The importance of testing your assumptions

As a researcher and strategic analyst, I have on numerous occasions been asked subjective questions in support of the decision-making process for new store approvals; to which I have appropriately responded with a subjective response.

Let me give an example, “Is parking for this site adequate to handle the forecasted sales?” My response posited that we had other stores with similar sales and less parking, so yes, this should be adequate. The committee seemed satisfied with the answer and approved the site.

Did I do my job, is hypothesis sufficient considering the financial commitment needed for a new store? After a sleepless night, I decided to test my response in hopes that it was correct and to be better informed in the future.

I had surveyors track all cars arriving and departing our parking lot in 3 different stores, recording times and license plate numbers. After analyzing the data, I was able to determine the length of time a parking space was occupied by hour and day of the week. As expected, there were differences that correlated to the length of the time a space was used. Discussions with store management confirmed our research that stores with longer trips has more parking issues, particularly during holidays that resulted in complaints and lost sales.

Conclusion: if you are a researcher, then research. Don’t accept the status quo and always find time to convert hypothesis to axioms.

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