Prosperous businesses have a common attribute in that they do something useful for their customers. Therefore if we accurately understand customer problems and needs, the business will have a better chance of success (McKeever, 2010). Working class and college women like to buy fashionable, stylish and slightly conservative clothing at the moderate prices. McKeever (2010) says that college going ladies prefer shopping at convenient times and patronizing stores that offer a wide selection of clothes. These types of women like to talk to sales clerks who understand fashion and know their stores merchandise, but only a few clerks in the local boutique have this knowledge (McKeever, 2010). Presently many of these women travel 20 miles to shop because no local boutique meets their needs or carriers today’s popular labels. There is a need for a boutique specializing in young misses clothes while at the same time addressing a different segment of the women’s apparel market.
The local boutiques in Taneytown do not offer women what they want, good service, fair prices, a variety of sizes, and a large inventory of sportswear and dresses. The local clothing stores do not specialize in a particular demographic. They do not target larger plus-size female, who would otherwise find it a headache or a humiliation to hunt down something for their size (Underhill, 2003). They do not attire expectant mothers and at the same time the local boutiques cannot dress up the teen, the college student, the wannabe prep, and the junior professional women. Armed with important information it concluded that there is a need to establish women’s clothing boutique in Taneytown, Washington DC.
Background What Conditions Led to This Situation?
The need to focus on the all types of women and the present fashions that are designed chicly and stylishly, but with a deliberately loose fit led to this situation. There is also another type of women who are looking for more precise dimensions. In the local boutiques, it has been noted that women come through the door, find that the store’s new designs no longer come close to approximating their body shape, shake their head and move on never to come back (Underhill, 2003). The proposed women’s clothing boutique in Taneytown will take these pains to build a devoted female customer base suitable for all types of women. The need to understand that women’s clothing requirements change with age cannot be overlooked, hence this led to this business opportunity (Underhill, 2003).
Players: Entrepreneurs and Businesses
Entrepreneurs and business minded individuals will be the right players to address this need. Pride, Hughes & Kapoor (2008) advises that this is due to the entrepreneur’s willingness to find and accept a challenge and determine his own destiny will lead to a successful venture. The motivation to start and run a women’s boutique in Taneytown has developed slowly with time gaining the knowledge and ability required for the success of the venture. In a boutique business, the entrepreneur must be able to manage the boutiques finances, its personnel and its day to day operations. The business owner must also be able to handle sales, advertising, purchasing, pricing and all the other business functions (Pride, Hughes & Kapoor, 2008).
An entrepreneur is the right player because clothes alone do not certainly make the boutique owner. Davis (2010) noted that one can be up on all the latest fashions, drop names of all the hip designers, and schmooze all the right vendors, but if an individual does not have the business skill in the women’s boutique business we can as well say his closet is bare. A women’s clothing boutique business is a risky business that requires a lot of capital upfront and in many cases does not often see a return on that investment for the entire first year (Davis, 2010). For this reason entrepreneurial spirit is required in writing the business plan so that the owner can refer to it in the salad days of the business, an important aspect that will remind him or her big picture.
Solution what Kind of Institution do You Propose to Address It?
A women’s clothing boutique in Taneytown known as American University Metro Stop Washington DC will be the right business to address the existing gap. The clothing boutique will be deigned to serve all types of women especially the growing market of the professional working women and college going ladies in the town.
American University Metro Stop will be a women’s retail clothing boutique located in Taneytown, Washington DC. The boutique will position itself to serve the growing market of teens, professional working, middle aged, college and older women. The store will buy clothing and other women accessories from the most popular labels that provide consistent quality and service. American University Metro Stop will resell them as is to our target market. The boutique will specialize in fashionable, reasonably priced clothing suitable to this city’s working, college, school going and household environment (McKeever, 2010). The store will sell sportswear and leisure wear. It will also carry business suits, pantsuits and dresses for the daytime wear, together with accessories likes purses and belts. We also target to make prompt minor alterations at no charge.
American University Metro Stop will regularly publish a newsletter containing clothing tips for the working class and college going women and send it to customers on the email list. We will also keep a file on each customer that contains their size and style and color preferences. American University Metro Stop will schedule fashion shows for its customer base as a marketing device.
American University Metro Stop will be required to learn more about its target market and identify new marketing opportunities. Andersen (2008) recommends that the boutique should come up with focus groups composed of existing and potential customers that will help them to identify customer wants. American University Metro Stop will also need to focus on the extensive communications between upper and lower management so as to identify opportunities for new customers or the special promotions. Mailing labels of potential new customers purchased from and outside marketing group will aid in direct mail efforts.
Niche marketing will play a big role to the American University Metro Stop marketing strategy. This is because according to Andersen (2008) it will help us to expand our inventory to include higher-end and exclusive lines of the women clothing. We also add the private label products like Alhambra stocks and jewelries. Promotions will be used to keep customers interested. American University Metro Stop will hold frequent tent sales and sidewalk specials. At the same time employees will change the eight window displays every month. American University Metro Stop will also use the cost-effective cooperative advertising that will keep customers up to date on the latest specials (Andersen, 2008).
The fashions sector is one of the fastest growing in the Washington DC economy. It is generally dominated by well-educated persons, although perceptions are that the level of training is not sufficient to meet industry demands. According to several sources in the industry, there is a general lack fashion know how in the sector, which has resulted in low levels of delivery to prospected customers (Andersen, 2008).
The boutique business in Taneytown is generally focused on low end customers. There does not appear to be any significant concern by the local dealers to address the rising demands of fashions especially to the young, college going and professional working women. The demand for new fashions within Taneytown and her neighboring towns is very high, thus promising growth of the business in this sector if other things are held constant.
American University Metro Stop boutique will initially be positioned as the quality provider of current women fashions in the target markets described below. Our strategy is to build a good customer loyalty within the key markets of women clothing in Taneytown before moving on to the other towns in the state. New fashions will be promoted as the most stylishly advanced in the market, and the use of social networking sites will be vital to achieving this image. Our marketing strategy is the core of the main subterfuge: emphasize good customer service and support, build a relationship boutique business, and focus on lower and high-end customer as key target markets.
Target Market Description & Profile
American University Metro Stop will serve women in the Taneytown as well as women coming from other towns. Pricing Strategy
The personnel of American University Metro Stop will have to realize that prices determine the sales and consequently revenue generation of the boutique and therefore we will leverage the quality of our products in order to increase the sales. In pricing we will minimize profit margin to increase the total sales where applicable and necessary and at the same time lower the cost price and introduce the service charges to special customers who need customized clothes.American University Metro Stop boutique will maintain mailing lists of its customers and prospects from information obtained at the point of sale and from proprietar credit card application. According to Andersen (2008) we will use the lists to send flyers announcing in-store promotions and new merchandise. American University Metro Stop boutique will ensure that each salesperson works with 50 key personal customers, sending those flyers, announcing new merchandise and offering personal shopping services. As the part of the marketing strategy employees will send thank-you cards to customers who purchase more than $100 worth of merchandise.
Andersen (2008) proposes that we use prompt ticketing as part of our marketing strategy. Employees will inspect and ticket 100 percent of the clothes as soon as they come in the door and quickly move them to the sales floor. Andersen (2008) indicated that in order to keep that inventory fresh, the boutique would have a policy in place of not carrying slow-moving clothes into the next season. Andersen therefore advises that if the fashion will not be moving after 30 days on the floor, buyers start to mark them down and continue to do so until they are sold (2008).
The above promotional strategy has been projected to cost the business a substantial amount: 1st Year $50,000; 2nd Year $ 150,000 and 3rd Year $450,000. Supplemental to these efforts will be the development of the business website and development of supporting print. A direct mail campaign will begin immediately to prospective clients notifying them of the available fashions, features and benefits of purchasing such outfits.
American University Metro Stop boutique is targeting the Taneytown and other surrounding towns to advertise its clothes. The sales team in partnership with our vendors will often visit these areas and create awareness of the new fashion boutique. There will be later plans to move to neighboring towns which have women’s clothes potential market. American University Metro Stop will also ensure there is effective communication with its existing and prospective customers.
Established partnership with vendors will enable American University Metro Stop to create a network of client contacts and this will lead to the ease of customers reaching us on the mail or telephone in case they have any questions. American University Metro Stop will make good use of online presence as a tool to distribute and promote the efficiency in the daily distribution operations. American University Metro Stop will also establish partnership with vendors of latest fashions and with this network; the vendors will give us leads to sales of our.
American University Metro Stop will offer a relaxed atmosphere with personalized attention and unlimited fitting room time. The boutique will feature a contemporary design and inviting feeling. All the employees will be knowledgeable about fashion in general and about the clothing we sell. McKeever (2010) recommends that the American University Metro Stop should be located in an estimated 2,000 square feet in the downtown mall and maintain regular mall hours of Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. These hours will be appropriate to all customer segments. American University Metro Stop will offer the delivery on a regular basis, and besides that it will offer Federal Express shipments when requested and it will maintain a website together with an active email correspondence with customers so that they can express their feelings about any concerns (McKeever, 2010)
In addition, American University Metro Stop boutique will keep their employee turnover rate low by making everyone part of the management team and keeping the lines of communication open. Andersen (2008) says that employees also feel empowered to do whatever it takes to get things done, is it responding to customer complaints or special ordering merchandise. We will keep our employees up to date on industry trends and business practices by holding monthly employee meetings. Andersen (2008) says that American University Metro Stop should bring in outside business consultants to lead training seminars and motivate employees.
To improve on their operations, all the personnel and employees at American University Metro Stop boutique will read a variety of trade journals and attend buying shows to learn about the latest products. Andersen (2008) says that the American University Metro Stop boutique will talk frequently to customers and sales associates to find out what clothes women need and want. The management assisted by sales personnel will make all decisions concerning clothes purchases. Once we know what fashions of clothes are required, they will be inviting the vendors to come and show their fashions and goods, while at the same time informing them up front what they expect in terms of performance. While keeping in line with their desire for fresh fashions, we will place the high value on the sell-through quality of clothes (Andersen, 2008). We will stick with vendors with fast-selling clothes and quickly dismiss vendors with slow-moving clothes. As part of our operations we also bring new fashions in on the trial basis and restock based on their selling patterns and power.
To effective, we will develop a formal sales training manual and include such items as attire, register functions, job expectations and performance standards. American University Metro Stop will also develop a selling productivity measures such as sales per employee hour, as standards to review the performance of every sales associate in the boutique. Andersen (2008) says that the American University Metro Stop boutique should develop its operating systems in a way to identify both financial and non-financial key performance indicators to measure goal achievement. Such performance indicators will include sales per employee and percent of total sales needed for the payroll.
There are conflicting trends that will affect the American University Metro Stop. McKeever (2010) says that one of the trends is that more women are entering college, and workforce. This implies that women increasingly must work to pay for family necessities rather than make money for extras. McKeever (2010) further says that for my business, this implies that professional working women will appreciate even more in the years ahead the extra service and convenience that we offer. Secondly, as the baby boom matures, the number of women in the age group that enters the workforce and college is declining. This means that we will not count on an ever-expanding population base for our business. In order to take care of these trends, American University Metro Stop boutique should pay attention to its customers changing tastes as they grow older, not ignoring the growing teen. The business should find new ways to market to smaller number of younger women entering college and workforce (McKeever, 2010).
By critically looking at the financial projections of the business plan we can tell if the business idea will be profitable before it is implemented (McKeever, 2010). American University Metro Stop boutique financial section will cover break even analysis, sales revenue forecast, fixed costs, and gross profit for each sale and break even sales revenue. Sales revenue for American University Metro Stop will be the total dollars from sales activity that we will bring into the business each month, year or week. Fixed costs also called overheads for American University Metro Stop must be paid regardless of how well we will do (McKeever, 2010). Fixed costs usually do not vary and they will include rent, insurance and other set expenses that we will incur.
The gross profit for each sale is the amount of money that will be left from each sales dollar after paying for the direct costs of that sale (McKeever, 2010). Finally the breakeven sales revenue will be dollar amount the business needs each week or month to pay for both direct product costs and fixed costs. This will not include the profit.
Sales Revenue Forecast
American University Metro Stop wants to open a 2,000-square foot dress store in a downtown shopping mall. Research shows that the revenue for women’s clothing stores will be between $100 and $150 per fitting per year. After comparing with other clothing retailers, reading trade magazines, visiting similar stores in other cities, American University Metro Stop decides that it can achieve the $150-per-foot-per year figure. This implies that our annual sales should be $300,000 (2000* $150). To be conservative we plan the first year’s sales to be about 20% below that level to allow for the business to build. This therefore means that the first year sales will be about $240,000, or $120 per foot (McKeever, 2010).
According to McKeever (2010) the American University Metro Stop boutique must forecast monthly sales for the first 2 years; we have to decide how the sales revenue will occur each month. This means that we can divide this $240,000 by 12 months and decide how the sales revenue will occur each month. Therefore $240,000 by 12 months and get $ 24,000 per month. In women clothing McKeever (2010) says that this will be inaccurate. These results from the fact that in women’s clothing there are four seasons: spring, early summer, fall and Christmas. The kind of shop we plan to open American University Metro Stop boutique is slow in midsummer and in January and February. We also figure out that sales will be little lower than average for the first few months until the advertising campaign catches on (McKeever, 2010). The American University Metro Stop boutique monthly sales add up to $241,100 for the firstt year, so the figure will be reduced by $1000 to make a nice round $240,000. For the second year we will increase revenues to $344,000 to allow for the normal growth.
Sales revenue forecast
Fixed Cost Estimated at Monthly Basis
By looking at the table below we realize that we should have at least $ 7,750 left after accounting for the sales. Annually this amounts to $ 93,000. To proper we must not only cover fixed costs, but also must take enough to make a decent living.
Gross Profit for Each Sales Dollar
American University Metro Stop boutique should determine how much of each dollar will be left after subtracting the costs of the goods sold. McKeever (2010) says that this number will pay fixed costs and determine the profit of the business venture. In this context we plan to sell half of our products at the double cost we pay. A dress we buy at $ 100 we will sell at $150. This implies that our gross profit per dress sale is 50%. We also plan to derive our selling price for sale dresses, mark-downs and accessories by adding one-half of our cost to our selling price.
Forecasted Gross Profit
Break Even Analysis
American University Metro Stop boutique needs $348,000 in sales revenue just to break even. This is $144,000 more than we expect the first year and $4,000 more than we expect for the second year. The American University Metro Stop will improve its profit, by increasing our sales revenue by selling more clothes to our customers and increase the gross profits percentage by raising the selling prices or by lowering our product costs. American University Metro Stop boutique should realize that a very aggressive sales increase alone will bring a small profit. We will also according to McKeever (2010) need to find some combination of higher sales estimates, lower fixed costs and higher gross profit margin that will improve profits and enable us to make a living wage.
At present we believe we have a good team for covering the main points of the business plan. The human resources reflect the need to bolster our capabilities to match our positioning. Our total headcount should increase to 4 the second year and 8 by the third year. This is a very lean projected personnel growth since the American University Metro Stop will be centered on in-house training and excellent business operations while reducing the overhead costs to focus on the customer’s satisfaction.
We will apply the required techniques to choose the right people. We will also provide appropriate challenges, development, rewards and opportunities to satisfy and motivate the qualified applicants (Nankervis, t Compton & Morrissey, 2009). Our recruitment and selection will therefore focus on both filling current job vacancies and preparing for the future staffing needs of the American University Metro Stop boutique. During business decline, internal development activities will be emphasized to prepare our employees in boom seasons of the business like Christmas. Our human resource strategic plan will cover less than one year depending on how our business will progress.
According to McKeever (2010) information technology will be our innovative kitchen appliance. We will use technology to track our counterparts. Technology such as point of sale will enable us to carefully watch revenues, costs, and profits and loss analysis in our business. Information technology will enable us to market our fashions through mailing lists and enable customers to book new cloth arrivals online. Through technology, McKeever (2010) advises that we can try to keep inventory investments as low as possible by having some of our suppliers ship orders directly to the customers in case they need high quantities. As indicated by McKeever (2010) information technology will come with the additional expenses, because we will hire people who know the website programming as well as the online banking and fulfillment operation all of which will be important for the American University Metro Stop boutique to generate profits in the long run. New information technology systems at point of sale locations will provide American University Metro Stop boutique with timely and accurate sales and inventory data.
Research & Development
Research and development at the American University Metro Stop boutique, will enable us to identify the new market segments. Through research and development we will form the focus groups which will be composed of existing and potential customers who will help us identify customer wants. Andersen (2008) says that successful research and development will be ensured by extensive communication between upper and lower management who will help us to establish opportunities for new customers. Andersen (2008) advises that decisions concerning existent and future boutique locations will be driven the growth of Taneytown and its environs. The research and development role in our business venture will enable us to develop a unique image of the boutique. The image will be derived by a clear, concise statement incorporating employees suggestions will help us to focus on our common goals (Andersen, 2008). Training of employees will be the part of our development plan. We will educate our employees on suggestive selling techniques and product knowledge a concept that will improve the bottom line. As part of our research and development plan Andersen (2008) proposes that we visit existing leading boutiques in other towns and states and take a look at pricing, cleanliness, display, loss prevention and record keeping.
Early Assessment: Does This Look Like a Business Opportunity?
Yes. This is because all the numerous questions I asked myself before starting the business venture have ready answers. As indicated by Harder (2005) I have tried to answer these questions and analyzed them carefully as indicated in the sections above. This is a business opportunity is because the business idea was conceptualized due to the realization that there is a need for a women’s clothing boutique in Taneytown. I have also spent time to research what the local stores offer, talked to the sells people and checked customer’s reactions to garments, fit and quality (Harder, 2005). I have also visited higher priced boutiques for the innovative fashion trends and realized that there is a need to address the existing gap. Besides those measures I have shopped in a variety of neighborhoods and compared the customer’s tastes. This business opportunity cannot be addressed by the social enterprise of a nongovernmental agency.
If Entrepreneur(s) are Involved, Describe the Preferred Background of the People Who Could Pursue This Opportunity
The involvement of entrepreneurs will require that they have knowledge in the women fashion. Pakroo (2010) says that this will enable them to run the business with less learning and ramp-up time and perhaps even more importantly it will provide them with a crucial head start in figuring out the business plan. Pakroo (2010) determined that entrepreneurs with fashion background already know a lot of the basic information they will need to determine if the business will be profitable. In addition, Pakroo (2010) says that unlike those who never worked in the field, people with women clothing and fashion background will know at least a little about who the target customers will be, how the business will operate and how they will market the business. The need to have knowledge in boutique business is that the value of this type of business is typically related to its premium pricing. In this context it should be noted that if strategically planned boutique businesses have a higher margin per product (Pakroo, 2010). This implies that an entrepreneur should have previously worked in the same business so as to help him or her to develop pricing advantage.
Are You a Candidate? If Yes, What Additional Experience Would Be Desirable? Who Would You Team up With to Pursue This Opportunity?
Yes. I am a preferred person to run this business. It entails that I have knowledge in developing business plans and figure out whether the business will make profit. I will be required to know the best sources of women clothing and accessories, optimal pricing strategies and the best ways of marketing the business (Pakroo, 2010). I will spend more time doing research and will rely more heavily on others for help to get my business off the ground. Pakroo (2010) recommends that researching widely will help me to become familiar with trends and opportunities presented by the business venture. I will also rely on many blogs and websites offering the boutique business news. They will help me to gain general advice and approaches of developing my business idea. Pakroo (2010) says that starting a business works best for people who are not afraid of the research like me and who have a well-developed understanding of the common systems that exist in just about any business operations, finances, customer service, and marketing and human resource management. This additional experience will work best with me because I have a business experience. I will start the business with my elder sister who is a very experienced fashion designer. She will also give me contacts regarding manufacturers, new fashion designs in the market and how to work with middle men.