Business Resource Software, Inc.

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Plan Write for Business - Fitness Club
Quick Insight - Consulting Business
Business Insight - Marketing Strategy
Business Insight - Insight to Create 200 New Jobs
Insight for Sales Strategy - Ricoh
Plan Write for Pricing - Challenging Economic Conditions
Plan Write for Hi-Tech Marketing - Hi-Tech Software Company


Customer Case Study
Plan Write® for Business

Software launches business partners from one fitness center, to national chain.

Fitness Clubs Developed Muscle with Plan Write for Business

Fitness Link Inc. of Ft. Erie, Ontario, opened its first health club, ExpressFit for Women, in October 2000. 12 months later owners Ernie Dueck and Robert Fulton count nine health clubs in their portfolio, with plans to open 12-15 additional clubs in 2002 and accelerating thereafter as laid out in the Fitness Link, Incorporated, Business Plan.

In an economy where researching, developing and planning for one successful operation launch has even stock-heavy CEOs cringing, how did Dueck and Fulton do it? And more significantly, how has Fitness Link Inc. done this in such a short period of time?

The Idea

Ernie Dueck's business partner and co-owner, Robert Fulton, had nurtured an idea to open a women's health club for more than two years. Fulton had been in the fitness business for more than 20 years and was running 2-3 clubs, but recognized that with this new concept, he would need a broader business expertise. He approached Dueck with the women's fitness concept in October, 2000. Dueck recognized immediately that Fulton's vision of specializing in women's fitness held tremendous opportunity, but that it would need a business plan. He offered a business plan to Fulton as part of a partnering agreement.

The idea is the easiest to dream, but the hardest to achieve. Dueck knew that the end of the road would either be paved with milestones, or potholes. He wanted the milestones.

Plan Write® for Business

Dueck found Plan Write for Business through an Internet search. Initially, he worked with two other business plan programs, but was not satisfied with these products. Dueck felt there had to be better products available. Another Internet search picked up the BRS software products and more specifically, Plan Write for Business.

“Plan Write for Business is very simple to use, with an excellent menu-driven system,” Dueck said. “You simply follow the logic and examples provided.”

The day came for the end product business plan to be presented to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The local bank business manager stated “it was one of the best business plans” she had ever seen.

The Deliverable Benefits, from Starting Out, to Growing Up

The biggest benefit in using Plan Write for Business was in developing a road map for the business – using the software, they were able to map out both long- and short-term objectives. But unlike just drafting a business plan, the software made them think through their customer focus on quality and service – an oft-forgotten business cornerstone for success. Also on the operations side, the software even helped them to develop an Operating Manual, and a Quality Manual, rounding out their business preparedness.

On the financial side, Plan Write for Business includes a very detailed financial model of their business, including a facility to incorporate monthly financial results, automatically updating their five-year projections. Operating smarter means that the business growth won't run away from them, thus avoiding a common failing point, where growth overtakes resources, cash becomes tight, and what once was a growing company, failed to transition into a sustaining enterprise. The built-in programming allows them to tightly manage their growth strategy and maintain rigorous control over their finances – which, as was so glaringly obvious throughout 2001, has been an all-too-common failing among many start-ups.

To date, the partners have consistently exceeded sales growth targets while maintaining precise cost controls.

The Future

In sum, Fitness Link's business plan provides a complete description of their business and business strategies, and has provided an invaluable tool for managing and tracking the new venture start-up. Without the guidance of this “virtual MBA,” Dueck knows they could have easily over-committed and under-delivered. They would have hit one too many potholes until irreparable damage was done. Instead, through fit planning, they have kept not only their business fit, but their growth maintained and sustained, to truly become a “fit” company.

While ExpressFit for Women locations are all currently in Canada, Dueck and Fulton are looking to the U.S. for future growth.



Customer Case Study
Quick Insight®

Software leverages consulting business strengths and saves clients money.

Quick Insight Uncovers Differences before Critical Investments Turn Upside Down on Product Decisions

Market Scope, Inc. grew as a market research company on the strengths of its founder, Jay Lewis, and his extensive experience in the packaged goods industry. With several years of experience working for blue-chip companies in product marketing, Lewis found a way to transfer that experience to the travel and leisure industry when he moved his operations to Florida. Now an expert source for travel writers for such featured publications as the New York Times, Market Scope provides marketing research, marketing strategy, business and management consulting – everything a company needs to translate an idea into a money-making proposition and concept that still stays true to its original dream. As part of that process, Lewis discovered a software package called Quick Insight that he now uses in two important ways: As a business development tool when trying to entice a client with quick and methodological results based on the initial fact-finding client meeting; and, as a critical outcome analysis tool that is then applied to specific business and product situations.

In an economy where ideas that cost money to make money are as risky as starting an entirely new business, few companies are venturing out with new products. Yet what if you say “no” to the wrong idea? What if you have to prove to your superiors that one of their ideas actually has the largest chance of failure? And how do you pinpoint timing, in an environment where more than ever, the phrase “timing is everything” can mean failing or staying afloat?

The Idea/Situation

The product idea presented to Lewis by a cruise industry client would truly “rock the boat.” It was an idea all product managers wished they had dreamed up – different, innovative, and thereby inherently risky. But the risk, it was certain, would be mitigated by its “almost” guaranteed success and attention it would generate.

So how big was the “almost” factor? In some situations, being “almost” a success can still make money or, at a minimum, lead to improvements that can still light the path to fortune. In other situations, particularly in a more hostile economy or industry environment, the definition of failure expands and being “almost a success” translates into a death knell.

Which time was this?

The Challenge

Historically this would be the time when many companies would invest in market research to test their idea before entering the next product development phase, subscribing to the wisdom of “don't develop a product without the proper market research.” However, while market research budgets are eagerly eaten as incidental overhead in billion dollar conglomerates, it is a major investment for a small or medium-sized company, especially in times when “justifiable expenses” takes on a more narrow definition.

Yet to proceed without proper research was not an option either; this idea required a heavy company-wide allocation of resources – dollar and human – in its launch attempt. The company buy-in had to have both breadth and depth, and therefore it required a clear, analytical comprehension of the entire concept.

Quick Insight®

The only way to ensure commitment was to start asking the same questions of everyone in the company, and see if the outcomes were different – a situational audit. Everyone needed to be on the same page with the basic goals and objectives of the company. Lewis knew the only way to efficiently and quickly implement that process was to use Quick Insight.

“Quick Insight requires you to evaluate and think about issues that may not be part of your experience,” Lewis said. “There is a lot of uncertainty in business, and the software takes that uncertainty into account. The only up-front mandate we asked of the company employees before engaging Quick Insight to their responses was that they agree on the company's competitors – everything else would be measured to find consensus. That would be our starting point for this new product idea.”

It turns out that the employees not only had different views of the product idea, but even more surprising – and somewhat unsettling – was that they had differing views on the company as a whole. Whether those views turned somewhere along the way in their history with the company, or they were there from the outset, there was no consensus on the overall corporate belief statements. Without that, there could be no successful product launch requiring such a solid and broad commitment and in fact, it could affect existing corporate offerings, as well, unless changes were made.

The Outcome and Deliverable Benefits

Market Scope's Lewis recommended that his client move slower, and had the situational audit produced by Quick Insight to back up that recommendation.

Quick Insight draws from a knowledge base compiled from the works of 30 marketing experts, including business guru Michael Porter and his “five forces model,” factoring in the five critical forces that interact to effect the outcome of any business decision. “All of those forces are interactive,” said Lewis, “so that if you change any one element, the outcome will be altered. For example, any time your competitor does something, it will affect your business. Quick Insight assesses how it will affect your business.”

Once an analysis is performed, Quick Insight delivers a 50-page assessment complete with color charts and graphics.

The Future

Quick Insight allowed Market Scope to be more specific in recommending concrete steps designed to take its client to a better decision-making platform, and make the leap at a time when they were better prepared. Market Scope also recommended that the company use Quick Insight along the way to evaluate their situation at any stage in the process, ideally every three to four months, to optimize every business change and translate those changes into opportunities.



Customer Case Study
Business Insight®

Santa Rosa, CA – When the marketers at Flowmaster, Inc. have a new product idea, the only thing certain about the idea is that it will cause change. In fact, Richard Small, Executive VP Sales and Marketing said, “Change is normal. Change is the rule in this day and age.” Because of the constant change, Small said, “It is more important than ever to make certain that what you have proposed is right on top. If it is not, take a step back and evaluate.”

Small would know about being on top.  Since 1983, Flowmaster has produced the highest quality and most technically advanced exhaust products in the world. Now, they are rated #1 in the High Performance Automotive Aftermarket. Flowmaster is also an official muffler for Indy Lights, the National Muscle Car Association, ARCA, and NAMARS, Ivan Stuart Pro Truck Series, and the Fastest Street Car Association, to name just a couple of many sponsored events.

What does it take to be the best, to remain ahead of the competition? Small credits the company's success to a couple of factors. First, the President's ideas are innovative and ahead of the pack. Second, Small's interest in strategic analysis plays a role. When the ideas come in, it is part of Small's job to determine if the product's direction is viable. “Our products don't always follow a logical progression,” Small said. “So it is important to predict as close as possible what lies down the road as the product is launched. Plus, we don't like unnecessary surprises. We like to plan ahead at least five years, sense the changes, and plan accordingly.”

Developing a marketing strategy is not an easy proposition. It is not only time consuming, but once the strategy is laid out, it is difficult to make sure that the strategy is on track, all the angles covered, with little personal bias from the developer.

Because strategic planning is only a portion of his job, and Small was feeling the time pressures of daily work, he needed some tools to help him with his planning. Plus, there was a new idea on the table, and Small needed to make some decisions on the new direction the product would take the company.

A recent computer advocate, Small turned toward the Internet to find software to help him make good, solid marketing strategy decisions. “Five years ago, I hated computers. I thought they were a one-eyed Cyclops, since I had never seen computers do anything that was worthwhile to help me with my job,” Small laughs. “Now, I am a software junkie. I am always looking for a tool that can help me do my job faster or easier.”

His software search found him surfing the Internet for marketing strategies. He ran across Quick Insight from Business Resource Software. The software intrigued Small because it claimed to be able to call upon the works of known marketing experts to provide an analysis of his marketing strategy in under two hours.

Hopeful the software would deliver even half of what it claimed, Small answered the 60 questions pertaining to his new product idea. “I was surprised at the depth and the type of questions,” Small said. “The questions were pointed, pertinent and thought provoking, which required me to take a hard look at the issues at hand.”

When he had completed the questions, Small looked at the anlaysis. Quck Insight told him the time was not right for the new direction the company was about to take. “I did not like what the software said,” Small said. “So I completed the analysis again. I feel I was able to get a fast and accurate forecast on what the chances of the new offering would be.” In this instance, Small said, Quick Insight saved him a great deal of time and hassle not launching the new offering.

“Using Quick Insight, I was able to get a fast, accurate analysis of the product. The program is especially good at pinpointing areas that will possibly be a problem and more importantly, why.”

Intrigued by the results of Quick Insight, Small purchased another product by Business Resource Software, Business Insight.   This product is similar to Quick Insight in that it also is an expert system which helps analyze marketing strategies. The difference, however, was in the analysis. “The analysis was much more in depth with Business Insight,” Small said. “But it takes more time to complete.” Even with the extra amount of time to work through the 500 questions, Small said the software still saves the user “a ton of time.”

As a businessman, Small said he “can see if the questions are bad right off the top.” Both of the software products take the emotion out of the analysis, making sure the critique is impartial.  “A person's perceptions can be false without that person even knowing it,” Small said. “Or the assumptions and beliefs may not be accurate.  The programs really check the blind spots.”

As Flowmaster continues to produce new and innovative ideas, Small continues to utilize the expert software systems.   “I would heartily recommend this software to anyone in business who wants good, insightful marketing answers quickly.”

Business Resource Software, Inc., an Austin, TX based firm, develops and markets expert-system software designed to help businesses analyze marketing strategies, build business plans and write marketing plans.



Customer Case Study
Business Insight®

Software provides insight to create 200 new jobs.

Business Insight Provides Business Savvy, Proper Direction and Self-confidence

Jim Glantz, owner of BYOB, Inc., says "Your software is wonderful! It's like having the Wharton School of Business in my computer. It has already saved me much time in developing a marketing strategy for a product launch. I do not have the business savvy that some with extensive business education and background may possess, yet, with your software giving proper guidance, I have gained a great sense of self-confidence about where I am taking my company and when I expect to hit certain milestones. Your product doesn't cost... it keeps paying! Your software is helping me achieve my dream. Thank you."

The Challenge: New Ways to Market Products

After being in the wine and spirits wholesale and retail business for over 7 years, we found that we had to look at other ways to market our product lines. Business was growing, but it lacked something that would electrify it. We were/are at the mercy of suppliers who have not changed their sales methods since 1980 when the ATF changed the size standards for alcoholic beverage products. Yes, they have introduced different products such as pre-mixed drinks, etc. however, there was no real excitement in the industry. Customers see nothing new when they walk into a liquor store. All the bottles look the same.

The Insight: Differentiation Strategy Recommended

We discovered that there are only a few companies that manufacture vodka and that bottlers purchase their vodka for bottling under various brand names for sale to retail customers. We looked to bottle our own under our own private label. When applying the BRS marketing strategy, we discovered that there would be no benefit to entering a market where brands have been established for many years.

This prompted us to experiment at our own retail store where we found that adjusting prices on the existing value vodka's to where one was the price leader over the others would tend to make 60% of the off-the-street purchasers shift their loyalty to the cheapest brand. It didn't matter what the brand name was. We also discovered that 30% of our off-the-street buyers were buying 2 half gallon sizes of vodka at a time. Further, we discovered that 40% of all purchases were made by restaurants, bars and taverns and 80% of those purchased vodka based on price alone. (They have liquor "on the gun" so labels mean nothing.) It is here that the differentiation strategy suggested by the BRS marketing plan was our guiding light.

We could become the market leader by offering a product that was more consumer friendly by price and size. By providing a product size that is bigger than the size available now and pricing it to be the least expensive per ounce would turn a number of customers (both wholesale and retail) to our brand. In addition, we found that our competitors would not be able to compete with us inasmuch as our product would not come under the size standards set forth by the ATF. They would have to open operations in every liquor control state to be able to produce the product sizes we will produce. That is highly unlikely since they do not produce their own product. Remember, they just bottle it.

The Result: 200 New Jobs

We expect to create up to 200 jobs in the next five years. This comes about because BRS responses to our input made us think out-of-the-box. We were looking at being just another bottler of alcoholic beverage product. We are now looking at being a distiller and bottler. We are taking an old-line business (old thinking) and modernizing it through better strategic thinking. The BRS product line forced that. It still amazes us that those working with us on this project continue to ask why our business model has not been done before. We cannot answer that, however, we can answer how the idea came about... it started with BRS and BRS has helped us every step of the way in our planning and development. Thanks again. We believe the BRS products should have the slogan that says, "BRS business software... it makes you think successfully". We will keep you in touch.



Customer Case Study
INSIGHT FOR SALES STRATEGY®

Software focuses strategy on best opportunities for nationwide sales reps and immediate ROI.

Business Equipment Supplier Automates Powerful Sales with Insight for Sales Strategy

Ricoh Canada Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ricoh Corporation, the leading international provider of the highest quality document and content management solutions for the 21st Century workplace. Its Toronto, Ontario headquarters oversees a 650-member Canadian workforce, a strong piece of the global conglomerate's 74,000 employees that contributed to an excess of $12 billion (US) revenue in 2000.

While “copying” might be a mainstay of the company, “innovation” more accurately describes its business operations mindset. Always bold in its new ideas to stay head of the competition, Ricoh has been recognized as an innovator – such as its recognition as an environmental leader – and for its customer responsiveness. As a company of both automation and innovation, applying both these concepts to one of its most critical corporate building blocks – its sales force – became a sound strategy after one happenstance demonstration of Business Resource Software's Insight for Sales Strategy (ISS).

Benefits from a Demonstration Lead to Demonstrated Benefits

King Mahon is Vice President of Direct Sales Ontario. A demo of ISS found on a website convinced him to try the product, and after a year, he sent it to branch managers to use with their respective teams. Mahon's sales managers would run their best opportunities for a sale through ISS, determining the status and objective viability of closing the sale. From that, Mahon was able to have his managers present monthly branch sales outlooks to him using the program to present these solid and confirmed opportunities.

The managers also used the software during their one-on-one sessions with sales reps, focusing on the strategy of a particular account. The software helped narrow the focus of these previously subjective and often time-consuming meetings by objectively and precisely pinpointing areas that needed additional work, thereby increasing the productivity and output resulting from these sessions.

Soon, the software caught the attention of Chuck Richard, the company's Senior Training Consultant, who then ordered it for all company sales managers.

Insight for Sales Strategy®

Mahon discovered ISS on SellingPower.com, the online version of the print publication Selling Power, and the demonstration included on the website impressed him enough to order it.

ISS is ideal for complex sales where interfacing with multiple decision-makers is necessary. Critical results from the program include: 1) raising red flags identifying barriers to a close; 2) recommending solutions to overcome obstacles; 3) identifying strengths and weaknesses of each sale; and 4) constructing an Excel-compatible pipeline worksheet of forecasted sales.

Since the organization had experienced sales team members, Mahon knew they did not need to “teach” how to sell, or correct a specific problem, but instead saw the product as a means to streamline, offer objective assessments, and facilitate the sales process.

“This was more about how we could get better at what we had to do, and the usefulness of having an outside person – in this case, the software program – evaluate where we are in the cycle and give us some valuable insight.

“For that, the program is excellent.”

It also helps new reps learn all of the questions that need to be asked in order to get the necessary information from a sales call. Most reps know the basic questions to have answered during a sales cycle, but there has been no convenient, comprehensive or accessible repository for the questions as a refresher and reminder. It can be something as simple – but nonetheless critical – as asking for a legal review of the docs. While experienced reps can often legitimately make assumptions with no negative consequences, if things are not asked in advance it can mean an order getting delayed or even lost – resulting in lost revenue for the company.

“I put a large opportunity in which I was involved through the program and the results told me some areas we may have missed. We had assumed something, when we needed to be sure. Everything turned out okay and we got the order, but we now had the confidence to back up our assumptions by being reminded to ask all of the questions.”

Now, ISS asks those critical questions – every time.

The Deliverable Benefits, Company Wide ROI

According to Mahon, the ROI resulting from use of ISS has been immediate. If, for example, just one rep asks just one more question that helps him or her understand where they are in a sales cycle, and as a result gets the order, that one deal pays for everyone's software package the first time, and each sale thereafter has an immediate return to the company.

Sales managers now benefit from accurate forecasts based on critical evaluations, not wishful thinking, and all rep forecasts are combined into a single pipeline.

The Future

Richard, the company's senior training consultant, is rolling out an online training program that includes a demonstration of ISS as one of the activities for new sales reps. As feedback is collected, they will continue to incorporate the software's use into the manager and rep program. The product was also demonstrated to RICOH Dealer Managers.

“I wish I had this package 17 years ago when I first started to sell,” Mahon said. “It would have accelerated my learning curve immensely.”



Customer Use Profile
Plan Write® for Pricing

Pricing Decisions in Challenging Economic Conditions

Challenge:

Making a software product pricing decision in a contracting market.

Solution:

Plan Write for Pricing, from Business Resource Software.

Process:

Pricing a software product low in a down market seemed to be the way to go. One manager decided such a decision should not be left to chance, and utilized Plan Write for Pricing to evaluate that strategy.

Plan Write for Pricing develops a strategic pricing plan with expert assistance. Whether your goal is to maximize profits or capture market share, Plan Write for Pricing determines the optimal price for your product, or service, to achieve that goal. You will receive an analysis of your sales potential, evaluating the many factors that impact the success of a pricing strategy often overlooked due to internal, and external, pressures – like a down economy. Getting management and sales to understand and agree to the objectives and rationale is also critical, so Plan Write for Pricing presents your strategy in a clear and through document.

By working within current marketing conditions, the program also prevents the common mistake of simply reacting to your competitors – making their mistakes, yours.

Result:

The software pointed out the problems with the low pricing strategy using a rationale presentation that was presented to the management team. It strengthened the final pricing decision by eliminating costly second-guessing.

Customer Contact:
Jim Sams
Creative Data Research
1150 N. Causeway Blvd.
Mandeville, LA 70471
504-727-2387
jsams@cdrsoftware.com



Customer Case Study
Plan Write® for Hi-Tech Marketing

Software saves customer money by finding holes in marketing strategy

I&A Research Uses Plan Write for Hi-Tech Marketing to Eliminate Risk When Presenting Prospective Customer with Flaws in Distribution Strategy
I&A Research is a software development firm and software distributor that uses Plan Write for Hi-Tech Marketing (PWHM) to develop marketing plans for their products and the products which they distribute. The company was offered a prime opportunity to exclusively distribute a client's product. In writing the marketing plan based on the information and preliminary strategy presented to them by the prospective client, the I&A principals heeded PWHM's advice to pay attention to the potential weaknesses – pinpointed specifically by the software – in order to guarantee success of the distribution program.

The plan was then presented to the prospect, and I&A could see that their presentation of the weaknesses in the current plan was disconcerting to the client – a fear that was reinforced when the company's attorney was asked to review the report that PWHM had generated for I&A. They were sure that this was an opportunity that had now fallen by the wayside.

The next day, however, the prospect calls. They liked the plan, and were impressed by the thoroughness evident in the process of its preparation. They were ready to deal.

Essentially, PWHM's thoroughness saved this customer time, effort and resources by distributing the product through resellers versus direct marketing – all because I&A had courage to heed the software's advice and point out holes in an existing and popular strategy.

Capitalizing on Opportunity I&A eagerly began developing the marketing plan for their new prospective customer much as they have done in the past. Because of their experience and knowledge, they had a basic marketing strategy in mind, but this time decided to engage the Plan Write software. The software could help them generate a professional looking plan, complete with concise reports, graphs and objective projections.

It ended up doing much more.

“The hole in our marketing strategy was a mile wide, but we did not spot it until Plan Write pointed it out,” said Charles Guerin, Principal at I&A. “Primarily, it pointed out that our small, in-house marketing staff would not be an effective strategy for nationwide marketing of this product. It instead proved to us that by using resellers to do our selling, we would be much more effective.”

Spotting that weakness early and modifying the strategy immediately, Guerin estimates, saved his customer about $100,000 right away.

Plan Write for Hi-Tech Marketing
I&A was one of the first users of PWHM's final beta copy, and was excited about the tangible ROI achieved from the software's first use. In addition to identifying the strategy weakness presented here, the software also recommended that the company differentiate even more from the competition the product they were to distribute.

Marketing a hi-tech product requires attention to issues not found in other products or services, which is why PWHM has been customized to integrate all of the tools necessary to successfully plan and execute the marketing strategy. The marketing plan is comprehensive, and the user is delivered a resource that supports the execution and implementation of the marketing strategy.

“Plan Write for Hi-Tech Marketing provides advice that is very sane. It takes quite a bit of time to enter the information, but the end result is definitely worth the time.”

The Deliverable Benefits, from a New Product Line, to an Existing Chain
The biggest benefit in using Plan Write for Hi-Tech Marketing was avoiding the wrong track in a marketing plan – in this instance, putting time, human resources and inevitably financial resources toward hiring direct sales personnel versus going through resellers.

PWHM provides dialog that walks the user through the creation of the plan; integrated and comprehensive tactical check-lists; numerous examples to ensure understanding of key concepts; and incorporates the “Product Marketing Handbook for Software” within the program.

Planning and execution are equally important, and the entire marketing team is able to collaborate using the Plan Write system to ensure a comprehensive and cohesive marketing effort.

The Future
I&A is a regular and loyal user of the Plan Write software. Guerin comments that it is even more useful for expanding an existing product line, because then the financial information can be deduced and predicted from the current sales; whereas the financial results from first-time products are logically harder to predict. This makes concise and objective planning even more critical, with Plan Write for Hi-Tech Marketing as a valuable resource to catch missteps along the path to marketing success.

Of their first experience with the software, Guerin said: “Had the weaknesses with this customer not been identified, we would have spent a lot of money on hiring and training staff. We instead decided to use resellers when appropriate and handle direct marketing only when it proved more profitable to do so.”

PWHM helps identify when those appropriate times are, and now I&A's client is going to seek them out for distribution of additional products.


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