Business Consulting: 5 Dos and Don'ts in Large Projects

I'm a business consultant. I look for problems and formulate solutions. Solutions become blocked by people having different understandings of the problems. Frustrations happen when it feels like you're the only one that understands the issue.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

A local bar had been raising some serious money to start a new chain. A friend brought me in to help with some marketing consulting. I came on too strong and quickly lost the project. Looking back, I wouldn’t have advocated for the employees as much. It overwhelmed my judgment.

I’ve always wanted to own a restaurant. I’ve watched almost every Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. Even the original UK version.

So I was excited when a friend asked me to join him for a marketing meeting with a local bar. That night I dropped by the bar for some research. The employees were the only ones there. They were talking about how slow business had been. They all planned on getting different jobs after this place closed. Some had already put in their two weeks notice.

As the night went on and my food arrived, I mentioned hearing their conversation. “Guys, why do you think the bar is having such trouble?” I was shocked at how much each of them cared. They laid out each issue and how they would fix it. But they all agreed the restaurant’s model didn’t make sense. People were always confused and annoyed during their first visit 90% of people were never coming back.

The next day at our meeting, after the small talk and some marketing questions. I had to say something. I led with this, “usually, I prepare for a marketing meeting by researching the business’s online presence and competitors. But this time, I dropped by the bar last night for a beer and to get to know the place.” The young marketing manager was excited by this and said, “our current marketing agent wouldn’t even eat a free slice of pizza, and people don’t seem to care about what we’re building.”

I continued, “I’m glad you said that because I noticed some issues that I want to run past you.” I proceeded to lay out everything from the night before. To my surprise, the marketing manager countered everything I said and concluded that I was wrong and couldn’t have learned all that in one night. With the hurting employees in mind, I responded, “You’re right. I didn’t learn that by myself, your employees told me.”

I recounted what was said and stressed the employee’s care and concern for the business. I ended with it’s better to have a period of discovery before starting any big marketing projects. They need to market for three visits and not just one. Currently, 90% of people never come back for a 2nd visit causing marketing dollars to be wasted.

Unfortunately, I haven’t heard back from our young marketing manager friend.