Food for thought

Rick Doody is always striving to be the best at what he does. It’s a motto that he has infused into the restaurants run by Bravo Development Inc.

“I read a blurb one time by Jim Collins that said to be a great company, you have to be the best in the world at what you do,” the co-founder and chairman of BDI says. “But you have to be the best in the world at what you do relative to the size that you want to be, and that’s important to get both those right.”

In 2001, after several years of successfully running the restaurant company with his brother Chris, Doody met with Rick Federico, the CEO of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. He says he was impressed when he learned about Federico’s company and how focused he was on achieving his goals.

“I came back from that thinking we could grow faster than we were,” Doody says.

His ultimate goal was to open eight new restaurants from the Bravo Cucina Italiana, Brio Tuscan Grille and Bon Vie Bistro concepts in 2003, 10 in 2004, and 12 each in 2005 and 2006.

So with help from the management team, he set out to develop a mission around what the company did best and then build an infrastructure to support it.

The result was that Doody was able to set the company on a path of continuous improvement and growth. The company was able to open nine restaurants in 2003, eight in 2004, 10 in 2005 and nine in 2006. While the company fell a bit short of its original goal, by taking its time to grow properly, Doody says BDI is a stronger company that has been able to provide more opportunities for its customers and employees.

“The company became more secure; it became more valuable,” he says. “It became less influenced by external circumstances. We were able to become stronger and better. I was always a little concerned that growth meant compromising quality, and I was always struggling with that early on. I realized, after time, that growth actually meant improving quality.”

Here’s how he did it.