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Problems at your business? Here are 4 strategies for solving them right the first time.

Last updated October 05, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

The last two weeks (8/31 & 9/7) we've shared some outside-the-box points from Nick Wendowski from Stone's Beer & Beverage Market.

This week I wanted to surface another important aspect of Nick's operations philosophy: how he thinks about solving problems at his business.

Though he uses these strategies at his beer store/distributor, they're just as relevant to bars, restaurants, snd breweries. Honestly, they're relevant to us here at Brave New Bar/BeerMenus as well.

Here are 4 takeaways from my conversation with Nick:

1. Use data—not anecdotal evidence—to drive decision making.

Though it can be tempting, you need to avoid making investments and decisions on anecdotal evidence only. If you do this, you're likely to waste resources on things that aren't actually impactful.

Instead, make space and set up systems for you and/or your staff to rely on data. Mine your POS. Track how often customers raise certain complaints. Ask distributors for helpful sales data. Even the smallest amount of data is worth a whole lot of anecdotal evidence.

2. Pump the brakes to mitigate risk of waste.

The desire to urgently make a change is very real sometimes, especially if the folks bringing the issue to your attention are urgent about it.

But you shouldn't act on big changes until you have reliable data.

This will prevent both distractions and waste, 2 things you don't have bandwidth for.

Example: When a server or customer comes to you with a problem they position as urgent, remember that the sky isn't necessarily falling. Move slowly and understand the problem before you act.

3. The problem you hear about isn’t necessarily the root problem.

Keep asking questions to make sure you understand the problem fully. Often as not the problem you start with is not the thing you need to focus on in order to solve the problem.

Example: Customers aren't ordering a new menu item, so you may think there's a problem with its preparation. But don't necessarily turn to the kitchen first—could there instead be a problem with the menu and customers aren't seeing the new item?

4. Once you've identified a problem, talk to your people about it and how to solve it.

This will not only help you understand the problem in a deeper way, but it could bring related or additional problems to light. And an outside perspective can surface other solutions that you may not have even considered.

Check out the interview clip for more from Nick on how to solve problems at your business: