Marcus Lemonis and the crazy Soup Market guy of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This episode was a bit more interesting in a business sense than the first two of the fourth season, and I will explain why in a moment, but first things first.

Background

The Soup Market was launched by Dave Jurena in 2004 with a 50/50 business partner who died suddenly in 2015. The other fellow was the business brains behind the venture while Dave was and remains the cook.

The Milwaukee based chain sells what Marcus calls “heavy soups” due to their unhealthy doses of calories and sodium. As the heavy-set Dave explains, he doesn’t create soups for the “bikini crowd.”

Although it quickly became painfully obvious that Dave was going to be nothing but trouble, I was hoping against hope that it would all work out because I love soup–and don’t even get me started on clam chowder!

Dave informs customer that he's not into "healthy."

Dave informs customer that he’s not into “healthy.”

Drama

This week’s drama revolved in part around a mysterious woman named Grace. Dave got very defensive whenever Marcus inquired about her. Very defensive indeed. Hasn’t Dave heard about The Streisand Effect? I suppose not. The bigger drama revolved around Dave’s resistance to absolutely every idea that would benefit his struggling operation. Like little Mikey in the classic 1980s TV cereal ads, Dave hates everything.

The Result

Despite recognizing that if Dave was a superhero he’d be ResistanceMan, Marcus offers to sink in $315K for 50% of the business plus total control. I personally would have run in the opposite direction. Ten minutes in all the alarm bells were klanging away at an eardrum shattering pitch.

Marcus then gives him a check and has one of the stores redesigned and given a new menu of soups that won’t gradually kill the customers.

The grand reopening looked like a success but when Marcus returned a couple of weeks later he discovered to his horror that ResistanceMan had undone all of the improvements. Every. Last. Single. One. The business is back in failure mode.

At the very end Marcus gets a call from Grace, who as it turns out is Dave’s operations manager, informing him that she’s been not only fired but was escorted off the premises by police. She also lets Marcus know that she has filed a sexual harassment case with the EEOC against Dave.

At this point Marcus finally decides to follow what would have been my advice after the first half day with ResistanceMan and walks away from the deal despite having blown $100K on the store rebuild. Ouch.

Now lets move onto why it was a decent episode from a business perspective.

Lessons Learned

-I found it odd that Marcus still proceeded with trying to do a deal after being informed by Dave that he was in a battle with his former partner’s estate over how much money it should receive for its half of the equity.

-During my years in business brokerage I got to meet a fair number of Daves.  They would contact me when they decided it was time to sell their business, and I would have to politely refuse the listing after a meeting because there was typically little of value there to attract a buyer. The most common reason is that people like Dave are what brokers commonly refer to as BYOBers (Be Your Own Bosser). BYOBers typically start a business because they are otherwise unemployable but have a single skill with which they can make money. Perhaps it’s cutting hair, repairing bicycles, making tool & dies, or building websites? The particular skill doesn’t matter.  What matters is that BYOBers have little if any interest in anything that isn’t their core skill. Book-keeping? Operations? Marketing? Technology? Staff?  Fuggadaboutit! In Dave’s case, it’s all about designing new soups like the peanut butter one. The heavier the better. Nevermind that most customers don’t want to feel as if they have a one pound stone in their stomachs after a bowl of his soup.

-The above is why so many small businesses fail within the first few years and why the survivors typically plateau at some level well below their potential. The takeaway here is that business owners should focus on mastering the basics of management instead of losing all their time personally doing their core skill.

Don’t be a BYOBer!

-There’s an old adage about avoiding fights with the media that you may have heard: Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.” – Mark Twain

I simply marvel at all the people who apply to be on the show and then reveal themselves before the cameras to be terrible examples of humanity.  It takes someone who is completely lacking in self-awareness to do this. Never be a jerk on a TV show if someone else does the final editing.

-There’s a rule in hiring that says “hire for attitude and train for skill.” ResistanceMan exhibited the worst possible attitude when he tore out all the improvements Marcus had paid for.

If you hire for attitude you won’t be wrong 99% of the time.

-Finally, what you see is what you get when it comes to people. Only a fool expects them to change.  Sometimes it seems that Marcus doesn’t get this but it’s more likely that he has to stick with an opportunity to get enough footage for a 40 minute episode.

Looks like Dave just torpedoed his business with this media fiasco.

 

 

6 Responses to The Profit: Marcus and The Soup Market

  • I haven’t the words to describe my reaction to seeing that Dave had torn out all the improvements Marcus had made. Stunned is one word I could use. Dave is deadset on being a loser.

    • Unbelievable he brings his money sets them up for success and unfortunately the stalker ,lying hater will be doomed and Marcus is out 100 k

  • This is a man afraid to step outside of his comfort zone. The real problem is that it’s so tiny that there’s no room in it for anything other than him and his fears.

  • Yeah, I don’t understand how someone as successful as Marcus can be such a bad judge of character. I have to conclude he isn’t and that he will make more than $315K on the episode.

  • Seems like Dave is another man-child who doesn’t want to change. The lurking wife doesn’t help either.

  • Great advice for business owners! Or anyone thinking about running an operation. OK…here’s my own analysis of the situation ~To the “soup Nazi” Dave’s defense only only the remodel of his store; some of the changes weren’t all that attractive. I’m glad they removed that giant wall motif which was visually busy and put another kind of menu out, but the overall effect of the new place to me didn’t translate as a huge improvement. It looked like they were going for something rustic and homey but it looked aged without actually looking better. It might actually be better in person than it does on tv, so I don’t know….THAT said, Dave is his own worst enemy!! It seems his only ability for stepping outside of the box is when he’s hitting on a woman. I say that with the irony it deserves, if in fact he did actually make sexual advances toward her. Because….If you recall, Grace at first said NOTHING happened between them and it wasn’t until she was fired at the end that she then told Marcus she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit. So what did really happen here? Dave admitted he had had feelings for her and so this would explain his creepy lurking wife being everywhere and Dave not wanting to upset his wife or more embarrassment, not wanting to discuss it on camera, HOWEVER, if he DID physically hit on Grace, then Grace herself seemed willing to conceal it as long as she had a job there. I’m just saying that could be a possibility OR that he never made any physical or verbal advances toward her and now she’s just milking it. Food (or soup) for thought. Daves biggest headSLAP though comes in ‘letting Grace go for…insubordination. Now, let’s assume Dave’s only mistake was in putting his feelings out there for Grace but didn’t actually touch her or talk to her in any lewd way. He now has shown himself to be biggest ignoramus of the year. And his wife was probably the real reason behind it. Why fire a really good employee by your own admittance, over the fact you’ve had feelings or a crush on them? Because Dave married an insecure person who likely threatened an expensive divorce (child support etc?) and since he takes NO counsel except his own, he continually eff’s things up. As Peter has said here, he’s fixated on his chef creations and has little ability elsewhere. As only one does when their ego’s are running the show – not their brains. I’m guessing he wasn’t a walk in the park when the other co-owner was still alive either. Dave is an insecure one dimensional person and with a pot of gold in having a really great opportunity with Marcus Limonis totally b*tched out on the whole deal. Dumb Dave. NO SOUP FOR YOU!

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