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Nothing Seems Impossible for Restaurateur and TV Celebrity Robert Irvine

 Restaurateur Robert Irvine
 Restaurateur Robert Irvine



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Robert Irvine (00:00:00 to 00:00:21)

They go into the restaurant business in six months, bring all the friends, big-party time. Then they realize they're $300,000 in debt, and there's no way to get out of that. And that's where I come in. And I've been doing it for 16 years, not only on television, but with, with major corporations looking at their systems to make them better.


Announcer (0:00:24 to 0:00:36)

Welcome to Paychex THRIVE, a Business Podcast where you'll hear timely insights to help you navigate marketplace dynamics and propel your business forward. Here's your host, Gene Marks.


Gene Marks (00:00:40 to 00:01:14)

Hey, everybody, it's Gene Marks and welcome back to another episode of the Paychex THRIVE podcast. Thank you so much for joining us. We have a special guest today. I'm really excited to speak with Robert Irvine. Robert, perhaps you know him from the Food Network's hit show "Restaurant: Impossible". Robert is also a world-class, of course, chef and entrepreneur and a tireless philanthropic supporter of our nation's military. He's the author of a few books, not only the owner of restaurants, but his most recent book is called "Overcoming Impossible". I've read the book. I have some questions for Robert. So, Robert, first of all, thank you so much for joining.


Robert Irvine (00:01:15 to 00:01:17)

It's great to be here. Thanks for having me.


Gene marks (00:01:17 to 00:01:21)

Yeah, I'm glad that you're here. And by the way, Robert, Bob, Rob, what do your friends call you?


Robert Irvine (00:01:21 to 00:01:22)



Gene Marks (00:01:22 to 00:01:47)

Robert is good. All right. That sounds good. I'm glad that you're here. I do have a lot of questions about the book that you wrote, and I think we should talk about it for a little bit, and we can get into the restaurant industry also before we finish this conversation. But let's talk about impossible. Robert, the book is called "Overcoming Impossible". How do you define impossible? What does that mean?


Robert Irvine (00:01:48 to 00:02:24)

I think how I define it is anything that you've not come up against and you don't know to handle, how to handle it. I believe there's nothing that's impossible in this world, no matter who you are, what you are, where you come from, the amount of money you have, there are always obstacles in the way, but nothing is impossible. You just have to stop and rethink. "Overcoming Impossible" is really about the thing that you haven't found yet, which is success.


Gene Marks (00:02:24 to 00:02:56)

Sure, it's amazing how many people there are in this world that you deal with that either say no or say it can't be done. And, you know from running businesses that you look to hire people and people that say yes, or when you ask them to do something or when there's a problem, their response is, I'll fix it. Do you think that's like something that can be learned or is that something that's just sort of inbred in a person?


Robert Irvine (00:02:56 to 00:04:45)

It's an interesting question because it's a double-edged sword, because you want to hire people that have a thought process that don't say yes. Let me explain that. I've always been the youngest at everything I've ever done and had pushback from senior leadership in those organizations. I was always taught joining the military to do what you're told to do, but be allowed to question why, if you think there's a better way of doing it, to achieve either the same goal or a better goal.


So, we have just under 6,000 employees, 10 senior leaders, 60 mid-sized leaders. And just because Robert Irvine owns 11 companies doing x amount of dollars doesn't mean that he's always right. So, I think there's a very trusting way in when you hire people not just to say yes, but to question, because I allow that, because that's how I grew up and that's how our companies have been successful. But the caveat being do what you're asked and then ask why? Why do we do it this way? And most bosses will say, because we have done it forever.


Well, I've made a living out of challenging that. Literally, from the largest companies, from the Walmarts of the world to the militaries of the world, you name it. I question why they have their systems in place and why do they do the things they do when there's always a better way to do it?


Gene Marks (00:04:47 to 00:05:46)

The people that are watching this and listening to this, they're running businesses. They've been doing it for a number of years. And they hire younger employees, people that are, I don't know, out of college or people in their 20s. Younger generations now, they have so much more confidence than I ever did when I was that age. And there's a lot of reasons why, but it is just not uncommon for a kid in their mid-20s to say to a business owner in his or her mid-50s, I don't think this is being done the right way or I don't think there's a better way to do it. And a lot of my clients, a lot of business owners sort of push back on that.


So, what do you do? What do you do when you've got like a younger person that comes to you with all of your experience and all the things you know and says, I don't agree with how this is being done or I think there's a better way to do it. How do you react to that? What advice do you have about reacting to something like that?


Robert Irvine (00:05:46 to 00:06:01)

Number one, we do some really delicate work to do with food, but outside of the food environment where national security is part of that, right? And I can't tell you what that is.


Gene Marks (00:06:03 to 00:06:05)

Well, you could tell me, but you'd have to kill me. Is that what I'm hearing?


Robert Irvine (00:06:05 to 00:06:06)

Something like that.


Gene Marks (00:06:06 to 00:06:07)



Robert Irvine (00:06:07 to 00:08:10)

You'd be getting a knock on your door in about 15 minutes. The reason that I'm telling you that is because I deal with a young – my COO is 35 years old.  He runs billions of dollars’ worth of business and 6,000 people. So, if somebody comes to me and says I don't believe that's the right way to do it, then I'll say, okay, here's the problem.


This is why we do it this way. Now tell me what you would do differently to give me the same or better end result. And I do that weekly. That's not just an off the cuff, oh, this week in one year, this happens every week or every other week to me because we do sensitive work not only in restaurants and companies, but I'm military in places that you hear about on the news or you read about. And then there's a lot of places that you don't even know where we are.


And there's a reason for that. So, my job is to supply food and equipment to these people that need it at a specific time. And if I say it takes me eight weeks on the water to get somewhere and somebody says, oh, but if we use a plane and it's going to cost this, I'll say, okay, but the difference in cost values it at this and we're not going to pay that much money for this product, right?


So, I have to explain myself within reason to those people – and bear in mind I just told you I had 10 senior leaders that have a say anything we do in the 11 companies or 12 companies that we own. Why? Because have a vested interest in it. And I say this in my book, and we'll get to that at some point, I'm sure. But egos, most companies are led by egos. They can't be an ego in a company that's serving other people.


(00:08:11 to 00:08:45)

Life or death is an occurrence if you don't do your job. And I think, think of the military, right? When we give you a rifle at six weeks in, we show you how to use it. We clean it in dark weather, cold weather, wet weather, etc., etc. So, it becomes ingrained in you that you don't have to think. That's how I train my people: You don't have to think because you already know the answer before the problem arises.


Gene Marks (00:08:45 to 00:08:46)



Robert Irvine (00:08:47 to 00:09:17)

And I think that's important. Listening is okay. It doesn't cost you anything to listen. And the more you listen, the better you will become, not only personally, but your companies, as well as that young person, male or female, that's telling you something. They start to trust you more because you listen to them, whether you use their information or not. We're in a free country. You had a chance to talk at the right time.


Gene Marks (00:09:18 to 00:09:19)

Fair enough.


Robert Irvine (00:09:19 to 00:09:29)

To a four-star general, Secretary of Defense, President of the United States, which I do frequently. Can I tell them what to do? No. But I can offer a suggestion of something different.


Gene Marks (00:09:30 to 00:10:43)

Fair enough. Fair enough. Robert, you really made your livelihood in one of the toughest industries in the world. Obviously, the restaurant business is not an easy place. And I think just as a consumer, it seems like a much harder environment to operate today than maybe it was 20 years ago, particularly when it comes to labor. Finding people is tough nowadays. It's a very pro-worker environment right now around the country. Younger workers have the internet, they know what other options there are out there for them.


The loyalty is very tough. Sometimes I go into restaurants, Robert, and it blows my mind how well they're run. Like the staff is cheerful and accommodating and good, and it's like they care about their jobs. And obviously that has to come down from ownership and management. It starts at the top. What advice do you have for people running not only restaurants, but also businesses, and particularly businesses with hourly workers where turnover could be high. How do you keep them motivated? How do you keep them coming back?


Robert Irvine (00:10:44 to 00:13:06)

I think it starts, number one, with knowing who your employees are. And I give you an example. So, if you have 10, 20, it doesn't matter how many employees you have. But I have a person that has an autistic daughter. I have to know that person has an autistic daughter and his mood or her mood or timing of getting to work may be tired because of this. Another one, a mother died yesterday. Brother was in a car accident. We have to understand the lifestyles of our people because it's not about money. Although right now, look, I pay a cook $27 an hour.


But understanding their lifestyle and able to adapt to their lifestyle makes you a better human being and a better boss and somebody that's going to create loyalty. I can tell you in 15 years we've been in business now 6,000, just under 6,000 employees, I've lost three people because I chose to lose them, not because they wanted to leave, because they didn't do their job. We grow exponentially, but knowing and understanding their life, their problems, their issues. And yes, sometimes it is money, and you have to be able open enough to say, well, look, if it's money, what are you going to do more for me that allows me to pay you more?


So, it's a win-win situation. And I think bosses far too often are very stuck on “Nope, that's what I'm paying you, it's $15 an hour and you better work 8 hours.” And there's no intercommunication skills between them. I sit down, I take my employees on vacation, my vacation. I sit down with coffee with them, I buy meals, I cook meals. I know intricately the people that work with me because I spend more time with them on the road than I do with my wife at home. And I think when you understand that and what makes people tick; money doesn't always make people tick. It could be a pat on the back every day or it could be a vacation, now, again. It could be competition.


(00:13:07 to 00:13:48)

There are a thousand things that motivate people and it's up to you to individually find out what motivates each person that works with you. That's what leadership is. A boss can tell anybody to do anything and have disgruntled employees. A leader understands, works alongside, and teaches them. My job as a leader of my companies is to make sure the person underneath me takes my job. And so on and so on and so on down the line. That's how you keep employees, giving them an opportunity to be a part of the conversation, but also grow within your company.


Gene Marks (00:13:48 to 00:14:25)

Okay, thank you. Back to your book. And I do want to ask you some questions about the restaurant business, but a couple of points that came out in your book that I was hoping that you could share with us, as well. I want to ask you about failure. You've given instances where you've failed in your life and we all have our failures, both personally and professionally. It's fascinating to me to hear from successful people like yourself how you've dealt with. Michael Jordan once said, I failed and failed and failed until, you know, I don't know if it's that easy. How do you deal with failure?


Robert Irvine (00:14:27 to 00:15:41)

I failed a couple of times, more than a couple of times. I think as an entrepreneur you're always going to want to do things, right? And it started when I started as a young kid wanting to be my own boss. I would lay at night with a book at the side of my bed and come up with these crazy ideas of what I want to do next. So, one of them was pizzas, one of them was a sports drink, one of them were. The list goes on, by the way, because I still do it.


Except now I've learned, after I put pizza into a national distribution, and one of the biggest pizza companies in the world paid more money to remove me. Right? Same with a drink. A powerful sports drink that actually was a recovery drink, actually proven to work. But a bigger company came in and said, hey, you're making too much noise. We're taking you out. So, I think failure is okay as long as you learn and you put places. Look, it's okay to fail once at one thing. You can fail multiple times, but not the same thing.


(00:15:42 to 00:16:36)

When I started Fit Crunch years and years ago, people said to me, oh, you can never do this because protein bars are done this way and that way. Well, now our protein bar company is worth a couple of billion dollars because I did something different and I went against the grain. So, I always say this to entrepreneurs, don't listen to the noise because there are lots of people out there always going to say, oh, no, you can't do this. You'll never be successful. You'll never be successful. Do you know how many times I've heard that? A million times. Every time I launch something, I do the best I can do with risk mitigation. All right, how many people? When I started the bar company, there was 231 bars in the retail space. We're number three right now in the world. So, am I number one? No. Will I be number one? Yes.


(00:16:37 to 00:17:58)

Right? And I think it's the attitude and the people you surround yourself with when you fail. How did I fail? And you dissect, what was it that I failed with? Was it price to market? Was it the price of the product delivered? Was it the glass I used? Was it the packaging I use? I think you dissect all those things, and especially what I do before we even go to market. Now, everything I failed on before, which I didn't get an answer to, I now have an answer to.


I have analytics. I know where you spend, what you do, maybe not by name, but by age group, because I buy that information. There's so much information to buy on consumers that visit your restaurants, that go to the supermarket, that go to a clothing store. We build product based on, and I told you, I used to write things down and just go and do them.


Now, I have the customers or the companies come to me and say, can you create this great price, better product? And this is what I want. And then I go away and I make it right, by the way, within a week of them asking. Not many people can do that because we own everything. We do team. We own the manufacturing plants, we own the distribution, we own the product.


Gene Marks (00:18:00 to 00:18:18)

Robert, you said something while we were on break before that sort of intrigued me. You were talking about your lifestyle and because of the businesses that you run, because the ambition that you write about in your book, you travel something like 400 days a year and have another 20 days at home or something to that math.


Robert Irvine (00:18:19 to 00:18:22)

345 days and 11 days at home.


Gene Marks (00:18:23 to 00:18:47)

It's a lot of travel. It's unusual. People don't do that. Most people, particularly people that are listening to this and watching this, they don't have that kind of a schedule. You clearly have got some type of a system, a discipline for balancing both work and your personal life. I am sure you are not working 24 hours a day.


Robert Irvine (00:18:47 to 00:20:42)

Why am I laughing at you right now, Gene? Because I had this conversation with CEOs and major Fortune 500 companies. Fortune 500 companies and actors that you and I know, movie directors that you and I know. I was with Tom Hanks two days ago, literally, the president three days before that. There is no such thing. And let me repeat myself: There is no such thing as work-life balance if you are a Type A personality, because you want to win and succeed.


So, everybody says to me, I have two girls. One's 22, she's almost, sorry, 24. She's almost a doctor at John Hopkins. One's 22, she's a lawyer in Philadelphia, and I brought them up the same way. You have to work hard to achieve the things that you want to achieve. And there's not a thousand Robert Irvine. There's not 1,000 Genes.


There has to be people that don't want to do that, right? I want to do it because I want to continue to grow the company, because I have a responsibility of 6,000 or just under 6,000 employees to make sure they're fed, they're housed, their kids are taken care of and clothed, in school. And that's my responsibility that I choose to take very personally. Then on top of that, everything that we do in TV, in commerce, in restaurants, in clothing and nutrition, in food companies, in AI, in robotics, in all those things that we do, I have a foundation that takes care of those men and women that wear the cloth of our nation and our first responders. And I hold that very dear and close to my heart.


It's a legacy. When I'm gone, what did I leave on this earth to make it better?


Gene Marks (00:20:42 to 00:21:00)

But, Robert, you have to do something to take your mind off of work. What would you say to your daughter if she was working the kinds of hours that you work? What if she came to you, your attorney in Philadelphia, who said, you know what? I'm going to give up my job because I want to raise a family and maybe work part time at a law firm? Would that disappoint you? Because that seems inconsistent with what you do.


Robert Irvine (00:21:07 to 00:23:19)

No, but my kids are very much like me, so they chose to be in a service business to help people. My life on this planet, and I said, it's not for everybody. My life on this planet is to make as much change for as many people that are less fortunate than I am. I came from two slices of bread, butter and sugar, five days a week at home.


My mother still lives in the same home at 80 years old that I grew up in. And she doesn't even own it. She still rents it, even though I've tried to buy it. So, for me, I didn't grow up with big houses and big cars and a great lifestyle. I grew up with secondhand clothes that, even though they're washed, you go to school scratching and itching. I think that the lesson I learned as a young kid was, and my dad was in the army, my dad came out the army, started drinking, became a painter and decorator to me was lazy, right? And I told him that when I was old enough to tell him that. But that was all he wanted to do, and that's okay, and that was very hard for me to understand that, because I live to see the potential in the human being I'm working with.


And when I feel they're slacking, I tell them that I feel they're slacking and what they can do to get better if they want to grow. And some of them say to me, Robert, I'm just quite comfortable doing this. 8 hours going home and I'm ok. As long as I know that and you're comfortable with that, then I'm okay with that. But I get a rush, for me, it's the chasing of the game.


When somebody says to me, you can't do it. Just like the protein bar or like the food company. Oh, you can't do it. Why? I think differently than you and I'm going to do it. And look, I maxed out credit cards, I put my house on the market to be as collateral. I mean, I've done all those things because I believe in me and I believe in something different.


(00:23:20 to 00:24:06)

Everybody gets a status quo. But if you look at Mark Cuban, Matt Higgins used to run the Miami Dolphins. He was on "Shark Tank". Great friend of mine. If you look at these folks, they all come from nothing, and they have achieved a status because they work. And again, you go back to work life balance, because that was how we started this. None of them has that. I've asked each and every one of them. Gary Sinise, the actor who I work with closely on my foundation, same thing, Robert. I don't have work-life balance. I have a responsibility to fulfill, which is to not only the people work for me, but also my family. And I think that stuck with me forever. Even if I won $7 billion tomorrow, my life is not going to change.


Gene Marks (00:24:06 to 00:24:07)

Fair enough. Okay.


Robert Irvine (00:24:07 to 00:24:12)

I'm going to be able to do what I do, eat what I want, go where I want, the same as I do now.



Gene Marks (00:24:12 to 00:25:43)

Message received. And it's inspiring. You mentioned before about you put your house on the market, you've maxed out your credit cards, you mentioned some of the entrepreneurs that you've worked with. You've taken risks, and you've met lots of people that have taken risks. Talk to me about risk. How much would you risk now being at the state that you're in? You ever hear people that they bet it all, they lose it all, they win it back again, and they bet it all again? There are just people out there that do that. And I'm interested in your advice on that. And I want to give you a specific example of that.


If I could just say, this past summer, I'm walking with my brother-in-law on the beach,  and I think, like, bitcoin, this is just an example, was like, at $16,000. And I made this whole rationale of saying that if we go, hey, Scott, if you and I bought, like, 10 bitcoins together, it's never been really below $16,000. It's been as high as $60,000 before. It's only like an upside, blah, blah, whatever. And of course, I didn't do that because I'm a CPA. I think I don't take risks. And now, of course, as I'm talking to you, bitcoin is like, at $42,000. I'm not wired to take risk. But you are.


Talk to me about how much risk are you willing to accept? And what advice do you give to business owners when it comes to measuring risk before they make an investment in something.


Robert Irvine (00:25:45 to 00:25:50)

You couldn't have hit me on a better note, right? So, let's start with bitcoin, first of all.


Gene Marks (00:25:50 to 00:25:51)



Robert Irvine (00:25:51 to 00:25:53)

When bitcoin ...


Gene Marks (00:25:53 to 00:25:54)

Which is a crazy example, by the way.


Robert Irvine (00:25:55 to 00:25:58)

But, it's a real example because a lot of people lost a lot of money.


Gene Marks (00:25:58 to 00:25:58)



Robert Irvine (00:25:58 to 00:27:10)

Right. It was the new thing. It was going to be the new Google, the new apple, the new Jeff Bezos kind of thing. I didn't. What I did was really interesting. I looked at the platform that was going to facilitate those coins, not just bitcoin, but Huobi and all the others,  and I bought the platforms. So, every time it's a transaction made, I made a lot of money. I still make a lot of money based on those transactions, not the coins.


A friend of mine came to me one day and he said, look, I've got this stock. It's $0.20 a stock, and if you get in first, I'll give you a good deal. So, I said, okay, I went in. So, I went in with $20,000. I watched the stock grow. Great, great. I went to another broker of mine, I said, look, buy me another $100,000 of worth of that stock. When it gets to $11, sell it. If it ever gets to $11. It was never supposed to. I ended up selling that stock for $5.7 million.


Gene Marks (00:27:11 to 00:27:11)



Robert Irvine (00:27:11 to 00:27:30)

Right? Three weeks later, it went bankrupt. So, it's about timing. I invest, and I said this earlier on in this conversation, I look at the mitigation of risk. If I lose this much, am I okay with it?


Gene Marks (00:27:30 to 00:27:30)



Robert Irvine (00:27:31 to 00:29:33)

Am I going to have a sleepless night? Would I bet everything and start all over again? No, I'm not that guy. I invested in a mine in Texas that has the 17 minerals that we need in this country. I can tell you in three months, what I put in, I've made 17 times back, right? So, I look at the market, I talk to people. I am a risk-taker, by the way, but I like to mitigate the risk as much as I can. Right? There's no fallible system, infallible system.


So, I like to take risks. If I believe in something, I will go for it. I've not (knocks on wood) touch wood, lost anything. I've only gained. But I think you have to. They always say and speculate to accumulate. You have to look and you have to do your research, and you have to listen to people that know more than you do to be able to do that. Because I make eggs for a living. I'm not the smartest guy in the pack, there are better chefs out there. There are better business guys out there.


I have been very strategic and lucky at the same time to be able to do what I do. But if I believe in it, I'll do it. A restaurant inside the Pentagon was supposed to cost me $500,000. I'm like, yeah, I'll do a restaurant in the Pentagon. It actually ended up costing me $2.6 million, right? And it took me five years to make it profitable. Why? Because there is a limit on the menu prices you can charge. Because it's military, it's federal matching with pay and health care. But only after five years is it now making money. But here's the flip side to that. Have a restaurant in a building that has 28,000 to 35,000 people a day.


Gene Marks (00:29:33 to 00:29:34)

Yeah. Kind of a no-brainer.


Robert Irvine (00:29:35 to 00:29:39)

The flagship of what I do in my real world.


Gene Marks (00:29:39 to 00:29:39)



Robert Irvine (00:29:42 to 00:29:43)

Is it a money maker?


Gene Marks (00:29:43)



Robert Irvine (00:29:43 to 00:29:52)

Now after five years, but more so, it was a branding tool, which is what I wanted it to be for the rest of my business.


Gene Marks (00:29:53 to 00:30:47)

Okay, we only have a couple of minutes left, and we haven't even talked about the restaurant industry. And I'll ask a specific question about the restaurant industry, because that's a whole other conversation. The industry is mostly recovered. People are out there and starting up restaurants again, which is great. I live in Philly myself, like your daughter, and downtown area is great with lots of new restaurants. It's all good.


In all the years you've been running a restaurant, and you just gave me the example where you went into something with a $500,000 investment, a turn into $2.5 million. That could be devastating for some, but you saw the return on investment, even with that added investment to be made. So, I guess my question to you is to get your opinion and your thoughts on numbers for restaurant tours. What metrics do you think are most important for running a restaurant? When you're running restaurants, what do you look at?


Robert Irvine (00:30:48 to 00:30:50)

Before I buy a restaurant, number one.


Gene Marks (00:30:50 to 00:30:51)

Okay, let's talk about that.


Robert Irvine (00:30:51 to 00:31:31]

Good, because that's really important. I hire a forensic accountant to go through the books. Why do I do that? Because anybody can make a P&L, and you know this as CPA. Anybody can make a P&L look however they want to make it look. So, when I go through with a forensic CPA, who I've had now for 25 years, he tells me, red flag, red flag, red flag. So, when I go to those meetings and I ask those questions, just like I do on a TV show, sure, I know when you're lying about your P&L. It's really simple. A P&L's numbers never lie.


Gene Marks (00:31:33 to 00:31:38)

Where did you learn how to read a P&L, Robert, if I can ask? I mean, did you have any financial training or take accounting?


Robert Irvine (00:31:38 to 00:33:22)

In school, I used to run ships and warships and naval bases with profit and loss statements. Well, for 20 years. So, for me, profit and loss statement is like reading a book. It's either a good book or it's a bad book. And you can tell the financial health of the business in about three minutes by looking at it.


And if you look at a restaurant, if you're buying a restaurant that does $1.9 million a year, and you're an owner, the first things I look at, obviously, food cost, labor cost, fixed expenses, and then the fund, the old ship fund, if you like, if something goes wrong, because nine out of 10 times, it's the minute you walk in, the high back system goes and the lease or the landlord say, well, that's your problem. Or the hood system goes or the oven goes or whatever, right? So, I look at the P&L first and say, is it worth, can I make more money than that $1.9 million that they're actually doing?


 And how am I going to do that based on the physical plan that I look at? Is it outdated? Is it wallpaper? Is it carpet? All the things I do on my show. And I say, you know what? I'm going to pass on this because I don't think there's enough parking or I don't think it would cost me another million to fix it before I go into it.


A lot of people get tied up into this situation that, oh, your mum says, you make great pasta, you make great sauce or gravy, whichever, wherever you come from, you should have a restaurant. They go into the restaurant business, then six months, bring all the friends, big party time. Then they realize they're $300,000 in debt, right? And there's no way to get out of that.


(00:33:22 to 00:34:06)

And that's where I come in. And I've been doing it for 16 years, not only on television, but with major corporations looking at their systems to make them better. So, I always look at food, labor, overheads, the physical plant. What does it look like before I make a decision? And it's the same when we bring out a new product. I look at, okay, what is it going to cost us time-wise, labor-wise, computer-wise, equipment runs, minimum runs, all those things. To be able to put my initial investment back in my pocket within the first six months to a year.


Gene Marks (00:34:06 to 00:34:28)

Wow, that was my next question. So, you're looking for an ROI within six months to a year of making your investment. Okay. I find that unusual. Most of my clients, when they buy a piece of equipment or if they make some addition to their property, they're generally looking out, like two, three, four years to get an ROI. Is that just you or is that the industry?


Robert Irvine (00:34:28 to 00:36:14)

That's the problem. It's probably the individual, but the problem with that is, yeah, you're trying to amortize it over a period of time. But the problem with that is by the time you come to four years, you've been paying interest over a four year period where I could have spent, okay, I'm going to pay the $4,000 for the range or whatever it is, and I own it and it goes – and if I take care of it, it's going to last me a long time.


The minute you amortize it, that's when you start having problems in don't clean it, don't take care of it. The cooks kick the crap out of it because it's not their equipment and it's not there. It's not there. So when I grew up in a kitchen, even on cruise ships, the cruise ships, which I still deal with today, when I was a young cook, we had to clean and take our equipment apart at the end of each shift; clean it, put it back, maintain it. That was our responsibility. Even in the Navy, when I was a Navy Marine, the same thing.


We don't do that today because we don't hold people accountable. And that's the biggest problem, because we baby them. We think, oh, we're paying them $27 now, if we push them too hard, they're going to leave and go somewhere else.


Well, that's where you are a problem. You're not a good leader. You have to hold them accountable to do the job. If they leave, okay, they leave. Get over it. You got to find somebody else. And it's easier said than done, right? But I go into places on "Restaurant: Impossible" every week, and I say this, don't let them run you. You're the owner, you're the leader, you're the money, and if you don't respect yourself, they'll run all over you. And that's the biggest problem with restaurants, is leadership.


(00:36:14 to 00:37:00)

They're not asking. So, when I tell somebody, do something, I expect them to do it the way I've showed them to do it. When you ask them, you set an expectation, you hold them accountable, and you follow up. That's the system. If you set an expectation, let them go and do their own thing, come back in, they're doing it wrong. Whose fault is it? Theirs or yours? It's actually yours because you're not holding them accountable.


In every restaurant they ever fix, every company they ever go into, they have a handbook, the set of rules, standard operating procedures. This is how it is. This is how it looks. This is how it goes on the plate. This is the recipe. Don't divert from that or any other thing that we do.


Gene Marks (00:37:01 to 00:37:13)

Robert, you've been very kind with your time and I appreciate it. We're out of time and I want to keep you any longer, but way more questions I wanted to ask you, but I appreciate the time you spent. Thank you so much for coming on.


Robert Irvine (00:37:13 to 00:37:16)

You're so welcome. Thanks for having me.


Gene Marks (00:37:16 to 00:37:53)

Everybody, I've been speaking to Robert Irvine. You know him as the host of Food Network's big hit show, "Restaurant: Impossible". He is also an entrepreneur, world class chef, a philanthropic supporter of the military, and also the author of a few books, including his most recent one, "Overcoming Impossible". You can find more about Robert at Again, Robert, thank you very much. Everyone, you have been watching and or listening to the Paychex THRIVE podcast.


My name is Gene Marks. If you need any advice or tips or would like to suggest a future guest, please visit us at Again, thanks for watching or listening. We'll see you again soon. Take care.


(00:37:53 to 00:38:17)

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