9 Tips for Making Your BBQ Dreams A Reality With Dave Anderson
Dave Anderson is undeniably "famous" for being America's Rib King who sells over 16 million pounds of ribs a year. Dave is known for his culinary mastermind, ribs, rubs, sauces and BBQ chain restaurants; his intangible qualities, his attitude and perspective on life is what is famously precious about Dave. Dave seeks to empower people every day and wants everyone to believe in the power of his or her dreams. Dave's earlier entrepreneurial efforts were fraught with adversities and several bankruptcies, but he never gave up. According to Dave, quitting on his dream was unacceptable and not even an option. Here is Dave's story full of tips on running a business, but also understanding true happiness lies in making others happy. Listen up and take notes on these meaty tips on bbq and on life.
1. "You can't stop a man who won't quit!"
As I travel the country, I meet many raving loyal fans of Famous Dave's slow-smoked ribs, and they often ask me about the greatest challenge I faced starting out in building Famous Dave's. I think I surprise them when I say it wasn't lack of capital, training, or the absence of mentors but the biggest challenge I had to overcome in my life... was "ME." I think many times a lot of people think that I have lived a blessed life and in many ways I have but "The Famous Dave's Story" would not be meaningful or relevant if I didn't first share that I should have been dead 3Xs, the fact that I have been bankrupt 2Xs, and certainly, there would be no Famous Dave's today if my wife didn't put me into treatment for alcohol addiction. I am very open about the fact that if wasn't for God changing my life that I would not be alive today. The Famous Dave story is about having unwavering hope in the face of the greatest adversities when all seems hopeless. Failure is very much a part of the success journey. Unfortunately many people give up when faced with adversities or situations which seem impossible. No...you can't stop a man who won't quit!
2. "There are many greater advantages to being disadvantaged than there are advantages to being advantaged." Passion is the key.
Growing up I thought I was the dumbest kid in class and it wasn't until years later into adulthood that I found out that I had Attention Deficit Disorder. To this day, I know I may not be the brightest light bulb in the room, and I may not be the most talented but the one thing for sure is that there will be few people in the room that will work harder than I work. My driving force is, "I do what others will not do!" I don't mind working 18 hour days. I will work around the clock without sleep. 24/7/365... I love what I do. I think because I am so devoted to my love for barbecue, it is not work for me. Unfortunately, many people in America are frustrated because they're working at something they don't love to do. I am blessed that barbecue is my passion. Most people are surprised to find out that I don't take vacations. Every waking moment is obsessively devoted to discovering everything I can find about barbecue. There is something about barbecue that is unlike any other food category where grown men or women will behave like there is no tomorrow in their unwavering quest to discover the secrets to smoking great tasting barbecue.
3. Be a Life-long Learner, Constantly Be Learning Even On Your Downtime
For me, I consider myself more of a life-long student. I study more now and research more than intensely than most college students. What I never understood is how kids can be so committed to rigorous study when going to college but for some reason when they have an actual job they quit the many hours of homework every night when studying for their career is probably when they should be studying even harder because now its for real and just not for grades! I have all my competitors websites bookmarked on my computer not because I am keeping a constant eye on my competition but because I might learn something from them. Even tho I am pretty good in my own right, I am respectful of the skills my fellow BBQ pit masters have learned. There isn't one day that I am not upgrading what I know or perfecting my craft. I'm always reading and working on recipes. In fact, I think most of my fellow bbq colleagues would be surprised that I take as many BBQ classes by the best pit masters in the business because I am always learning how to get better. I also feel that in today's very negative environment its critical to put powerful positive brain food into your head so I listen to Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, and Tony Robbins to get my head in the right place and to stay motivated throughout my day. These guys are some of the best-known personal development trainers out there. I've always used my car as a "university of wheels," where I'm always listening and learning from audio books I can play on my car's stereo system. Then I download positive inspirational books on my iPod and when Im traveling I have my headphones on and I call this my iPod University. I am devoted to learning something new every day. Despite my 2.0-grade point average in school and not having an undergraduate degree-I received my Masters from Harvard University in 9 months for Public Administration. You must continue to try and learn and develop yourself to be a better person. When we were looking for places to launch my BBQ restaurants our team was smart. Starting your own Restaurant is all about unit economics, the cost to build, sales per square foot, accessibility, demographic. We conducted in-depth studies, researched the different populations, household incomes and types of industries within the area. Our team was smart did their due-diligence by looking at US Census data. Commit yourself to being a life-long learner it will only help your business.
4. Teach, Don't Just Train
Business is all about giving; people come first. Your employees need to know that they can succeed at your place of business. This restaurant isn't about Dave; this business is all about the folks who are belly to belly with the guest. People that work for you need to realize that it is the marketplace that rewards them and Famous Dave's is only the conduit that brings their value to the marketplace. Most corporate restaurant enterprises have an on-boarding staff training process of 3 weeks to 7 week period. The reality is employees need to learn something every day and go through continuous training and evaluation. People need to be curious and constant learners to better themselves. At Famous Dave's training
every day, not just a set period of time. The staff is the face of your business and
most valuable asset.
5. BBQ Is About Giving to Others
BBQ is always about living to make other people happy. BBQ is about community. I am a big supporter and believer in Operation BBQ Relief which personifies what the BBQ community is all about: helping others and feeding people in need whose lives have been devastated by natural disasters. People need to realize that living life is about helping others. Don't make greed and the accumulation of material things your priority in life. If your own self-satisfaction, a "what's-in-it-for-me attitude," is your only purpose in life, then the Universe will not recognize your existence. The Universe only recognizes and gives priority to those people who are genuinely interested in the betterment of others. My life's mantra... "My whole purpose in life it just to make you happy!"
6. Being an Entrepreneur Takes Guts!
Entrepreneurs are tougher and smarter because they understand failure is a necessary part of the journey. What people don't realize about the life of an entrepreneur it is seven day a week commitment - it isn't just a profession more than it is a lifestyle. Your job never ends, and not a lot of people understand the difficulty and risk associated with that. The life of an entrepreneur is risky business.
I filed for bankruptcy more than once.
The bankruptcy laws are in place for protecting you, so you can get back to business and creating jobs. Not every business works, but you have to keep trying. Two-thirds of business fail within the first year and 50% of business fail in their first five years. You can not penalize entrepreneurs that are seeking to give opportunities to others as well as themselves. Entrepreneurs are smarter, tougher and understand that failure is inevitable. You are only a failure if you never do anything or if you quit. You learn things along the way, and how to cope during tough times is invaluable. I want to hire people that have been through rough times. People that never experience hardships will wilt under pressure. Although no one ever wants to admit they've failed the real truth is that failure is a necessary part of success and almost critical to anyone's growth both personally and professionally. Many times I have put everything I've owned at risk to get my barbecue business started or financed when growing and opening new restaurants.
7. Being an Entrepreneur Requires Risk
When I reflect back on some of my decisions, I would have stopped listening to attorneys. You need lawyers don't get me wrong and they are necessary part of the business, but always follow your Gut instincts. I should have never gone public with Famous Dave's. I should have kept it within the family. Even when I was bankrupt with my back against the wall, I never took an unemployment check from the government instead I pawned everything I owned. I just wasn't going to take a hand out! It was a never-give-up mentality for me. You can easily say to yourself that life isn't fair. You can whine and complain about everything, and never accept anything as your fault. Financial failure may result in being poor or being broke. Being poor is complete lack of opportunity but being broke may only be just a temporary state. At a certain point in my life I came to realize that if I was going to become more than I was, I had to take complete responsibility for myself and all the changes had to happen to me first. It is your fault if continue to blame others instead of taking responsibility. Once I took 100% responsibility for my own failures that when everything changed for me. Even with Famous Dave's there was a time when I was at odds with the "corporations" that was running it but that didn't stop me- I went right into my new venture, Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse, looking to expand and conquer.
8. Customer Reactions Will Determine Your Success
One of the recent best selling business books that I think everyone should read proclaims: "I'm not in the restaurant business. I'm in the reaction business." - Jon Taffer, The World's Foremost Bar Expert. The book "Raising the Bar" by Jon Taffer zeroes in on customers' reactions; negative or indifferent, even indifferent is still a reaction. Do my ingredients elicit a response? Do they reach people emotionally? How successful you are with generating emotional reactions to your brand will determine how successful you are. Famous
's is a big box style store with more of a chain feel which we are working on changing, and Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse restaurant is counter service, smaller mom & pop shop with intimate seating of 50 to 60. These restaurants concepts have a different ambiance, aimed at acquiring different customer experiences and reactions. Always evaluate your customer's reactions within your place of business to ensure you are on the right track.
9. Set High Standards for Yourself and Your Business.
Skimping on Quality or The Right Ingredients Is Not An Option!
Over the years
, I have gained industry-wide recognition for my tough standards and unrelenting attention to the details. In the beginning, many meat suppliers didn't want my business because first, I was too small of a company and second, they said my high standards were unrealistic. But I never wavered on my expectations, and today it is almost a badge of honor to say that you can sell to Famous Dave's. Many years ago back when I was just getting started, I was visiting one of our restaurants, and I noticed a customer taking a bite out of a rib that did not look famous at all! I grabbed the offending plate of ribs from the guest, apologized, and told him I would be right back with a better example of what made us Famous! Going back into the kitchen, I found other ribs that were not up to our high standards. To make a point, I had the manager get me a ruler, notepad, and a kitchen scale, and I stood in the freezing, walk-in cooler, in only my shirtsleeves, opening up every box of ribs and measuring and weighing each rib, removing any that didn't meet my famous standards. Then I went to all the other restaurants in the area and did the same thing. I took every offending rib and loaded several hundred of them into the trunk of my brand new white Caddy and drove all the way to Chicago, in the middle of the night to personally return them to the supplier. You should have seen the look on our supplier's face when he arrived the next morning at the meat packing plant and saw me sitting there at 5:00 AM, with the trunk of my white caddy dripping blood! To tell you the truth, I was actually scared I would get stopped by the Chicago cops wondering what was dripping from my trunk of my Cadillac. Now 20 years later the core of Famous Dave's menu is still the same. A lot of study and precision took place in determining the menu at Famous Dave's. For my sauce flavors. If the recipe calls for mustard I will buy every type of mustard out there and if I end up with 150 different mustards, I will go through 150 bottles and cook this one recipe 150 times until I find the right mustard
that will make my recipe the absolute best tasting recipe there is in the world!
This intense passionate attention to detail is the reasoning behind my success and why the same core menu is still a staple at Famous
With the business, you have to be agile; nothing remains the same. You have to study to find the answers and pay attention to detail. One thing I've learned is that you will never have to apologize for high standards and the highest quality ingredients.
Dave Anderson has won more awards than any BBQ established in existence with 700 Best of Class Awards. Check out Famous Dave's restaurant or his new venture, OldSouthernBBQ.com
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