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Computer Repair Business Plan

This sample business plan will guide you with regards to successfully starting your own computer repair business.

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Computer Repair Business Plan

Executive Summary

PC Repair will provide computer and technical consulting (repairs, training, networking and upgrade service) to local small businesses as well as home PC users. The company will focus on marketing, responsiveness, quality, and creating and retaining customer relations.

PC Repair was initially formed as a sole proprietorship, but was reconfigured as an S Corporation in December of 2004. PC Repair will at first be a home office start-up, utilizing one studio room in the owner’s home and serving customers in the local Ramsford-on-Bitstream area. In the third month of our plan, we will move into a leased office space and hire a second technician. As sales increase, we will hire additional personnel.

The Market
The very nature of the computing industry, with its extraordinary rate of technological development, creates a constant need for businesses skilled in updating and advising customers on computer-related issues. In town, the majority of potential customers are dissatisfied with existing options, creating an attractive niche for an innovative start-up. Small business PC users will provide the majority of our business revenue. Business Week expects the computing industry to grow at a rate of 12% and the processor speeds to continue to expand for years to come, providing a rich resource for sales.

PC Repair has decided to focus mainly on the small business market, as these customers typically don’t have a full-time IT person, but have full-time IT needs. PC Repair will offer an affordable, on-demand service for these customers. We can also offer maintenance agreements that generate additional monthly income. For our residential customers, we will offer a very affordable and helpful service with a very flexible schedule to meet their needs. Our target market will focus on Ramsford-on-Bitstream and the surrounding areas. Market research indicates there is an abundance of business for a small company such as PC Repair.

Start-up Funding and Financials
To get PC Repair started the owner is providing cash and assets. We are also seeking a short-term loan, to be secured with the owner’s home equity, and repaid within three years. Our conservative sales forecasts, based on industry research within the local area, project hefty sales in year one, steadily increasing through year three. To reach these goals, we will use an aggressive advertising campaign to exploit our competitors’ weaknesses. With good cost control, we will see a modest, yet comfortable, net profit the first year, even after moving into a leased space and hiring additional technicians.

1.1 Objectives

  • To provide the best service available to the community at an affordable price.
  • To generate substantial market share so that PC Repair is a common name.
  • Constant growth in sales from start up through year three.
  • To generate customer satisfaction so that at least 40% of our customer base is repeat business.

1.2 Mission

Our goal is to set the standard for on-site computer solutions through fast, on-site service and response. Our customers will always receive one-on-one personal attention at a very affordable price. Our customers will receive the highest quality of customer service available. Our employees will receive extensive training, a great place to work, fair pay and benefits, and incentives to use their own good judgement to solve customers’ problems.

1.3 Keys to Success

  • Establishing a brand identity and generating brand recognition through marketing.
  • Responsiveness: being an on-call computer paramedic with fast response time.
  • Quality: getting the job done right the first time, offering 100% guarantee.
  • Relationships: developing loyal repeat customers–retainers.

Company Summary

PC Repair is an S Corporation located in Ramsford-on-Bitstream, owned by Jack Hacker. With a small 3-year loan, PC Repair will grow in one year from a  one-man, home-office based repair shop to a profitable, 3-person business in a leased location. We will build the necessary infrastructure to quickly and efficiently respond to customers’ computer needs, guaranteeing speedy, friendly, competent, and cost-effective technical support.

2.1 Company Ownership

PC Repair was initially envisioned as a sole proprietorship in the owner’s home. However, recent feedback from our marketing outreach has suggested a much higher sales potential than originally imagined, and PC Repair has been reformed as an S Corporation. This change will provide additional legal protection for the owner, and will also streamline the financial operations of the company as we expand the personnel to 5 within the next three years, lease a separate space for offices, and purchase company vehicles and cell phones.

The owner, Jack Hacker, has 10 years of experience in the fields of technical support, networking, and computer training and repair. Jack has also spent the last three years as the manager of a custom computer building and repair store, and understands the computer needs of small businesses.

2.2 Start-up Summary

Total start-up expenses include initial expenses for establishing our website, setting up the business, and doing our pre-opening advertising. Exact allocations are shown in the table.

The bulk of our start-up requirements are asset needs: we need diagnostic and repair equipment, half of which will be contributed to the business by the owner from his own materials. We are treating this equipment as assets because we expect it to last at least three years, and to have some resale value when we are through with it; we will buy additional expensed equipment in years two and three. We also need start-up inventory which includes RAM, spare hard drives, cables, and cases. Although we will keep expenses to a minimum for the first three months, before we move, we will also need cash at start-up, to see us through the next several months with a positive cash balance.

Services

PC Repair will offer computer repairs, training, networking and upgrade service to clients in two major categories: home PC users and small business users. As PC Repair and the client demands grow, we will offer software development to our business clients.

From the very first day, we will offer on-site repair and consulting services, so that our clients don’t need to take time out of their busy days to haul a computer in to our workshop. This is the single biggest frustration Jack has seen among small business owners needing computer help. Much of our diagnostic equipment is portable, and we will remove a PC to our workshop only when the problem requires more detailed diagnosis or repair. We will also offer free pick-up and delivery of PCs needing repair. To meet the growing demand for this service, we will purchase a company vehicle in the third month.

We will also offer extended maintenance contracts, so that business clients can deal with technical support and repair needs as a single line-item expense, rather than having to plan for unexpected crashes and problems with a rainy-day fund they may never use. Maintenance contracts yield a high gross margin for us, and provide peace of mind for the customer.

We will offer limited software support (installation and compatibility issues), and focus on hardware and networking support – this is a vital distinction, since software is evolving much more rapidly than hardware, and our clients will have such diverse software needs that we couldn’t possibly keep up with all of them. We will encourage clients to register their software and use the software’s own support options to their full potential. We will, however, keep up to date with multiple operating systems and networking developments, working with clients to make sure they have the most appropriate combinations of hardware, OS, networking, backup systems, and software. Backup and security are becoming higher priorities for all our potential customers, as internet usage (and its pitfalls) becomes more common, and as more and more daily records are stored electronically.

Market Analysis Summary

PC Repair will provide computer support in both a consulting and technical capacity to small business owners as well as home PC users. Since PC Repair is currently a one man operation, its growth in the first three months will be limited by the owner’s capacity to complete work. However, these first three months are critical for establishing our credibility and a reputation for getting the job done quickly and well. We will focus on delivering excellent service, and using the good word of mouth from this initial period to network with other potential clients.

Personal market research by the owner indicates an attractive market niche for our services, of which PC Repair will take full advantage. The very nature of the computing industry, with its extraordinary rate of technological development, creates a constant need for businesses skilled in updating and advising customers on computer-related issues.

National chains, such as “Geeks on Call,” and Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” have seen rapid growth in demand for these services in the last few years. Customers are seeking skilled help with everything from installation of software and hardware components, to networking, to transferring files from an old computer to a new one. Those who can often enlist their tech-savvy children’s help, but others are not so fortunate, and small-business owners need reliable and quick help with all their computer needs, since every hour down may mean an hour or more of lost revenue, especially for any business with a website or those doing e-commerce.

4.1 Market Segmentation

The existing computer service market is so extensive that categorizing it is rather difficult. We have broken our potential market down into two groups, based on their needs: home PC users and small business clients.

Home PC User
Our home PC user market includes non-tech-savvy residents of the local area (15 mile radius), generally between the ages of 30 and 70, with at least one home computer. We are not expecting income from users below 30, who tend to be more comfortable with technology and willing to attempt repairs and upgrades on their own, without seeking professional assistance. Such home users generally own a computer to do email, play games, write letters, scan and print photos, and occasionally to do bookkeeping or taxes. Home PC users with more sophisticated applications generally have enough tech savvy, from tech experience at work, to do their own repairs and upgrades. Their hardware needs will include the computer itself, monitors, keyboards, mouse, printer, and scanner.

This group is growing slightly faster than the overall population growth in our area, in part due to the increasing demand for computers among retired people and young families, about 7% a year.

Small Business Users
Small business users will provide the majority of our business revenue. The small business market will be defined as customers within a 15 mile radius, with 2 or more computers or a network which they use for business purposes at least 25% of the time. Their business use may include minor usage, such as updating a business website for a brick-and-mortar store, keeping the books, designing graphics or ad campaigns, and writing copy for press releases. It may also be more extensive, incorporating inventory tracking, POS systems, customer databases, online product/service delivery, or product development. The more intensive their computer usage for business, the more critical it is to them that their technology work well and reliably, and that quality repairs and support are available in a crisis. Their hardware needs will include the same items as home users, plus servers, backup systems, data storage, and wireless networking.

4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy

Although there are more potential customers among home PC users, we expect the majority of our revenue to come from small business clients, since their need for our services is more urgent, and they are willing to invest in technology as part of their business plan. The majority of our marketing efforts will thus be focused on small business owners. These customers typically don’t have a full-time IT person, but have full-time IT needs. Home PCs are often used by multiple people, and serve multiple purposes. Our home PC users need help with managing their settings to integrate the different needs of all household members as much as they need technical assistance.

ComputingNet magazine recently reported on the substantial need for timely and cost-effective computer upgrades and repairs in this region; Jack Hacker has seen this market need in person, as frustrated clients waited for days or weeks for their critical components to be returned to full capacity, with no inexpensive alternative to the existing computer repair shops. All of our clients need technical assistance, but we are also selling peace of mind: our clients will know that friendly, efficient help is just a phone call away. As more and more companies switch their support services to automated call centers or touch-tone menus, the simple reassurance of hearing another human voice on the phone within a few rings is immeasurable. Even better is knowing that within a few hours, someone will show up and take care of their problem.

Both the software and hardware side of the computer industry continue to turn out new and revised computer components at alarming rates. For PC Repair this means job security well into the future. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, there seems to be no end to the development of the computer market. Business Week expects the computing industry to grow at a rate of 12% and the processor speeds to continue to expand for years to come.

4.3 Service Business Analysis

Secondary market research shows computer service customers tend to be very loyal to providers that do good work and satisfy their needs. An analysis of PC Repair’s main competitors shows no overwhelming strengths that would be significant barriers to entry into the market, as our local competitors have serious weaknesses.

The computer maintenance and repair industry is fragmented, with a few large, national players and hundreds of small, local stores. While most computers are actually repaired in-store, near the customer, parts for the repair come from major manufacturers and distributors; delays in receiving necessary parts can significantly slow down the repair process. Large chains have solved this problem by keeping vast amounts of inventory in stock at all times, while local stores offer customers the trade-off of personal interaction and trust that may make up for some delay.

PC Repair has established a relationship with a local distributor to do rapid special-ordering; although this capability is more expensive than normal channels, it will enable us to quickly establish a reputation as efficient and responsive to customer needs, particularly for our small business users. We will leverage this customer loyalty into great word of mouth marketing and steady growth.

4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns

Customers choose computer repair and assistance services based on reputation, previous experience, and price. They may choose to return to a mediocre provider with whom they’re familiar, rather than try out a new unknown company about whom they’ve heard nothing. Large stores, especially the service departments of national chains, have a great advantage simply in their affiliation with an established brand. Establishing our brand identity and a great reputation in the first few months is critical to our success. Once we have broken in to the local market, our great service will turn new clients into permanent clients.

Our services will be second to no one and our prices will be very reasonable for the high quality service we offer. By providing superior service, word of mouth alone will bring in many new clients. The satisfaction our consumers find will keep them coming back. There are two main competitors for the computer upgrade and repair business in this area:

Competitor A. They are a well established provider of computer upgrades and services, and do quick work. However, they have a high staff turnover, a young and inexperienced staff, and are more interested in selling new components than in maintaining existing machines or finding custom solutions. They do not offer any kind of pick-up and drop-off service, and do not offer on-site help. They really only offer hardware support.

Competitor B. Smaller and less known then A, B provides many services for residents living in east and south parts of town. They are more willing to spend time with a client, figuring out exactly what his or her needs are, and suggesting new options than competitor A. However, they have an inefficient ordering system and an unkempt shop, which deters potential customers and can turn existing customers to the competition. They also do not offer on-site services, although they are considering instituting a trial pick-up/drop-off service. They are in the best position to copy our innovations and steal customers, but their management is complacent and may not respond to competition.

Both of these companies charge rates in excess of PC Repair; we will be able to attract the price-sensitive market without much work.

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Computers & Internet

Internet Cafe Business Plan

By using this sample business plan you can see what goes into starting an internet cafe.

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Internet Cafe Business Plan

Executive Summary

JavaNet, unlike a typical cafe, will provide a unique forum for communication and entertainment through the medium of the Internet. JavaNet is the answer to an increasing demand. The public wants: (1) access to the methods of communication and volumes of information now available on the Internet, and (2) access at a cost they can afford and in such a way that they aren’t socially, economically, or politically isolated. JavaNet’s goal is to provide the community with a social, educational, entertaining, atmosphere for worldwide communication.

This business plan is prepared to obtain financing in the amount of $24,000. The supplemental financing is required to begin work on site preparation and modifications, equipment purchases, and to cover expenses in the first year of operations. Additional financing has already been secured in the form of: (1) $24,000 from the Oregon Economic Development Fund (2) $19,000 of personal savings from owner Cale Bruckner (3) $36,000 from three investors (4) and $9,290 in the form of short-term loans.

JavaNet will be incorporated as an LLC corporation. This will shield the owner Cale Bruckner, and the three outside investors, Luke Walsh, Doug Wilson, and John Underwood, from issues of personal liability and double taxation. The investors will be treated as shareholders and therefore will not be liable for more than their individual personal investment of $12,000 each.

The financing, in addition to the capital contributions from the owner, shareholders and the Oregon Economic Development Fund, will allow JavaNet to successfully open and maintain operations through year one. The large initial capital investment will allow JavaNet to provide its customers with a full featured Internet cafe. A unique, upscale, and innovative environment is required to provide the customers with an atmosphere that will spawn socialization. Successful operation in year one will provide JavaNet with a customer base that will allow it to be self sufficient in year two.

1.1 Objectives

JavaNet’s objectives for the first three years of operation include:

  • The creation of a unique, upscale, innovative environment that will differentiate JavaNet from local coffee houses.
  • Educating the community on what the Internet has to offer.
  • The formation of an environment that will bring people with diverse interests and backgrounds together in a common forum.
  • Good coffee and bakery items at a reasonable price.
  • Affordable access to the resources of the Internet and other online services.

1.2 Keys to Success

The keys to the success for JavaNet are:

  • The creation of a unique, innovative, upscale atmosphere that will differentiate JavaNet from other local coffee shops and future Internet cafes.
  • The establishment of JavaNet as a community hub for socialization and entertainment.
  • The creation of an environment that won’t intimidate the novice user. JavaNet will position itself as an educational resource for individuals wishing to learn about the benefits the Internet has to offer.
  • Great coffee and bakery items.

1.3 Mission

As the popularity of the Internet continues to grow at an exponential rate, easy and affordable access is quickly becoming a necessity of life. JavaNet provides communities with the ability to access the Internet, enjoy a cup of coffee, and share Internet experiences in a comfortable environment. People of all ages and backgrounds will come to enjoy the unique, upscale, educational, and innovative environment that JavaNet provides.

1.4 Risks

The risks involved with starting JavaNet are:

  • Will there be a demand for the services offered by JavaNet in Eugene?
  • Will the popularity of the Internet continue to grow, or is the Internet a fad?
  • Will individuals be willing to pay for the service JavaNet offers?
  • Will the cost of accessing the Internet from home drop so significantly that there will not be a market for Internet Cafes such as JavaNet?

Company Summary

JavaNet, soon to be located in downtown Eugene on 10th and Oak, will offer the community easy and affordable access to the Internet. JavaNet will provide full access to email, WWW, FTP, Usenet and other Internet applications such as Telnet and Gopher. JavaNet will also provide customers with a unique and innovative environment for enjoying great coffee, specialty beverages, and bakery items.

JavaNet will appeal to individuals of all ages and backgrounds. The instructional Internet classes, and the helpful staff that JavaNet provides, will appeal to the audience that does not associate themselves with the computer age. This educational aspect will attract younger and elderly members of the community who are rapidly gaining interest in the unique resources that online communications have to offer. The downtown location will provide business people with convenient access to their morning coffee and online needs.

2.1 Company Ownership

JavaNet is a privately held Oregon Limited Liability Corporation. Cale Bruckner, the founder of JavaNet, is the majority owner. Luke Walsh, Doug Wilson, and John Underwood, all hold minority stock positions as private investors.

2.2 Start-up Summary

JavaNet’s start-up costs will cover coffee making equipment, site renovation and modification, capital to cover losses in the first year, and the communications equipment necessary to get its customers online.

The communications equipment necessary to provide JavaNet’s customers with a high-speed connection to the Internet and the services it has to offer make up a large portion of the start-up costs. These costs will include the computer terminals and all costs associated with their set-up. Costs will also be designated for the purchase of two laser printers and a scanner. In addition, costs will be allocated for the purchase of coffee making equipment. One espresso machine, an automatic coffee grinder, and minor additional equipment will be purchased from Allann Brothers.

The site at 10th and Oak will require funds for renovation and modification. A single estimated figure will be allocated for this purpose. The renovation/modification cost estimate will include the costs associated with preparing the site for opening business.

2.3 Company Locations and Facilities

A site has been chosen at 10th and Oak in downtown Eugene. This site was chosen for various reasons, including:

  • Proximity to the downtown business community.
  • Proximity to trendy, upscale restaurants such as West Brothers.
  • Proximity to LTD’s Eugene Station. Parking availability.
  • Low cost rent – $.85 per square foot for 1700 square feet.
  • High visibility.

All of these qualities are consistent with JavaNet’s goal of providing a central hub of communication and socialization for the Eugene community.

Related: Budgeting for Start-up Success

Services

JavaNet will provide full access to email, WWW, FTP, Usenet and other Internet applications such as Telnet and Gopher. Printing, scanning, and introductory courses to the Internet will also be available to the customer. JavaNet will also provide customers with a unique and innovative environment for enjoying great coffee, specialty beverages, and bakery items.
3.1 Competitive Comparison

JavaNet will be the first Internet cafe in Eugene. JavaNet will differentiate itself from the strictly-coffee cafes in Eugene by providing its customers with Internet and computing services.

3.2 Service Description

JavaNet will provide its customers with full access to the Internet and common computer software and hardware. Some of the Internet and computing services available to JavaNet customers are listed below:

  • Access to external POP3 email accounts.
  • Customers can sign up for a JavaNet email account. This account will be managed by JavaNet servers and accessible from computer systems outside the JavaNet network.
  • FTP, Telnet, Gopher, and other popular Internet utilities will be available.
  • Access to Netscape or Internet Explorer browser.
  • Access to laser and color printing.
  • Access to popular software applications like Adobe PhotoShop and Microsoft Word.

JavaNet will also provide its customers with access to introductory Internet and email classes. These classes will be held in the afternoon and late in the evening. By providing these classes, JavaNet will build a client base familiar with its services. The computers, Internet access, and classes wouldn’t mean half as much if taken out of the environment JavaNet will provide. Good coffee, specialty drinks, bakery goods, and a comfortable environment will provide JavaNet customers with a home away from home. A place to enjoy the benefits of computing in a comfortable and well-kept environment.

3.3 Fulfillment

JavaNet will obtain computer support and Internet access from Bellevue Computers located in Eugene. Bellevue will provide the Internet connections, network consulting, and the hardware required to run the JavaNetwork. Allann Brothers will provide JavaNet with coffee equipment, bulk coffee, and paper supplies. At this time, a contract for the bakery items has not been completed. JavaNet is currently negotiating with Humble Bagel and the French Horn to fulfill the requirement.

3.4 Technology

JavaNet will invest in high-speed computers to provide its customers with a fast and efficient connection to the Internet. The computers will be reliable and fun to work with. JavaNet will continue to upgrade and modify the systems to stay current with communications technology. One of the main attractions associated with Internet cafes, is the state of the art equipment available for use. Not everyone has a Pentium PC in their home or office.

3.5 Future Services

As JavaNet grows, more communications systems will be added. The possibility of additional units has been accounted for in the current floor plan. As the demand for Internet connectivity increases, along with the increase in competition, JavaNet will continue to add new services to keep its customer base coming back for more.

Market Analysis Summary

JavaNet is faced with the exciting opportunity of being the first-mover in the Eugene cyber-cafe market. The consistent popularity of coffee, combined with the growing interest in the Internet, has been proven to be a winning concept in other markets and will produce the same results in Eugene.

4.1 Target Market Segment Strategy

JavaNet intends to cater to people who want a guided tour on their first spin around the Internet and to experienced users eager to indulge their passion for computers in a social setting. Furthermore, JavaNet will be a magnet for local and traveling professionals who desire to work or check their email messages in a friendly atmosphere. These professionals will either use JavaNet’s PCs, or plug their notebooks into Internet connections. JavaNet’s target market covers a wide range of ages: from members of Generation X who grew up surrounded by computers, to Baby Boomers who have come to the realization that people today cannot afford to ignore computers.

4.1.1 Market Trends

A market survey was conducted in the Fall of 1996. Key questions were asked of fifty potential customers. Some key findings include:

  • 35 subjects said they would be willing to pay for access to the Internet.
  • Five dollars an hour was the most popular hourly Internet fee.
  • 24 subjects use the Internet to communicate with others on a regular basis.

4.1.2 Market Needs

Factors such as current trends, addiction, and historical sales data ensure that the high demand for coffee will remain constant over the next five years. The rapid growth of the Internet and online services, that has been witnessed worldwide, is only the tip of the iceberg. The potential growth of the Internet is enormous, to the point where one day, a computer terminal with an online connection will be as common and necessary as a telephone. This may be 10 or 20 years down the road, but for the next five years, the online service provider market is sure to experience tremendous growth. Being the first cyber-cafe in Eugene, JavaNet will enjoy the first-mover advantages of name recognition and customer loyalty. Initially, JavaNet will hold a 100 percent share of the cyber-cafe market in Eugene. In the next five years, competitors will enter the market. JavaNet has set a goal to maintain greater than a 50 percent market share.

4.2 Market Segmentation

JavaNet’s customers can be divided into two groups. The first group is familiar with the Internet and desires a progressive and inviting atmosphere where they can get out of their offices or bedrooms and enjoy a great cup of coffee. The second group is not familiar with the Internet, yet, and is just waiting for the right opportunity to enter the online community. JavaNet’s target market falls anywhere between the ages of 18 and 50. This extremely wide range of ages is due to the fact that both coffee and the Internet appeal to a variety of people. In addition to these two broad categories, JavaNet’s target market can be divided into more specific market segments. The majority of these individuals are students and business people.

4.3 Service Business Analysis

The retail coffee industry in Eugene experienced rapid growth at the beginning of the decade and is now moving into the mature stage of its life cycle. Many factors contribute to the large demand for good coffee in Eugene. The University is a main source of demand for coffee retailers. The climate in Eugene is extremely conducive to coffee consumption. Current trends in the Northwest reflect the popularity of fresh, strong, quality coffee and specialty drinks. Eugene is a haven for coffee lovers.

The popularity of the Internet is growing exponentially. Those who are familiar with the Internet are well aware of how fun and addictive surfing the Net can be. Those who have not yet experienced the Internet, need a convenient, relaxed atmosphere where they can feel comfortable learning about and utilizing the current technologies. JavaNet seeks to provide its customers with affordable Internet access in an innovative and supportive environment.

Due to intense competition, cafe owners must look for ways to differentiate their place of business from others in order to achieve and maintain a competitive advantage. The founder of JavaNet realizes the need for differentiation and strongly believes that combining a cafe with complete Internet service is the key to success. The fact that no cyber-cafes are established in Eugene, presents JavaNet with a chance to enter the window of opportunity and enter into a profitable niche in the market.

4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns

The main competitors in the retail coffee segment are Cafe Paradisio, Full City, Coffee Corner and Allann Bros. These businesses are located in or near the downtown area, and target a similar segment to JavaNet’s (i.e. educated, upwardly-mobile students and business people).

Competition from online service providers comes from locally-owned businesses as well as national firms. There are approximately eight, local, online service providers in Eugene. This number is expected to grow with the increasing demand for Internet access. Larger, online service providers, such as AOL and CompuServe are also a competitive threat to JavaNet. Due to the nature of the Internet, there are no geographical boundaries restricting competition.

4.3.2 Business Participants

There are approximately 16 coffee wholesalers in Lane County. These wholesalers distribute coffee and espresso beans to over 20 retailers in the Eugene area. Competition in both channels creates an even amount of bargaining power between buyers and suppliers resulting in extremely competitive pricing. Some of these major players in the industry (i.e. Allann Brothers Coffee Co., Inc. and Coffee Corner Ltd.) distribute and retail coffee products.

The number of online service providers in Eugene is approximately eight and counting. These small, regional service providers use a number of different pricing strategies. Some charge a monthly fee, while others charge hourly and/or phone fees. Regardless of the pricing method used, obtaining Internet access through one of these firms can be expensive. Larger Internet servers such as America Online (AOL), Prodigy, and CompuServe, are also fighting for market share in this rapidly growing industry. These service providers are also rather costly for the average consumer. Consumers who are not convinced they would frequently and consistently travel the Internet, will not be willing to pay these prices.

4.3.3 Distributing a Service

The dual product/service nature of JavaNet’s business faces competition on two levels. JavaNet competes not only with coffee retailers, but also with Internet service providers. The good news is that JavaNet does not currently face any direct competition from other cyber-cafes in the Eugene market. There are a total of three cyber-cafes in the state of Oregon: one located in Portland and two in Ashland.

Heavy competition between coffee retailers in Eugene creates an industry where all firms face the same costs. There is a positive relationship between price and quality of coffee. Some coffees retail at $8/pound while other, more exotic beans may sell for as high as $16/pound. Wholesalers sell beans to retailers at an average of a 50 percent discount. For example, a pound of Sumatran beans wholesales for $6.95 and retails for $13.95. And as in most industries, price decreases as volume increases.

Related: The Complete Guide to Developing a Marketing Plan

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Computers & Internet

Computer Hardware Reseller Business Plan

By using this sample business plan you can find out more about becoming a computer hardware reseller.

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Computer Hardware Reseller Business Plan

Executive Summary

By focusing on its strengths, its key customers, and the underlying values they need, American Management Technology will increase sales to more than $9 million in three years, while improving the gross margin on sales and cash management and working capital.

This business plan leads the way. It renews our vision and strategic focus: adding value to our target market segments, the small business and high-end home office users, in our local market. It also provides the step-by-step plan for improving our sales, gross margin, and profitability. In order to implement these changes and improve profitability, we plan to borrow another $100,000 long-term this year. The amount seems in-line with the balance sheet capabilities.

AMT is built on the assumption that the management of information technology for business is like legal advice, accounting, graphic arts, and other bodies of knowledge, in that it is not inherently a do-it-yourself prospect. Smart business people who aren’t computer hobbyists need to find quality vendors of reliable hardware, software, service, and support. They need to use these quality vendors as they use their other professional service suppliers, as trusted allies. AMT seeks to fulfill these needs and become the leader in business information technology for its region.

AMT provides both computer products and services to make them useful to small businesses. We are especially focused on providing network systems and services to small and medium business. The systems include both PC-based LAN systems and minicomputer server-based systems. Our services include design and installation of network systems, training, and support.

In order to accomplish our objectives, our keys to success over the next three years are:

  • Differentiate from box-pushing, price-oriented businesses by offering and delivering service and support–and charging for it.
  • Increase gross margin to more than 30%.
  • Increase our non-hardware sales to 20% of the total sales by the third year.

AMT was founded as a consulting-oriented value added reseller (VAR), became a reseller to fill the market need for personal computers, and is emphasizing service and support to differentiate itself from price-oriented competitors. We have one location–a 7,000 square foot store in a suburban shopping center located conveniently close to the downtown area. It includes a training area, service department, offices, and showroom area.

AMT is a privately-held C corporation owned in majority by its founder and president, Ralph Jones. There are six part owners, including four investors and two past employees. The firm includes 21 employees, under the president and four managers. Our main management divisions are sales, marketing, service, and administration. The service department handles service requests, support, training, and development. At present, we are weakest in the area of technical capabilities to manage the database marketing programs and upgraded service and support, particularly with cross-platform networks. We also need to find a training manager.

Recent changes in the computer reseller market have adversely affected AMT. These include margin squeezes, longer collection periods, and lower inventory turnovers. All of these concerns are part of the general trend affecting computer resellers. The margin squeeze is happening throughout the computer industry worldwide.

The only way we can hope to differentiate well is to define the vision of the company to be an information technology ally to our clients. We will not be able to compete in any effective way with the chains using boxes or products as appliances. We need to offer a real alliance that includes such intangibles as confidence, reliability, and knowing that somebody will be there to answer questions and help at the important times.

Our support services, with which we hope to capture market share will include such services as; training, upgrade offers, installation services, network configuration services, etc. The company will seek to aggressively pursue new opportunities. AMT focuses on local markets, small business and home office, with special focus on the high-end home office and the 5-20 unit small business office. The last study we saw published has retail sales growing at 5% per year, while Web sales and direct sales are growing at 25% or 30%.

There are several different kinds of computer retailers within the industry including:

  • Computer dealers: often focused on a few main brands of hardware, usually offering only a minimum of software, and variable amounts of service and support. Their service and support is not usually very good and their prices are usually higher than the larger stores.
  • Chain stores and computer superstores: usually offer decent walk-in service, with very aggressive pricing, and little support.
  • Mail order: offer aggressive pricing of boxed product. For the purely price-driven buyer, who buys boxes and expects no service, these are very good options.

None of these direct competitors provides the customization and service that small businesses such as our clients truly need.

Small business buyers are accustomed to buying from vendors who visit their offices. They expect the copy machine vendors, office products vendors, and office furniture vendors, as well as the local graphic artists, freelance writers, or whomever, to visit their office to make their sales. Many small companies turn immediately to the superstores (office equipment, office supplies, and electronics) and mail order to look for the best price, without realizing that there is a better option for them at only a little bit more.

We need to effectively compete against the idea that businesses should buy computers as plug-in appliances that don’t need ongoing service, support, and training. Our focus group sessions indicated that our target home office markets think about price but would buy based on quality service if the offering were properly presented. They think about price because that’s all they ever see. We have very good indications that many would rather pay 10-20% more for a relationship with a long-term vendor providing back-up and quality service and support; they end up in the box-pusher channels because they aren’t aware of the alternatives.

We currently depend on newspaper advertising as our main way to reach new buyers. As we change strategies, however, we need to change the way we promote ourselves. We will be refocusing on our core message of service through radio, cable TV, sales brochures, direct mailers and newspapers. We need to sell the company, not the product. We sell AMT, not Apple, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, or Compaq, or any of our software brand names.

1.1 Objectives

  • Sales increasing to more than $9 million by the third year.
  • Bring gross margin back up to above 30%, and maintain that level.
  • Sell $1.5 million of service, support, and training by 1998.
  • Improve inventory turnover to 6 turns by 1998.

1.2 Keys to Success

  • Differentiate from box-pushing, price-oriented businesses by offering and delivering service and support — and charging for it.
  • Increase gross margin to more than 30%.
  • Increase our non-hardware sales to 20% of the total sales by the third year.

1.3 Mission

AMT is built on the assumption that the management of information technology for business is like legal advice, accounting, graphic arts, and other bodies of knowledge, in that it is not inherently a do-it-yourself prospect. Smart business people who aren’t computer hobbyists need to find quality vendors of reliable hardware, software, service, and support. They need to use these quality vendors as they use their other professional service suppliers, as trusted allies.

AMT is such a vendor. It serves its clients as a trusted ally, providing them with the loyalty of a business partner and the economics of an outside vendor. We make sure that our clients have what they need to run their businesses as well as possible, with maximum efficiency and reliability. Many of our information applications are mission critical, so we give our clients the assurance that we will be there when they need us.

Company Summary

AMT is a computer reseller based in the Uptown area. It was founded as a consulting-oriented VAR, became a reseller to fill the market need for personal computers, and is emphasizing service and support to differentiate itself from more price oriented national chains.

2.1 Company History

AMT has been caught in the vise grip of margin squeezes that have affected computer resellers worldwide. Although the chart titled Past Financial Performance shows that we have had healthy growth in sales, it also shows declining gross margin and declining profits.

The more detailed numbers in the Past Performance table include other indicators of some concern:

The gross margin % has been declining steadily, as we see in the chart.

Both collection days and inventory turnover are getting steadily worse.

All of these concerns are part of the general trend affecting computer resellers. The margin squeeze is happening throughout the computer industry worldwide.

2.2 Company Ownership

AMT is a privately-held C corporation owned in majority by its founder and president, Ralph Jones. There are six part owners, including four investors and two past employees. The largest of these (in percent of ownership) are Frank Dudley, our attorney, and Paul Karots, our public relations consultant. Neither owns more than 15%, but both are active participants in management decisions.

2.3 Company Locations and Facilities

We have one location–a 7,000 square foot store in a suburban shopping center located conveniently close to the downtown area. It includes a training area, service department, offices, and showroom area.

Products and Services

AMT provides both computer products and services to make them useful to small business. We are especially focused on providing network systems and services to small and medium business. The systems include both PC-based LAN systems and minicomputer server-based systems. Our services include design and installation of network systems, training, and support.

3.1 Product and Service Description

In personal computers, we support three main lines:

  1. The Super Home is our smallest and least expensive line, initially positioned by its manufacturer as a home computer. We use it mainly as a cheap workstation for small business installations. Its specifications include …[additional specifics omitted]
  2. The Power User is our main up-scale line. It is our most important system for high-end home and small business main workstations, because of …. Its key strengths are …. Its specifications include ….[additional specifics omitted]
  3. The Business Special is an intermediate system, used to fill the gap in the positioning. Its specifications include … [additional specifics omitted]

In peripherals, accessories and other hardware, we carry a complete line of necessary items from cables to forms to mousepads … [additional specifics omitted]
In service and support, we offer a range of walk-in or depot service, maintenance contracts and on-site guarantees. We have not had much success selling service contracts. Our networking capabilities …[additional specifics omitted]
In software and training, we offer … [additional specifics omitted]

3.2 Competitive Comparison

The only way we can hope to differentiate well is to define the vision of the company to be an information technology ally to our clients. We will not be able to compete in any effective way with the chains using boxes or products as appliances. We need to offer a real alliance.

The benefits we sell include many intangibles: confidence, reliability, knowing that somebody will be there to answer questions and help at the important times. These are complex products, products that require serious knowledge and experience to use, and our competitors sell only the products themselves. Unfortunately, we cannot sell the products at a higher price just because we offer services; the market has shown that it will not support that concept. We have to also sell the service and charge for it separately.

3.3 Sales Literature

Copies of our brochure and advertisements are attached as appendices. Of course, one of our first tasks will be to change the message of our literature to make sure we are selling the company, rather than the product.

3.4 Fulfillment

Our costs are part of the margin squeeze. As competition on price increases, the squeeze between manufacturers’ price into channels and end-users’ ultimate buying price continues.

With the hardware lines, our margins are declining steadily. We generally buy at … Our margins are thus being squeezed from the 25% of five years ago to more like 13-15% at present. In the main-line peripherals a similar trend shows, with prices for printers and monitors declining steadily. We are also starting to see that same trend with software ….

In order to hold costs down as much as possible, we concentrate our purchasing with Hauser, which offers 30-day net terms and overnight shipping from the warehouse in Dayton. We need to concentrate on making sure our volume gives us negotiating strength. In accessories and add-ons we can still get decent margins, 25% to 40%.

3.5 Technology

We have for years supported both Windows and Macintosh technology for CPUs, although we’ve switched vendors many times for the Windows (and previously DOS) lines. We are also supporting Novell, Banyon, and Microsoft networking, Xbase database software, and Claris application products.

3.6 Future Products and Services

We must remain on top of the new technologies, because this is our bread and butter. For networking, we need to provide better knowledge of cross platform technologies. Also, we are under pressure to improve our understanding of direct-connect internet and related communications. Finally, although we have a good command of desktop publishing, we are concerned about getting better at the integration of technologies that creates fax, copier, printer, and voice mail as part of the computer system.

3.7 Service and Support

  1. Our strategy hinges on providing excellent service and support. This is critical. We need to differentiate on service and support, and to therefore deliver as well.
  2. Training: details would be essential in a real business plan, but not in this sample plan.
  3. Upgrade offers: details would be essential in a real business plan, but not in this sample plan.
  4. Our own internal training: details would be essential in a real business plan, but not in this sample plan.
  5. Installation services: details would be essential in a real business plan, but not in this sample plan.
  6. Custom software services: details would be essential in a real business plan, but not in this sample plan.
  7. Network configuration services: details would be essential in a real business plan, but not in this sample plan.

Market Analysis Summary

AMT focuses on local markets, small business and home office, with special focus on the high-end home office and the 5-20 unit small business office.

4.1 Market Segmentation

The segmentation allows some room for estimates and nonspecific definitions. We focus on a small-medium level of small business, and it is hard to find information to make an exact classification. Our target companies are large enough to need the high-quality information technology management we offer, but too small to have a separate computer management staff such as an MIS department. We say that our target market has 10-50 employees, and needs 5-20 workstations tied together in a local area network; the definition is flexible.

Defining the high-end home office is even more difficult. We generally know the characteristics of our target market, but we can’t find easy classifications that fit into available demographics. The high-end home office business is a business, not a hobby. It generates enough money to merit the owner’s paying real attention to the quality of information technology management, meaning that there is both budget and concerns that warrant working with our level of quality service and support. We can assume that we aren’t talking about home offices used only part-time by people who work elsewhere during the day, and that our target market home office wants to have powerful technology and a lot of links between computing, telecommunications, and video.

4.2 Service Business Analysis

We are part of the computer reselling business, which includes several kinds of businesses:

  • Computer dealers: storefront computer resellers, usually less than 5,000 square feet, often focused on a few main brands of hardware, usually offering only a minimum of software, and variable amounts of service and support. These are usually old-fashioned (1980s-style) computer stores and they usually offer relatively few reasons for buyers to shop with them. Their service and support is not usually very good and their prices are usually higher than the larger stores.
  • Chain stores and computer superstores: these include major chains such as CompUSA, Computer City, Future Shop, etc. They are almost always more than 10,000 square feet of space, usually offer decent walk-in service, and are often warehouse-like locations where people go to find products in boxes with very aggressive pricing, and little support.
  • Mail order: the market is served increasingly by mail order businesses that offer aggressive pricing of boxed product. For the purely price-driven buyer, who buys boxes and expects no service, these are very good options.
  • Others: there are many other channels through which people buy their computers, usually variations of the main three types above.

4.2.1 Competition and Buying Patterns

The small business buyers understand the concept of service and support, and are much more likely to pay for it when the offering is clearly stated.

There is no doubt that we compete much more against all the box pushers than against other service providers. We need to effectively compete against the idea that businesses should buy computers as plug-in appliances that don’t need ongoing service, support, and training.

Our focus group sessions indicated that our target Home Offices think about price but would buy based on quality service if the offering were properly presented. They think about price because that’s all they ever see. We have very good indications that many would rather pay 10-20% more for a relationship with a long-term vendor providing back-up and quality service and support; they end up in the box-pusher channels because they aren’t aware of the alternatives. Availability is also very important. The Home Office buyers tend to want immediate, local solutions to problems.

4.2.2 Main Competitors

Chain stores: We have Store 1 and Store 2 already within the valley, and Store 3 is expected by the end of next year. If our strategy works, we will have differentiated ourselves sufficiently to not have to compete against these stores.
Strengths: national image, high volume, aggressive pricing, economies of scale.
Weaknesses: lack of product, service and support knowledge, lack of personal attention.
Other local computer stores: Store 4 and Store 5 are both in the downtown area. They are both competing against the chains in an attempt to match prices. When asked, the owners will complain that margins are squeezed by the chains and customers buy on price only. They say they tried offering services and that buyers didn’t care, instead preferring lower prices. We think the problem is also that they didn’t really offer good service, and also that they didn’t differentiate from the chains.

4.2.3 Business Participants

The national chains are a growing presence. CompUSA, Computer City, Incredible Universe, Babbages, Egghead, and others. They benefit from national advertising, economies of scale, volume buying, and a general trend toward name-brand loyalty for buying in the channels as well as for products.

Local computer stores are threatened. These tend to be small businesses, owned by people who started them because they liked computers. They are under-capitalized and under-managed. Margins are squeezed as they compete against the chains, in a competition based on price more than on service and support.

4.2.4 Distributing a Service

Small Business buyers are accustomed to buying from vendors who visit their offices. They expect the copy machine vendors, office products vendors, and office furniture vendors, as well as the local graphic artists, freelance writers, or whomever, to visit their office to make their sales.

There is usually a lot of leakage in ad-hoc purchasing through local chain stores and mail order. Often the administrators try to discourage this, but are only partially successful. Unfortunately our Home Office target buyers may not expect to buy from us. Many of them turn immediately to the superstores (office equipment, office supplies, and electronics) and mail order to look for the best price, without realizing that there is a better option for them at only a little bit more.

4.3 Target Market Segment Strategy

We are part of the computer reselling business, which includes several kinds of businesses:

  • Computer dealers: storefront computer resellers, usually less than 5,000 square feet, often focused on a few main brands of hardware, usually offering only a minimum of software, and variable amounts of service and support. These are usually old-fashioned (1980s-style) computer stores and they usually offer relatively few reasons for buyers to shop with them. Their service and support is not usually very good and their prices are usually higher than the larger stores.
  • Chain stores and computer superstores: these include major chains such as CompUSA, Computer City, Future Shop, etc. They are almost always more than 10,000 square feet of space, usually offer decent walk-in service, and are often warehouse-like locations where people go to find products in boxes with very aggressive pricing, and little support.
  • Mail order: the market is served increasingly by mail order businesses that offer aggressive pricing of boxed product. For the purely price-driven buyer, who buys boxes and expects no service, these are very good options.
  • Others: there are many other channels through which people buy their computers, usually variations of the main three types above.

4.3.1 Market Needs

Since our target market is the service seeker, the most important market needs are support, service, training, and installation, in that order. One of the key points of our strategy is the focus on target segments that know and understand these needs and are willing to pay to have them filled.

All personal computer users need support and service. The self reliant ones, however, supply those needs themselves. In home offices, these are the knowledgeable computer users who like to do it themselves. Among the businesses, these are businesses that have people on staff.

4.3.2 Market Trends

The most obvious and important trend in the market is declining prices. This has been true for years, but the trend seems to be accelerating. We see the major brand-name manufacturers putting systems together with amazing specs–more power, more speed, more memory, more disk storage–at amazing prices. The major chain shops are selling brand-name powerful computers for less than $1,000.

This may be related to a second trend, which is the computer as throw-away appliance. By the time a system needs upgrading, it is cheaper to buy completely new. The increasing power and storage of a sub-$1000 system means buyers are asking for less service. A third trend is ever greater connectivity. Everybody wants onto the internet, and every small office wants a LAN. A lot of small offices want their LAN connected to the internet.

4.3.3 Market Growth

As prices fall, unit sales increase. The published market research on sales of personal computers is astounding, as the United States market alone is absorbing more than 30 million units per year, and sales are growing at more than 20 percent per year. We could quote Dataquest, Infocorp, IDC, or others; it doesn’t matter, they all agree on high growth of CPU sales.

Where growth is not as obvious is the retail market. A report in CRW says Dell is now selling $5 million monthly over the web, and we assume Gateway and Micron are both close to that. Direct mail has given way to the web, but catalogs are still powerful, and the non-retail sale is more accepted every day. The last study we saw published has retail sales growing at 5% per year, while web sales and direct sales are growing at 25% or 30%.

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E-commerce Internet Sample Business Plan

With a business plan similar to this your E-commerce and Internet company will be off to a good start.

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E-commerce Internet Business Plan

Executive Summary

Popular culture is no longer regional. The advent of cable television, syndicated radio programs, and the Internet has created a world where a fashion statement in New York will be on the streets in a small midwestern town in a matter days. The speed of our telecommunication system has increased young customers’ expectations and demands for products that represent their own cultural statement.

FireStarters will offer young customers, in small towns and communities around United States, the youth-oriented products and clothing that are popular nationwide but not available locally.

The difference between FireStarters and other youth-oriented e-commerce websites is that FireStarters is focused only on its small-town America customers. The target customer is a young person, age 11-18, who listens to alternative music and participates in youth sports like skateboarding and snowboarding. Our target customer will look toward alternative clothing trends in large urban areas as their inspiration. FireStarters will exclusively advertise in small communities with populations between 100,000 and 150,000 residents. Communities of this size already have small youth-oriented businesses, like skateboard shops and alternative CD stores, that FireStarters can utilize to promote its product line.

1.1 Mission

The mission of FireStarters is to offer distinctive youth-oriented fashion and products to small-town America.

1.2 Keys to Success

  • Accessible website that is entertaining to surf. Like a trip to your favorite store where you always find something new that you want.
  • Excellent vendor relationship that will facilitate quick shipment of orders.
  • Establish an effective strategy for advertising in the communities’ youth-oriented businesses.
  • Create a store image that our target customers sees as both attractive and trendy.

Company Summary

FireStarters will offer youth-oriented products and clothing, online, that are popular nationwide but not available locally. Jill Stranton and Bobbi Hanson, co-owners of FireStarters, will create a cost-effective operation that will quickly ship clothing and product purchases to the customer.

FireStarters will focus on marketing products to its target customers in small cities with populations between 100,000 and 150,000 residents. The key to marketing strategy will be staging events that will increase the visibility of the online store with the target customer base. We will use existing local businesses that serve the same target customer base to co-sponsor these events.

2.1 Company Ownership

Jill Stranton and Bobbi Hanson are the co-owners of FireStarters.

2.2 Start-up Summary

The start-up costs of FireStarters consists of product inventory, creating a promotion campaign and establishing its website. FireStarters is funding start up with owner investments and a long-term business loan.

Products

FireStarters will offer young customers the following youth-oriented products and clothing:

  • Shoes.
  • Jackets.
  • Sweaters.
  • Shirts.
  • Pants.
  • Bags.
  • Hats.
  • T-Shirts.
  • Dresses and skirts.
  • Shorts.
  • Eyewear.
  • Time pieces.

Market Analysis Summary

According to the U.S. Census Bureau the population of teens (age 12-17), in 1999 was 23.4 million, which represents 8.6% of the total U.S. population. Teenagers influence $324 billion in spending annually, have $151 billion in disposable income, spend $24 billion annually, and will spend $1.2 billion online by 2002. Teens spend an average of $82 per week on entertainment, fashion, food, and technology. These young people dubbed “Generation Y” dominate almost all facets of popular culture and are the fastest-growing demographic under age 65.

Specialty youth clothing and products has grown into a billion dollar niche in the clothing industry. The popularity of the Internet with young people has been well documented and has generated the launching of a number of online stores by companies selling to that market segment. Most of these stores have retail outlets in large urban areas that serve as the promotional vehicles for online shopping.

The Internet is an accessible shopping tool for our target population. 64% of teens nationwide use the Net at home. The majority of teens, 55%, consider using the Internet better than watching TV. Families with teens are more likely to have Internet access than other households.

Online shopping by teenagers between 13 to 18 years in age is expected to total about $300 million this year (2000) and is accelerating at about twice the rate of online shopping by adults. By 2003, teenagers are expected to spend $2 billion annually online. By 2004, a clear majority of young consumers will shop online. The top five purchases made by teens [online], based on sales volume, are CDs/cassette tapes, clothing, books, computer software, toys and clothing.

4.1 Market Segmentation

Over the past ten years, there has been a profound change in population dynamics in the U.S. The non-metropolitan population has been growing at almost the same rate as the urban population. The West Coast, Midwest, and the Northeast have the largest growth rate. Today, there are millions of young people who don’t live near a large urban center that offers the diversity in clothing products that the youth culture demands. This has created a small market niche for businesses to sell clothing and products to young people who live outside the urban areas. This is particularly true in communities with a major college located in the community.

Currently, only regional malls offer access to the fashion and styles that young people want. Unfortunately, the focus of these mall stores is only on the mainstream of the youth market. Alternative clothing and products are rarely available outside the urban area. This is true because the companies that create the clothing and products are small and sell primarily through urban specialty shops.

FireStarters will capitalize on the following characteristics of Generation Y:

  • Subculture Affiliation: Though rebellious, teens also want to blend in and be accepted by peers. They seek a community of peers to welcome them in, as well as help them stand out.
  • Attitude: Teenagers wear attitude like a uniform to give definition to their identity. This extends to clothing, hair style and the type of music listened to in public. They also react to humor, silliness, and irreverence more easily than to other styles.

It is FireStarters’ plan to bring alternative fashion and products to small-town America via the Internet. We will create a business identity that will capitalize on the subculture affiliation and attitude of our target customers.

FireStarters will focus marketing on two type of non-metropolitan communities:

  • Non-metropolitan communities with populations between 100,000 and 150,000 residents.
  • Non-metropolitan communities with a major college and population of at least 80,000.

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