Table 1. Internal and external information gathered in the situation analysis
Business related (Internal) Information:
(1) Financial resources and capabilities:
- Gross profits and net earnings after taxes
- Financial ratios – return on investment, breakeven analysis, leverage ratio, current ratio, age of accounts receivable, inventory turnover, working capital turnover, and profit margins.
- Cash flow analysis (actual and/or projected)
- Record keeping system
- Borrowing capabilities
(2) Operating facilities:
- Production capacity – based on land, labor, and equipment availabilities (wholesale nurseries only)
- Production scheduling of cultural practices (wholesale nurseries)
- Inventory levels by variety, grade, size, and loss rates (may affect markets targeted in the short run)
- Manpower requirements
- Equipment requirements
(3) Competitive strengths and weaknesses:
- Competitive status of company’s products (name recognition, quality perception, etc.)
- Sales force capabilities
- Market share projections (as compared to competitors)
- Competitiveness of prices – volume discounts
- Advertising and promotion capabilities
- Depth of product mix
- Distribution methods and channels
- Service capabilities
Market Related (External) Information:
(1) Environmental constraints:
- Costs and availabilities of materials (chemicals, soil media, etc.)
- Costs and availabilities of energy (fuel, electricity, etc.)
- Economic conditions – housing starts, inflation, recession, interest rates, unemployment rates, capital availability.
- Technology advancements
- Political environment – environmental quality, pesticide issues, etc.
(2) Market conditions:
- Market size – population, family size, number of households, rate of growth in an area, geographic concentrations.
- Market segments (alternative outlets) differentiated by age, sex, income level, education, occupation.
- Buyer purchasing habits – time, place, credit or cash, frequency.
- Buyers use habits – when, where, for what purpose.
(3) Analysis of competitors:
- Number of competitors in the market area
- Market shares (industry surveys)
- Strengths and weaknesses in terms of prices (last 3-5 years), product mix, quality, promotion, advertising, cost structure, transportation costs.
Sources of Information:
- State or national trade associations (TAN, American Association of Nurserymen, etc.)
- Landscape contractors or architects (can indicate plants they are currently using or plan to use and those which are difficult to obtain)
- County Extension Agents and Horticultural Specialists – Extension Service
- Texas Departments of Agriculture (Texas Grown program)
- Trade publications (American Nurseryman, Nursery Business – Retailer, Nursery Business -Grower, Nursery Manager)
- Trade shows (SNA, TANMISSLARK, Penn Allied, etc.) I
- ndustry surveys (TAN, AAN, etc.)
- Census data (excellent source of demographic information)
Table 2. Examples of specific marketing objectives
- Increase overall return on investment by __% for the next fiscal year.
- Increase specific product sales by __% for the next fiscal year.
- Increase market share by __% in “X” market by December 31, 1990.
- Increase sales volume by __% in selected regions/territories by specific dates.
- Prices should yield a minimum unit contribution to profit of __%.
- Increase manpower training by __% by a specific date.
- Achieve advertising/promotion goals in specific markets for the year.
- Introduce __ new products to fill out product mix by specific dates.
Table 3. Tactical product mix decisions.
Product Related Decisions
- Determining the most effective product mix (species, cultivars, sizes, etc.) to serve each market segment (should be based on costs and buyer demand).
- Branding the products in the product line, if possible (plant patents, etc.)
- Using attractive and efficient containers that hold up during storage.
- Provide attractive and informative labels for plant materials.
- Provide guarantees for each product in the product line. Modifying the existing product mix as the need arises.
- Planning and introducing new products (cultivars, sizes, etc,) when possible.
- Provide information on the care of the plants after they are sold.
- Service considerations – delivery, credit, convenient business hours.
Promotional Related Decisions
- Select and prioritize target groups and geographical marketing areas.
- Determine whether advertising is required for the target markets selected. If so:
- Determine advertising appeals and specific messages to use in those campaigns.
- Select appropriate advertising media such as radio, television, newspaper, road signs or direct mail.
- Determine the size of the ads to be used.
- Determine the duration of the advertising campaign.
- Determine the frequency of advertising.
- Determine how advertising effectiveness is to be measured.
- Select appropriate sales promotional media such as point-of-purchase materials, samples, demonstrations, or trade shows.
- Develop a logo that is colorful and prominent.
- Public relations events – donate to charities, community meeting place, sponsor festivals, etc.
Pricing Related Decisions
- Determine base prices for each product in each market served
- Determine the appropriate types and sizes of volume discounts used, if any.
- Determine the use of psychological pricing tactics such as prestige pricing, promotional pricing, etc.
- Determine credit policies.
- Allow consumers to buy the quality of plants they can afford.
Distribution Related Decisions
- Provide protective packaging for goods in transient and storage.
- Determine the modes of transportation to be used.
- Determine inventory requirements and maintain these requirements.
- Provide frequent small shipments, even on weekends, if necessary.