Tracy strikes out

Tracy“Smarty Pants” McKnight (51) got retrenched last year (sad story of half the world population it seems). She realised off the bat that there was little hope of her finding another job and decided there was no other way but to start her own business to support herself and her four kids (husband’s been dead and buried a long time).

She knew however, she had no hopes of making a success of anything she lacked passion for (awful images of her doing stuff she hated made her brake out in cold sweat), besides her business course taught her that only folk with a passion for what they do, really make a success of anything in the long run; so she went through a period of intense soul searching and took a hard honest look at, among other things; her strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes.

This made her challenge old paradigms and develop new ones, ‘cause she knew, she either had to think differently about absolutely everything or maybe die a slow merciless death while watching her kids starve and become skeletons (perhaps even before her, bless their little souls).

This in turn led to her mastering some problem-solving skills and adding the needed business management proficiency to her toolbox.

Tracyfinally decided on starting a drop and go laundry service after several preliminary feasibility checks on other likely business ideas did not pan out.

This opportunity she felt, not only had distinct money-making possibilities, but definitely lined up with her profile and the emerging social trend of “99 Lives”. It was important to line it up with what’s in vogue now said her course, otherwise it’d be like offering ice to the Eskimos. Or sand to Bedouins. Nobody would want it.

So, she proceeded to win in some real quality info to work with, test the waters so to speak by hitching the necessary gear and parking herself where there were a lot of people, like the local mall, and doing a marketing survey.

Scouting the land

But, before going all gung-ho and investing what little money she still had left on some wise cracker idea that seemed promising from the survey she’d just done, she decided to do some further investigating like her business course taught her and…

…so, taking the plunge, she took the two steps needed to kick start a full scale feasibility study. First, she took an in depth look at her market (a whole lot closer than the survey) and identified the area she wanted to serve. Like how many people lived in this area and what their demographics were. To do this, Tracy took some trips to her local library and other institutions and looked up a few sources of secondary information that could give her the specs she needed:

  • Geographic – the size and numbers of customers in an area. Collected by a census survey.
  • Demographic – size and numbers of customers according to their sex, income, occupation, education, age, family size etc. also collected by census survey.
  • Psychographic – size or number of customers according to specific lifestyles, consumer status and buying patterns. Some organisations specialise in this kind of info.
  • Business – Detailed info on the number of businesses and their details, that could help her determine the size of her market.
  • Economic – showing her the income potential customers have.
  • Other sources – municipalities and business chambers. Government departments like Labour, Agriculture and Education. Churches, clubs, telephone directory, libraries for specific info and of course, the online army of info at her disposal.

Slicing the cake

After gathering all the relevant info about her market, she then sat down and grouped the laundry needs within that area into some generic need markets, dividing it into the segments she felt would be interested in her offering

This she learned is called target marketing and it’s a lot like shooting with a rifle whereas mass marketing has a shotgun or ‘aim for all, hit nothing’ approach.

She concluded that single grown-ups in the middle to high income brackets would be willing and able to pay for laundry services. So market segment one she aimed to serve was:  singles.

The second set she I’d, was the married couples where both spouses worked long hours and earned insanely high salaries. Thus segment nr two:  yuppies.

Third, she ogled the high income housewives that hated doing laundry and would pay her to not dirty their fine little hands. Hence, segment nr three: lazy housewives.

Tracydecided to focus on the single and yuppie segments. This of course in no way implied that she would exclude the lazy housewives, it only meant that she’d study the other two in detail and make sure she optimally satisfied their needs.

The market research also toldTracythat the singles and married yuppies would love to drop their dirty laundry off before work and pick it up afterwards. For this she had to stay open until 20h00.

She found a fantastic site next to a garage on the main entrance and exit to the suburb. The other three laundries in the area are located in shopping malls and open at 08h00 and close again at 18h30. Which Tracyfound won’t work well for her prospects as most of them already leave for work at 6h30. (called a gap in the market which the Smarty Pants of course immediately saw).

What did she do next?

Next, she had to figure out how much money these people were willing to spend on her service.

So Tracy then (closely following what her course manual lay out) drew up a new questionnaire for her prospective customers, with questions built around the marketing mix and aimed at getting more detailed info out of them.

She found out that in an area of approximately 10 000 households, 40% were in the high income bracket with 60% as middle incomers. 40% of the high incomers would make use of her service on a regular basis and spend an average of $200 per month per household.

Of the middle incomers again, 60% indicated that they would use her service regularly and spend about $120 per month per household.

Next, she calculated the income potential for this area as ± $752,000 per month for the middle incomers (10,000 x .6 x 120) and $800,000 for the high income group (10,000 x .4 x 200).

Now from her research, Tracy saw that the singles segment would by far the most viable in size and income, so she narrowed her marketing net more and decided to focus on them, also because her location would give her a decided Unique selling Point (USP). These people seemed to be on the run all the time, and did not want to go to the hassle of driving to laundries further away.

The figures she gathered showed her that 7500 single people were spread over 5 laundries at 1500 each. Give and take, and reckoning that not all people will want to make use of her service, she calculated her expected market share to be between 200-300 people.

Her next best friend…

…was the calculator of course!

In her final step before she would go over to doing an official financial viability study, Tracy took all this info (while squatting some flies and sending a most persistent little nagger to the store) and constructed a Sales Forecast:


Units per month


Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Washing 100 100 90 80 80 80 80 80 90 100 100 100
Ironing 50 50 60 60 70 70 70 60 50 50 50 50


Sales in Dollar per month (selling prices are: Washing @ $20 & ironing $30 per unit




Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Washing 2,000 2,000 1,800 1,600 1,600 1,600 1,600 1,600 1,800 2,000 2,000 2,000
Ironing 1,500 1,500 1,800 1,800 2,100 2,100 2,100 1,800 1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500


Absolutely exhausted but exhilarated Tracy could not wait for the next day to officially begin the financial viability study as these figures promised big things to come. Closing her books for the night, she and her four kids went out to celebrate with pizza and a movie.


This was part one of our feasibility study. Stay tuned for part two still coming up.

For more information or queries, please contact theEntrepreneurialBusinessSchool. There’s a whole plethora of experts waiting to cut, dissect and dry you.

Just kidding! No, we’re rearing to help wherever we can, and for that matter…nowhere else will you find the breadth of knowledge coupled with practical experience than in the flagship Entrepreneurial Business School Management Course. Why reinvent the wheel? Give us a call (you’ll find our contact details on the webpage) and let EBS guide you to successful business start-up.

Till next time,



Elmarie is a wordpreneur for theEntrepreneurialBusinessSchool(Pty) Ltd and a freelance creative-, web- and copywriter.


1. EntrepreneurialBusinessSchoolManagement Course.

2. Bekker, Mauritz. As always, thank you.

3. 99 Lives Heller, Robert. Business strategies: Adjusting to the Latest Trends. 8 July 2006. Accessed 29 June 2012. http://www.thinkingmanagers.com/management/business-strategies.php


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