Bluff Country Market is a local grocery store located in Holmen, WI. Bluff Country Market offers exceptional service, a large selection of grocery items and locally grown produce during certain times of the year. The current operation employs 50 full time team members and is open 364 days a year. The store has a full deli and bakery section along with an extensive selection of local beers and wines. There is an extensive focus of supporting the local community. They have used this to establish themselves within the market. They also use the physical presence of their beautiful building to draw customers in. The location was chosen precisely in the middle of town, directly off of the major highway that thousands of commuters travel each day. The target market includes people of all income levels looking for quality food at an affordable price and a segment that is devoted to supporting the local economy.
Forecasting is imperative for several businesses, but when working with a perishable food item, it becomes a critical aspect of operations. Bluff Country Market uses quantitative forecasting, which uses a variety of mathematical models that rely on historical data to forecast demand (Heizer & Render, 2013). Trend projection with seasonal variations in the data has worked well for this company. Since each sale is recorded electronically, their system is easily able to pick up on trends within the market. Peak harvest, holidays and certain weather events are taken into consideration while forecasting also. Suppliers are also able to weigh in on trends within the market. Limitations to this forecast method include economy changes and buying habits of consumers. Weather can affect crops and quality from external suppliers may skew purchasing patterns. While no forecasting method is perfect, Bluff Country Market is continually auditing and making changes when needed.
Bluff Country Market has a chain of suppliers and distributers that help ensure a competitive advantage while delivering benefits to the customer. Bluff Country Market has gone with the “Few Suppliers” strategy. They are more focused on long term relationships than with short-term attributes, such as low cost (Heizer & Render, 2013). Transportation costs can be very high and that is why the company chooses a local distributer. All of the goods, whether from local sources or external sources arrive at the store via trucks. Because of the quick turnaround time, the company currently has a small warehouse attached to the store building. It is cheaper to place orders through the distributer and let them store merchandise than to warehouse a mass quantity of items on site. Bluff Country Market has a strong ethical code for purchasing managers. These policies include not accepting bribes for purchasing certain merchandise, ensuring that suppliers adhere to ethical standards and that suppliers within the chain uphold the company’s ethical beliefs regarding the environment. Standards are presented to each supplier and must be upheld for the relationship to continue.
The decision to expand was based on customer demand and the knowledge of an area with a need for what Bluff Country Market offers. After researching current market trends, it was clear that buying local was at the top of the list for consumer wants in the area. After several surveys and gathering consumer location information, I would recommend purchasing the old building, Weaver’s Warehouse building on the South side of La Crosse WI. The building is in excellent shape and comes with all of the fixtures needed for a turnkey operation. A decision tree quickly showed that this was a better option than the purchase of new land and building a new facility from the ground up.
Even with the extensive market research, this decision making environment would still be considered under risk (Heizer & Render, 2013). The location of the building is ideal and will target people living in that area and the commuters from south of this store traveling to La Crosse. The current location only serves those from that area that are willing to make the extra drive north. This will open possibilities for new external and local suppliers also.
Expansion is the key to not only gaining new customers, and further growing our company, but also building new relationships to further benefit the organization as a whole. In analyzing the factors on whether or not expansion is ideal for Bluff Country Market, several indicators were to be considered. We are currently only able to mainly reach customers in the North. Expanding to the South enables us to reach a larger customer base. Also, analysis of current market trends, indicates the need for a natural based grocery store in the area proposed. The financial health of the store also indicates that we are in a current position to expand without the burden of many extra costs or extra debt.
The strategic option to expand is based on growing a stronger competitive edge, as well as positioning the businesses locations strategically to gain more recognition as a leading grocery store. “Effective small business geographic expansion involves the following six major areas of concern: planning for growth, managing growth, reasons for growth, expansion site characteristics, a set of moderator variables, and expansion performance” (Greening, Render, & Macy, 1996). These areas of concern have been thoroughly analyzed, and the determination to expand to the proposed location is in the best interest of Bluff Country Market.
The expansion will not happen overnight. It will take time to plan effectively, clean and prepare the location, install shelving, equipment, and all necessities to ensure the location will achieve optimal performance. We will also need to advertise the positions for staff that will become available. Priority should be given to current employees primarily and extend to external applicants after 30 days of internal interviews. The idea is to transfer some existing employees at least for a small time period to ensure the new location operates to existing standards and protocol. The licenses and paperwork will take some time as well. All paperwork will go through an attorney and filed correctly to start the process. Equipment will then be quoted out to receive the best prices, preferably from local vendors. Throughout the planning process, new relationships will be built further adding to the Bluff Country Market’s network of potential partners and customers. The first decision to make after determining the expansion is optimal, is to comprise a committee for the expansion. By enlisting a committee, more creative ideas and thinking will be accomplished. All the tasks will be more thoroughly completed by allowing input from various employees. The entire process should take about six months to get everything in order. Consultation with an attorney should be accomplished as a first step.
The same quality standards that are strictly enforced prior to the expansion will be expected during and after the expansion. We will still implement the same values, and initiatives that are currently expected. A growth in the company does not mean there will be any change in the standards expected. We will grow our customer base, our number of employees, and vendors, but we will not change the ideals that Bluff Country Market is built on. The community is at the heart of the current operation and will continue to be at the heart throughout the entire process. The ideas behind providing quality food at affordable pricing will not change. Supervision, audits, quality checks, and random inspections will be further implemented to ensure we are still following the same course of quality standards.
Bluff Country Market takes its corporate social responsibility seriously, and will continue to do so in the expansion of store locations. The people of the community are what make the store successful, and because of this, the store takes pride in respecting the community and the environment. The company ensures that the environment is respected, and all ethical guidelines are followed in the procurement of goods to be sold in the store. The company further invests into the local economy by being locally owned, operated, and purchasing goods from local vendors. The store’s performance has and will continue to be based on the triple bottom line concept. We are not only holding ourselves ethically responsible economically, but also socially, and environmentally.
Bluff Country Market is already well known for using local vendors, hiring local employees, strictly adhering to and enforcing environmentally friendly practices, and helping our community in any and all ways possible. It will continue to be known for this, and will be annually evaluated in doing so. As previously mentioned, the local people have expressed a need for the expansion for these reasons. Expanding the locations of Bluff Country Market not only benefits the company, but also the communities it impacts, as well as the environment as a whole. Expansion in an already high trending industry is by all means an ideal decision to make. Analysis and research supports this.