Business planning in any environment is important, but add in the myriad of challenges brought by the current COVID-19 pandemic, and strategic business planning becomes even more essential for convenience stores looking to succeed in this uncertain landscape.
So, why is business planning so crucial? In a word, it provides clarity. Investing time in developing a plan provides precise clarification of the company’s vision to both employees and customers. In addition, it provides a mechanism to gauge the results of the business and provides the foundation for future growth.
A business plan that hits the mark is one that not only identifies the strategic direction of the company, but also maps out the tactical elements that enable the company to execute on the plan. This is where most companies fail to deliver. Operationalizing a strategic plan is a discipline that separates the planners from the doers.
Be sure to consider the following in creating your strategic business plan so that you position your convenience store chain to thrive despite the challenges caused by the pandemic.
Strategize & Identify Goals
First, identify the key company goals for your convenience store chain. These should include goals in areas including financial, growth and cultural alignment. Your plan should span one to three years with metrics that can be used to measure your success.
Develop Planning Modules
Next, compartmentalize your plan by priority, resources and timelines, and break out the tasks that must be accomplished in each quarter of the year. Be prepared to reset the plan as needed due to changes in market conditions.
Develop Non-Capital Initiatives
This includes productivity projects, i.e. sweat equity, process improvements, better management, etc. Develop checks and balances on resource management. Have an “in the queue, out of the queue” mindset. Basically, this means that you need to identify an initiative, get the resources to work on it, get it complete and move on — no hesitation.
Create A Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) Plan
Identify all discretionary CAPEX items that add growth and returns. Include mandatory, stay-in-business CAPEX items. Lastly, set up a capital committee to review these items.
Identify & Monitor
Identify both Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your business to use as benchmarks, as well as Fundamentals, Cycles & Trends (FC & Ts) — outside forces that will influence your best intentions.
Ask Key Questions
Consider the following questions to make sure your direction is on point:
- Where do you want to go?
- How will you get there?
- Do your initiatives achieve your overall goal?
Operationalize by Writing an Actionable Plan
Sequentially timeline all projects so that they will not be competing against one another for resources. Morph your strategy into a plan that includes tactical solutions by mapping all the steps of the execution. Share with the whole team expectations, updates and communications involved in the ongoing business plan process. Set targeted benchmarks that can be measured against the initiatives you are implementing. Monitor weekly and monthly all activities to ensure that the team is delivering on time and on budget.
Successful organizations create a team that consists of both types of individuals. A team that can take lofty strategic plans and tactically execute them is one to be reckoned with.
John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc., a strategic planning, operations and marketing services firm. Matthews has recently written “Game-Changing Strategies for Retailers,” available on Amazon. His two step-by-step manuals, “Local Store Marketing for Retailers” and “How to Stage a Killer Grand Opening,” are available at GrayCatEnterprises.com.