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?
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
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
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
To date, the partners have consistently exceeded sales growth targets while
maintaining precise cost controls.
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
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 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
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?
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Customer Case Study
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
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
Sales managers now benefit from accurate forecasts based on critical evaluations, not
wishful thinking, and all rep forecasts are combined into a single pipeline.
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
Making a software product pricing decision in a contracting market.
Plan Write for Pricing, from Business Resource Software.
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.
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.
Creative Data Research
1150 N. Causeway Blvd.
Mandeville, LA 70471
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
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
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
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 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
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.