If your business is in a growth phase, you might be considering launching call center operations. Or possibly expanding those you already have.
If so, you’ll be all too painfully aware that such a project requires significant levels of investment. If you’re looking to get investors onside, you’ll need to create a business plan that has real impact. In this article, we’ll explore how to do this, taking into consideration the realities of call centers and how they function.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a document that explains what a company does, describes the environment in which it operates, and projects financial forecasts for the coming years. If you’re launching a business or a new section of your organization, you’ll need a business plan, particularly if you’re hoping to attract investors.
Each business plan goes into detail and will be tailored to your circumstances. In the case of a business plan for setting up a call center, you’ll want to include customer-specific information. If you’re planning to use a call center for the first time, or if you have been relying on BPO call center services (i.e. run by a third party), you’ll need to start focusing on how you want your customers to experience the new service.
Best practice principles for writing a call center business plan
As you gather your thoughts, here are a few points to bear in mind.
Your business plan should include all the relevant information expressed as concisely as possible. Keep all sections in the main body of the document relatively short.
Business plans that include too much unnecessary detail can be difficult to work with. Remember that this is a document you will be revisiting and adjusting each year to take account of developing circumstances. So make it user-friendly.
Use appendices for detailed information
You don’t need to exclude detail, of course: just put it in an appendix. That way, anyone who wants to scrutinize the numbers will be able to. Examples of the sort of information you should put in the appendices include:
- Market research data
- Product literature
- Financial statements and projections
- Resumes of senior executives
Don’t undermine your credibility by making over-optimistic forecasts. Ground your arguments in reality. You may plan to have a fully remote call center, but is that feasible? And do you genuinely expect to double your profit margin every year for the next five years?
Investors and employees will be highly skeptical of pie in the sky. It’s best to take a level-headed approach.
Make sure it looks professional
You may think this goes without saying, but you might be surprised by how often companies get this wrong. Particularly when the business plan is only intended to be circulated internally.
First, use a professional proofreading service. I’m not joking. You may think Kate from Sales has a good eye for a typo, but that won’t cut it with a document as important as this. Professional proofreaders are trained to spot all manner of issues beyond spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Their services are generally reasonably priced and worth investing in.
Your layout should look polished. Include a table of contents with section page numbers and a well-designed business plan cover page. If you’re using images and charts, make sure the resolution is top quality.
Essentially, the goal is to make your business plan look as if a professional publisher produced it. After all, first impressions count.
Call center business plan layout
Let’s have a look at what sections you should be putting in your plan.
The first section your reader should see is the executive summary. This acts as an introduction to the document and lays out a guide to your business plan as a whole.
For this reason, you’ll write this section last once you have the rest in place. It should include some background to your industry, the kind of call center you are planning, and market conditions (including your competitors and customer base). It should also include a summary of your marketing plan and financial forecasts.
The aim of the executive summary is to grab the reader’s attention, so it’s worth spending time getting it right.
In this section, detail the facts about your business and the type of call center you’re planning to develop. This should include answers to questions like:
- What is your ownership structure?
- When did you start trading and how have you progressed since?
- When and why did you decide to launch a call center?
- Will your call center be an inbound, outbound, or automated contact center?
In the market overview section, you explain the general market conditions in your sector. How large is your industry and what is your market share? What trends are you seeing in the market and what are the reasons behind them?
You should also list your main competitors here. What advantages and disadvantages do they have compared to you? What will motivate customers to switch to you? Do be careful not to openly criticize your competitors though; this is not the place for that.
Then it’s time to do a deep dive into your customer base. Describe who your current customers are and how they are distributed, both geographically and demographically. Do they fit the typical profile of customers in your sector? If they don’t, explain why that’s the case.
This is a crucial section, because the type of customers you expect to serve will have an impact on what kind of call center you create. For example, if you’re mostly serving individual customers who want information, you’ll need an inbound call center with a large number of staff. Whereas if your plan involves telemarketing to large organizations, you’ll want an outbound call center and probably just a small core of employees experienced in sales.
If your business is a startup, note whether you have any confirmed customers yet, who you are targeting, and how.
Marketing and sales strategy
Assuming you’ve taken advantage of all the available call center management tips, you should have a good idea of what your marketing strategy looks like. In this section, set it out in detail. Focus on the four “P”s of marketing: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.
Product: What services will you offer?
Price: How much will they cost?
Place: Where will you operate from?
Promotion: How do you intend to attract customers?
In this section, set out the structure of the management team and describe their key skills. How do you arrange critical areas such as sales, marketing, and finance? Identify any gaps and explain how you intend to address them.
Give a rundown of how you recruit and train staff, detailing how quickly the process functions and how much it costs. State how many staff you currently have and how many you intend to hire.
The operational overview should explain how your business model works or will work in practice. Consider questions like the following:
- If you have physical premises, is their capacity sufficient for current and projected demand?
- Will you be investing in more office space soon?
- What management systems are in place and how do they work?
- Are your IT systems reliable?
- What are the regulatory standards in your industry and how do you meet them?
- How do/will you deal with staffing issues such as call center shrinkage?
If you’ve been in business for some time, give financial information for the previous five years. At the very least, this should include your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements.
You should then forecast the figures for the next three to five years. Make sure to use realistic growth assumptions and include all known business costs.
If you provide more than one service, break the total sales figure into its constituent parts, showing the gross margin for each one.
Remember that this section is for the headline figures. You can go into much more detail in the appendices.
And it’s not just the financial data you can expand on in the appendices: it’s everything. In fact, the more detail you put here the better.
Feel free to dive deeply into the market research you’ve done, operational details such as your automation testing process, if you have one, and the business background of top executives.
This is also where you would put any supporting documents such as office lease agreements or intellectual property documentation.
And when all this is done and you’ve finalized the executive summary, all that remains is for your leadership team to sign off on the plan. Luckily, there are plenty of tools like PandaDoc eSignature software available to make this the least stressful part of the process.
Set yourself up for future success
Planning and launching a call center is a massive undertaking, and generating the necessary funding is no picnic. Getting investors onside is one of the most critical steps toward success, so it’s worth taking the time to draw up an absolutely watertight business plan.
Hopefully, this article has given you a few ideas for how to go about it. If you take a considered and methodical approach, there’s no doubt your call center will get off the ground and thrive through the coming decade and beyond. Good luck!