There was an American Restoration marathon on the History Channel recently, so I bought in for multiple hours of the Pawn Stars spin-off. American Restoration features Las Vegas’ Rick Dale and the crew at his business, Rick’s Restorationsn. They specialize in restoring classic objects that time has not treated very well, turning them into show pieces by hammering out dents, repainting, and tracking down all the missing parts and pieces that used to be there.

Photo by: ohNe22 | Source:

When you think about it, the restoration strategy principles on the American Restoration television show (affiliate link) are similar to what we face in business when a product, program, or process that was once shiny and new isn’t anymore, but it’s too valuable, for whatever reason, to eliminate. These types of business restoration situations aren’t pure turnarounds since you can’t apply the same type of scorched earth strategy a turnaround often requires.

Working from that rationale, here are five product, program, or process business restoration strategy principles to implement:

1. Understand expectations for authenticity and the restoration’s ultimate vision.

Before launching into a restoration, Rick Dale asks a customer about the ultimate vision for what the restoration looks like. There’s a different restoration strategy if they want it like brand new versus improving it but leaving the look and feel of an object that’s clearly been used. With a business restoration strategy, you similarly need to understand customer and management expectations upfront. Are you going for a complete refurbishment to take it back to day one, or are you trying to refresh and make it more valuable, even if it only suggests what it used to be?

2. Document where you are starting from so you have a reference point.

On American Restoration, they take multiple photos of an item coming into Rick’s Restorations before the restorers start working. These photos provide an important reference point for how the item looked originally, the placement and nature of specific features, and a measure to benchmark results. When beginning a business restoration, documenting your starting point (through various means) plays a similar role as a comparison point throughout the restoration and to measure your progress.

3. Be willing to do short term harm in the interests of a stronger end result.

When restoring a valuable item that is damaged, the experts on American Restoration may take steps which seem extreme, i.e. using a pickle bath of acid to loosen rust. This potentially harmful move, however, is necessary to remove the negative effects and potentially ongoing damage being done to the item. Taking on a business restoration, you will have to come to grips with the possibility of destroying particular elements of the current product, program, or process to revive performance. Rigorous analysis, an innovative perspective, tough decision making, and rapid implementation make up one formula for the “acid” needed to start a business restoration.

4. Be willing to completely redo something to make it seem more like the original.

Someone brought a really old baseball arcade game in horrible shape into Rick’s Restorations. The images on the game’s backdrop - which depicted the upper decks of a baseball stadium filled with fans – were barely visible. Rather than trying to rehabilitate the old backdrop to maintain authenticity, Rick Dale and his crew created a new backdrop. This freed them to use the old backdrop as a model to paint a new one that looked exactly like the original when it was new. The same principle can apply in business restorations: ditching an old component process or system can lead to a better result, even if it isn’t completely authentic.

5. Infuse the final restoration with emotion.

Rick Dale adds a special flair unveiling the shop’s work to customers. At a minimum, restored items are usually draped or behind some type of moveable surface to create a synchronized reveal. After restoring a toy wagon, they wrapped it as the original Christmas present it was originally. While there may be natural emotional components to the projects on American Restoration, these examples are good reminders to incorporate the right emotional experience when you’re ready to reveal the results of your business restoration effort.

What works for you?

What are your go-to strategies when you have a business restoration project ahead of you? At The Brainzooming Group, we help direct a lot of business restoration efforts for clients, so if you'd like to learn more about specific steps we find valuable, let's talk!

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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.