Succession Planning for Long-Term Success

One of the hardest things for people to think about is what will happen when they “move on down the road”. Moving down said road can entail everything from retirement to passing away, and this especially gets to be a hard topic when it comes to the notion of succession planning.

Succession planning, at its most basic, happens to be how someone chooses things to move forward in terms of organizing leadership in a business hierarchy when they’re no longer running things.

Such planning involves breaking down one’s business in such a way as to assess all team members and their value to the organization. This is not an easy issue to discuss, but it is imperative to the successful running of a business for the long-term. No business, regardless of its size, can operate without the right people in the right place.

In order to best identify what it takes to have successful succession planning, it may be best to identify the mistakes that most business owners make when taking on this particular process.

As is the case with just about any facet of success, procrastination is perhaps the worst thing that can happen. All business leaders know that they need to focus on succession planning, but they sometimes direct their attention to something “more important”. Nothing is more important than the sustainability of your business, and this is a big step in that process. Waiting to long to start the process may jeopardize the decision-making process.

It’s also key to avoid choosing people you like instead of the right people. Friendly relationships can sometimes become strained when someone feels snubbed for a promotion down the line. However, a good business owner must identify the key roles in their business & the skills needed for those positions, thereby narrowing the field of candidates. Your hope is that you’ve developed a business-minded rapport with your employees so they understand that succession planning is a matter of preserving a business.

Don’t pit employees against each other. You want to be sure you put a proper succession plan in place early enough so that the work environment around your potential succession candidates, as well as your entire business, doesn’t become toxic. This, of course, means being able to see into the future, so to speak, and find a successor(s) needs to be a person with vision & the skills to back it up.

Finally, it’s also important for successful succession planning that the current leader fosters a relationship with whomever is chosen to take over. A good leader should be like a veteran quarterback that’s on the sideline sharing his knowledge and guiding the “new guy” through any pitfalls they encounter.

Successful succession planning is not an easy topic to discuss, but it is important & has substantial value for any business. It’s important to know that this type of planning is not about seeing the end in sight — it’s about understanding what your business needs now & for the future and choosing the right person/people to make it happen.

Important Facts about Strategic Planning

Every person has a goal; regardless of what areas of their lives it is being associated. A goal will remain a goal unless it was successfully achieved. Many would ask why some people are successful and some are not. Well, the answer lies on strategic planning.

Strategic planning is the process of developing strategies and defining objectives to reach a particular goal or set of goals. If you labeled your planning as “strategic” then you must expect that it would perfectly operate on a grand scale. It will achieve success in a broader field.

It is very different from “tactical” planning which focuses more on individual detailed tactics of activities. “Long range” planning however projects current programs and activities into a modified outlook of the outside world where it describes the phenomenon that will likely occur.

Strategic planning is creating more desirable results in the future through influencing the external world, and adapting current actions and programs to achieve a more favorable result in the outside environment.

There are different reasons why most people are doing strategic planning.

1. To acquire the capability in obtaining the desired objectives.

2. To fit well on both the organization’s core competencies and resources, and to the external world. Make sure that your plans are appropriate and feasible.

3. To acquire the capability in providing competitive advantage that is sustainable within the organization.

4. To prove that it is flexible, dynamic, and adaptable even to changeable situations.

5. To be sufficient in providing favorable results without cross-subsidization.

These advantages will not be realized without its methodologies. Strategic planning depends on STP (three-step process) process. “S” for situation where it was been thoroughly evaluated, “T” for Target where goals and objectives are defined, and “P” for path where the routes of goals and objectives are clearly mapped.

However another alternative approach can also be used. It is known as the Draw-See-Think-Plan procedures. “Draw” creates the desired image and achievements. “See” evaluates current situation and detects gaps between ideal situation and current situation. “Think” develops specific actions that must be done to bridge the gaps between ideal situation and current situation. “Plan” lists down required resources for the execution of activities.

Strategic planning is also considered a set of creative and logical steps.

1. It clarifies the objectives to be achieved. These objectives are ranked according to the level of its importance. It can either be TRO (Top Rank Objective), 2nd Rank Objective, 3rd Rank Objective and so on. The lower rank objectives answers the “How” question while higher rank objective answers the “why” question. However TRO is exempted because the objective here is defined.

2. It gathers and analyzes the information. It includes internal assessment on resources, and external assessment which include environmental scanning. Morphological analysis is used by both internal and external assessments. SWOT analysis can also be incorporated to assess the aspects of environments and organizations that are essential in achieving the strategic plan objectives.

3. It evaluates objective feasibility in the SWOT view. SWOT is the acronyms which stands fro Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses, and Threats.

4. It develops strategy involving SWOT.

5. It develops action programs creating a more attractive strategy.

To summarize everything, strategic planning provides overall strategic direction on the core management of the company. It gives a more specific direction in areas such as marketing strategy, financial strategy, human resource strategy, organizational development strategy, and deployment information technology strategy to achieve success.

Strategic Process for Site Planning

Real estate site selection can be a complex web of evaluating store attributes within a potential store trade area. The process utilizes both a science and an art to the overall selection process combining a number of factors that weigh on the viability of the location. Complicating the process is that each location has its own special attributes, which makes site selection more directional in nature as opposed to a cookie-cutter process. That being said, here are some key attributes that should be considered in the overall evaluation:

Traffic Counts – While these are clearly site specific (think of the difference between a rural site and an urban site), analyzing the traffic counts will help offer a predictability of volume. The key is to understand what the potential traffic patterns are for the site before one can look solely at traffic counts. If a road carries a number of cars, but that road does not feed well into the site, the traffic counts may be misinterpreted. Understand the natural flow into the site before assessing the traffic counts. One way to gain some perspective on how traffic counts mirror volumes is to compare existing site volumes with their traffic counts. Many operators jump right into new site selection without looking back at existing sites and creating a model based on their geographic areas. This may give you a more reliable predictive model for your future sites.

Population Counts – Population count is the next logical indicator for your location. Not only do you want to look at the population count as it stands today – and is it enough to support a site – but also how has it been trending. Positive growth indicates a viable marketplace while negative trends may raise a red flag. In addition, gaining a better understanding of the ethnicity and socio-economic trends in the trade area will offer a better snapshot into the merchandising mix that should be presented at the site.

Seasonality & Geographic Nuances – Determining whether the site is seasonal or not should factor into your analysis. Operators shouldn’t necessarily shy away from seasonal type stores but rather not be surprised by them after they open. Closely related to seasonality would be a trade area driver – i.e., a mall or theme park – that may positively or negatively impact your store’s performance. Monitoring these outside forces will tighten up your model. In addition, look for the non-seasonal enhancements or barriers to your site. A river that bisects your trade area, for instance, will effectively cut your traffic to the store no matter how close in proximity the homes are. Even certain companies can impact your site. A large manufacturing facility that releases a number of employees at the same time can cause bottlenecks in the traffic flow that will cause potential customers to avoid the area at these peak times.

Visibility – This may be more anecdotal than the other attributes but should still be a consideration. Judging whether the site is easily viewed from afar as opposed to a site that is hidden by overgrown trees should be a factor. Driving the site from all four directions allows for the owner to gain the perspective of potential customers as they approach the location. Other considerations would include that speed of the traffic as it approaches the potential site. If the traffic flow is traveling at too great a speed or drivers are distracted due to complicated traffic patterns, the opportunity to notice your location is diminished.

Competitors – Obviously, understanding the competition within the trading area is critical. I would approach this competitive evaluation in a three-fold fashion: a) gasoline, b) convenience store, and c) quick-service restaurants. Look at the competitive landscape in degrees of competition – meaning, some competition has greater negative impact than other competition. Ranking your competition based on this impact for all three categories will paint a more holistic overview. Keep in mind, that some competitors may impact only the gasoline while others may have a greater impact on convenience product sales. With the c-store industry creeping further and further into foodservice, mapping the quick service restaurants in the trade area will give you a better indication of the viability of your foodservice operation.

Location – Location, location, location. There are many factors that come into play when picking the best location. Is it a premier corner? What day part side of the street is the site? Is there easy ingress and egress in and out of the location? Are there divided highways in front of the location that make access more difficult? Is this an inside lot location and not even a corner? What is the length of the property frontage? There is a myriad of considerations for the actual site location that need to be evaluated in the context of the other attributes.

Let’s face it; there are a number of variables that come into play. While one cannot be certain that accurately depicting all of these attributes into a real estate site evaluation model can guarantee success, it will at least put you in a better risk aversion position. That is the science of it.

I have been around the block long enough to know that some stores simply defy their science and just work. The art of site selection is far harder to quantify than the science. While those stores are the anomaly, evaluating new locations by putting their attributes through the litmus test above, helps minimize the downside risk of opening an underperforming location.