It was a gray, fall day as Frank laid his father to his final resting place.
His dad's death was sudden. No one expected it. He was only 65-years old.
While Frank was wrestling with the emotions that come with such a sudden loss, he had another major worry. What would he do with his dad's business? Frank worked with his dad in the restaurant business. Some day in the future, Frank would have taken over the business. In fact, Frank felt like he should have taken over his dad's restaurant years ago.... but he never felt ready.
In some ways, Frank blamed himself for his father's sudden death. Maybe, if Frank had stepped up and taken a leadership role, his father wouldn't have felt so much stress that affected his health. It really didn't matter at this point, the restaurant needed a new leader; and he was the natural choice. Frank's mom never got involved in the restaurant; and it would be up to him to run things now.
Frank walked into his father's restaurant with his mom the next morning. The restaurant was quiet in the mornings. The only activity was the prep-cooks preparing for the busy day ahead.
Frank hung his head, and murmured, "I have no clue how to run this place."
Frank's mom was heart broken from the loss of her husband. It seemed like she couldn't hold the tears back. Her eyes were wet from crying as she spoke up, "I know it's hard, Frank. But you can do it. Your dad was hoping to retire in a few years anyway. Didn't he show you what to do with this place?"
Frank looked her in the eye, "Ma, Dad did all of the books and all of the ordering. He even kept some of the sauce recipes to himself. I did a lot of the cooking, so I knew the recipes. But I never ran the front of the house... and don't know how to do the business side of running this place."
"Did you want to sell the restaurant?"
"Ma, I don't even know how to sell a restaurant. Who do you call? What would I do, if I didn't come here to do my job? I just wish I knew."
"I think I remember your dad talking about a consultant or something. Maybe he can help you."
Later that day, Frank was looking through his dad's desk drawer and found a business card for Coach Russ. He thought, "I'll give this guy a call. Maybe he can tell me what I need to do with dad's business."
Frank called Russ. Russ expressed his condolences for his father's passing and informed Frank that he really never had a chance to work with Frank's dad; but that he would be glad to talk to him about his situation. They set up a meeting in the restaurant to have their conversation. Russ called it an initial consultation.
Frank started their conversation, "I'm so glad you agreed to this meeting. I feel like I'm in over my head. My dad passed so suddenly, and I have no clue what I'm doing with this restaurant. I was hoping you could help."
Russ started with a question, "If you had to think about the most important thing that you need to do right now with this restaurant, what would that thing be?"
Frank was confused, "Russ, no offense, but aren't you the expert? I was hoping you could give me a little guidance here."
"I'm an expert and have tons of business experience. However, my role as a business coach is not to come up with the answers for my clients."
"I don't get it. If you don't have answers; why should I hire you?"
"You have the answers, Frank. You just lack the confidence. As a business coach, it is my job to grow your confidence in your ability to manage this restaurant."
"I'm not sure about this. I have NO CLUE how to run this place. I called you thinking that you could tell me what to do; and now you say, it's all up to me. Is there anyone you can refer me to that can give me the answers instead of asking me a ton of questions?"
Russ smiled, "Frank. There are all sorts of people who can help you with your restaurant business. First there are business consultants. They will evaluate specific issues in your restaurant. They will then prepare a report and tell you what to do. Their advise and counsel may or may not be right for your situation."
"If they are experts, how could their advice be wrong?"
"I'm guessing you have witnessed experts who are wrong. Right?"
"Besides, it's not so much their advice that is wrong; it's whether or not you follow their advice as they intended you to use it; and whether or not their advice will work as well for you as it did for their previous clients."
"Okay. You said there were others. Who are they?"
"You indicated to me that you may want to sell your restaurant. Business brokers can help you value your restaurant, and get a list of interested buyers. They charge a fee for helping you sell your restaurant. It may be a fixed fee, or a percentage of the sales price."
"Hmm. Maybe that's the direction I need to go. If I sold the company, what would I do with myself? What about my mom's retirement?"
"Great questions. I don't know the answers to those questions. The business broker can help you sort through that stuff as well; but they can't magically make your restaurant worth more than it is. Chances are that you will need to either find another job; or continue to work in the restaurant after you sell it. You can negotiate that in the sale of your business. The business broker can help you through those questions, after looking at your financial statements and better understanding the value of your business."
"Hmm. I'm not sure how to work with either a consultant or a broker. And, I'm not sure I want to sell the place. How can all of your business coaching questions give me confidence in running this place?"
"Great question. Frank, you know how to run this place. You just don't believe that you know how to run this place. Sure, there may be a few things you need to learn. But, most of your doubt is generated in your mind. Once you make a few decisions, you will gain confidence. Once you gain confidence, you will make more decisions. At some point, you will be running this place with complete confidence. As a business coach, my job is to ask empowering questions to build your confidence."
"What's an empowering question?"
"It is a question that is design to give my client the power. I opened our conversation with one. Do you remember what it was?"
"Yah. You asked me what I thought would be the most important thing to do right now with this restaurant."
"Okay. Now, I want you to pretend you know the answer to that question. What's your answer?"
Frank chuckled, "I suppose the first thing is to call you for help."
Russ smiled, "Okay. Now what?"
"I think I need to learn how to run the front of the house. As a cook, I've never done anything with servers... except yell at them when they get the order wrong."
"Great. What would be the next thing you would do?"
"I guess I need to learn more about the finances of this place. Dad used to take care of all of that, so I never had to worry about money."
"Great. Tell me, how would you learn more about the finances of this place?"
Frank was frustrated, "There you go again. I don't know anything about finance. Why can't you teach me?"
"I can teach you, but you won't learn, if I tell you. Pretend, I'm not here. How would you learn more about your finances?"
"I suppose I would talk to my dad's accountant."
"Awesome! You see, Frank. You have the ability to think and to reason. You just need to use your mind."
Frank smiled, "I guess you're right. I feel more confident already. Wait. If I know what to do, why do I need a business coach?"
Russ responded, "Think about your thoughts and feelings before I arrived. How would you describe your emotion before we talked?"
"I suppose I was afraid of the unknown."
"Now, tell me, what is your emotion like right now?"
"I feel like I can come up with the right actions or find the answers on my own."
"Bingo! That's what I do as a business coach."
"What? But you didn't tell me what to do. I came up with my ideas on my own."
"You acknowledged that before we started talking you felt lost and afraid. Now, you feel confident and curious. When you run into your next obstacle, those same feelings of being afraid and lost will reemerge; and you will want help. But, what you really need is to shift your thinking. As a business coach, I help my clients shift their thinking."
"Okay. But, now that I feel confident, I won't be afraid again, will I?"
"Frank, you are 48-years old. The type of thinking that brought you to me will not change over night. You will certainly feel afraid. It is a common trait that returns to us human beings, no matter how hard we try to fight it."
"Okay. Maybe you're right. How can meeting with you on a regular basis change that?"
"You've witnessed the change in our initial meeting today. You came to me afraid; and you are now confident."
"You make a good point. I guess I can try coaching for a while to see how it works."
"Great. I'll get you a contract, and we can start as early as next week with our first official coaching session."
Russ met with Frank weekly at first. Then monthly. Each session helped build Frank's confidence.
On occasion, Russ would share some business knowledge with Frank; but for the most part, Frank was finding what he needed to know on his own. He was learning the front of the house operation from his servers, and he was learning about his finances from his accountant.
Gradually, Frank became a confident and successful restaurateur. In fact, after a year of getting confident in running his dad's restaurant; he decided to franchise the restaurant and expand the operation.
He couldn't believe that he had become an amazingly confident and successful business owner through simple empowering questions asked by a business coach.
As a business coach and 30-year business veteran, I help my business owner clients change their mindset in a way that allows them the freedom and profitability they’ve always hoped for, but never thought possible. If you’d like to develop a successful business mindset, I offer online training along with individual and group coaching sessions.