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Excel-Based Restaurant Selection Tool for the Overly Indecisive

We’re celebrating some much deserved time off from work, and so what better way to spend the time than to make a completely unnecessary (but fun!) Excel model. I call this the indispensable Excel tool for the overly indecisive, and it’s basically an Excel model to help that indecisive group choose a restaurant or bar for that next lunch, dinner, or happy hour event.

What makes this Excel model so fun is the methodology on the back end that does the decision-making. Think of it as a modern-day eeny, meeny, miny, moe, only with 120,000 eeny-meenys. That’s thanks to stochastic modeling and six Monte Carlo simulation modules running 20,000 simulations each!

Looking to do more substantive probabilistic analysis in real estate? Check out our Apartment Acquisition Model with Monte Carlo Simulation Module

An Excel-based tool for the overly indecisive

Why Should I Even Bother Reading Further?

Well you shouldn’t, since you probably have more important things to do. But if you insist on continuing, let me present a scenario for you.

It’s 8:27am. Your work colleague pops his head into your office and says, “Hey, we’re thinking of getting a group together for lunch. You in?”

You accept (of course!) because heck, the alternative is sitting at your desk eating a peanut butter sandwich alone, while making the 52nd update to the development budget on that deal that’s not likely to happen.

At 8:41am your phone chimes and its a group text from your work colleague asking: “what are y’all wanting for lunch?”

The responses trickle in with no definitive answer. And so for the next three hours, your phone chimes over, and over, and over again. No one can decide where to eat. Everyone has an opinion, but no one wants to make the final decision.

Finally, at noon you meet in the lobby – still no place decided on. Small talk ensues while the de facto leader goes around asking “so, where did we decide on for lunch?”

After 15 minutes of this, and the lunch breaking ticking away, you finally decide on Potbelly for the umpteenth time that month. No one’s especially happy, but at least a decision was made!

How to Break the ‘Where to Eat’ Impasse

Well, obviously the answer is to build an overly complex Excel model with seven worksheets, five VBA macros, and a Monte Carlo module that runs for almost 30 seconds to make the decision for you!

But I know what you’re thinking. I don’t have the skills and/or time to build such an Excel model.

Well, it’s your lucky day. The nerdy guys at A.CRE have done it for you.

So today we present to you the most important model to grace the shelves of our A.CRE Library of Real Estate Excel Models: The Excel-Based Restaurant Selection Tool for the Overly Indecisive.

The waiting screen while the Monte Carlo simulations run

Let’s Pause to Be Serious – This Idea is Not Original

I have to confess. This idea is not my own. While the Excel model is 100% original, the idea actually came from internship lore.

You see between the first and second year of my Masters in Real Estate studies, I interned at USAA Real Estate Company (i.e. RealCo, which is a really great place to work by the way). Our boss kept a lengthy (100+) list of the best restaurants in San Antonio. There was, and I believe still is, an unofficial competition between RealCo interns to see who can check off the most restaurants from his list.

The challenge was to choose which restaurant to eat at. And while admittedly we rarely ran into an impasse such as the one I presented above, choosing among so many great restaurant options was difficult.

On one particular day while we we’re discussing where to eat, one of the full-time guys mentioned that a former employee had actually built an Excel model to help choose where to eat from the list each day.

I thought that idea was one part insane, one part amazing. And I promised to one day build such a tool for myself.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) for all of these years since, I’ve had much better things to do with my time; until today – Saturday, December 22, 2018.

Please don’t tell my wife that this is what I spent my time doing today while she did last-minute Christmas shopping

How to Use the The Excel-Based Restaurant Selection Tool for the Overly Indecisive

No A.CRE model post is complete without a tutorial. This one is pretty simple. In fact, I believe I’ve built the model to be so dummy proof that even the STNL guys can use it (just kidding STNL guys – but it is simple).

The process is step-by-step, moving automatically through the worksheets as you complete the steps.

  1. Begin by clicking ‘Click Here to Begin’ on the Start tab
  2. On the Guest List tab, enter the number of people who will be attending in the blue box above, and then enter their names in the blue boxes below; then click to continue
  3. On the Restaurant List tab, enter the number of restaurant options on the table in the blue box above, and then enter the restaurant names in the blue boxes below; then click to continue
  4. On the Questions tab, enter the Questions as they are presented to you. Be sure to use the drop-down menus, if/when applicable; then click ‘Tell Me Where to Eat’
  5. The model will then automagically run 120,000 simulations based on the answers you provided and eventually spit out a restaurant selection; at this point click ‘Start Over’ to reset the tool

It’s that simple, but I’ve also recorded a video just in case – because why not? I’ve got a few extra minutes until my wife gets home.

Download the Excel-Based Restaurant Selection Tool for the Overly Indecisive

To make this model accessible to everyone, it is offered on a “Pay What You’re Able” basis with no minimum (enter $0 if you’d like) or maximum (your support helps keep the content coming). Just enter a price together with an email address to send the download link to, and then click ‘Continue’.

Version Notes

Version 1.0

  • Initial release

About the Author: Born and raised in the Northwest United States, Spencer Burton has over 20 years of residential and commercial real estate experience. Over his career, he has underwritten $30+ billion of commercial real estate at some of the largest institutional real estate firms in the world. He is currently President and member of the founding team at Stablewood. Spencer holds a BS in International Affairs from Florida State University and a Masters in Real Estate Finance from Cornell University.