Products and Services. On the surface, it seems to be an easy thing to define in customers' business plans. If you are a restaurant, your product is your food and your wait staff will provide the always-exceptional service. If you are an airline, however, your product is your service. And if are a retail store, you may sell products, but it's the service that is going to keep your customers returning. So it may seem simple at first, but defining exactly what you offer and how you offer it can be a task and a half. You should, of course, utilize a business planning firm to help you shape your product and service description. This will make the task easier, and you will definitely hone the "why" and "how" of what you do for your business plans.
First, you must define what kind of business you are. If your clients aren't Joe and Jane Smith living on America Lane, but other businesses, then odds are, then you're obviously a B2B or Business to Business service. This will subtly alter how business plans deal with your products and services. A premier business plan firm like MasterPlans has written dozens of business plans, for instance, for cleaning companies that handle only office buildings. For business consumers, you will want a streamlined and no-nonsense outlay of what you do, what you offer, and how you will offer it.
If you're an airline operating out of O'Hare airport in Chicago, then you are a B2C business, or Business to Consumer. Of course, you must also deal with O'Hare Airport and the city of Chicago, too, so you are also a B2B. It can get confusing, but it doesn't have to be.
If you are a B2C, then your service and product offering can be a bit more personal, a bit more tailored to what your customers will want. If you are offering something everyone wants, like the latest technological geegaw, or a hot and trendy establishment that serves only that hot new caffeinated beverage, then you should play that up. And that can definitely be more fun. After all, it's much easier to think of yourself as a B2C pizzeria, selling the famous deep-dish style pizza directly to the citizens of Chicago!
The Product and Services Description is not merely a comprehensive list of what your company does. It can very well be the key that unlocks your business concept for investors. Businesses can be completely service-oriented (as many B2B companies) or a product-only company, or they can offer a mixture of products and services (like a spa). Whether your business offers one or two services or a suite of them, along with a product selection, your Product and Services Description should always emphasize detail.
Your Product and Services Description is a section that will be referenced continually, so it has to contain all the information necessary to educate your loan officer or investor on what you will bring to your industry. This section is often split into two or three components: a short introduction on the products or services offered and then a longer section devoted to the details of your product and service offering. A third section is often necessary to detail future services or products. The first section is usually a summary of your product or service offering. It often contains three short paragraphs and a series of bullet points on your offered products and/or services. The key to this section is to provide a "sampling" of what you offer (or plan to offer) to the public.
The second section builds upon the first by identifying the nature of your product or service offering. You can really get into specifics in this section, but be sure to make it only a page or two in length. If you are providing a new technology service, for instance, you don't want to divulge proprietary or sensitive information. Sensitive data can always be talked over after you and your investor have begun serious rounds of discussions. If your company is in the design phase of a new product or is currently testing a service, be sure to write them out (along with an estimated time of unveiling or launch). It will provide added enticement and reflect your distinctive flair for innovation.
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