Research
rē'-surch: 1. diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts.
What We Do
  • Original Research - from public sources and our own original on-site audits, drawing helpful comparisons to competitors and customers' expectations.
  • Interviews - telephone and face-to-face statistic gathering and opinion surveys.
  • Recommendations - with an emphasis on ideas that are new and original, and why something conventional might, or might not, be usable today and into the future.
How We Do It
What's the best airline to fly? Or Las Vegas hotel would provide you with the overall most satisfactory experience? What is the best coffee house in Charlotte? Dallas? Toronto??

Of course, defining "best" or "most satisfactory" is important, and so is who you ask. And how you ask.

AG Advice and Support has performed original research to help clients determine who is doing the best at something, or who is just average. It involves review of front-side, customer areas, and usually a review of behind the scenes too. We like to come up with our own opinions, but we also like to ask your customers or employees what they really think. And if you want us to, we'll even ask your competitors what they think about you!

In the age of the internet and blogs, real and original research does not seem to be holding up to its promise of information for everybody. There is a great deal of disinformation, opinions, assumptions, and from those, wrong conclusions being drawn. In fact, even customers and employees have perceptions that may be wrong, but in those cases, at least you have some ability to inform and communicate.

Below are some examples of what is contained in our research, and how it is a little bit different from other research you may be offered.
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We ask our clients what they want. More sales? Lower costs? A report on the competition? Growth opportunities? Loss mitigation?

It all depends. But in Las Vegas, after some years of tepid growth for many years, everything finally seemed to be turning around in 2004, with new resorts there an in Macau, SAR, China. Room occupancy averaged over 90% at many resorts, and casinos could not keep up with the demand for tables and slots.

In our report, we tried to find new growth (already happening in Europe, Russia, Asia and North America), but also wondered if things might change. Our own graphs of property valuation in Europe and the United States implied an unsustainable trend. Although our #1 fear was rising interest rates, sub-prime mortgages back by AAA rated collateral debt swaps turned out to be one of the main lynchpins in the structure of prosperity.
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Real-life assessments of Marketing and Operations were performed, plus that of possible future Growth opportunities. In this case, we noticed that no matter where you went -- the UK, Norway, Russia, China, or Singapore -- gaming had already reached such enormous proportions that with ongoing, newly regulated-competitors, a gaming-bubble seemed to be looming. The long-term offerings in Las Vegas and China's Macau region are probably safe bets, growth through market share and non-gaming offerings were better options than continued growth in gaming operations in new regions. This would also hedge against changes in attitudes, laws and public willingness to spend on gaming in the future.


Recommendations can seem obvious in retrospect, but it takes some courage to see what the future might bring, and what should be done today to help prepare. Some of the best ideas from 2006 -- to save funds to purchase up bankrupt properties or competitors -- seemed overly pessimistic at the time, but in 2010, would have proven to be an excellent step to have taken. We offered this and several other recommendations which mitigated much of the effects of the economic slowdown being experienced today.
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It may sound obvious now, but even just a few months ago, most coffee chains offered a standardized product in a standardized way. There's nothing wrong with this, and many customers tell large vendors of food and beverage that's exactly what they want -- NOT a different product based on location.

The problem with this precept is that:

1. Some customers do want a local product.
2. Some do not want a given product at a given time.

The solution is to simply promote one product in one region, at a different time than the next region. Obvious? Perhaps, but few food and beverage providers actually do this, as they have been taught for years to offer the same things at the same time.
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In addition, how does one vendor compare to their competitor's product -- as might be defined in various categories such as price, flavor, options, store amenities, complementary (as in matching) menu choices, complimentary (as is gratis) samples, etc.?

AG Advice and Support will look at different competitors, including those in direct or semi-competitive roles, look at where they're located, what common practices they have, and what their strategy seems to be with their own competitors...which would be you!

We will also talk to your customers, or perform random surveys in a region, and find what their real options are. Many companies instruct their service personnel to ask common questions like "Did you find everything you were looking for?", or "We'll remake it if it's not perfect", etc. The problem is, only a minority of customers will honestly tell you what they really think. Though relying only upon outspoken customers might be considered as a good-enough representative sample, this concept is flawed: It misses the frequency of problems that might be occurring, or the details of a problem that seem too complicated to explain by some, and in any event, any dissatisfaction experienced by less-verbose customers goes unresolved.

Anybody can create good recommendations if they try, and everybody should try, employees and customers alike. But frustrations, daily routines, apathy, stigma and other issues ofter prevent people from doing just that. We can make recommendations based upon the ideas or observations of your employees, customers, plus those we make ourselves. In our coffee report, we came up with about 10 condensed pages of recommendations, some less obvious than others, but all based upon actual observations and interviews, and highly targeted to the purpose of better customer satisfaction -- and better sales. In our gaming report, we developed around 20 pages of fact-based recommendations. Most of our retail reports garner around 5 - 10 pages of recs.

If you'd rather come up with research-based ideas and recommendations on your own...great! We congratulate you, as most organizations do not undertake this process regularly enough. If you're having trouble getting started, perhaps start with our Logic Primer™. It doesn't create ideas, though it does create the thought processes that you need to create them.