The importance of planning – is September the ‘new’ New Year?

Last week, the first Christmas invitation – from a random restaurant – landed in my inbox. I unsubscribed. And then I thought about it

The importance of planning – is September the ‘new’ New Year?

There is little worse than having ‘nothing to do’ because you didn’t book anything far enough in advance. And it got me thinking – how soon is too soon?

Without exception, the manuals I write reference two key planning documents for a franchisee: a business plan and a marketing plan. I love both of these, but I also know they are often poorly executed, there are struggles to get people to do them, franchisors frequently haven’t done them themselves, and they are not always treated with the gravitas they really deserve.

Back in my early years of working (and I am old!) there was a five-year plan. Given the speed at which the world is moving, it is only feasible for a 5-year plan to be a set of goals – not necessarily detailed plans. Now, it feels right that in September, as the kids go back to school and the holiday season is traditionally over, we should start to consider next year’s plans. That way, January can be a productive month instead of a catching-up and planning month!

It feels like the start of the school year could herald more than peace in the household…

It seems that creating a detailed plan for the first six months of 2024, including a planning date for the 2nd six months, makes much sense. Using the bigger goals, there are clear tasks to achieve them, and these can more easily be planned. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, of course.

I suspect that planning is put aside because we’re worried that we might plan so much that we won’t have the opportunity for flexibility, to pivot, to say yes spontaneously. And the answer is that we need to plan time to be spontaneous – not quite as absurd as it sounds!

Let’s take a marketing plan – you create the core plan and can place the required adverts, commission the pieces you need, write the posts and schedule them. And then, you only need to assign a small amount of time to add in a little something topical – maybe around the news or responses to other people’s posts. One big piece of work makes it far more manageable for the rest of the time. And, of course, it helps with the allocation of your budget and should prevent any overspending. How nice to feel in control and not have to allocate time in your diary to get on top of marketing – by which time it is most likely too late.

The business plan is often solely used for financial borrowing and then stuck in a drawer. I have always felt that it should be treated with far more gravitas and referenced frequently. It should contain this year’s goals and the details of how they might be achieved. It references the marketing but also the targets that might need to be met financially to allow it to proceed.

There are some amazing planning tools on the market if electronic is your thing. I love to get a huge piece of paper and start with a download of all the things to achieve…and then we’re off, nibbling at the elephant.

Here’s to a relaxed Christmas, knowing you’re going into the New Year with a plan, not just a resolution!

Louise Harris
Louise Harris