Gerhard Jenne finds himself involved as an expert adviser in a business fix-it programme and muses on the secrets to success. 

On Monday night BBC2 started screening the latest series of ‘The Fixer’, which features Alex Polizzi as she sets out to save some of Britain’s family businesses. Later in the series, at a yet undisclosed date, I will have my very own moment of fame!

This much I can say: there won’t be any melting disasters and I’m not the one to be fixed either, but I reckon it will be worthwhile tuning in. In this instance I was simply asked to be an expert and source of inspiration to help the family owners of a tea shop in the south west of England.

From what I picked up when Alex Polizzi and her protégés came to film us in our shop and bakery in the Gherkin, the three owners will have to agree on some deep-reaching and uncomfortable decisions. It will be interesting to see how they resolve some of the issues I’m similarly challenged with in my own business all the time.

Keep changing

I keep hearing it, from business consultants to bankers: in the fast-changing world we live in, the ability to keep changing and renewing focus is one of the secrets of success. Some big institutions apparently find this very hard. On the plus side, this is where the challenger brands come into play.

There are quite a number of other factors that play a part in being successful and, if you can spare three minutes, it might just pay you to listen to the TED talk given by marketer Richard St John, which I happened to keep stumbling across these last few days.

He advocates that there are eight reasons why a business is successful and, in the running of my own baking and cake business, I can relate to them all – be it passion (I love my job, from baking cakes to serving customers), ideas (new recipes, designs or formats), hard work (to still stand there after a 12-hour day with a smile on the face while the last customer leaves happily, saddled with a box of our finest baking) or simply to be “damn good” at something (customer feedback is still full of praise even after nearly 21 years).

To push oneself physically or mentally might be easy in some instances – to rise to a challenging big order for example – but tougher in the case of dealing with a difficult employee (most often not good to avoid the subject).

Richard St John also identified other contributors to success, such as having focus and serving something of value to others. This is exactly what Alex Polizzi was after, when she stepped in to help fix the Devonshire tea shop.

In the name of tea and scones, let’s hope she succeeded.