How to Write an Operations & Development Plan for a Small Retail Business
Creating a business plan is the first step to opening a retail business. The plan outlines the market niche, defines the types of products you offer and describes your marketing strategies. Financial projections and funding requirements are part of the business plan as well. An operations and development plan takes the business plan one step further by incorporating specific details about staff duties and responsibilities, as well as action steps to make the plan a reality.
Write a job description for each employee defining specifically what that position is responsible for accomplishing on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. For example, the salesperson closing the store at the end of the day has the responsibility to count the money, lock the doors, shut off the lights and make the night deposit. The store manager opens the store, puts money in the register and reconciles the cash and receipts every morning. All the job responsibilities are part of the operational plan. As part of the development plan, identify additional needed skill sets for each position. For example, the store manager may be required to develop the ability to interact with the accounting system or to add reports to the point-of-sale system program.
Develop strategies and action plans for each goal and objective in the business plan and include them in the operational plan. Include each function of running your retail business, such as vendor selection, inventory control, shrinkage control, and sales and marketing. For example, the strategy might be to utilize social networking to increase customer visibility and sales. The action plans would assign a specific person to open the social networking accounts, update the sites, encourage friends and followers and interact with them on the sites. Assign a target date to each action plan. When the action plan is completed, note it in the operational plan.
The development plan includes monitoring the competition, economy, changes in consumer preferences and technological advancements to uncover opportunities to improve store sales. List each competitor, its strengths and how your retail store serves the customer better. Include those benefits in your marketing message. Stay aware of trends in how customers shop, and you can implement technology for a better buying experience. For example, you could upgrade your system to enable customers to order from their cell phones and pick up their purchases in the store. Another example is the implementation of mobile marketing. Over time the mix of products you offer in your store will change. In your development plan, analyze how customer preferences are evolving and discuss the new merchandise you intend to offer to gain new customers as a result of the trends.
List the possible emergencies that could occur, and develop an action plan for each. Emergencies could include being robbed, a customer slipping and falling, fire, electrical blackout, extreme weather or illness of key personnel. The operational plan for emergencies should be in an easily accessible place, perhaps next to the point-of-sale system. Each employee should be well-versed on what she should do in each scenario. During a real emergency, there's little time to read instructions. The development plan includes providing additional training to your staff for first aid, CPR and conflict resolution.