What do Waffle Houses & Hurricanes have to do with your business ?

Let me guess, your [boss, board, investors] want numbers to show how things are going.  The change in EPS, EBITDA, SFC, CPM, ARW, or ARM… more than one of those are made up, but good luck figuring out which ones.

We all know, “the numbers” can be hugely valuable, but how often are they misused, misinterpreted, and lead to mistakes in direction and funding ?

As I have written previously, in my article on traction, the goal is finding where things are moving, or likely to scale, and shifting resources to that area.  Understandably, measurement is a key aspect to this identification.

The first concept, that I cannot stress enough, is that there is no single process to identify what will or won’t be useful. Measurement is a series of experiments, but it is also a belief that either does or doesn’t exist within the culture of your business.  (*I will discuss culture in another article)

An oft referenced ‘biz-ism’ is “if it’s not measured it’s not managed.”  So let’s assume that your business does value measurement, how often are “sales numbers” correlated with site traffic?

Is it just total traffic ? Was it normalized for that Facebook spend you added ? How many of those visits were for less than 3 seconds ? or 1 page vs 2 or more? Did the visitor end up on the page you intended ?

Or, how did those numbers correlate with any changes in the grade of customer service responses? Or how a new feature is being used within an update ?  Or how many Waffle Houses are closed?

Wait... what ?


There are a million things that can be measured, but the trick will be identifying things that are reliable, established, and representative of a substantially larger set of information.


With respect to Waffle House, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, an ENORMOUS operation (and enormously important one at that) has to identify in a moment’s notice where to direct precious resources.  To assist in that guidance, they use systems to establish the degree of damage an area may have experienced, Categories.

You’ve heard, Category 4 Hurricane vs. Category 5… so how do they identify what constitutes the difference ?  While there are numerous factors, one is how many Waffle Houses are closed in an area.

A Waffle House is a 24/7 establishment, run by tough-as-nails managers and franchisees, who pride themselves on serving customers at any hour of the gaw darn day.  So, if they are closed, sh*t has gotten pretty bad.  And while it may not represent how many transformers are out, or how many cubic feet of water has rushed over a levee, it is a hellovan indicator as to where resources should be directed.

It is certainly easy to imagine and very difficult to establish, but does your business or organization have a Waffle House number ?