25 Jan How to write and follow a business plan in the food industry
A business plan is a vital roadmap for any industry that wants to become competitive in the food industry or in any other sector. In short, this document outlines the company’s future plans and is ought be developed as a means to achieve the corporate objectives.
A business plan should contain all the information concerning the products to be sold and how they are to be sold; the services to be provided; the target markets; and the prospective customers. Moreover, apropos of the food industry, special emphasis should be placed on the product characteristics and particularities, as well as the raw material provisioning or the food certificates.
The plans comprising a business plan
The process of writing a business plan must encompass the following three plans:
- Strategic plan: it depends upon the company leaders who must identify the projects and the endpoint. This step allows to set goals and pinpoint the internal and external factors to keep in mind. Proper strategic planning must always be long-term but should be updated as changes occur.
- Tactical plan: depends upon the sales management who must determine the sales department’s objectives based on the strategy defined by the company leaders. This plan is medium-term and must primarily consider the human, technical and economic resources available.
- Operational plan: depends upon the sales team and involves designing and implementing the actions to be taken. This step is short-term and is defined by the tactical plan based on the company’s strategy.
The phases of a business plan
Once all the above is clear, you may begin to write your business plan. This task comprises five steps:
1.Review the current customer base
Analyse your customer base in order to segment them according to the revenue they generate, profitability, growth potential, loyalty, and prescription. In this way, you can identify the most important and the most challenging customers to supply.
Similarly, when reviewing the base, it is crucial to remember that each year it is possible to lose a certain percentage of customers. The review should be carried out by analysing the evolution of the company and taken into account because that will be the minimum percentage of new customers to attract.
2.Pinpoint the services for each type of customer
Once each customer has been recognised, identify what types of services will be provided to them based on their needs, potential and revenue. You should do it within certain timeframes: monthly, quarterly and annually.
3.Study the market and potential customers
This analysis comprises both cold data (extracted from business directories and corporate websites) and hot data. The latter require making an initial contact with the potential customer to establish their needs, their working method, their current suppliers, their procurement processes, etc.
4.Define the actions of the business plan
The actions of the business plan must be designed considering the phases of the purchasing process outlined at the end of this post. In addition, different types of actions must be created depending whether the sale is recurring or new.
Similarly, it is essential to distribute the customers among the sales representatives according to the strengths of each team member. It is also necessary to set separate global objectives for each client and highly specific objectives for each of the meetings to be held.
As these actions will be carried through by the sales team, each member of the department should be involved in writing the business plan.
5.Monitoring the business plan
It is as essential to write and implement a plan as it is to analyse its progress to implement changes and improvements. To execute that, the commercial management should briefly check up on each sales representative every week. In addition, it is advisable to hold a meeting on a monthly basis to discuss the next steps to be taken.
And finally, another meeting should be called once a quarter to apply all necessary changes to the business plan based on its progress, with an emphasis on new opportunities that may have arisen and suggestions for improvement.
The phases of the purchasing process
Every business plan must outline the various phases of the pre-purchase and the post-purchase to determine what actions to take at each stage. These phases correspond to the situation in which potential customers find themselves.
The pre-purchase comprises six stages:
- Discovery: the customer does not know the brand and the actions should be geared towards improving the brand’s reach.
- Awareness: the customer knows the brand and the actions should aim to identify the customer’s needs.
- Search: there is already contact with the customer and the actions should try to meet their needs.
- Evaluation: the customer is evaluating offers from several competing companies so actions must be designed to demonstrate that the product on offer meets their needs.
- Justification: the customer is considering the possibility of building a commercial relationship. It is the moment to showcase the product as well as the purchasing process, the transport, and the delivery.
- Purchase: the customer has decided to make the purchase and the main action is to facilitate the transaction.
The post-purchase comprises four phases:
- Adoption: the customer has already bought the goods and the actions should be geared towards smoothly implementing the product onto the shelves.
- Retention: the customer is marketing the product so at this point it is advisable to follow up to ensure their satisfaction.
- Expansion: the customer continues to buy the product on an ongoing basis so it is time to offer other products.
- Recommendation: the customer becomes a stable customer and actions can focus on sustaining their loyalty and on their referral.