Monday, January 10, 2011

The value of individual data

I received the latest weekly memo from the Guthrie Chamber of Commerce this morning. In it, they described how they were at a travel show selling Guthrie as a tourist destination. During the show, they remarked "A couple of people commented they tried coming into Guthrie at the first exit by all of the car sales and salvage yards but was discouraged and turned around and went back to the highway. (that is good to know)"

Guthrie has two entrances off the main highway - the southern entrance takes a long curve up into town, the northern entrance cuts perpendicular to the town. And some people had gotten off at the southern entrance and gave up trying to get into town (which is about 3 miles max) because it did not seem as though they were getting to their destination.

The issue I want to raise about this is: "what should you do with a piece of information like this?"

You might -
  • discount it, assuming most people wouldn't give up like that
  • acknowledge it, but do nothing as it would cost too much
  • acknowledge it, and buy a bunch of signage, get a committee together, etc
or do any number of a myriad of other solutions.

The point is: every day you will receive information like this at your location, store, business - but if every day you get information, how can you possibly act on any of it in a timely manner? You will end up being whipped from one item to the next.

A means for helping with this is for items that are not of immediate issue (there is ice in front of the door and it is slippery!) - instead of acting on the information right away, write it down in a list. At the end of the month, set aside one hour to review all the pieces of data, and sort/review according to need or importance. Then try for the next month to resolve one of the items on the list.

Returning to Guthrie - it might be easier for them to have a sign on the highway before the southern entrance that says "Downtown - take #" than to add a bunch of signs after the people get off at the southern entrance.

There is value in the data you gather for your business, but the value can only be taken advantage of if you can act on it (and then evaluate its effectiveness). Too often business owners come in to me and say "here are 17 items I need to work on in my business" - who can possibly get that many things done? Collate the data - and solve one item.

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