Creating a Meaningful Strategic Plan for Long Term Success

Strategic Plan

A Strategic Plan is a combination of a ten year financial plan that forecasts expenses and sales, and includes a Threats and Opportunities Assessment.   When writing this plan, start with where you want to be in ten years. Then, look at what is happening locally and globally and what impact it will have on your winery.  If you have ever written a business plan, you will find a strong correlation between the business plan and a Strategic Plan.

Where do you want to be in 10 years?  

Ask yourself some questions:  

  1. What are your sales targets?  Is production sufficient for your sales goals?  Will sales cover the income needs of the owners?
  2. Do you need to replace winery equipment, renovate the winery buildings, update the tasting room or purchase software in the next decade?
  3. Are you considering retiring or selling the business?  Is your business positioned for sale?

10 Year Financial Plan

Based on the answers to these questions, and previous years sales and expenses, you can put together a ten year financial forecast for the winery.  

What to include in the financial plan:

The idea of this plan is to be a tool that informs your decision making.  So, include all the things that will impact your future decisions. At minimum this should include:

  1. A Profit and Loss Statement – Make sure to include any extraordinary expenses like equipment purchases, construction and changes to salary expenses.
  2. A Statement of Cash Flow
  3. A Spreadsheet that details yearly wine production and sales. Note, in the wine industry these two are often different.  Include the percentage of wine that will be sold through: the tasting room, the wine club, the website, direct to restaurants and wholesale.

If you are planning on raising outside funding for capital improvements or expansion you should also include a Balance Sheet.

Threats and Opportunities Assessment

Now look at the Threats and Opportunities that can affect sales and expenses.  This is difficult and often overlooked in organizations because you are looking at things over which you have little to no control.  But, you can still layout a strategy for dealing with them. With forethought you can turn threats into opportunities, The key is to concentrate on those that will have the most significant effect on your winery, and be brief.  

Organizing threats and opportunities

Start with the broad picture and work towards local issues.  Pay the most attention to those things that 1) will have the most effect on your business and 2) that you can mitigate in some way. 

  1. Global – Is climate change going to affect your grape supply or tourism in your area?  Will your grape variety be affected by a rise in overall temperature? Will your water supply be affected?
  2. National – Will tariffs affect your revenue?  Will they substantially increase the cost of equipment and supplies?  How will a downturn in the economy affect your business?
  3. State –  How will changes in shipping laws affect your business?  Will you need to change your packaging because of new regulations?
  4. Local – How is water regulated in your county?  Are your local demographics changing?

I could continue to give examples, the list of threats and opportunities can be long.  The key is to concentrate on those that you can plan for and not get caught up in the details.

Now that you have the Strategic Plan, take some time to assess what the data actually means for your business.  You now have a lot of data.  But, data is only good if it is used to inform your decisions.  I recommend you put some of the data into graphs and charts so that you and your team can have a visual of what the numbers mean.  Your next step is to create the written plan to put your Strategic Plan into action.

The hardest Strategic Plan you make will be the first one!  The next one will be much easier. If you are a small organization you should look to revise your plan every two or three years.  If you have a large organization you should consider revising this plan on an annual basis.

Published by Genevieve Rodgers

I'm an engineer turned, winemaker, turned winery consultant.

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