Keep trying until you get the recipe right

A photograph of Fried calamari (squid).
Fried calamari (squid). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I haven’t made calamari for a long time and while I was on holiday I went to a fishmonger to buy some and asked him for his best recipe.

The calamari from the fishmonger was fresh and a perfect white colour. For frying the calamari I used a vegetable oil – sunflower seed oil – and coated the calamari rings in flour. The only problem was that the fishmonger had said that the calamari should stand in meat tenderiser for about 20 minutes and then be washed off. I lost track of time and let the calamari stand for about one and a half hours, thought nothing of it but when I had fried the calamari it tasted too soft. The entire 600g of calamari was completely wasted.

The next time I fried calamari again I made sure that I had all the best ingredients and only used the meat tenderiser for the stipulated 20 minutes. This time the calamari came out golden brown and the texture was pleasing and soft but not unnaturally so.

How often have you found that you have the right recipe for something but perhaps don’t have all the necessary ingredients or do not correctly follow the recipe to the letter and come up with something that is not pleasing to the palate?

So it goes with recipes and formulas for business. You may know everything you need to know but when you put things into practice they don’t turn out as you intended. It could be a marketing plan that you think is going to yield excellent results but the timing is wrong and you waste your money. You buy a load of stock that you think is going to do well but it sits on your shelves and the supplier won’t help you move it. A plan that you had to speed up collection of cash from your customers backfires and makes them unhappy with some swearing that they’ll never buy from your business again.

Even with the very best of intentions, sometimes business plans and schemes don’t work out as intended. We recently visited a wine farm in Stellenbosch that took years of dedication for the winemaker and entrepreneur to bring about. The farm is in pristine nature and well cared for vineyards situated on the top of a hill overlooking a valley. The buildings were modern, beautifully designed and the views from the tables inside and outside were breathtaking.

When we arrived at the entrance of the tasting reception, the staff member on duty informed us that the last tasting had taken place, that there were no more and even the wine we were looking for was not available. She delivered all of this in a “can’t-you-see-that-I’m-busy” attitude making us feel uncomfortable, almost chasing us away. It’s sad that this entrepreneur winemaker has placed a staff member in a key position at the front end of his business but she is without any visible customer empathy.

Just to prove that I’m not just a complainer, we went to another wine farm instead and at the wine tasting reception area we were greeted by a young woman with a smile. She was only too glad to serve us and made our wine tasting experience enjoyable and exciting. She was also very helpful in giving us accurate directions to other wine farms on the wine route which proved to be invaluable.

What areas in your business are running according to a “tried-and-tested” recipe but the ingredients or the process is leaving a bitter taste with your customers?

It’s easy to believe that everything is running perfectly in your business but by being more vigilant you can detect problem or danger areas. Just accepting that you need a periodic review of your processes and operations may well prove to be a profitable exercise no matter whether yours is a start-up business or one that has been in operation for some time.

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