Oct 5, 2007

Scrapbook Nightmares

Mark and I sat and watched "Kitchen Nightmares" the other night. It was very amusing. Mark even got into it and he usually doesn't care for reality-type shows.

The star of the show is "celebuchef" Gordon Ramsey. He's sort of the kitchen version of Simon Cowell only with a much more foul mouth (I'm sure Simon can swear like that, too). Every time Gordon starts to talk, they have to start *BLEEEEEP*ING him. He goes into a failing restaurant and turns it around. It's like Extreme Makeover for a business.

The restaurant he was helping on this week's show was in NY. They had been open 10 years. The owner was the chef and he seemed to never open his mouth. His wife worked with him and was quite out-spoken. She was begging him to close the place as it was empty most nights despite pretty good food. The restaurant was hurting their marriage as they probably fought about it a lot. It was his "dream" but had become her "nightmare".

The restaurant was being run by a manager who thought he was the world's best Maitre'd. He seemed like the 40 year old still living with his mommy. He didn't have the smarts to run the business and didn't take criticism well at all. At one point on their busiest night, he melted down in front of all the customers over reservations that he had taken. He took no responsibility for screwing them up.

This business had so many issues. The biggest one being that no one seemed to know HOW to run a business!!! The manager showed Gordon about 20 plasticky signs he had made up with all sorts of gimmicks - "free appetizers", "Order Thanksgiving Desserts Early", "Now accepting reservations". It's like he had Googled "Restauarant Promotions" and then tried every one. Gordon asked him which one had worked best and the guy sheepishly said, "Uhhhh, none of them".

How many scrapbook store owners do the same type of thing? They try every "trick" they can think of rather than finding out what the customer REALLY wants. They just keep trying and trying and trying while their business bleeds red ink. They don't know HOW to market their business and they don't want to spend money doing it so they go as cheaply as possible (email newsletters) and hope people come in. "Hope" is not a good marketing strategy.

The other thing they didn't know was that when they opened 10 years earlier, there were only 4 other restaurants on this road. Today, there were several dozen. When Gordon showed them the map of all the restaurants, they all looked SHOCKED! It hadn't occurred to them that their competition had greatly increased and that maybe the plethora of choices is one of the reasons their tables are empty every night.

That's probably the same look many scrapbook store owners would have if someone pointed out that online stores and the Walmart down the street are their competition. Most of them look around town and say, "Hey, we don't have a scrapbook store here - we must need one" and then open a shop. They don't realize that people are already getting their scrapbook products from SOMEWHERE and that this store has to convince them to stop shopping at the other place.

In the end, of course the restaurant was overflowing with customers and all was right with the universe. It's a bit contrived because if Gordon Ramsey comes in and makes over your restaurant (including the menu), then you're going to get some good mileage out of that. That suddenly makes your business easy to market - "Gordon Ramsey Created Our Menu and We Were Featured On a TV Show About It" is going to be a very effective marketing message. So, it's not REALLY real.

But, it got me thinking about how many struggling scrapbook stores could use a makeover like this. They could benefit from having someone come in and look at their marketing efforts, their inventory, their customer service, their competition, their location, etc. and basically give them a list of things to change in order to stop bleeding red ink.

Sometimes when we are so emotionally involved in something we can't see the "forest for the trees" so the speak. Sometimes, it takes an outsider with nothing invested and nothing to lose to point out all the issues going on.

Anyone got a spare $10 million to start a TV show with me???

1 comment:

Sandra @ The Memory Workshop said...


Everyone is quick to blame outside forces for the demise of their LSS or the industry in general. Yet they don't take responsibility for the choices *they* made.

Over on THIS BLOG there is a lot of chatter about what is causing the slow down in the industry.

There's no mention of the *other* reason...people who have no business sense keep opening scrapbook stores that are doomed to fail. A savvy business person will survive or thrive in spite of all the factors affecting the industry.