The Lost Week – Learning & Change Discussion

The Ranch & Table

Podcast Notes

The Lost Week – Learning & Change Discussion

Image for The Lost Week – Learning & Change Discussion

Welcome to the ranch and table podcast,  where we discuss all things related to our Texas ranch and our ranch to table restaurant located in downtown Rockwall.  I'm your host, Lee Wells.

Hey, welcome everybody. Lee Wells here on the ranch and table podcast.  I want to just say thank you for joining me today. For those listening in real time, this is what they call the lost week. This is the week between Christmas and new year and it happens every year. A lot of people are off work on vacation with family.

A lot of people lose track of time. Don't know what day it is. It's just one of those weird times during the year that we always.  Find ourselves in. And so I was really tempted not to record a podcast this week. I thought, well, I've, I've earned it you know, 12 episodes strong. I can take a, I can take a week off if I want to.

And then I thought, no I'm not going to do that. I'm going to go ahead and I'm set up. I'm recording I'm doing some work for a project that I have coming out here in January. So. I'm, I'm just going to roll with it and I appreciate you jumping in and, and listening. And so  here's what I want to talk to you about for just a few minutes,  learning and change, learning and change.

And I want to start out by saying no one knows everything. I mean, I think we know that up here in our brain, we, we know that that's a true story. That's a true statement. But I think that's the first key to listening to a new idea is realizing. That someone else may have and probably does have a different take on a subject.

And if we don't know everything, perhaps we can learn something. And I think that's the most productive way to go about our lives. And so you know, it's important to start there, man. I don't know, I don't know everything there is to know about a subject. So I'm going to at least keep my ears open, even if I'm doing a pretty good job with something.

And I've got a pretty good thing going. I'm still going to have my ears open. And a lot of the improvements that we've made over the years in our restaurant come from suggestions of various places. Some are, are places you would never expect for an idea to come from. And it does. And if you're open to it, it can, it could change everything for you.

And just by way of example, I. Talk about this in my book and I've talked about this other places, but we've got a really bad review when we first started out  first few weeks of being open. And the, the review talked about us stuffing our burgers in a bag and making everything to go. And it offended someone that said, your burgers are too good for this.

Put them on a plate, let them, let them stand, let them shine, whatever they said. And from there I said, all right, fine. You want to. Do you want to challenge that? I'll, I'll take that challenge. And I put it on a, a biodegradable plate with our, with our brand and the top of the bun. And that one change was one of the greatest things that we ever did for our marketing and our name and, and people before they ever take a bite of their burger.

Now, even now they will  Take a picture of the burger and post it, you know, check in on social media. And it's just a genius move really. But it came from just having my ears open and even taking hints and ideas from places that you would never expect them. So being open to learning is a key to success and we have to learn how to listen and we have to learn how to  receive information.

Then put it through a challenge of whether or not it fits us and whether or not it, it would benefit us and the whole matrix that you have to decide on, but you have to first hear it before it can ever be an opportunity for you to learn and, and to look at something differently. And so by by no means, am I saying every suggestion is something to do, I'm not saying that you listen to just everybody.

I mean, you have to just have your ears open. You you have to pick. And, and comb through the information for what works for you. But people who think they've got it all figured out, or maybe they just have done it this way so long, or they've just always done a certain thing a certain way,  usually have their mind closed down.

And aren't receptive to any kind of change or any kind of a new idea. And those kinds of folks they're going to keep getting what they've always gotten in that, you know, the old saying says that, but it's true. You're just not going to see anything new if you don't try anything new. And so. I try to live my life in a way that has my ears open and have my mind open to things that come along that,  you know, could be something worth listening to.

And so I have this system that I worked through in my, my own life and, and I want to share it with you today to learn and to change is first to realize that, that I don't know everything and that there's more to learn and more out there for me to receive. And then secondly that, that. The good ideas and the new ideas keep me fresh.

They keep my mind open. They keep me thinking. Whether or not I use the idea doesn't necessarily matter here. It just keeps my thinking fresh. Even bad ideas. Are things sometimes that can say, man, that's an affirmation of what I'm doing well. And so e even bad ideas can be a benefit to us sometimes if we're thinking like this keeps us fresh, keeps us analyzing and keeps things in the front of our mind.

And I think that's very important. Secondly, it keeps us challenged. To try something new. I think sometimes it's easy to get in a rut. You take the same road, you take the same direction to work. You take the same exit, you know, you just do the same thing every day. Sometimes we even eat the same things on certain days.

We get into patterns and ruts and, and To some point, they're not as beneficial as, as keeping an open mind and keeping things fresh and then be challenged to change and to be challenged to try something new. And then it keeps us relevant. I believe you have to keep a, an ear open to stay current with what's going on.

For example, we added Wagyu beef dogs to our menu a couple of years ago.  I had no idea at the time I had a, I had an inkling, but I didn't have quite the idea that the understanding that I have now that man, Wagyu dogs are big. They're, they're like the next thing and I didn't, I didn't necessarily do it for that.

I was. In hopes, you know, I had had hoped that it would be a hit and we could do it well, and it would be a great thing. I had no idea how many hot dogs I was about to sell, and we tried it, and man, it, we became Relevant again, all over again, when we did that and had I just said, nope, we're a burger place, you know, no way, not changing.

We're never looking at it. We're not thinking like that. We would still be where we were a couple of years ago and that.  Relevancy would not be quite what it is today. We just this, this year added shakes handmade shakes to our menu. Again it was something that people had wanted and it's, you know a love affair as old as, as burgers and shakes go back.

I mean, I think that's a, that's what fifties probably. I don't know, but for us to do it, to do it well, to do it right. It took some thinking, it took some deciding,  some kitchen space, various, various matrix there to think about. But wow, it has been such a great thing for our menu. Such a great thing for people.

They enjoy it so much. Again, I think that just keeps us fresh and it keeps us relevant in people's conversation. And when they come in, we offer them the things that they're looking for. And then finally it keeps us making money.  And in business we don't let money be the, the first object. It's obviously the last in this matrix, but money is part of the deal.

I mean, I can't be in business just because  I'm, I want to be a nice guy. I can't, I can't feed people for free and stay in business. It doesn't work. So you need to make money with what you're doing. And so being open to new and fresh ideas. Allows you the position to, to make more money. And you didn't even realize.

That it was a potential possibility before you had that idea before you heard someone else doing something. And so learning and experiencing new ideas is healthy. It's good for business. And we should, we should think that way. I, I believe that we should make ourselves think that way. Secondly, I want to talk to you about how.

You receive ideas because yeah, it's cool to listen to ideas, but if you don't receive them, if you don't take in the ones that are potentially life changing, the ones that will take you to another level in business, if you can't receive that and do it with your. With your heart and do it with your excitement, you know, do it with purpose.

Then it doesn't do any good to listen. I mean, how many times have you listened to conversations and, and walked away and forgot that you even had that conversation? I'm, I'm sure it happens. So not only do we listen, do we, do we give it. Our time, but then we find a way to receive it and see how it would work in our existing situation.

And I, I know this, I know that we can be resistant to change initially we can be. Resistant to good ideas. And we don't know any better. We it's human nature. No, we've been doing it this way. You know, we, we, we've made a lot of money doing it this way. That's a, that's a common line that you hear is, oh, well, you know, we made a lot of money doing it like that.

Well, good, good, that's good, but what if you could do 20 percent more what if you could do 30 percent more with doing it a little differently? Then wouldn't you need to receive that idea into your thinking and then see about whether or not it will fit. So instead of hearing an idea and saying, yeah, we don't do it like that.

We hear ideas. We have to hear ideas and say, Let me think on that let that percolate in in my thinking and in my mind I think we would say steep or let that brew. We don't use the word percolate I don't think anymore,  but let that just take on its own life Inside of of me and inside of my thinking and then let's see if that can come out  To be something that that would work for me, let it become my idea.

And then let it happen. You know, I have, I have kids, I have two girls and a lot of times the trick to parenting is letting him  come around to it being their idea. If we can let our kids. Be instructed in a way where they can internalize it and then let it come out as their idea. Then they've got full ownership and, and they've got a, a great direction.

And so when we hear of things happening or ideas and we, we put it into our, our thinker, you know, and we're, we're carrying it around with us on the drive to work and we're. We're, we're thinking about it on, you know, the second cup of coffee and, and we're doing the work where we're putting the work into that idea.

Will this work? Will this fit? Will this, will this make a change that I want it to make in my life? And if so, then here's how this is the process I think that we go through.  And so number one, we think about it  and then we have to act on it.  So not only are we thinking, but now we're coming up with a plan to put it into place to act on it.

Then you prove that idea out for yourself. You don't take anyone's word for it, no matter how much authority they have or experience they have or success they have, you prove out that idea for yourself and your business. And then when you prove it, you see whether or not it does what it's supposed to do.

It provides the service, it provides the advantage that it's supposed to. And if it does great, and if it doesn't, then you remove it, you,  you reverse it. When you review the success you can always undo things if they don't work out. I think that one of the challenges, maybe one of the pitfalls that we fall into when we're thinking about taking on a change or taking on a new idea is  Man, if I do that,  there's never any coming back from, or I'll, I'll be trapped in that way of doing it forever.

No, you won't. No, you won't. You can undo anything that you've done. You, you could say something like, like this, like we did a few years ago. I'm going to do a, a, a  billboard campaign.  So we did, we did a billboard campaign on big digital billboard out on the big. Interstate going through town. And I said, you know what?

We've never done that kind of costly. No, it's very costly. We're going to try this out and see if it works. You know what?  We ran it a month  maybe two months. I can't remember exactly. And we got some great marketing photos out of it. And we, we, we maximized doing that effort, but it really didn't a couple of people mentioned it, but there wasn't like this  beat down the door influx of people.

And so I thought, you know what, for that many thousands of dollars a month, I think I'm going to let that sit for a while and, and pull that money back in and use it somewhere else and let that idea be shelved. And so that's what we did. Nobody came in and said, man, what happened? You know, you had that out there.

Now you don't, are you going out of business? It wasn't like that. Nobody, nobody even noticed that it wasn't there anymore. It wasn't a big deal. There are things that we can do, changes we can make,  we can try. And then if it doesn't work, we can back them out. You know, you have to, you have to weigh all of that, figure it all out for yourself.

But when you do those things, they're, they don't have to be permanent. You can, you can try a new menu item and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. It then could also be that you try that new menu item and now all of a sudden you can't make enough of it because that's the thing that. Everybody's been wanting and it's, it hits and it's right.

And it's, it's delicious and the price is right and everything's right. And now, man, where was I before that menu item was, was on my menu. If it doesn't work, you just back it out. You go on the next month and you, you move on. It's not that big of a deal. To try things and make a change. I think we get trapped into the idea of it's forever and you just make the review, does it work?

Is it producing, is it doing what it's supposed to do? And if it does, great. And if it doesn't, you just back it out and move on.  So when we get these ideas brought into our life, we have the decision to think about it  and then put it into some action make the plan, make it happen, and then review the results.

And if the results are there, then great. And if they're not.  Several years ago I was befriended by one of the big burger giants in in Dallas, Fort Worth, just a, just a big name guy. And he came in and, and he liked our burger  and liked our fries. Like, like what we were doing. And when he, when he,  He came in and he got to know me and we introduced and after, after a couple of visits, he said, Hey, do you mind if I come into the kitchen and, and check out your process, check out what you're doing?

I said, man, I don't care. We make burgers back there and there's no secret to what we do. It's a flat top. It's a third pound patty. I mean, it's. It's, it's not no trade secrets there. It's, we make burgers and no, we make burgers out of better beef than anybody can get. You know, there's a lot of things that we do differently, but on the cooking and in the actual making the burgers is there's no secrets there.

So he's standing there and we're looking and talking.  And  after, after a while he says, I have a suggestion. Now that I see how you're doing this, I have a suggestion. Would you hear it? I said, absolutely. I would hear it. Yes. You know, what, what, what do you see? Cause I mean, I'm always looking for ways to get burgers out better, faster quicker on ticket times.

I mean, there's a lot of technical things I would love to improve on. If I knew how I would. I'm open, you know, tell me, he says, he says to me, your, your patty is, is perfect. He said, it's so good. He said, the bun is a little soft. And I thought, okay. At that time we were using a chain toaster and a chain toaster.

You've, you've seen them. I'm sure in restaurants, you throw the bread up at the top.  And then it follows a chain on the inside through the elements and it slides out the bottom. And so he said, you know, we, I've used chain toasters as well. He said they just don't put the crunch, they don't put the, the crisp seal on that butter.

The way that a flat top does, he said, I really think that your burger would hold together better. It would, it would improve it if you went with a flat top griddle. And I, my first thought was, I don't have any room on my flat top griddle that we cook all the burgers and hotdogs on. I don't have the room to put it any bread there.

I can't do it. And then. As, as I'm thinking, I'm thinking, but that's, that's not the only way to do that. So what we, what we tried after, after a few weeks, I didn't do anything that day. I didn't do anything. Immediately. I let it sit. I let it, I thought about it. I, I, I would spend time just contemplating what he said.

And and it came to me one day, I can move that  chain toaster off that counter. I can put a flat top griddle there. In that place. And then we, I don't have to worry about getting the buns over into the meat and all that. I can have a flat top griddle that is just dedicated to buns. And so I told my kitchen manager, let's find a griddle that'll fit in that spot and let's try that.

And we, we set it up, we set the schedule, we figured out how to do it. We tested it and you know what?  As I review that,  I'll never go back to a chain toaster. I will never use one of those again, if I can help it.  He was right.  He was absolutely right. The other thing I didn't realize was, and he may have said it.

I just may have not caught it, is it's a lot faster. To put that bun on a, on a flat top griddle, that's hot and get it to where it needs to be cook wise, then waiting on that chain toaster to, to drop that bun through the elements and do it that way. A hot griddle is much more efficient at toasting something than the elements that is in that chain toaster.

So not only did I get a better result with that suggestion, but I got a faster. Time for my burgers to be turned out. I didn't realize that we were waiting on buns. More than we had to, and so it sped up my line that sped up the ticket time and it made a better product that tasted better and held together better.

It was a win, win, win, win,  and it was all because somebody had the,  had the kindness and they had the, the willingness  to say, Hey, try, try thinking about this, try this and see if this wouldn't work better for you.  Man, you talk about  golden advice and he didn't have to, he didn't have to say anything about any of it.

He didn't have to come back there and try to help. I mean, it was, it was completely. Up to him to even offer. And then it was up to me to listen, to receive that, to think on that and then implement and then check whether or not it was actually a good worthwhile step. Of course it was. And, and I'm, I'm very thankful today that, that he mentioned it.

I'm very thankful that it is part of our process now.  And my big takeaway, I guess, from all of this is we have to be open. We have to be considerate of change. We, we have to We have to be open to it. And really that's the biggest challenge. If we're open to change, if we're open to making an adjustment in our life or in our business then we, we figure out how to do it, how to implement it, and then check to see if it's really, beneficial to us or not.

And one, when we get used to using that system, then change becomes so much easier. Also realizing that if I ever needed to go back to a chain toaster rather than that flat top, I could do it. All I have to do is just go get it out of my warehouse, put it back in, plug it in.  And it's, it's. No harm, no foul if the flat top didn't work.

I might be out a couple hundred dollars in a, in a flat top grill that I bought that I could sell on, on marketplace or whatever. It would be a little bit of a  inconvenience. But the flip side of that is what a, an amazing help and difference it has become to do it the way we've done it. So it was well worth the risk of Whatever undoing would have happened if it didn't work.

So, you know, if we don't do it that way, then nothing will ever change. If we're never open to change, nothing will change. And I've said it before, but 70 percent of restaurants go out of business in the first year,  I believe there's reasons for that very clear reasons for that. One of them might just be that we go in to open a restaurant with  the made up mind that we are, we have it figured out, we know what we're doing, and nobody can tell us differently, but I really hope that there's a way  to help people.

My goal is to help people in business not fail. I don't, I don't want you to be a statistic. I want you to be the other kind of statistic that says, you know what? I'm the 30 percent that made it. And now I'm the, I'm the top 10 percent of that category. And I'm moving to 100 percent category. I'm going to be the very best that I can be at this.

And when we do those things, when we're, when we're open to those changes, it puts us into position  to succeed. And when we close our mind. It pretty much relegates us to the place where we cannot and will not ever be better. And I wouldn't, I don't want that from my life. I think everyone is better  who is open to change.

I think that our lives are better when we are open to change. I've been married a long time now. And I tell you the first few years of any marriage. is, is pretty rocky. It's pretty up and down. You're learning from each other. You're figuring out what, where the buttons are, what buttons not to push when to not do certain things, when to do other things.

I mean, it's a, it's a whole decision tree of learning that you're trying to figure out when you first get married. And now that we've been married 20 something years  some of those things I've already, I've got figured out, man. I don't say that anymore. I don't do those things anymore. I, I'm quick to take the trash out when, when I'm asked.

I mean, I try, I hope she doesn't, she's not listening right now, but you know, there's certain things that  you learn, you change and then you're better. And so my goal in my life is to be the very best that I can be. And I hope somehow. That you can do the same. This has been a  episode of the Ranch and Table podcast and I'm Lee Wells and I want to thank you for taking a minute and listening.

I want to thank you for being part of this, this this fun journey that I'm on. I hope you're enjoying. If you ever have any questions or thoughts. You can always email me and you can message me, I'm open to it. And I hope that you have a great rest of your lost week. And I hope that you enjoy your new year coming up.

I believe that 2024 is going to be the greatest year that, that we've ever had. I really am looking forward to some great changes. I'm looking forward to some, some great things happening. And I think we're going to just continue to be better than we ever have been. And that's my hope and prayer for you.

Have a great day.