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Time Merchants – Operational Strategy
Production – External
Time Merchants will be partnering with local vendors for the goods and services provided to our customers. Management has developed a comprehensive screening process to ensure the highest quality products and service will be provided to our customers (see Appendix F). A list of home services that Time Merchants has identified as potential partners can also be found in Appendix F.
Production – Internal
Time Merchants will be directly responsible for screening potential suppliers/vendors, operation of the call center, coordination of account payment and delivery of goods to our premium customers.
Time Merchants headquarters will be in San Diego. The space TM will operate out of will be 2,000 square feet. This space will be divided up into the call center (600 sq. ft), the main office where the teams supporting the premium customers will be located (600 sq. ft) and an 800 sq. ft warehouse/expansion area.
Referral Service – 1-888-FOR-TIME
- Time Merchants referral program for multiple home services. This service will be available to anyone that calls 1-888-FOR-TIME from 7 a.m. – 9 p. m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
- Customer service representatives at the TM call center will maintain an 85% service level (85% of all calls will be answered within 20 seconds) as well as a 99% answer rate (99% of all calls will be answered).
- The service requested by the caller will be retrieved from TM’s database. The next service provider in the caller’s area will be provided (this will be tracked automatically).
- Time Merchants will immediately connect the customer with the service provider.
- Local vendors recommended to the public will have been thoroughly screened and evaluated using stringent criteria developed by TM (Appendix F).
- Information will be obtained during the initial call to develop a data file on the user of the Referral Service. This information will be used to market additional services available from TM and as an indicator of what other services the consumer may be interested in using.
- The referral program is free to consumers.
- A fee of $250 per month for the first 50 referrals per month plus an additional $5/additional referral will be assessed to each provider on TM’s referral list.
- An Internet web page will be available to the public as well. An additional fee ($100) will be assessed to the participating providers to be listed and have a direct link to their business’ home page.
- Suppliers will gain brand equity by being listed with Time Merchants.
- To ensure the highest quality service, TM will contact 100% of our customers each month, either by phone or by mail, and query the customer about the service received from TM and from the provider.
- Feedback will also be solicited from partner suppliers on a monthly basis.
Premium Home Delivery Service
Initially, this level of service will be offered in a specific and limited geographic area. Time Merchants has selected several communities within San Diego that meet our income level requirements and are within close proximity to our operations center to launch the Premium Service (See Appendix B). Expansion into other communities is planned and will occur as customer demand grows. The Premium Service will include:
- Scheduled once a week pick up and delivery service. The customer is not required to be home for delivery, a TM representative will leave the delivery in a mutually agreed upon area.
- Access to the team of Time Merchants professionals from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
- The service provided to our premium customers will include groceries, dry cleaning, video, and film pick up and delivery service, plus use of our referral program professionals.
- Additional services will be provided for a fee.
- Payment for goods and services received by the premium customer will be made to TM. Time Merchants will be responsible for vendor payment.
- A fee of $50 per month will be paid to TM.
- Commissions earned on groceries (5%) and all others (35%)
- The vendor will pay a percentage of the transaction as a commission to TM for Premium Home Delivery Service customers.
Time Merchants will attract and hire people with very strong communication skills. Because prospective employees may have access to a customer’s home and the fact that TM will build its foundation developing strong relationships with our customers, prospective employees will have a thorough background check and will be bonded and insured. Time Merchants’ employees will have, at a minimum, a high school diploma. TM will be an equal opportunity employer. A detailed staffing plan can be found in Appendix G.
Growth Rate of Staff
|Year One Staff Level||Positions||Year Five Staff Level|
Table 3 – Growth Rate Staff
Goods and Services Expansion
Time Merchants will evaluate expansion into other services as demand and availability dictate.
Management feels that the best opportunity for initial expansion beyond San Diego is within the southwest and will eventually include the entire US. The expansion efforts will begin in year 2 and will be lead by the TM founders. The cities targeted for the initial expansions include Phoenix, Las Vegas/Henderson, and Orange County/Los Angeles.7
The expansion effort will utilize the systems and procedures developed and perfected during the San Diego roll out. The primary costs associated with the expansions will be related to marketing and promotion, as the call center operations will remain centralized in San Diego. The TM founder assigned to the expansion will establish the TM concept in the expansion area and train the new employees. The anticipated time frame for training and implementation is estimated to be 7 months. It is critical to establish a strong relationship with the employees as they will be responsible for maintaining the TM concept when the TM founder moves on to the next expansion area.
Time Merchants will employ state of the art technology to process transactions. By requiring all transactions to be completed electronically, via credit cards and purchasing cards, TM will create a virtually paperless environment. This will enable TM reduce overhead expense as well as the likelihood of delinquent accounts. This strategy will also help eliminate any future cash flow problems for both TM and the providers it will be representing.
Premium Home Delivery Service Customer Accounts
- Time Merchants will provide accounting for goods and services provided to Premium Home Service customers.
- All payments from customers will be made via credit card thus eliminating accounts receivable. An open account with each customer will be established with TM.
- The customer’s credit card will be charged when goods or services are delivered.
- The customer will have access to their account 24 hours days via TMs’ web site using a secure system. The secure account system is similar to that utilized by hotels in that the customer may access their account at any time and review the charges for good or services provided.
- Time Merchants will pay suppliers’ as goods and services are delivered and accepted by Premium Home Delivery Service customers with a corporate purchasing card.
- Providers will make all payments to TM for referral service listings by credit card or ACH.
Time Merchants has chosen the credit card option for receivables and payables because it has been determined the benefit of virtually non-existent AR/AP as well as reduced labor costs to maintain an AR/AP capability far out weigh the initial 3% per transaction cost of the credit card service.
Time Merchants Web Site
- Web site development is important to the success of the Time Merchants concept. A few of the outstanding attributes of the TM web site are:
- Time Merchants home page, who we are and how we provide “LIFE SOLUTIONS FOR BUSY PEOPLE.”
- Links to our goods and services providers’ home page.
- A listing and brief description of participating providers recommended by TM by zip code.
- A grocery shopping experience unlike any other. Click on grocery store and browse through all the available items in our partner grocery provider’s store and select the items for delivery. – Ability to review account standing at virtually any time.
- E-mail access to TM customer service. We will respond within 24 hours!
- It is imperative that the security and integrity of the web site is maintained. Management is currently in th development stages of the TM web page with Sefert Consultants.
Call Center Communications System
- Call center technology currently being evaluated for installation is the Aspect ACD system. This system will provide TM with the state of the art call center technology, some of the key features of the Aspect ACD include:
- Ability to immediately transfer customer’s calls directly to providers.
- Automated tracking of referrals by specific provider.
- ANI – Automatic Number Identification coupled with CTI – Computer Telephony Integration will automatically notify service representatives of providers within the caller’s community.
Key Strategic Alliances
Time Merchants management has identified several key strategic alliances that will be critical to a successful launch and ongoing operations. In addition to the 4 key strategic alliances listed below, many other alliances will be forged as TM builds relationships with other service providers in the operations region.
Sefert Consultants – Full service web design and software development company.
- Nature of the alliance – Dean Sugiyama of Sefert Consultants has agreed to develop TM’s fully interactive web site. This site will include the secure customer account review feature, links to participating service providers’ home page, online shopping with participating grocery stores and electronic communication with TM.
- Why is this alliance critical? – Without the software innovation and Internet interface the TM concept will not be able to provide the unique and superior service to our customers.
- What does Sefert Consultants bring to TM? – Sefert Consultants has the expertise and creativity to build TM’s sit in harmony with management’s concept.
- What does TM provide to Sefert Consultants? – TM will recommend Sefert Consultants to other service providers requiring web site and software development and allow Sefert to use TMs’ web page as a showcase site.
Jonathan’s – Full service grocery store
- Nature of the alliance – Concept proposal presentation has been completed. Negotiations with Jonathan’s are underway.
- Why is this alliance critical? -The bedrock service provided to TM’s Premium Service customers is quality groceries. Jonathan’s strives to provide highest quality groceries in the San Diego area.
- What does Jonathan’s bring to TM? – The highest quality grocery items. Time Merchants will require Jonathan’s to “pull, pick and pack” our customer orders and to have them ready to be transferred to TM’s delivery person every morning.
- What does TM provide to Jonathan’s? – Increased market share through additional exposure.
Hollywood Video – Full service video store providing thousands of new releases and classic movies for rent.
- Nature of the alliance – Contact with Hollywood Video has been made and contractual negotiations are underway.
- Why is this alliance critical? – As indicated by participants during TM’s primary market research, the video drop off and pick up service was a key component to their willingness to use the TM service.
- What does Hollywood Video bring to TM? – A strong brand image, large selection and geographically dispersed locations throughout the launch and expansion areas.
- What does TM provide to Hollywood Video? – Increased market share through additional exposure.
Dry Cleaning Provider
ARYA Cleaners – Full-service dry cleaning service located throughout the launch region.
- Nature of the alliance – Contact with local management at ARYA has been made and negotiations are underway.
- Why is this alliance critical? – As indicated by participants during TM’s primary market research, the dry cleaning drop off and pick up service was a key component to their willingness to use the TM service.
- What does ARYA Cleaners bring to TM? – A strong brand image, quality service and geographically dispersed throughout the launch and expansion area.
- What does TM provide to ARYA Cleaners – Increased market share through additional exposure.
7 GIS and ArcView software will be utilized to identify target markets
|Table of Contents||Appendices|
|1. Executive Summary
2. Company Overview
3. Market Analysis
4. Marketing Strategy
5. Operational Strategy
6. Critical Risks
7. Management Team
8. Financial Plan
Cost Benefit Analysis
Potential Service Providers
|© 1999 Time Merchants|