Ryan Gromfin, who’s known as the Restaurant Boss, has been an Ontraport Certified consultant since 2014. With over 25 years in the restaurant business, he helps restaurant owners and operators increase profits while spending less time at work. His online business generates thousands of visits per month, and his social reach is into the millions globally. Besides one-on-one coaching and speaking, he’s built one of the largest restaurant-specific online businesses that offers training programs and memberships to restaurant operators.


In This Episode

 Revolutionizing the restaurant business isn’t always about the food. Ryan Gromfin looks at the standard operating procedures and behind-the-scenes processes to create better experiences for both customers and restaurant owners. In this episode of Modern Ontrapreneur, he shares how to stays rooted creatively despite being well-versed in the analytical and logistical side of business and why he believes quality content wins over other SEO marketing tactics.

Topic Timeline:

1:07 Just Do It

Don’t be scared of the opportunities that may land in your lap.

3:48 Right Brain vs. Left Brain

Ryan turns creative and analytical thought processes on or off like a switch.

5:21 Really Good, Quality Content

Ryan favors quality content in his videos over traditional SEO tactics.

8:51 Scaling

It’s time to start tweaking and refining content in order to scale and grow.

10:21 Standard Operating Procedures

If Ryan ever had a legacy, it is to change how restaurant businesses operate.

12:33 The Responsibility of Being an Entrepreneur in the Modern Age

Bring class and culture to your messages to resonate with your audience.

I want to help change the stigma of the restaurant business. If my legacy is going to be anything, it’s that chefs don’t have to be alcoholics and working crazy hours and screaming and yelling. Those are all symptoms of bad management, bad grooming, bad processes, bad procedures..

– Ryan Gromfin

Show Transcript

LR: Welcome to Modern Ontrapreneur. I’m Landon Ray. Today we have Ryan Gromfin, who’s known as the Restaurant Boss. He’s been an Ontraport Certified consultant since 2014. With over 25 years in the restaurant business, he helps restaurant owners and operators increase profits while spending less time at work. His online business generates thousands of visits per month, and his social reach is into the millions globally. Besides one on one coaching and speaking, he’s built one of the largest restaurant-specific online businesses that offers training programs and memberships to restaurant operators. Thanks so much for being here.

RG: Of course. Thank you, buddy.

LR:  Yeah, awesome.

RG:  Good to see you.

LR:  It’s good to have you. You’ve been doing this for 25 years.

RG:  This makes me sound very old.

LR:  Yeah, exactly. You started when you were 12.

RG:  Something like that. I started a restaurant when I was 14 or something.

LR: Yeah. If you could go back and give that young kid a piece of advice, now knowing what you know, what would it be?

RG:  It would be just do it. I don’t just mean it in the Nike sense of the word, but there were so many opportunities and things that presented themselves to me that I either got scared about or avoided or wasn’t sure what the outcome would be, and it was the fear of the outcome that prevented me from doing it.

I think what I’ve learned today is respect the process, enjoy the process, know that we can’t always control the outcome, but we can control what we do this moment when we wake up, what we do today. We can control that. I think it’s that action that has helped me succeed in the later years.

LR: Yeah, what do you mean by you were fearing the outcome? You fear the negative outcome or the positive outcome?

RG: I think definitely the negative. There’s always some hidden fear inside of actually achieving our goals but, for me, it was always, “Well, if I do that and it doesn’t work, then I’ve wasted a whole year.” Whereas now what I’ve realized is if I do that and it doesn’t work out as I intended, I’ve gained this incredible knowledge over the last year.

Again, like I just keep going back. For me, it’s like the process of doing it is where the action is, the love is, the passion is. I’ve started to really love the process, and the outcome just seems to happen. It’s been this weird thing over the last couple of years for me where I don’t focus on outcomes anymore. They’re not controllable.

You can put out the best product in the world and know that you put out the best product in the world, and know that people may not respond to it as you wanted them to, but you did what you set out to do. You controlled the process and, most of the time, at least I have found now, that if you’re controlling what you’re doing day-to-day, people will respond in some manner to it.

LR:  Yeah, and if they don’t, and you believe in what you did, you have the wherewithal to keep working with it, right?

RG:  Yeah, that brings up a great point. I used to fear where the next dollar was going to come from, and I think you get to a point, you hear wealthy people, millionaires saying, “Making the first million was the hardest part.” I’m not quite there yet, but definitely every year as my income goes up and as my business progresses and gets better and stronger, you almost get comfortable at that level. It’s like riding a bike. Like, now that I know how to ride a bike, I’ll never not know how to ride a bike.

Like, now that I know how to make X amount of dollars, I’ll never make less than that. I have no fear of ever making less than that. It may not be doing exactly what I’m doing now, but I feel like I just had to learn how to make money, if that makes sense.

LR:  Yeah, it does make sense. I totally feel you. I’ve been through that same process. What do you think your unique skill set is that you bring to the table?

RG: I always laugh at this ’cause it sounds so weird, but I have this strange sense, or this ability to I think manage left side/right side brain. I always get confused about which one does what. One’s more creative; one’s more analytical systems. I think it’s that ability to be creative and have big vision and dream and be creative, but also then switch that off and go to, “All right, now how do I get that done?

I think some of the best artists in the world are doctors. Doctors are so good at their craft, but they’re generally terrible at running their business, so they have office managers and things that do that. Unfortunately I think it’s that amazing skill that I have that I can get creative and I can get fun and I can think big, but I also get down and get granular. While I think that’s my gift, that’s something I’m incredible at, it also in some ways is what holds me back a little bit. Because I feel like I want to do it all.

LR: So if you had to give up one, which would it be?

RG: Oh gosh. It would be the tactical. I would never give up the creative, the visionary side of it, because I think we can always find people to help us with the tactical. I love that I have a basic understanding of the tactical. I love that I did it, I love that I’m good at it, but I also love the process I’m going through right now, systemizing my business and hiring people to help me with some of that stuff, because as they do things, I’ll be able to look at it and know instinctively if it’s right or wrong or if it’s done the way I want, but I don’t have to know every detail of it. I think that’s been something that I’m learning how to let go of.

LR: So, you help restaurant operators who often times aren’t the best business people, to start thinking about business like a business, right? And get them more efficient and get them operating in a systematic way. What is it that’s working for you right now to attract those clients?

RG:  I’ve always been big on YouTube and putting out really good quality content. Mostly focusing on training how to do, or more why to do something. I don’t get too much into the “how to” in my videos. I reserve that for the courses, but I think I’m able to push a button to activate a pain point in people, in my videos, online, and they can relate to that.

Part of that’s because I’ve actually been an owner; I’ve been in their shoes, so I’m not just talking from the outside. I have blood, sweat, and tears in the restaurant; I know what they’re going through. I think that there’s a connection there and when I describe a problem, and then when I describe the solution or where they want to be with that, they can relate to that. YouTube has been a huge traffic source for me.

LR: Interesting.

RG:  Driving free traffic. Facebook ads has also been really, really valuable ’cause I can target a little closer, but hands down the biggest traffic source for me has been YouTube and I don’t see that changing at all.

LR:  Wow, so how do you do that? You are putting out videos like, how regularly?

RG:  Weekly.

LR:  Every single week?

RG:  Every single week I put out a new video.

LR:  And this is like a formal video cast like this one?

RG:  No.

LR:  Or are you just like YouTube living it, or what is it?

RG:  I’m trying to get more into the YouTube live. I’m actually trying to get more casual and more relaxed. I sometimes am envious of sets like this and wish I had this whole studio, and maybe at some point as I’m trying to up my game a little bit and attract more corporate clients I think this might be in the future. But I just got scrappy. My first videos were terrible. I had cheap microphones and I sounded horrible, but again, it’s falling in love with the process, not the outcome, of just turning on the camera, filming a video.

It was a terrible whiteboard, and then I upgrade to a painted whiteboard. I was just telling these guys, I upgraded to a better microphone, and just slowly doing it, but you should see it. It’s hilarious. I script out four videos, I turn on a camera, I turn on my microphone, and then I stand there and I do all four videos in one take, and it’s like an hour long video when it’s done. Then, I send it off to my editor and she turns it into magic. She’s able to cut it and clean it and all four videos.

LR: How much traffic do you get from a video?

RG: Some of my videos have, I mean, depending on how old they are, some of them have 4 or 500 views. Some of them have tens of thousands. I think I have a video that has like 6 or 700,000 views.

LR:  Yeah, so you just keep at it, and something hits, and overtime it builds?

RG: I’ve been less and less worried about SEO as of late. I’ve just been more worried about just putting out good content. I think at first I was really SEO, like I would do my research and find the videos and make sure that they were SEO friendly and do all this SEO work. Some of those videos do have better hits because of that, because as of late, I’ve just been more way concerned about just constantly putting out really good content, and letting the world figure out how to share it.

LR: Google will find it, you don’t have to do the work.

RG: Google is, again, I’m not an SEO guy, but everyone’s always saying, and I feel that Google’s figuring out ways to get more about engagement, what’s good content, what are people actually liking and listening to? And they’re giving that priority over the uber SEO type stuff. That’s just been my strategy and it’s been working very well for me.

LR: What is your learning edge right now? What are you struggling with, trying to figure out? What is the next thing for you?

RG: For me right now, I’m really about leveling up everything that I’m doing. I’m in the tweaking and refining stage, where the course that I built about three years ago, when I listen to it, when I go back every once in a while and I listen to it, it’s incredible quality. It kind of makes me cringe a little bit. The content is incredible.

LR: The content is good, yeah.

RG: But it kind of makes me cringe a little bit about there’s a scratch on the recording and the graphics aren’t that great, and so I’m just going back and redoing things and trying to up my game. Cleaning up the website a little bit, cleaning up content a little bit, cleaning up emails, cleaning up reporting, and just getting a little more call it professional I guess.

But I mean, when I started at this, I’m a chef guy, I’m a restaurant guy. I got a consulting gig because a partnership fell apart and a hotel called me and said, “Hey, you’re not there anymore. Can you help us?” They gave me a big fat consulting contract which was more than I was making. I didn’t ever think I’d be in this online marketing world and presenting here at Ontrapalooza. Like, I became a consultant because I wanted to learn how to use the software better, and then clients started calling me and I got them results somehow, and here I am.
So, I was just throwing stuff against the wall for a few years to see what worked, and trying different strategies, and now that I’ve figured out what’s worked and how I cracked the code in my industry, now it’s just going back and cleaning it all up. I think that’s where I’m struggling, or where I’m learning now.

LR:  Yeah, I hear you. It’s a process. So, you’ve been at this for a few years now. Now it’s almost like you’re getting started in a second career, right? In the last whatever, few years. Even starting a piece of software, right? Amazing. So, when you think about where you might be 10, 20, 30 years from now, looking back on your career, what do you imagine your legacy to be?

RG: I want to help change the stigma of the restaurant business. If my legacy was anything, it’s that chefs don’t have to be alcoholics and working crazy hours and screaming and yelling. Those are all symptoms of bad management, bad grooming, bad processes, bad procedures. I had a gift, or a blessing I guess you could say. When I was very young, got started in restaurants, I worked at a five star hotel in Beverly Hills, The Peninsula Hotel, for an absolutely incredible man, Bill Bracken, a chef there.

He ran a very tight ship, a very organized, very tight operation. When I left that, and went into more independent type restaurants, which I eventually wanted to open, I was just shocked at like, “Wait, it doesn’t go that way?” There’s not recipes for everything and systems and procedures and HR and processes? I’m like, “What are you guys doing here?” It was very obvious to me where the disconnect was, but then I got thrust into operating restaurants with a partner.
I was operating them and I fell back on those bad habits because I was so busy. Everything that I made fun of, everything that I judged, I found myself doing, and I got angry and I started yelling, and I started screaming, and I started doing all the things that I hated. I’ll never forget, I yelled at some kid in the walk-in so loud that through the walk-in, they could hear it in the dining room. I couldn’t even talk for the next two days.

But again, it was just a symptom of the environment and so going back, I guess what I would really love my legacy to be in the restaurant business is we brought some standard operating procedures, some systems, some processes, some procedures to your average everyday independent restaurant, so they don’t have to fall victim to that, the symptom of poor business operations.

LR:  Yeah. It is brutal. We call this thing Modern Ontrapreneur. We’re trying to figure out what it is that’s unique about this moment in entrepreneurial history. Everything is changing so quickly. What do you think the unique opportunities and maybe the responsibilities are of our moment in history?

RG:  I love that question, because there’s so much available to us right now that has never been available to us in the way that it is, and with that comes a responsibility. What I mean by that is 10 years ago, 15 years ago, anyone who was doing what we’re doing here, wanting to get a message out to the world, you could do it on the radio, and it was expensive, and it had to be produced. Now you can buy a $200 microphone and produce a podcast. Television commercials used to be expensive and you needed full crews and everything. Now you can do that on YouTube, literally, like I’m doing with a camera at home. The opportunities right now are incredible. Competition is higher obviously, so you’ve got to be a little different to get through it, but I think it’s the responsibility of that platform.
I think the fact that you could turn yourself into an expert today, like really inexpensively. Like before, you couldn’t get to that level unless you already had lots of success behind you, because it was expensive. It took time. But now, anyone is an expert, anyone could be an expert. But like I say, there’s the responsibility of that, of are you delivering good quality information? Is there truth behind what you’re doing? Have you tested these strategies? Are you a good person?
Like ultimately, I got an email yesterday from someone who bought a Tripwire minor $7 thing and was angry, yelling, “How dare you charge me $7 for that. It’s terrible. It’s this, it’s that.” I wrote back, “I’m really sorry. I’m one of the good ones. I just looked at your account, you haven’t even logged into the membership site that you brought. Maybe there’s some confusion here, but anyway, here’s my email address, this is my personal email address. Here’s my cell phone number. Here’s your login and password. I just want to make sure that we’re on the same page here.”
Five minutes later she wrote back, she’s like, “I’m sorry. I thought that the free thing I got was the thing I paid for, you’re right. I logged in, it’s great. I honestly didn’t think there was going to be a person behind that email” and it’s like that’s the responsibility that we have today, is that there are a lot of people out there doing really scummy, bad things out there, and so the internet marketer term, or whatever we want to call it, that has negative connotations to it and I think if we’re talking about what a modern entrepreneur is, it’s bringing some class and some culture and respect and responsibility to that platform that we have.

‘Cause it’s amazing. We can get a message out like that, to anyone, anywhere in the world. Just make sure that message is for good.

LR:  Awesome, Ryan. Thank you so much for being here.

RG:  Thanks buddy.

LR:  I really appreciate it.

RG:  Oh, awesome. So great.

LR:  Will you sign our wall?

RG:  Absolutely.

LR:  Thanks.

RG:  No one will be able to read it but …

LR:  (Laughs)

Want more Modern Ontrapreneur Podcast?

Check out the previous episode featuring Roberto Candelaria of Sponsorship Bootcamp.

About Tatiana Doscher
Campaign Strategist Tatiana Doscher is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a dual B.A. in Communication and Global Studies. After working with several small and local businesses, Tatiana joined Ontraport’s Marketing team. She loves running, hiking and enjoying Santa Barbara’s beautiful beaches.