Dave and Keren Kurth have taken their business Serial Griller on the journey from food truck to culinary hotspot with the help of Business Mentor, Chris Robinson. They’ve found just the right match to thrive, and they’re already thinking about what they’ll serve up next.
Food and family came first
Keren says Serial Griller was born because she and Dave wanted to build a business that would support their family and future together.
“We started in a food truck on the Coromandel to create jobs that would fit with the area. When we moved to New Plymouth, we found the perfect spot for a static location, an old train carriage, not quite what you’d call brick and mortar.
“When we first started, it was really nice for us just to spend time together. We would get a babysitter, and both of us would work.
“Neither of us came from a hospitality background as such. We had set up to do table service, but staffing was difficult. I think we were feeling a bit stagnant and like we weren't sure what we were supposed to be doing.
“We came across Business Mentors through Venture Taranaki. We hoped to meet with someone who had a bit more experience in hospitality and who could let us know what we were doing right and things we could improve.
Dave and Keren checked out a few possible Mentors and knew they'd found their match with Chris. They felt an immediate connection and loved his passion for the industry.
Chris, who has over 15 years of experience starting and scaling hospitality businesses, says he was delighted to meet Dave and Keren.
"They're just really lovely people. And they have a really big passion for what they do. I was keen to offer any sort of help they needed and be a part of their journey. It was clear that there were a few areas of the business where they could do with a bit of help, and I was more than happy to assist.
Dave and Keren are impressed by how generous Chris has been with his support.
“He’s had a lot of good feedback for us. He put in a huge amount of effort and invested a lot of time into our meetings. He’s given us ideas about costing our food and working on our budget. He’s been great as an external sounding board and to give a different perspective.”
Time for the cooks to focus on the books
One of the first things Chris did was guide Dave and Keren to create spreadsheets so they could track their cashflow and profitability, as well as spotting hidden costs. This brought clarity that allowed them to be more strategic in their decision-making.
Chris explains that although the couple is “very, very good at producing great food," he could see they’d benefit from more knowledge of the financials.
“We went down the path of just putting a very simple spreadsheet together for them so that they could track things on a weekly basis. It showed what was going in and out of the business. It grew from there, and we were able to create bigger spreadsheets. They could tap into, to my knowledge,” says Chris.
Keren says, “Now we can see how we're going from month to month. Chris has also helped us with some budgeting, so we know what we have to work with. He's encouraged us to make small changes. Since we've been working with him, we have been increasing our numbers every month.”
The proof is in the pudding
Dave and Keren say that one of the biggest impacts of mentoring has been in helping them to get out of the kitchen.
“Chris has encouraged us to spend time on the business rather than in it,” explains Keren.
“It’s made us aware that we shouldn't always just be in the kitchen, cooking. Otherwise, over time, nothing's going to change. Having regular meetings with Chris also keeps us accountable.”
“Lots of little changes that have happened over time. And all those little changes have helped us grow.”
The couple has tried an innovative approach to service where patrons can order directly from a kiosk when they arrive. It means everything moves faster, food still gets delivered straight to the table, and there is less pressure on staffing.
Chris is excited about the impetus at Serial Griller. “There are constant tweaks going on every time I talk to them. And now the business is in a position where they can do fun things, such as hosting events.
“One event they’ve held was a big Hot Wings chicken wings eating competition in their outdoor area. They partnered with a local brewery and made a mini festival out of it with a DJ. It was a huge success. Hundreds of people literally surged through the doors.”
Serial Griller is now positioned for more good fun, great food, and business success. Keren and Dave are considering a second location and some seasonal opportunities. Having Chris as a Business Mentor gives them confidence that they'll be able to navigate whatever the future brings.
Now they have a taste for more
Chris says he’s delighted to watch them grow.
“Once you go from one unit to two units successfully, then you can just keep on going. Expansion will be exponential — it will just start snowballing. So that's really exciting for them. And I’m pleased I can be a part of that; it's just wonderful to watch them grow and be successful.”
Keren and Dave urge others to make the most of a Business Mentor and say that finding the right match is the secret sauce.
“We really get along with Chris, and we enjoy our catchups, even if they're not ground-breaking milestones every week. “
Chris agrees that a good mentoring relationship is built on trust and connection. “I think just be very open and very honest. The first meeting with your Business Mentor is crucial.
“I was fortunate that when I met Dave and Keren, I got on with them straight away. And vice versa. “When you are doing it voluntarily, you've got to have that personal connection with each other.”
Chris also has plenty of praise for the Business Mentors NZ service.
“The organisation itself is pretty great for any new or veteran business operator. If you're stuck in a rut with your business, it doesn't matter whether you've had it for six months or 20 years, it's always good to get a fresh set of eyes on it. And whether you decide to take that advice or not is completely up to you.”
If you’re ready to explore the benefits of Business Mentor, you can get started today.