Speaker 1 (06:36)
Perfect. And you’ve seen the industry change massively, I’m sure, over the years. Is there key elements that stay the same and what would they be?

Speaker 2 (06:47)
Well, it’s about consumption and it’s about the need to control things. There are a lot of things that have stayed the same and I’m not a fluff. Some powders, I’m not making chocolate soil and making a snail porridge into toothpaste. That is not my food. But to be honest with you, I probably put chef’s jacket on now and again compared to before, because I’ve spent a lot of time now mentoring and tutoring younger people, or sometimes not younger people who cares in how I can help and assist them and get them to kind of learn to move forward, if that makes sense, and work with thousands of people. And in fact, in the Middle east, we have 43 nationalities. Many of them don’t speak English. So when it comes to training and getting stuff done and making stuff happen, that is another way of working, if that makes sense.

Speaker 1 (07:39)
Incredible. I was lucky enough to have eight years in the Middle east, so I can imagine, but not in the restaurant trade, so that’s a different level altogether. But I can imagine the complexity and the challenges there. But again, I’m sure the results are incredible. Is there a big difference between the locations? So UK versus international markets or. It is the same principles?

Speaker 2 (08:03)
Same principles, but differences. When I worked in Greece, it’s different to Italy and different to the Spanish and different to the French and different. I mean, the Middle east has probably been the biggest impact on my life and also on my work. I mean, half of the things they do out there are miles ahead of us Europeans. They’re so smart and so clever, and the technology they use is miles ahead. They are so clever. Half the stuff and half the stuff isn’t but Middle east is the most magical place ever. And the relationships out there we’ve got are really strong. And it’s all about trust, it’s all about delivery. Isn’t know it’s all very well having this, but unless you can’t make the changes, you won’t exist in business.

Speaker 1 (08:52)
Incredible. Amazing. What an insight, John. And you’re spoiling us today. You’re going to take us through a presentation.

Speaker 2 (08:59)
Yes, I am. This is 20 plus actions that I would suggest in 2020 in food and beverage. And I’m very aware that everybody and their dog has been throwing up powerpoints and webinars, but I think this one will hopefully make a kind of difference. So my thinking is that with COVID and everything that’s happened, bearing in mind the food industry, or particularly catering, was not having a good time before COVID So a lot of businesses were teetering on some kind of edge or cliff edge last year and the year before, which is something over the top. I think arming yourself with a plan or planning of a plan is actually really important. And it’s probably a time to rethink, review, recreate, reengage, realign, redevelop, restart, restrategize and reconsider what you’re doing. Otherwise the future may be even more difficult than what it already is. Excellent.

Speaker 1 (10:01)
So a lot of work to do, for sure. For all of us. No?

Speaker 2 (10:04)
Brilliant.

Speaker 1 (10:05)
I’ll let you put up the slide.

Speaker 2 (10:10)
Back in the beginning of the year, moving towards April, as I’ve been lucky enough, if not luck, to get involved with retail. I kind of saw that the modern day restauranteur or food service operator needed to probably be a bit of a vendor and do ready meals and do meal kits, and do home delivery and do venue catering and to go and whatever. I think the old adage of just having a service point in a restaurant and just serving people with table and chairs is finished. Middle East. 70% of our business in the Middle east is on home delivery. It is massive. I see the future for restauranteurs or for any kind of food business is if you produce great products that work, who the hell cares where you sell them as long as there’s a market? So stop thinking as tables and chairs and think globally, think openly and think multipurpose. If you make good food and you provide good food, think of different avenues to be able to provide and sell it. If that makes sense, that’s the kind of the first thing. But to commence, I would suggest that we question everything within the business.

Speaker 2 (11:29)
You start looking at policies and subscriptions. And you start thinking of software and loyalty and hours and tasks and duties. You’ve got to really question everything. If you don’t, if you maintain same ideas, same management, thinking, the same product and the same offering, the chances are that it will be the same as before, which ain’t going to work. So you’ve got to question, why are we doing things this way? And I’m probably an example of a more mature, older upstart. It doesn’t matter what the hell your age is or what your experience is, it’s considering understanding the market, the demographics, the trends and the fashions and your numbers more than ever, if that kind of makes sense. Second point would be, this is probably not a time for wishy washy. This is a time where strong principles and designated authority are required. So I’m into big leadership, and leadership is very different to management. So I think having the leader that’s saying, right, this is our plan, this is our direction, this is where we’re going to go to hell with it is more important than ever. I don’t have a problem with management, that there is a big difference between leaders and management.

Speaker 2 (12:49)
So now it’s the vision, it’s been smart, it’s having that bit to take your group, your tribe, your, whoever, your gang in your business to a better place. That’s, I think, really important. Next point, operationally, it’s train, train. And when you finish that, continue to do more training, more practising, more role play. You’ve got to influence people. Cheque them, train them again, mint all them again. You’ve got to think customer, customer. Because what’s been interesting over the last six months, customers have learned not to eat in restaurants. And they’ve learned to eat and survive and think differently in cooking at home. And the feedback I get and the comments I get, that is the customers expectations. Now, they want professionals or they want smiles, teeth, welcome. They want the engagement, they want a better product than they can make at home. Or the future may be tough. So our industry within food service has got to kind of pull its socks up. And I mean that in the nicest of ways. Be good, get it right or don’t compete, if that makes sense. The next piece would be create and design great products. Even if it’s the bread, if it’s the sauce, if it’s the cheese, straws, if it’s the chocolate, if it’s the fish dish.

Speaker 2 (14:14)
Design and sell great products that you’re proud of that can become famous. It’s thinking of value and it’s thinking of the customer. A great sausage stew with some splattered tomato and some mash with a bit too much white pepper. Blob of butter. If it looks good and tastes fantastic, it could be cheap. But it’s about thinking of designing great products. If you sell crap, eventually you’ll get found out. Next point, competitors. Know them, get close to them, become fanatical about them. Work them out. Do not have this attitude that says, well, I have no idea what they do, but we’re the best. You’ve got to psyche out your competitors and look what works, which is really important, I think. Get close and be smart. It’s that whole intelligence bit of working other businesses out. Reset like never before. Get the blank piece of paper, you create your own rules and you rethink how you’re going to trade and what you are and what you need to be. And that’s about planning the plan. If you continue, as I said before, with the same thinking, same mentality, the end result will be the same. And that applies to any business.

Speaker 2 (15:30)
The whole thing about COVID for right or for wrong will have a detrimental effect. There are obviously businesses that have done very well out of it. But for those that haven’t, you’ve got to reset hard and question everything. If that makes sense, redesign. So redesign your service, redesign your production methods. Looking at layouts, logistics, time and motion, what’s kept where? Why do we do that? That’s a bit stupid. Let’s move that to there. So that whole rethinking of how you produce food and serve food and what’s efficient is probably more important than ever. Because the customer doesn’t want to be in a crowned queue. They got social distancing. You’ve got that whole thing. They want it prompt and they want the smile. Or even if they can’t see the smile, you can tell it through their eyes, if that makes sense. And think with all of your journeys as the end user. Digital actions, entertainment, communication, simple ways of being able to communicate and collate information. And it’s all very well collating information. But unless you use that to the betterment of your customer and your business, it’s a waste of time. Okay, that makes sense.

Speaker 2 (16:40)
Customer is the boss. So searching and selecting of your staff and mentoring of them and getting them to understand the process, the system, the requirement of how they engage and how they deliver of the standard to that presentation, in that style is more important than before. Anything that’s surly or that ain’t grey or doesn’t smile or is in a bad mood or grumpy, fine. Don’t let them near customer because that will more than ever have a detrimental effect, and one doesn’t want that because customers will give you one chance. If you imagine 2019, it was tough. You get it now. You’ll be in a big black cross in the book, which is what one doesn’t want, sheep or wolf. This is a really important thing. You were the layback. You just let the whole horrible process take place, which is now hitting the world or hit the world. And you go along with the flow and you just hope it somehow works out or get some drive, enthusiasm, some get up and go and you start this new marathon. It’s ain’t a sprint. This is a marathon about being fanatical about your business and thinking it through.

Speaker 2 (17:55)
It’s not probably about just sitting back and seeing what happens. Wisdom, experience and knowledge is probably now more paramount than ever. So using the people in your business that have the experience of what they did, not only in the industry but also in life, is really important. I see that more than ever, grey hair nowadays is becoming more and more important than what it used to be because we probably lived a bit more than others, and I mean that in the nicest of ways. But obviously, involving your staff and your team in getting ideas and solution, even if you don’t use them, is really important. Be brilliant. As I said before, customers give you one chance, so professional service is paramount. The customers, I hear and I see, probably expect more than what they got before. Now I don’t know what more means. Is it better value? Is it just a smile? Is it preempting their next move? Is it just care? Is it just saying to the customer, hello, and you had dinner, we love you, still come back and see us. It’s not always about the credit voucher. Sometimes it’s about being human and actually being interested.

Speaker 2 (19:09)
And that comes from training your staff and the leader of your business dictating that that’s how we’re going to operate, if that makes sense. Know your numbers. There was a time where you could exist within the industry from just, well, we’ll wait till year end and hopefully the accountant and it’ll be fine. Then it became quarterly. Recently it’s become monthly. Regards understanding our financial numbers and figures and covers and spends and fixed and variables. Now I see it weekly. And in fact, a number of businesses I know are now doing their physical numbers every single day because the fixed invariables and the customers wanting it faster, quicker, cheaper and rising costs if you don’t control your numbers and your figures, because there’s so little romance left now in this industry, it may be the death of the business. So getting to know your numbers and sharing it with your team, understanding the targets, I’m not talking upselling for the sake of it. And a customer that wants to spend 25 quid ends up with a bill of 70 per cover. I’m talking about just being aware of what you’re doing and what things cost, if that makes sense, some of those numbers you can do on the back of a fag packet.

Speaker 2 (20:31)
Safety. This applies to the public as well as the staff. So I think the welfare and security of customers and the staff is really important. We talk about ethos, we talk about partnerships, we talk about values. Well, it’s not difficult to actually properly care for people and ensure safety, which is probably, from what I can understand, the number one thing, design mentioned this before, but it’s about using your space, it’s about working the space, considering the space. It’s about saying, why the hell is that there? Let’s move this to there. I believe we can actually look at the whole space and we can be a lot more effective with the time and motion. Why are we getting it through the back door, storing it over there, walking half a mile to the fridge, doing this, doing that. My God. So it’s about using the excuse of COVID to rethink your dishes, the ingredients, how we work to best effect for everybody. But don’t serve rubbish fast food. I want it now. My way, day part, the whole thing, that fresh fast food is on the move and it’s quick and it ain’t going to go away.

Speaker 2 (21:43)
And probably that’s one of the things we’ve all learned about speed and efficiency and that whole thing about food in the hand, food in the car, in the sitting room, at work, wherever, fast food, if you’re smart, it doesn’t mean cheap, it doesn’t mean nasty, it doesn’t mean frozen, it can mean quality. That’s really important. So fast food is something you need to look at, read the market. So the new staying in is probably important. So again, it’s looking and thinking about the market. You start looking at trend, watching. There’s lots of information out there to understand, probably how the market’s been. You can begin to look at insight, to understand typical customers response, how they’re looking at you, what they’re thinking, what they’re wanting. I’m not talking about, is mexican food more important than chilean? I’m talking about bigger stuff. And whilst I enjoy mexican food, I think it’s understanding probably where the market is and looking to the future. Forget the history. Successful motorway racing drivers don’t concert. Look in the rear view mirror. You’ve got to think forward, you got to be smart, become famous. When I say this, I’m being genuine.

Speaker 2 (23:00)
What are your points of difference? Think about pr, marketing and awareness. But let’s have stuff that is real and isn’t just a load of hot air. So look at the points of difference regards how you’re portrayed in the market, how you’re perceived. Think about your tone, your noise, how you communicate with people, tripadvisor, social media, it’s so important. Guidebooks, nobody really talks about, apart from the Michelin, et cetera. So actually how you perceive is important, really important. So what’s your points of difference? What are you doing that’s better and faster and quicker and more famous than your competitors, if not invent them, shed the emotion. So, financial debt and having lots of outlets, I love that. And we’ve had that for many, many years. But actually, let’s do six sites well or one site well, apart from 20 badly. So beware of there’s no father Christmas, there’s no fairies. The industry is tough and it’s hard. And you probably need to review your outlets, review your opening times, review your shift patterns. But it’s all about the customer. Put yourself into their shoes. Banish the boredom. Same old, same old experience. Transactional trudge, please. Let’s have some wow.

Speaker 2 (24:26)
Let’s get people excited. Let’s become human with customers. Let’s create great products, as I’ve said, but let’s not be boring. You’ve got to get your personality of your business through to the end user, which is really, really important. Listen to customers. And also the dreaded focus groups, if that’s what you would call them. Very few caterers really listen to what the customer says, particularly chefs. And here’s one that’s been running around kitchens for 30 or 40 years. Listen, it’s not necessarily what you want, it’s what they want, if that makes sense. So I think listening to customers and allowing them to have feedback, I used to often say to my. I say to my restaurant manager, right, give me the telephone numbers. Every that ate last night, 143 covers. Right, I’m going to ring these two people up. I used to ring them up and say, what you think? Music was bloody terrible and this was horrible, but the rest of it was wonderful. So then I’d go and sit in the restaurant and say, actually, no, music is terrible, but you kind of tend to go along with things. So listening is really, really important.

Speaker 2 (25:33)
Or the modern expression is called feedback. Have fun. Really important. Be human. Enjoy life, laugh, smile, do daft things occasionally and enjoy your work. Because the industry with food is fantastic. You’ve just got to understand that the future is going to be very difficult. It has been difficult. It’s going to get more difficult. This is a time when actually having fun is probably more important than ever. And I know it’s difficult. Go and get the football outside or whatever you want to do. So 100% know your stuff. Get vision, get direction, and plan the plan. And thank you for the time listening to me and I hope my advice and thoughts have helped and assisted you. So anything about myself is on www.johnbensonsmith.com. Thank you, John.

Speaker 1 (26:34)
Thank you very much for taking us through that. Incredible, and for sure an incredible treat for anyone that would click through to your website and see a little bit of your history and what you’ve done and what you’re doing now. It’s an amazing cv and I know there’s plenty of space for a lot more to be added to it as well. The work doesn’t stop yet, does it? So, John, thank you again for your presentation. Really enjoyed it and sharing some of your journey with us. If there’s anyone watching this that wants to find out more about you or connect and follow you as you continue on your journey, is your website the best place for them to go?

Speaker 2 (27:11)
Yeah, but I’m on LinkedIn and I’m on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and all the usual kind of things. But yeah, ww johnbensonsmith.com. But I’m very accessible. I mean, if anyone wants to ring me up and say I’ve got a problem or an issue, it isn’t about me catching extra work so much. Well, it is a bit. But I’m human. I’m happy to talk to people and help, and it is about money and finance and business. Yes. But sometimes it’s about meeting great people.

Speaker 1 (27:49)
Amazing. And we can see that in the information and advice you provided for us today. So again, thank you very much for your time today. What we’ll do is we make sure underneath this video, anyone watching it, cheque out the links below and you’ll be able to click through to John’s website and find him on social media. And John, again, thank you for your time today.

Speaker 2 (28:06)
Thank you, Karen, good to see you. Thank you.

Speaker 1 (28:09)
And in watching this look, if you really enjoyed it, I think you will. Incredible value. Why not share it with your friends? Share it on social media. And do click through and cheque out John’s website. We’ll see you in the next video. Thank you.

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