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A few months ago I wrote a post about a nearby restaurant that quibbled with us about the cost of a salad.  Long story short, they charged us more for a salad attached to the ‘Special of the Day' menu versus the price that was listed as the attached price of an entree.  I felt that the specials were entrees but the restaurant felt otherwise.

As it turns out, maybe they quibbled because they needed every dollar that they could get, because the restaurant recently shut its doors.

On the note they put on the door, they listed a couple of factors, most notably citing road construction in the area as a primary reason that they could not manage to stay in business.

Now, there has been a lot of road construction in the area.  The main road that the restaurant fronts has been the focus of a major widening project that has been spread out over a few years.  They could only go so far, then had to wait for another government agency to widen a bridge.  When that finally happened, they were able to continue along, but they had to split that up over two additional years.

So, I get the road construction piece.

But, that doesn't tell the entire story.

There are a couple of reasons that I think the restaurant owner had their head in the sand:

  • They knew about the construction when they opened – The restaurant opened right around the time that the project to widen the bridge was started.  They knew full well that the bridge construction was happening, and they knew that the road would be continued further following completion of the overpass.  Now, as far as I know, many businesses conduct feasibility studies and demographic studies, and also focus on environmental factors that could impact their business, and I would have to guess that road construction plans are factored in.  Either their consultants did a bad job or they didn't bother, figuring they could get it handled along the way.
  • The construction finished – The last of the construction wrapped up a few months ago.  I always find it interesting when a business closes after construction completes.  I have no doubt that road construction impacts businesses, but I've seen more than a few examples of a business that will suffer through the construction, then when it wraps up and seemingly the business levels would return to normal, they call it a day.  I would expect to see businesses close during the construction, but there's apparently a lag time that doesn't make sense.
  • There were other reasons – When this was announced on Facebook via a local online news media source, many people immediately started commenting.  While a few agreed that road construction had to be killer, most people indicated that there were other reasons why the restaurant wasn't frequented.  These included the fact that the restaurant was closed on Sundays, prime days to head out to the bar, grab a bite, and watch a game.  They were closed on holidays.  More than a few people said that they went on New Years Eve to go eat, and found a closed restaurant.  They never stepped up to the competition.  Another restaurant opened over the summer practically across the street.  They are similar enough that there had to be competition.  The new restaurant came in with a storm. They are all over Facebook.  They send out fliers.  They really get themselves out there.  The restaurant that closed never advertised, never did much in the way of social media, and never really built a word of mouth network.

Add this all together, and it tells me that the restaurant had a lot more problems, many of which were created by their own policies.  If other restaurants are open on Sundays and they can handle the crowds, maybe this isn't such a great policy.  If other places offer specials and promote the heck out of themselves via social media, maybe you need to step up your game as well.

This was a really good place to go eat, but with all the policies and lack of real attempt to develop a following, they really gave the impression of wanting to have a restaurant, but didn't maybe have the same level of interest in actually running the restaurant.  Big difference and I can see why it led to their closing.

Fooling ourselves

This speaks to me because I know that some of these same principles apply to how we see our personal financial situation.

How many times do people blame variables that they feel they can't control for financial issues in their lives?

I've seen it countless times where people stay in a job that they're unhappy with because they're just happy to have a job.  When someone says that, I often just want to rip my hair out.  The fact is that you could be right, there might in fact be no other jobs and you have to stick it out with the one you have unless you want to take on a new career.  But, did you try?

The restaurant didn't try.  When they had a competitor open up across the street, did they change anything?  Did they adjust their hours?  Did they follow the lead or try to carve out a new social media list?  No.  Instead, they did nothing, and with predictable results.

The fact is if you don't like your job or you don't like the way something is going, simply waiting around and expecting it to get better is not going to work.

The fear of the unknown

The problem is that many people simply don't want to take the opportunity to jump in the water and see what else is out there.  Looking for a new career or going down a different financial path is scary, and people simply don't like change.

So they'll put up with something that clearly makes them happy.

The unhappiness paradox

What I've seen far too often is people who are unhappy stay in unhappy positions without making a change.  On the flip side, you  have people who seem perfectly happy in their career suddenly make a move.  Why?  Because being happy wasn't enough. They wanted to be even happier.  They wanted an even bigger challenge.

This often leads to the unhappy person seeing this and getting even more unhappy.  Yet still they do nothing, when in fact they should be the ones pounding the pavement and at least seeing what else is out there for them.  As I sad, the answer might be nothing, but I think that's far often not the case.

The simple truth is that there are variables that attempt to separate you (or the nearby restaurant) from fulfilling the maximum potential possible.  Don't let that happen.  Take charge.  Who knows?  If the restaurant had made a few changes and taken a real, honest look in the mirror, they could still be in business.  And if you go and take an honest look and re-assess what really is in your control, you could find what you're looking for.

What are you waiting for?