A Business Plan Overview Keep in mind as we build your business plan that marketing has two fundamental objectives:
the retention of existing clients; and,
the acquisition of new clients.
Your existing clients are your base and represent your steady income. New clients represent growth and replace clients you may lose or fire along the way. Whatever steps we take in building a plan, we will want to ensure that we are acting to either retain desirable existing clients or acquire desirable new ones.
Understand too that while the plan is important, the very act of planning has great value. Writing down your goals along with the tactics you will use to achieve them is an invaluable exercise in itself. When you put a plan into writing, you are ensuring that you are capable of articulating your ideas and you will be better equipped and more confident in your ability to carry out your objectives.
It is easy to get lost in the details of a business plan. For that reason, the plan we build with you will lean heavily on the strategic and tactical issues and a bit less on numbers. We want to make recommendations that you can immediately put to use. This is not to say that the numbers are not important: they are. In the time we have available, however, we want to have the maximum impact on your planning. For that reason, we will stick with action items and trust that you will fill in with the numbers. Further, we are looking to construct a plan you can complete in a reasonable amount of time and that you will use! Therefore, we are going to construct a basic 10 page action plan for your travel practice.
Not everyone defines the components of a business plan in exactly the same way. Often you will also see the terms "strategy" and "objective" used in the context of a business plan, with some resulting confusion arising about the appropriate category of any given action. I'm a proponent of simplicity, however. For our purposes here, let's agree to use these terms and definitions as we move forward.
Goals: a broad desired outcome we map using the SMART system. This is WHAT you are going to do.
Strategy and Tactics - the actual steps you use to achieve a goal. This is HOW you are going to do it.
Marketing Calendar: Your strategies and tactics will be plotted on a Marketing Calendar. It is important to have a grid against which you can measure your progress. This is WHEN you are going to do it.
Let's begin with your Goals. What do you want to accomplish this year? Do you want to grow your client base by 15 clients? Do you want to increase your profitability by 20%? Do you want to improve your client relationships? To create a niche market for your practice? Travel more?
Setting Goals for Your Business Plan
Every travel consultant should set goals for their business and personal life. By setting goals, the professional can better focus on the necessary actions to take to achieve success in their travel practice.
Certainly the very act of setting a goal has merit. What really puts a goal into high gear, however, is writing it down. A travel professional who can objectify and articulate their goals is more likely to achieve them. Yet, the truth is that very few of us work from a written marketing plan or set of goals. More often, we “wing it!” What might we achieve if we were more disciplined in our approach? It is one measure of how much potential the travel industry has that so many can earn a living without the need to follow so basic a rule. If you will take the time to write down your goals, it is almost a guarantee that you will achieve more. Writing your goals down gives them substance, orienting, clarifying and programming your mind in relationship to everything around you.
The most important aspect of a goal is the element of intentionality. Goals provide focus. Once you establish a goal, especially if you place it in writing, you are truly accountable to yourself. Goals help you hone in on the precise steps you must take to achieve them. Rather than haphazardly “meeting our numbers”, intentionality is a laser-like focus on an end result that both motivates us and helps to organize our methodology. Then, there is the matter of balance. There is no reason that goal setting should be relegated only to your professional life. There is a need to achieve balance for the whole person. It is possible to set goals for your personal life, your family, your health and every aspect of your well-being.
Setting SMART Goals One of my favorite comedians, Eddie Izzard, set the almost unbelievable goal of running all the way around the circumference of England and Scotland, the equivalent of 43 marathons in 50 days, for charity. He had never run a marathon before. I think it may be possible to learn something from Mr. Izzard.
Indeed, goal setting is a path to enhancing every aspect of your travel agency’s business plan. When applied to your sales efforts, goal setting assists you with focusing on the most important elements of the sales process and programs the unconscious mind to maintain the right attitude toward your work. Sales professionals years ago developed the “S.M.A.R.T.” acronym as a mnemonic device to help remember how to properly go about properly setting goals:
Let’s review each of these in turn with reference to Eddie’s amazing feat (feet?) as a guide.
Specificity means that you know what you want to achieve and how you are going to do it. Your goals should be objectified – you have to put a real number to them. If you set the goal of "losing weight" the lack of specificity makes your goal less valid than if you say I want to lose 10 pounds. Likewise, setting a goal such as “increase the number of clients I work with this year” is a great goal. However, when you indicate that you are going to have working with 35 new cruise passengers this year, then your goal has much more substance. When you then begin to work through the tactics you will use to actually successfully work through the full buying cycle with 35 new passengers, then you have a much more specific, and therefore achievable, goal. Eddie Izzard knew exactly how many miles he faced when he took those first few steps out of Trafalgar Square, he knew how many days it was likely to take and he knew the path he would follow.
Measurable means that you can monitor your progress with a clear end result. Break your goal up into measurable increments and track your steps along the way. Make adjustments as you need to insure that you are on the right path to hitting your targets. Eddie’s path had clear markers. He could measure his progress not only by the blisters on his feet, but by each day’s milestones.
Attainable – your goal has to be realistic. It should be a stretch, no goal should be set too low. But make your goal something that with a lot of hard work and perseverance, you can attain. Eddie Izzard’s goal was almost unbelievable – to everyone but him.
Reward – This is your motivation for the entire effort. Perhaps it is as simple as more income. If so, be specific. How much more income? Perhaps it is the satisfaction of knowing you can set a goal and keep it. Eddie Izzard’s reward? $300,000 raised for charity and the satisfaction of knowing he could do it.
Timeframe – When are you going to be the world’s greatest travel consultant? Someday? Be specific. Use a calendar to make your goals real. Eddie knew how long it should take him to complete his runs, and he did it. You can accomplish your goals the same way.
Nothing is impossible. Nothing. By the way, there is a series of video diaries documenting Eddie’s run around the British Isles. It will be 1/2 hour well spent to watch them.
Exercise: In order to focus, choose no more than five key priorities as Goals. Make sure your goals are realistic, but don't undershoot! You can always adjust downward later. Write down your goals. Be specific and attach numbers to your goals where possible and use the SMART system for each. Sample Goal:
To grow my client base by 15 new, FIT clients by December;
Specific - 15 new clients
Measurable - 6 new clients in Q1 and 3 new clients in every quarter thereafter
Attainable - 15 new clients next year is ambitious, but I know I can do it.
Reward - I will be able to increase my overall profitability and generate more income
Timeframe - Planning my tactics during the rest of 2017 to achieve this goal in 2018
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