Professionalism/Restaurant Ethics according to Bob's Burgers
Bob’s Burgers is an American sitcom portraying the lives of the Belcher family. Bob Belcher, the owner of Bob's Burgers, is known for creating unique burgers in a family-style environment. As of 2018, the cartoon has aired eight seasons on FOX network. The show can be thought of as an adult cartoon depicting small business owners with an unconventional work atmosphere. Bob and Linda are parents to Louise, Tina, and Eugene. All of the kids work for Bob, and while the business goes through its struggles financially, the group can teach viewers about professionalism and ethics. Trust, design, creativity, and quality assurance are the main lessons Bob's Burgers teaches on restaurant entrepreneurship.
No Trust Issues
Bob’s Burgers is unique in that the business strictly runs off of the family. The dynamic between the group throughout the show is so appealing because of the tight-knit and trusting atmosphere they portray. In 2016, EY surveyed approximately 9,800 full-time workers, ages 19 to 68, in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Japan, the UK, and the U.S. Fewer than half of all surveyed professionals have a high amount of trust in their companies. Only 46% placed “a great deal of trust” in their employers, and 15% report selected “very little” or “no trust at all.” It is evident that trust issues are prominent in U.S. businesses.
The Belcher family support system is remarkable in many episodes. In the episode, The Kids Run the Restaurant, while Bob was slicing tomatoes, he ends up slicing his finger. Linda rushes him to the hospital which evidently leaves the restaurant in charge under their oldest daughter, Tina, with Eugene and Louise. The kids brainstorm new visions of the store to bring in more customers and more money. Through much catastrophic planning, the kids result in making the restaurant a casino. Although this chain of events sounds unprofessional and comedic, the end outcome relieves the debt Bob has been facing for years. The family has been struggling financially in paying off rent fees to their landlord, Mr. Fisheoedar. It happens that Mr. Fishoedar is a gambling addict and is consistently betting to win. When Bob and Linda get home, Louise recommends Bob to bet on their debt of five thousand dollars, double or nothing and Bob wins the bet and is discharged from his debts. Despite the humorous mess-ups the kids make through the restaurant, the episode reveals the support and trust the Belcher family carries in each episode.
One Bad Review Ain't Shit
Now that we have reached a new era in the 21st Century with Yelp reviews, and star ratings just a click away, social media can seriously impact the success of a business. A local consumer review survey found in 2017 found that a majority of online users read reviews to determine whether a business is good or bad. So, how should businesses respond to poor reviews? We can relate this to whistleblowing case studies learned in class that the way a company responds to bad reviews or claims can affect the level of trust of their consumers.
Recently, Yelp has been working to crack down and displace fake reviews. Many business owners are accused of writing false positive reviews themselves to portray a higher rating on the application. Kaylie Milliken, a documentary filmmaker, designed the film, Billion Dollar Bully, that analyzes Yelp and contends that the company has been passive on taking action. There was a Yelp case that interviewed one business owner whose Yelp profile was suddenly overloaded with spam reviews. The owner complains, “someone left 15, five-star Yelp reviews” on his page and said around the similar things: “The steak here is amazing. Ask for the secret sauce.” Nevertheless, the business owner did not sell steak neither had a secret sauce. These types of cases conclude that one reviewer can have a significant impact on a business, especially in the restaurant industry.
In the first episode of Bob’s Burgers, Human Flesh, Louise had a “Show & Tell” at school, and wanted to impress the audience. So, she tells the class that her dad uses human remains in the burgers. Because of this rumor, the health inspector visits the restaurant and sets up a new sign that scares the customers away. Bob tries to claim and prove that this is only a but the situation only gets worse. In addition, ironically, the house next door is a Funeral home, and one of the bodies ended up in the restaurant, accidentally resulting his claims to be impossible to believe. Bob does not let one negative review shake up his entire world. In the end, Bob gears this false review to his advantage. The restaurant attracts a whole busload of exotic eaters and ends up charging them $50 for each burger and makes more profit than usual.
Attention to Detail
Airing in 2011, Season 1 Episode 5 of Bob's Burgers depicts a family effort in which wife Linda hosts a dinner theater in the restaurant - a murder mystery. Despite Bob's hesitations about turning the restaurant into a dinner theater, the family came together to make Linda's "dream" come true. The restaurant was transformed into a dinner theater atmosphere with Linda and the children all being actors in the show, while Bob made burgers for the guests. Linda planned to have three shows which all turned out to be drastically different. The first show of the night brought in a decent crowd; however, the show had an overwhelming amount of gore thus causing the crowd to leave almost immediately upon arrival. The second show had was very successful but unfortunately, a real robber came into the restaurant pretending to be an actor while the audience believed it to be part of the show. The robber was a huge hit, and although Bob was extremely angry that the restaurant was robbed, the show got amazing reviews and no one seemed to realize the severity of the situation. Bob refused to host the third show, but Linda overruled him and hosted her very last dinner show. After the "success" of the second show, the third show brought in a large crowd along with large expectations. Without the robber, the crowd was uninterested and disappointed in the performance. Bob saw the state of the crowd, and in an effort to make his wife's last show a success, he pretended to be the old robber for the sake of the show. Unfortunately, the crowd was unamused with Bob's performance but the family was proud of their efforts. In the end, the dinner theater proved the family should just stick to making burgers.
One professionalism tactic we’ve learned about is Akin’s Law of Spacecraft Design, specifically, “a bad design with a good presentation is doomed eventually, a good design with a bad presentation is doomed immediately”. In this episode, we see a classic example of Akin’s Law, based on the three dinner shows presented at Bob's Burgers restaurant. The first show had an overwhelming amount of gore (hence, a bad presentation), the second show had a successful presentation, with a bad design due to the actions of the robber. The last show, similar to the first, proved the family should just stick to making burgers; however, the creativity in the design shouldn’t go unnoticed. As a professional, one should be dedicated to the quality of work that is submitted, turned in, or presented. Without a good presentation, the work will automatically fail (as seen in shows one and three of the dinner theater). While one should be committed to a good design, the presentation of the design will dictate whether people will take your work seriously regardless of how great the design may be. Education standards have taught kids to follow rules, guidelines, and formatting specifications based on whatever class or assignment they may be turning in; however, general presentation guidelines should still be taken seriously in the work-force. As seen in Bob's Burgers, a bad presentation can immediately ruin a design which is something all professionals should take time to avoid. Being detail-oriented, organized, and attentive to standards for work assignments should all be skills that are practiced every day if one wishes to be a true professional.
Sell What Sells
Season 8 Episode 2 of Bob's Burgers depicts a classic entrepreneurial venture by Bob's best friend, Teddy. Janine, owner of Yours Truly Stationary, teams up with Teddy to sell inspirational posters. Bob immediately becomes skeptical of the business venture due to a lack of consumer interest in the product. Linda is supportive of the business, but upon visiting Teddy and Janine, the two partners get into an argument. The two partners eventually settle their disputes; however, the business has proven to be a failure. Towards the end of the episode, Bob finds inspiration in the poster Teddy sold him and works to help him save his business.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) notes that product planning and development is key in selling your product as an entrepreneur. Most entrepreneurs struggle with saving money versus putting a well-planned product on the market. ASME provides five tips for selling and good product while being realistic with the potential success of the business venture: market analysis and justification, competitive product analysis, pricing analysis, manufacturing analysis, and making the go/no decision.
The first step, market analysis and justification, requires the entrepreneur to dig deep into the potential market the product will attract. Examining what the product does for society and whether similar products exist also fall under this category. In Bob's Burgers, Teddy and Janine did not look at trends in the market or the need for inspirational posters in the market at the time. This can be seen as a prime reason why the business inevitably led to failure. If there is a market and need for the product, entrepreneurs should complete a competitive product analysis. If there are similar products on the market, one should find ways that this product is different from the competition or how this product separates itself from the competition. For example, if someone is trying to sell a brand-new car, they should be knowledgeable about other similar cars on the market and how they can remain competitive/what their product offers that others do not. The third step, pricing analysis, deals with coming up with a reasonable price for their product. Customers should be willing to pay for the benefits derived from the product, especially if there are other similar products on the market. Next, manufacturing analysis revolves around the actual price it will take to manufacture the product in question. If the product costs too much to make for the price customers are willing to pay, the entrepreneur will likely make little to no money, or they could lose money from the manufacturing process. Finally, after all the information is gathered about the product, the market, and the price(s) involved, the entrepreneur must make a decision as to whether or not this product will be successful. As seen in Bob's Burgers, these steps are necessary for preventing a failed business venture. Professionals should always be realistic in regards to selling a successful product, as to prevent unethical practices by selling a low quality or overpriced product for the sake of their own personal gain.
In the episode Burger Wars, Bob is given a short-notice demand to make his rent payment on time for a change or else lose the restaurant lease. The Belchers’ landlord, Mr. Fischoeder, threatens to give the location to Bob’s restaurant rival Jimmy Pesto, who want to use it as a gift shop. The situation gets worse when Pesto begins selling burgers at his own restaurant to try to get Bob’s Burgers to close, and even draws away some of Bob’s regular customers.
Key to the rival is the difference in quality between Bob and Pesto’s food. Bob focuses on cooking creative and quality burgers and criticizes Pesto for using sub-par ingredients. Pesto ends up quickly pulling the new burgers off his menu after tasting one for himself. Even with the quality advantage, Bob is unable to draw customers like Pesto, and the family’s desperate attempt at a half off sale is countered by Pesto’s own promotion.
Unable to beat Pesto with the sale or even by offering free samples of his burgers to Pesto’s customers, Bob ends up in a fistfight with Pesto that is only interrupted by Mr. Fischoeder asking for the rent that Bob doesn’t have. However, the restaurant is saved when Mr. Fischoeder smells and asks for a taste of one of Bob’s burgers. Impressed, Fischoeder recognizes that Bob cares more about the quality of his food than high-volume business, and extends the restaurant’s lease.
"Now I see it. You're not a businessman. You don't care about customers and money! No, no, you are an artist, a beef artist. A poet! Who writes with meat and buns and pickles." - Mr. Fischoeder
Bob’s focus on the quality of his craft is a trait that extends to professionalism in all fields. Companies like Apple built their brands on the quality of their products. These companies are recognized with the trust of loyal customers, similar to the devoted regulars of Bob’s Burgers.
"We are really pleased with our revenues but our goal isn't to make money. It sounds a little flippant, but it's the truth. Our goal and what makes us excited is to make great products. If we are successful people will like them and if we are operationally competent, we will make money" - Johnathan Ive, Apple Chief Design Officer
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- Solon, Olivia. “Jonathan Ive: Apple's Goal Isn't to Make Money.” WIRED, WIRED UK, 4 Oct. 2017, www.wired.co.uk/article/jonathan-ive-revenue-good-design.
- Ricci, T. (2012, March). Product Planning: A Key to Entrepreneurial Success. https://www.asme.org/engineering-topics/articles/product-planning/product-planning-a-key-to-entrepreneurial-success