The Secrets of Food Service Consulting


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photo credit: geertcolp

By Deagon B Williams

Food service consulting and restaurant consulting are both incredibly challenging and exciting projects to take on, and even more so to master successfully. Unbeknownst to me I started consulting long before  I realized what I was doing. That is both the good news and the bad news. The good news, in that I took my profession and my professionalism seriously enough to really know the business of food service  so that I could be of service and value to others. The  bad news is that I never intended to be a food service consultant and therefore never thought about it until I had made a lot of mistakes.  Luckily those mistakes turned out to be what finally got me to take this new business seriously.  So whether you are looking to be a food service consultant, or to hire one I hope that some of my mistakes will help you.

The first and biggest mistake I made was not realizing that a chef gone consultant is not in the chef gone consultant business, but rather a professional services provider who is ultimately in the business of building relationships of trust.  I had dozens of clients hire me to fix their restaurant- so I marched in full steam ahead like a classically trained chef-  armed and ready to fix. As it turns out not one of them actually wanted fixing!  They knew their businesses better than I did, and in fact what they both wanted and needed was someone to understand them, their business and their needs. Then they wanted to have my insights into their business and the challenges they were facing. I missed that day in school. Hint: People don’t listen to someone they don’t know or trust. Build trust first.

Second mistake was to promise deliverables and ensuing results while I was in fact not in a position to make such promises. If they weren’t me and weren’t going to do it exactly my way the results wouldn’t be mine. That gets us back to lesson #1: Build trust first.

The third and potentially most dangerous one was that I was selling the above results rather than my time, acumen and insights. That meant that I was underselling myself.
Here’s the trick:  a food service consultant is someone who is there for a specific period of time to offer a specific set of skills. Both the consultant and the client would best be served to define those as well as agree on how that is going to happen.

I’m happy to share my experience so please feel free to email me with any questions you might have.

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