Market Planning 101
By: Tony Ozelis

The Tools of the Trade

Now that you understand the importance of a market development plan, you'll need to assemble some pretty basic supplies before setting out to do the data collection. As we mentioned earlier, these shouldn't cost you more than twenty bucks, but the information that it will contain when you're done, will be priceless.

First, you'll need a map of the area you’re thinking about doing business in and no, not the laminated book kind…those are for people that sell houses or delivery drivers, we mean a high-quality, folded paper, spread it out on a kitchen table kind...and the more detail...the better.

The book format map may seem like a real good idea at first because it’s easier to use in a car, but when you’re finished with your study, it's best to spread the thing out on a flat surface and be able to see the entire area without having to flip through page after page.

The map should show a large enough area for you to visually see, in one glance, as much as possible about the area that you’d want to build in, plus a little bit more.

Now, before you say “Los Angeles” we understand that some areas of this country are much larger than others and fitting it all on one map may not be possible... it might even be unrealistic (Your area of interest or franchise territory may be much larger or smaller).

The point is to obtain a map that has enough detail so can study the largest area possible to “mine” out of the best possible opportunities (notice the plural) in the best possible trade areas for your particular business. 

Next, you will need four felt tip pens (the ones with red, green, blue and black are our favorites) and a marble composition book (Yeah, those goofy black and white notebooks that you carried back in grade school…why? Click HERE and we’ll tell you).

We’ve always found that the felt-tip pens are better to write with because they don’t puncture the paper on the map and will write easily with a minimum amount of pressure. The book to write down phone numbers of available spaces you come across, your impressions about areas, your findings as you study your competition...in effect, everything concerning your search.

Resist at all costs thinking: “I can get this stuff off of the internet, why should I burn precious time and gas when I can sit in the comfort of my living room and download the same information”? It’s simple: You can’t...not accurately, anyway. As wonderful as GIS Technology is; it can be outdated or just plain wrong (Of course, if being a quarter mile from success is acceptable to you, fire up the old PC and take the easy way out).

We didn’t think so…start driving, Bucko.

Oh, one more thing, here’s everything you need to know about the programs that pick your sites for you and/or predict your future sales volumes…they don’t work. There is both an art and a science to responsible real estate site selection and as wonderful as computers are, they simply cannot duplicate the human element, nor can they see those little pitfalls that can tank a site (like physical or psychological trade barriers). Besides, most of these "wonderful" programs that are available today are either too expensive, too inaccurate or worse yet…both.

The most recent one that I've worked with was, according to one of its authors, “70% accurate”. Now, we ask you…if you were a Cardiologist and had a heart monitor that worked 70% of the time… would you use it? Again, we didn’t think so…

It's interesting to note that this company had invested very large amounts of time and money into it and they make serious financial decisions based on its estimates every day! Since there is an almost unending list of variables that can affect the success of any particular location and there aren't enough questions asked to bring them all to light, we will strongly caution you from trusting these abominations. In the end, the only thing that these programs produce, is a false sense of security.

It's best to leave these "tools" for those that do not posses the desire, time and/or the talent for the development end of business. Besides, your not splitting the atom here…you’re just trying to find a good location for your business. Keep it simple.

Next: Collecting your data

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