The operation/branch plans must define the objectives, timeline and resources required to meet the growth objectives of the business unit, department or branch.

Analysis of opportunities is useless if it doesn’t translate into work. Operational planning, by definition, results in action plans for day-to-day work.

Branch/operation planning includes five key elements:
1. A definition of services to be provided.
2. Initiatives that support the “end game” vision - what are the branch goals?
3. An examination of available synergy.
4. A commitment to timing and sequence of major steps.
5. An agreement to measurement criteria and targets.

The Five Key Steps

Step 1 is a definition of the services to be provided.Here are criteria:
  • It must be future oriented.
  • It must focus on the external environment.
  • It must consider local competition, customers and products.
  • It must consider branch weaknesses as well as strengths.
  • It must match strengths to local market needs.

    Typical questions include: What is the purpose of your business? What business are you in now? What business should you be in? What are you good at? What have you failed at? What differential advantage do you have over your competitors? What differential advantage do they have over you? What markets do you serve?

    Step 2 addresses the question, what are the branch goals?
    Individual branch initiatives that support the end game must be identified. These initiatives not only include budgetary financial goals but must also include support for all the non-financial objectives identified in the end game that have not been deferred.

    Step 3 is an examination of available synergy.  
    Synergy arises when two actions performed jointly produce a greater result than they would if performed independently. When 2 + 2 = 5.

    Influencing factors include:
  • Optimum scale of operations
  • Expansion methods
  • Negative effects: 2 + 2 = 3
  • Knowledge/expertise transference

    Step 4 is a commitment to timing and sequence of major steps. 
    Because resources are always limited, a branch manager must decide what to do first and what to defer.  An action-planning process must occur for each initiative that supports the end game. Assigned accountability, expected results for each step in the plan and a completion date for each step of the action plan is essential.

    This step has three key criteria:
    1. Implementation is serial in nature.
    2. Parallel opportunities should be exploited.
    3. Determine foregone opportunities.
    Step 5 entails an agreement to measurement criteria and targets.

    Typical criteria for this step include:
    1. Return on investment
    2. Risk of losing investment
    3. Company growth
    4. Contribution to social welfare
    5. Stability and security of employment
    6. Prestige of the company
    7. Future controls
    8. Inventory turns
    9. Fill rates
    10. DSO (Days Sales Outstanding)
    11. Cash to cash cycle

  • Things To Remember

    Work = Task Description + Tangible Output + Person Responsible + Due Date.

    The “action item” is a piece of “bite-sized” work that is scheduled to be completed prior to a review event.

    Effective creation requires major attention to available resources, e.g., time. Accountability = authority + responsibility.

    Dr. Eric “Rick” Johnson ( is the founder of CEO Strategist LLC. An experience-based firm specializing in distribution. CEO Strategist LLC works in an advisory capacity with distributor executives in board representation, executive coaching, team coaching and education and training to make the changes necessary to create or maintain competitive advantage. You can contact them by calling 352-750-0868, or visit for more information.

    Check out CEO Strategist’s Lead Wolf series. Visit this link to see all CEO Strategist’s