MYPRODUCT1 Take the Challenge!

1.Situation

Veteco is a well-established veterinary company, importer and distributor in Romania of Merial range, portfolio that includes a worldwide successful brand: Frontline Combo. If you have a dog, a cat it is very likely you have used Frontline Combo to protect them against fleas and ticks.

In February 2008 I met for the first time the CEO of Veteco after applying for a position in his company. He outlined to me the opportunity for his company to approach Royal Canin to take over the distribution of its products. As Veteco business was focused on veterinary products sold to vets in pharmacies and cabinets, the potential distribution of Royal Canin implied a huge challenge for the company, including a new distribution model, a new range of products (pet food) with addressability to new market segments (pet shops), new organisation, context that places the new business on the FMCG area, which had not been approached by the company until that moment.

2.Task

Veteco’s CEO asked me directly. In maximum two weeks I have to present to Royal Canin a business plan to convince them to give the Royal Canin distribution to Veteco and not to a competitor. Can you develop and present this business plan to convince Royal Canin that Veteco has the operational and professional capabilities to distribute its products? If so, and if we take over the distribution then we will work together.

3.Action

I firmly accepted the challenge even if I had not done any business plan of such dimension and complexity before. Even if everything was new to me in terms of industry, products, customers and distribution pattern. I applied and used models and knowledge from the MBA program I was attending then and I built my first business plan, main chapters covering:

– market research: industry, competition, market channels, customers, distribution models, product ranges, price positioning

-operational plan: distribution model, targeted customers, customer segmentation, price positioning, sales strategy, discount policy, marketing plan and activities

-organizational plan: structure, people, skills, working tools, salaries, bonuses

-financial plan: initial investments, fixed costs, variable costs, acquisition and sales targets, P & L, margin, cash flow.

4.Results

In March, following rounds of consultations, I presented to Royal Canin the final business plan for the new Veteco pet food business unit distributing the Royal Canin products. This plan covered the first year of operational activity with the effective start date of selling activity in May, the same year. Basically, within 3 months, we had to move from business plan to operationalization and effective sales of products in the market. This approach was successfully completed and my collaboration with Veteco started as a builder and commercial manager of the new division, a business that generated for company a supplementary annual turnover of about 2 million euros.

5.Key Learnings

The above detailed project represents to me a professional milestone that marked the shift to macro-management of large-scale projects. But what really mattered was accepting the challenge of developing a complex business plan for the first time. Was it hard? Obviously. Was it stressful? As I had never imagined. Was it worth it? Yes, because accepting this challenge placed me on a very interesting professional trajectory.

If you want to professionally advance you cannot avoid taking challenges, no matter how small or big they are. It’s a way to constantly learn and differentiate from others. Always ask for new projects, even if you have not gone through them. Do not hide if new challenges arise. Accept them because professionally you can only win.

 

Notification: MYPRODUCT reflects my real professional experience and expertise as well as my subjectivity. I do have a profound respect for all the companies I collaborated to and for all the people I worked with. It is not my intention to approach any sensitive, confidential or offending information related to companies, projects or people. If you the reader deduct or recognise companies, projects or people in my examples, I kindly ask you to respect MYPRODUCT and my professional and ethic approach and to not share any detail, information, situation, name, company.