The business plan is also frequently used in other guises such as in bidding or tendering for contracts, for funding, and for properties. The recipient of the plan may be a government department, a landlord, the purchasing department of a large organization, etc. The format of these plans is much the same as any other plan because you are still telling a story about the background of your organization, what it can do and how it will achieve benefits for the readers; however, there are some important differences too.
These plans are generally shorter and more focused on particular issues. They are often produced in response to an ‘invitation to tender’. While the readers may wish to know the background of your organization, they particularly need certain specific questions answered.
They may have many documents like yours to read and therefore they want each to be short. Don’t, therefore, write pages of information that are irrelevant to these readers.
For example, they may know all about the market — so you need only include in your plan any different interpretation or new data that may allow you to demonstrate your expertise. This may be particularly important when the body letting a tender will benefit from your ability to operate more effectively than your rivals, for example by creating higher sales when you will pay a turnover-related rent.
You may be given a format to use in your reply to a tender. This helps the recipients to compare one plan against another with the minimum of effort. Even if they don’t specify a precise format, their ‘invitation to tender’ may refer to particular questions they want to be addressed: read their document carefully in order to be sure you answer each of these questions.
Fort is a large arts complex in a major city. It operates a theatre, concert hall, art gallery, and cinema on the same site. It was seeking a new operator for its gift shop. It naturally wanted to make as much money as possible but its stated objectives did not mention money at all. They were:
To create retail outlets that reflect the center’s range of activities and art forms; to create retail outlets that cater to all the center’s Patrons and resident organizations;
To offer keen pricing and a clear marketing plan.
It is usually very important to strike a rapport with the key staff within the organization seeking bids in order to:
To understand their true priorities; understand who will recommend the winner and know what their priorities are; e find out if there are any important things you should know that are not specified in the tender document.
As illustrated above, there may be non-financial objectives that must be met. The plan must address these issues very clearly at the front of the document.
Fort’s document inviting tenders included the following statements:
The contract period maybe three or five years, depending upon the size of your capital investment: allow for both options in your proposal.
A minimum guaranteed rent will be expected.
Tenders should state how the Centre will benefit from a change in retail operator.
The details of the stock range should be set out.
The difficulty for the writer of the business plan is to be sure that these points are addressed very clearly while retaining the narrative flow of the ‘story’. The technique for resolving this should be to write the plan as you feel illustrates your story and then to review it against each of the key points raised in the briefing document and whatever else you have learned in conversation.
Think carefully about what else you can offer that is not specified in an invitation to tender so that you can differentiate your response from all those others.
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