Free Business Plan Outline: 5 Must-Haves
Regardless of the type of business you own or manage, the days of just opening the doors and waiting for customers to find you are long gone. Savvy entrepreneurs know they’ve got to cultivate their customer base to assure repeat business while offering goods and services designed to attract new customers at the same time. This high-wire act becomes an even bigger challenge because your competitors are trying to accomplish the exact same thing. A solid business plan is your best option for achieving success and the bplans.com website features several best practices for creating and implementing business plans for specific enterprises.
Getting your Ducks in a Row
Knowing who you are as a business entity is the first step in establishing a successful business plan according to entrepreneur.com. It’s wise to start with an honest and comprehensive look at your financials, each product or service you carry or provide, an organizational table, and an honest appraisal of your competitors. One key component to business success is tried and true and as valid today as it was in infancy of the modern business model; the business that provides the best customer service wins.
Let’s take a look at 5 key components essential to a successful business plan with a strong customer service focus.
1. Superior Products/Service – Perhaps the most important one-two punch in the business arena. Creating an identity for your enterprise is a great first step toward letting your customers know who you are. And, perhaps more importantly; your identity can show your customers how you differentiate yourself from your competitors. Defining your identity through your product mix will attract a specific clientele, and you can build on this by creating a customer service plan designed to meet the needs of those particular customers. Personal shoppers, higher quality merchandise, and special pricing can enhance your customers’ experience while building on the premise that your customers can only get this level of service and selection from you.
2. Creating a Customer Service Culture with White Glove Service – The old adage, “you’re only as strong as your weakest link” couldn’t be truer than when applied to customer service. And, as in many of the life situations we experience, it’s the little things that make the most difference. Even in today’s digital age, the phone still provides either the best or worst customer service interactions. A business that addressed its customer issues promptly and to the customer’s satisfaction will be far more successful than one who puts customers on hold or has a rude or uniformed staffer answer the call. When you incorporate the basis courtesies required in a customer centric business environment into each and every customer interaction, you go a long way toward establishing a business relationship that will continue to grow.
Another key piece of the customer service puzzle is knowing who your customers are based on a comprehensive customer profile. Once you’ve established individual profiles on each of your customers, you’re in position to ramp up customer service levels to new heights. When you think customer service in retail, you think of Nordstrom’s. The company has become the gold standard for customer service because they commit to providing a great customer service experience 24/7. While the Nordstrom model began with improved customer service in its stores; it now reaches out into all facets of the company’s marketing strategies. A few examples include targeted marketing efforts, personal shoppers and stylists, and easy returns and exchanges.
3. Location, Location, Location – The physical location of any business that relies on walk-in customers is an incredibly important factor. Quite frankly, where you are can determine the success or failure of your business. The Entrepreneur website has put together a list of key things to consider when making the all-important decision of where to locate your business. These include the style of operation you envision, and the demographics of your customer base. If your business relies on foot traffic and walk-ins then high density locations like malls or shopping centers should be at the top of your list. Other key components include accessibility and parking and where you are in relationship to your competitors. A few other things to look at are local laws or ordinances that may affect your operation; the condition and infrastructure of the building and operational costs like utilities.
4. Individualized Marketing Strategies – A one-size fits all marketing plan simply isn’t applicable in an ever changing business environment. Your customers have come to expect a high level of personalized interaction from the companies they do business with and they expect the same thing from you. By utilizing customer profiles and purchase history data you can fine tune marketing initiatives designed for particular segments of your customer base. Whether you use basic email blasts, social media notifications or even text messaging to reach your customers, the message has to be consistent with their wants and needs to be successful.
5. Advanced Point of Sale is Mission Control – Targeted, precision marketing strategies used to be reserved for huge corporations with multi-million dollar marketing budgets. Thankfully, those days have passed. Small businesses are relying more and more on point of sale systems to consolidate all of their business and marketing endeavors. Revel’s Point of Sale is at the top of the class in features, functionality, and cost-effective integration. A Revel Point of Sale can design, store, and utilize your customer’s information and profile. You can track current sales in real time and previous sales data is always available for instant adjustments to market trends or other unforeseen events. With a Revel Point of Sale system everything you need is always at your fingertips.