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What Business Analysts can learn from Bar Rescue?

Have you ever watched the Spike network hit TV show Bar Rescue? In the show, the host John Taffer goes to underperforming bars and turns them around. Each episode shows a struggling bar being transformed by a common remodeling trend: new bar design, new menus, new drinks, new name, etc. The interesting part isn’t the before and after photos but how the new items were selected.

The first thing that Mr. Taffer does when he gets to a bar is he performs a deep analysis of the restaurant; searching for common trends and problem areas. He is looking at the current state flow. He sees how the restaurant performs when it is up to capacity (a stress test) and looks for what then goes wrong. After seeing all the quarks he goes to the “drawings board” and creates a new business plan. He then looks at how to maximize revenue and minimize costs.

An easy way to increase revenue is by increasing customers. Mr. Taffer does an analysis of the surrounding population and, from that, which groups of the population all the other bars are catering to. Mr. Taffer then identifies market gaps. While the bar owner may believe that the reason for the losses could have been poor location, the analysis simply shows that the bar was appealing to the wrong demographic. The bar starts shifting to cater to a portion of the population that no other bar in the area has catered to. For example, it is easier to be a successful beer house if everyone else in the town sells wine. As business analysts, we need to develop current state Process Flows to understand how a system is currently performing, and what problems arise from it. BAs can also perform market analysis in order to understand who the competitors are and if there are market gaps.

Some techniques that Mr. Taffer uses to lower costs are using shots distributors in order to not over pour and calculating each menu item’s profit margin (and taking them off the menu if there is not a good margin). These metrics allow Mr. Taffer assess the issues that are causing the bar’s losses. These metrics quantify how many ounces each server pours, the profit margin of each item on the menu. BAs should constantly look for ways to save the project money. Whether that is finding an in-house solution to an expensive license binding foreign application, or realizing the time that is wasted organizing documents when you could easily create a template to do that.

One of the other things that Mr. Taffer stresses is cleanliness. In order to have a successful bar, Mr. Taffer believes it is imperative to have a clean kitchen. The same can be said of documents BAs produce, they should be neat and concise and typo free. The restaurant can lose customers instantly if they see a cockroach on the ground or a hair in their food. As a BA, you can lose credibility instantly if stakeholders see a typo or misused word in a polished document.

The truth is Mr. Taffer is a business analyst. He may not write software requirements or create Visio models but his core is pure BA. Mr. Taffer’s techniques in the show are symmetrical to a good BA’s work on a project. So when you get back home and want to sharpen your business analysis skills, maybe you should add watching Bar Rescue to your list of things to do.

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