I’m a Food TV Junkie.

Most weekend mornings, after I read the paper and write a book review or two, I start doing laundry and plant myself on the couch to fold and sink my teeth into some serious Food Network programming. There are two shows that I watch from time to time; Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Restaurant Impossible with Chef Robert Irvine. If you’ve not watched either show, here is the short skippy; Diners, Drive-ins and Dives features Guy Fieri (Food Network Star and restaurant owner) visiting cool food joints around the country and sampling the local fare. In Restaurant Impossible; Chef Robert Irvine (another Food Network Star) visits failing restaurants and turns them around.

Now, here’s the interesting thing. Both shows feature these “divey”, hole-in-the-wall restaurants. And the restaurant owners in both shows don’t always have professional training as chefs or as restaurant owners. And yet, one show features wild successes and the other features failures.

So what is it that lands one restaurant on Triple D and the other on Restaurant Impossible?

It’s obviously not the training, or the design of the restaurant. I’ve seen Fieri come to places that look like the worst “before” situation that Irvine deals with (at least on the surface). The one glaring difference is, of course, the quality of the food and the customer experience.

The owners and chef’s of the restaurants Fieri visits might not have a restaurant that’s pretty to look at, but the food is outrageous, the tables are filled and the customers are smiling and stuffing their faces. WHY? What is it about these folks that has them cooking killer food and attracting more customers than they could handle?

3 powerful questions that will build your brand

Are you ready for this? ?There are three powerful questions that the successful restauranteurs have answered that the failing restauranteurs haven’t:

  1. Who they are being in the world: ?This sounds a little strange when you first hear it, but think of it this way. When you see the successful restauranteur, how do they look? You see that they are BEING happy. They are BEING in the present, they are smiling, they are literally PLAYING with their food. They don’t take themselves or anything very seriously. And this way of BEING is what causes them to do things the way they do. And, as a result, they cook delicious food, create a fun-filled eating experience and this is what attracts rabid fans to their restaurants.
  2. What they are committed to: There are two sides to commitment. There is what we say that we are committed to such as family, our employees, healthy eating and then there is where we spend our money and our time and our energy such as complaining or worrying. There is a difference. When you take the time to focus on a clear commitment (whatever it is) and then align your actions with that commitment, you will see amazing results. The biggest work Robert Irvine does in Restaurant Impossible is SHIFT the failing restaurants commitment from worry and fear to excellent food and client experience. And then he shows them how to focus on making sure those two elements are working.
  3. What you can count on them for: ?The gurus call this branding, but in plain language this is the core of getting and keeping loyal, profitable customers with very little marketing. When you CONSISTENTLY deliver on something, you become known for that thing. And this is the magic bullet of all core positioning and branding. Mega corporations spend billions of dollars making sure that they decide on what they deliver and then they put the systems in place to consistently deliver on it. You don’t have to go that far. Just decide on what each customer will walk away with and then put a system in place to make sure that they get it.

5 creative ways to get started

Your first step should be to take some quiet time for yourself and do a little brain dump or brainstorm with these questions. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. The note card or sticky note method. ?Grab three different colors of note cards or sticky notes. Each of the questions gets its own color. On each note card write down one answer to each question. Keep going until you run out of ideas. Then ask your friends, clients, team members or employees to answer those questions for your business.
  2. The collage method: Run around your house and grab a bunch of old magazines — or if you don’t have any, you can buy some of your favorites or simply search images on Google. Get some poster board (any size you like) Pull pictures that represent answers to each of these questions and create a collage for each question. Share with friends and get their input.
  3. Make a list: If you prefer to use a spreadsheet or Word document, you can do that as well. Don’t forget to share your work with friends, family and colleagues.
  4. Do a blog post and ask for comments: ?This is a little risky for some people, but if you’re an active blogger, you can create some wonderful content and engage your readers with this kind of question.
  5. Run a survey: ?If you already have some ideas of what your answers to these questions are, why not convert them into a survey and ask your friends and customers to check the ones they feel best describe their experience with your business?
  6. Leave your answers in the comments below! Why not bite the bullet and answer these questions in the comments below — it will really get the conversation started and we’ll get to know each other better!

I know these three questions don’t really sound like hard marketing and branding talk, but the truth is that all of us buy on emotion and your answers to these questions will attract precisely the customers you are looking for that will grow your business.