Tormenting a Client – Questions Questions Questions… and why this Foodie does it?


This is just a rant… It has happened more times this month then other months. Usually I might get 6 to 8 calls asking for classes to help teach them to cook for their future restaurant.  Some or most have zero cooking experience.  They come from different walks of life, anything from a Hair stylist to Lawyers and even Doctors.  This month to day as of today, I had 12 calls.

The problem with people or clients or should I say potential restaurateurs who call me to teach them to cook, is that they give me orders with no basis.    It is fine because that is what I do,  some will not tell me their motive, some will shoot me with a few dishes, some will give me a list of about three dishes and some will say they want to learn… for some reason Chicken Chop.  That’s it.  What is it for I will ask?  “I want to open a café”.

The conversation will go on..                                                             Man-With-Question-02

Me: What kind of café do you want to open?

Client: Western Café.

Me: So you only want to learn Chicken Chop?

Client: Yes, er maybe Spaghetti.

Me: (further probing) .. Where is your café going to be located?

Client: Penang.

Me: Penang has a lot of good food.  What is going to be special about your restaurant?

Client: I don’t know. Just a few types of food, Chicken Chop and Spaghetti is enough.

Me: Why don’t you email me your needs, also think properly what else you want to serve in your café.  You need a few more things actually, you cannot operate with so few things.

Client: Why cannot?

Me: Have you seen a restaurant or café menu with five or six items?

Client: No..

Me: Don’t  rush, just go and do a proper survey of the area and see what is lacking and fill that void.  Do you know how to do a simple SWOT analysis?

Client: What?  Why do you ask so many questions?

Me: Because you seem unaware and rushing into things.  And setting up a café is not cheap.   I don’t like to see my clients fail.

Client: ok ok I will think..                                                                        man with questions3

Almost 80 percent or even 90 percent of the time, they will never get back to me. Simply because I ask too many questions.

Why do I ask questions?  Because I know for a fact, most people do not check and learn the market they are going to operate in.  They just think about it and try to learn a few things and then possibly open a restaurant and 90 percent of the time.. FAIL!

I also ask questions to make sure we are on the same wavelength. We need to be because this is important as through the course we need to be able to discuss your strategies, your whole food chain in the café, and this means questions.

I ask a lot of questions because we need to develop a two way conversation.  When we cook together in class, we need to question each other more so on the clients side because they are learning.                                                    question chef

So there are lots of reasons why I ask questions.

And being the person who taught them to cook, it actually makes me look bad and worst still I will feel bad if they fail. And I do not like to feel bad!

I more often actually reject people who I do not feel will be right for the industry. And you may think, “How dare he?” “Does he think he is that good to map peoples future?”  Well so far.. knock wood, I have yet to be wrong.  I rather not take your money, teach you, and then let you fail.

Or worst still, take your money, watch you mess up, you open your place, further mess up and I will not hear the end of it with constant phone calls and messages of failing this and that.

And quite a few who I rejected and went off with other people come back to me to clean up the mess.  I do not clean mess.  It is not a good thing for me to do as it will mean I am discrediting the other person.

I could be quite well off earning close to 6 figures a year just by teaching people who want to open restaurants and that doesn’t include my normal classes and my other food activities.  Mind you my fees are not cheap because I know the work involved  and it takes a few hundred hours and the after sale service goes on for months.

The problem is, I develop friendships and relationships with my clients over the few weeks or months when they come to learn that. Their failure will be my failure.

So now you know why I ask a lot of questions!

Now with the trend to do Food Trucks… it gets worst!


3 responses to “Tormenting a Client – Questions Questions Questions… and why this Foodie does it?

  1. LOL. Oh, no… now add on food trucks 😉

  2. This is why I see so many failed cafe in KL. Another thing, I observe in KL, there too many copy cat, if you open a cafe with some specialties, in weeks to come, you will find another cafe doing the same. So, you got to have plenty ideas of to stay competitive.

    • Dear John,

      You are so correct. This is the mentality of many people here. They think you are doing well, they will sell the same thing thinking now we can share the customers. It is an easy way out. Thing is some will carry on doing well, while the other just sit and watches from an empty shop. Competition is good, it makes us think, but everyone looks at it as a threat. I get some clients wanting to open a food truck and just want to sell chicken and chips, nothing more. When asked why, they compare themselves with the night market vendors who only sell fried stuff and can still make a living. It is good that you yourself have viewed this. Thanks

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