Sample Business Plan
Business Planner Templates
Table of Contents
Description of the Company
Products and Services
BACKGROUND OF THE COMPANY
Advertising and Promotion
Sales and Marketing
Northwind Traders, Inc. provides travel-planning services for European adventure vacations to residents of the Greater Seattle area. The service industry, including travel agencies, is one of the fastest growing business sectors of the economy, and Northwind Traders intends to capitalize on the success of this industry by taking advantage of travel planning opportunities in the Pacific Northwest.
President Heather Mitchell and Vice President of Sales and Marketing Jim Kim currently hold the company’s stock. Prior to starting the Northwind Traders travel agency, Ms. Mitchell cofounded, co-owned, and operated the Northwind Traders clothing store. She has selected a small team with extensive travel, sales, and computer skills, all of whom will be invaluable to the new venture. Her coworkers bring a combined total of 35 years of travel industry experience to the agency.
The mission of Northwind Traders is to become the premier provider of adventure vacations for 25- to 35-year-old professionals. Northwind Traders is dedicated to building long-term relationships with customers through quality training and customer support, and wants to be recognized as the leading adventure vacation company in the Greater Seattle area. The company’s goal is to grow steadily, becoming profitable by the second year of operations.
Northwind Traders recently became the appointed agents for Margie’s Travel, one of the largest and most respected tour operators in the market. With virtually no marketing effort, Northwind Traders has sold some 200 adventure vacations in the past six months, netting $66,800 in commissions. Sales of insurance policies and other services have added to this total and could potentially add much more. Northwind Traders offers a comprehensive range of services to support the adventurous traveler, including pre- and postvacation briefings, travel insurance, and a directory of services specific to each destination and activity.
From desk and field market research carried out on 300 clients, it is clear that there is considerable potential in the adventure travel business. Research indicates that Northwind Traders’ target market finds it difficult to obtain reliable and authoritative advice on destinations and activities. Research also suggests that the customers in this market are unlikely to purchase their vacations again from the firm who provided their last vacation due to a lack of informative sales personnel. Northwind Traders will cater to these needs and develop a strong return-customer base.
Because they are currently the only travel agency focused on European adventure vacations that is located in the Seattle area, Northwind Traders has a substantial opportunity to dominate the region. In order to maintain and improve their current position in the region, they will need to invest in a Web site, as well as database software and systems, and in refurbishing the shop premises. Northwind Traders maintains the following advantages over existing competition: ongoing support to clients; extensive knowledge of the European adventure vacation field; superior customer service; specialized training programs for staff; informative Web site; competitive rates.
Northwind Traders started as a clothing store and has expanded into the travel agency business, with its focus on adventure travel in Europe. Last year, Northwind Traders clothing store made $200,400 profit on sales of $1,419,500 and employed seven people.
Northwind Traders expects that by concentrating full-time on selling adventure vacations, clients will increase from the present level of 200 (achieved over a six-month period with only a part-time effort), to at least 660 in the first year, 1400 in the second, and 2100 in the third. To help achieve this growth, Ms. Mitchell has identified three other tour operators she wishes to represent and has begun negotiations with them.
Selling between two and three vacations a day will allow the business to make a modest profit in Year One. By Year Two posttax profits should be $304,000 and will increase to nearly $496,000 by Year Three.
Ms. Mitchell plans to sell her shares in the clothing shop and invest the proceeds in the new travel business, Northwind Traders. In addition, she will be investing $41,750 of her own money in the business and seeking $83,500 from outside sources. Return on shareholders capital by Year Three is projected to be close to 100 percent. The purpose of the business plan is to communicate this highly profitable opportunity to Ms. Mitchell’s partners in the clothing shop and to outside investors, and to attract interest in the venture.
Alternatively, Ms. Mitchell is considering loan finance made up of a $41,750 two-year loan and a credit line of $58,450. In total, about $125,250 will be needed to fund the business during the initial months.
BACKGROUND OF THE COMPANY
Northwind Traders, Inc. provides travel-planning services to individuals and businesses in the Greater Seattle area. The business is located at 1234 Franklin Street, Seattle, Washington.
Five years ago Heather Mitchell cofounded Northwind Traders, an outdoor clothing shop in Seattle, Washington. Over the years, Northwind Traders has extended its product range to include everything the adventurous traveler could want, from tents and sleeping bags to maps, guidebooks, and insurance. The clothing shop has sales of $1,420,000 per year (see Table 1), makes a gross profit of $202,400, and employs seven people, either full- or part-time. A mail-order service is now provided by catalogue and via a new Web site.
Table 1. Northwind Traders Clothing Shop Performance Over Past Five Years
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Increasingly, shop customers have asked for advice on adventurous places to go on vacation.
Last year Northwind Traders acquired an agency from Margie’s Travel, one of the largest and most respected tour operators in this market, and began to promote and sell their products.
In the six months that we have been selling travel agency products, some 200 vacation packages, at an average cost of $3340, have been sold. Northwind Traders’ commission on the sales has been $66,800 (10 percent commission). In addition, 35 insurance policies have been sold at an average price of $167, yielding $1754 (30 percent commission).
Heather Mitchell, one of Northwind Traders’s founding partners, intends to sell her shares in the store and to concentrate on setting up the new travel business, Northwind Traders.
Northwind Traders is incorporated under the laws of the state of Washington. The company has authorized 10,000 shares, 6000 of which are owned by President and CEO Heather Mitchell. Vice President of Sales and Marketing Jim Kim owns 1000 shares, and the remaining shares are held by the company for future distribution.
In the next few weeks, the business will be set up as an operation independent from the clothing store. This structure will clearly separate the travel business from the clothing shop and make it possible to attract the risk capital that will be required when the business starts to grow.
At a later stage the business may wish to sell and issue airline tickets and to create its own charter vacations. This will require membership in the ARC (Airline Reporting Corporation) and IATAN (International Airlines Travel Agency Network). These organizations regulate the collection of money and distribution to the appropriate airlines. However, in the period covered by this Business Plan we intend to operate only as the appointed agents for a number of tour operators. As such we can “shelter” under their licenses and bonds.
With Northwind Traders’ expertise in European adventure travel, we can create customized travel itineraries for our clients and provide the most thorough, informative adventure travel service available. By offering superior customer service, Northwind Traders can distinguish itself from its competitors.
Our market research shows that publicity has the greatest impact on people’s choice of an adventure vacation travel agent, followed closely by having the right location and having a recommendation from a friend, relative, or colleague.
General press advertising seems to be fairly ineffective in this sector, and event specialist press advertising only brings in one out of seven clients. (See Appendix 1, Summary of Findings from Market Research.)
Our advertising and promotions will pivot around six key strategies: public relations, our shop front, an Internet Web site, customer relations, press advertising, and our association with the Northwind Traders clothing store.
Public relations. We will put considerable effort into preparing and disseminating a regular flow of press releases. These will be based on stories about our destinations, activities, corporate clients, and our staff. We will employ a public relations adviser to help us write copy and locate publications editors.
Shop front. We plan to have an exciting, informative, and actively managed display window. There will be a video display showing adventure vacations in progress. Different destinations can be selected from outside the window via a control panel; otherwise, the scenes will rotate on a random basis.
Internet Web site. This is fast becoming a major promotional channel, and we believe it will increase in importance over time. Also, it is the most convenient way for us to have a global presence at the outset. (See Appendix 1, Internet Growth and the Sale of Travel Services.)
Customer relations. We will keep records of every sales contact. Data such as source of inquiry, client needs, previous vacation, job, and income will be included. By having superior information on our clients and prospects, we intend to offer a truly personalized service. Our database will contain full details on all our clients, including the vacations they have taken and their postvacation appraisal data. We will use this data to encourage our satisfied customers to recommend our services to friends, relatives, colleagues, and employers.
Press advertising. We will undertake a small amount of press advertising in order to enhance our public relations activity. There is considerable research to support the argument that the more often a potential client hears about you, the more likely they are to approach you when they have a need for your type of service.
Northwind Traders association. We will write to all past shop clients announcing the establishment of the travel business and offer them a special introductory adventure vacation package.
Excellent selling skills are vital in our type of business. Therefore, everyone will be fully trained in sales. Additionally, every month we will “audit” each other by observing half-a-day’s selling activity and giving feedback on strengths and weaknesses in skills.
We will also be using a “contact management” system that will allow us to monitor the effectiveness of different promotional strategies and of different marketing messages.
The key to our strategic advantage lies in having superior data on prospects and clients.
The normal commission paid to travel agents for this type of vacation is in the 10 percent to 15 percent range. While Margie’s Travel, the first agency we have been appointed to, pays us at the lower end of the scale, they are a prestigious firm to represent. Having them in our portfolio will enable us to negotiate much higher commissions from our new principals. Accordingly, we are planning on an average travel agency commission of 11 percent, rising to 13 percent by the end of Year Three. Commission on insurance and other services will be 30 percent.