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Good Earth is entering their first year of operations. Good Earth is expected to close on their first round of funding with 21 days. The company has been well received and marketing will be critical to grow the company to fully utilize all of their pending facility purchases. The basic market need is for a clean, convenient landfill serving the St. Louis metropolitan area. Good Earth will meet this market need by purchasing two already existing landfills, modernizing them and increasing capacity five fold, and offering conveniences that are not currently available at competing landfills.

Market Summary

Good Earth posses good information about the market and knows a great deal about the common attributes of the most prized customers. This information will be leveraged to better understand who is served, their specific needs, and how Good Earth can better communicate with them.

Market Analysis

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Market Analysis
  20032004200520062007 
Potential CustomersGrowth     CAGR
Small Haulers15%7008059261,0651,22515.02%
Big Three Haulers10%1,2801,4081,5491,7041,87410.00%
Private25%10012515619524424.98%
Total12.59%2,0802,3382,6312,9643,34312.59%

Market Needs

GER is providing its customers with a convenient, clean landfill for refuse disposal serving the St. Louis metropolitan area. GER seeks to fulfill the following benefits that are important to their customers.

  • Convenience- Customers appreciate longer hours, paved entrance roads, and clean facilities.
  • Reasonable rates- Hauling trash is somewhat a commodity and prices need to be competitive.
  • Exceptional customer service- Customers appreciate good service in light of the fact that they need to constantly interact with members of the other company.

The most important market trend, landfill closures, favors GER. There are fewer and fewer landfills, while more and more families are moving to suburban locations, discouraging new landfills from opening and expediting the closure of those currently in use. The "nimby" (not in my back yard) cry prevents new landfills from being permitted or significantly slowing the process. State governments refuse to override citizens who adamantly fight landfill construction near their homes even at the prospect of even higher waste collection charges. Neither Martin Creek nor Barton landfills have to experience a public hearing phase. Public opposition to landfills and transfer stations serves to push waste disposal costs higher with transportation to more distant landfills.

Of the companies focused on the profitable business of waste removal, only a minor number have developed an efficient method to remove the gas generated from buried waste. Ninety-eight percent of landfills use earth as a cover ("cut and fill") rather than PVC covering. This reduces gas purity and volume. Older waste burial practices cause gas retrieval to be difficult and expensive, while the bale cell system GER intends to use will capture the majority of the gas. Sealed cells reduce leachate leakage and water table contamination. Gas production will provide revenues for many years to come.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Solid Waste identifies by name and location Non-Hazardous Waste landfills throughout the United States and U.S. territories every several years. 1986 was the first year this census was taken and there were 7,683 landfills identified. In 1992 the document was updated and showed a decline to 5,345 landfills. In 2000, the document was updated once again and showed a further decline in landfills to 3,581. This report substantiates the increasing value of a landfill permit and the increasing difficulty to obtain a permit to dispose of municipal waste. The trend is obviously favorable for owners of landfills that are available to accept waste. It will not be many years before rates increase substantially and even local waste fees will skyrocket.

Market Growth

The landfill market has not had strong growth of new companies within the last 10 years due to regulatory constraints. There is significant regulation, both state and federal for the operation of a landfill. This regulatory environment, coupled with "not in my backyard" mentality which is a significant force of public sentiment has significantly curtailed the  construction of new landfills.  Additionally, the current landfills are filling up quickly.  The limited space in current fills, the lack of construction of new ones, and the never diminishing demand for waste disposal will create an increasing demand on current landfill operators.  This is very good for GER and other landfills that have current facilities with permits and sufficient space for years to come.

Service Business Analysis

There are two large national players operating in practically every major city in the United States, Associated Waste and USA Waste Technologies. Both are NYSE listed and both exceed $1 billion per year in revenues. Their operations include collecting waste, both business and residential, operating transfer stations and landfills.

GER intends to work with both USA Waste and Associated Waste. It may appear that GER will be in competition with these companies, however, in the St. Louis area, the landfills owned by USA Waste are in Illinois, some 30 miles (60 miles round trip) and 40 miles (80 miles round trip) from the city. Associated Waste manages a landfill in St. Louis owned by the Catholic Church due to close in less than eighteen months. Associated also owns a landfill in Roxana, Illinois somewhat more distant than the USA Waste landfills.

USA Waste has offered to provide GER with nearly 700 tons/day of waste in the vicinity of Martin Creek. It has also inquired about purchasing Martin Creek landfill at a future date. As mentioned previously, USA Waste approached the present owners of Barton to accept overflow waste as it attempts to reduce the waste flow to its Milan, Illinois landfill.

GER has contacted local hauling companies for some or all of their business. For these companies, a favorable location with more favorable hours of operation will be of benefit to the owners who realize a closer landfill and longer hours will help increase their profitability.

Currently, there is a proposal for several small municipalities in Eastern Missouri to join in an effort to develop a landfill property to meet their collective needs for the next 25 years. With a projected cost of $37,250,000 there is staunch opposition to the project. The fact that local government would consider such a high cost project underscores the value of Martin Creek and Barton.

SWOT Analysis

The following SWOT analysis captures the key strengths and weaknesses within the company and describes the opportunities and threats that the industry faces.

Strengths

  • Clean facilities.
  • Aggressive recycling that reduces overall volume as well as generates profits.
  • Existing landfill permits.

Weaknesses

  • Finite storage facilities.
  • Conversion costs of customers to choose GER over their current landfill operator.
  • A limited marketing budget to develop awareness.

Opportunities

  • Participation in an industry that appears to have never ending demand.
  • A limited number of permits released conferring advantages to operators that currently hold valid permits.
  • As supply decreases, prices will increase with fixed and variable costs staying steady.

Threats

  • High capital requirements.
  • High regulatory and public relations costs.
  • Poor public perception.

Competition

There are several types of competitors:

  1. Currently there are two landfills operating in St. Louis County, and two in Illinois across the Mississippi River twenty-five miles from downtown St. Louis. Waste trucks cross the river daily to the Illinois landfills. Round trip for a truck generally requires an hour and a half. At the landfills, roads are muddy in the fall, spring, and winter and dusty in the summer. Here is where the majority of waste truck breakdowns occur due to punctured tires, stalling, and mechanical problems. Both Martin Creek and Barton landfills will have paved dumping areas. Operation hours will be longer as well (6 AM to 8 PM daily and 6 AM to 2 PM on Saturdays). In the four hours after other landfills are closed, GER landfills will attract hauling firms whose trucks have been delayed during the day, or whose pickup routes are longer.
  2. A city-owned transfer station on the south side of St. Louis operated by USA Waste will continue to service the southern side of the city. The charge for outside waste companies to dump at this facility is $35.93/ton. The facility is managed by USA Waste under contract with the city of St. Louis. Collected waste is hauled to a landfill owned by USA Waste in Milan, Illinois. Fees for the two landfills in Illinois are $34.00 per ton. USA Waste inquired about diverting a portion of their waste stream to Barton. However, the owners of Barton declined as they did not desire to add additional employees that an increased waste stream would require.

Associated Waste and USA Waste Technologies are the two major firms in the waste business nationwide. Both are NYSE listed. Their operations include collecting residential and commercial waste, operating transfer stations, and operating landfills.

Total daily waste collected in the metropolitan St. Louis area, which includes St. Louis city and County, St. Charles County, and Jefferson County, is estimated at between 12,000 and 16,000 yards per day. GER can immediately take 10% of this waste stream daily without competitive concern. In time GER expects to obtain a greater percentage of this waste stream.

Local counties include: Washington; St. Francois; Jefferson; St. Genevieve; Iron; and Madison. Each of these counties has waste collection services.

Washington County trucks drive a round trip distance of 104 miles to a transfer station in St. Genevieve city, St.Genevieve county, Missouri where it is then trucked to DeSoto, Illinois, a round trip distance of 146 miles.

St. Francois trucks drive a round trip distance of 92 miles to a transfer station in St. Genevieve city, St. Genevieve County, Missouri where it is then trucked to DeSoto, Illinois. St. Genevieve trucks drive to a nearby transfer station in St. Genevieve city St. Genevieve County, Missouri where it is then trucked to DeSoto, Illinois.

Jefferson County trucks drive to a transfer station in Barnhart, Jefferson County, where it is trucked to Weber Landfill in St. Louis, a round trip of 70 miles or across the Mississippi to East St. Louis, Illinois, a round trip of 90 miles.

Iron County waste trucks pick up waste and drive to Fredericktown Transfer Station, a round trip of 56 miles, where it is trucked to Butler County Landfill, Poplar Bluff, Missouri, a round trip of 80 miles.

Madison trucks pick up waste and drive to Fredericktown, Madison County Transfer Station where it is trucked to Butler County Landfill, Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

The distance Washington County trucks would travel to Martin Creek is 18 miles round trip vs. 104 miles. The distance St. Francois County trucks would travel to Martin Creek is 36 miles round trip vs. 92 miles. The distance St. Genevieve County trucks would travel to Martin Creek is 72 miles round trip vs. 144 miles. The distance Jefferson County trucks would travel to Martin Creek is 22 to 75 miles round trip vs. 90 miles. The distance Iron County trucks would travel to Martin Creek is 44 miles round trip vs. 56 miles. The distance Madison County trucks would travel to Martin Creek is 68 miles round trip vs. 80 miles.

In every case these county trucks would save time and mileage by using Martin Creek. This translates into money saved for the each county or hauling company. At present there are no long-term contracts that would prevent a change to Martin Creek.

Service Offering

Martin Creek and Barton landfills are close, easy-access locations for St. Louis metropolitan area waste hauling firms to dispose of solid municipal waste. By sending GER road tractors to haul waste to its sites from more distant waste transfer stations, the tonnage starting with the first day of operations will be assured.

Receiving facilities are enclosed buildings into which all incoming waste is dumped. This waste will be hand sorted removing 99% of all recyclables, then compacted, baled, and moved to the landfill.

The bales will form "bale cells" which include conduits for landfill gas capture. Each cell will be sealed in order to create an anaerobic environment for optimum gas generation and vector control.

After constructing the recycling facility and obtaining a permit, used tires will be crumbled and used throughout the landfill instead of crushed rock (inside bale cells to protect gas conduits, on landfill roads, and in the drainage system). Currently, used tires generate an income of $1.75 to $2.00 per tire. Approximately 30,000 to 43,000 tires can be used per acre of landfill. This eliminates the cost of rock and requires no additional space for disposal.

Each bale cell will be wrapped with 60 mil polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sheets and sealed on all sides to trap and collect methane gas generated. Landfill gas is 55% methane (CH4), 45% carbon dioxide (C02), with trace amounts of nitrogen (N). The gas is cleaned, dried, and separated with membranes and filters. The methane can be used as fuel for electrical generators on site, providing substantial electricity savings.

Sales of electricity into the electrical grid is an alternate source of income for GER. Although large electric generators represent a significant capital investment, there is ample return on investment to warrant such expenditure. This option has the potential of adding approximately $4,000,000+ annually to the gross income.

Another process requiring different equipment and a significant capital investment is reforming the methane into methanol and food-grade C02. This process requires filtering, scrubbing, and bottling C02 for use in food and carbonated drinks and methanol for use as fuel, solvents, and windshield washer fluid.

In bulk form, methanol sales can generate $0.48 per gallon. As a vehicle fuel, this product is called M-85 and contains a mixture of 85% methanol and 15% gasoline and is used in vehicles that have dual configured engines. As the price of gasoline skyrockets, this method has more potential for an excellent adjunct profit center. All major automobile manufacturers offer assembly-line automobiles capable of using both M-85 and regular gasoline products in the same vehicle.

After the landfill has been operating for at least six months, GER will commence collecting methane gas to power electrical generators. During the first six months, the primary effort will be spent stabilizing the basic operation and working out start-up problems. Subsequently, decisions regarding the final utilization of methane will be made.

New York City's residential waste fees are normally $140.00 per ton (currently being held at an artificially low price by city government), whereas St. Louis fees are $34.00 per ton. The rail access at both GER landfills allow importation of this high profit waste stream. Rail shipping costs are approximately $7.00 per ton, thus facilitating reasonable means to import this profitable source of income in a manner that does not attract attention by using surface roads.

Income from methane gas generation will be gravy for an already lucrative waste and recycling business. Nationwide electrical and gasoline shortages add an urgency to utilize this valuable byproduct. The American Methanol Institute has been helpful in providing information regarding methane reformation into methanol.

The cost of waste removal is expected to rise dramatically over the next decade. GER selected its landfill sites in rural locations, yet reasonably close to a major population center to capitalize on the growing need for landfills. Martin Creek and Barton are optimally situated to take advantage of the impending rising costs and landfill closure crisis.

GER intends to defuse any public concern by maintaining highly sanitary facilities that use ozone generators to eliminate odors, insects, and rodents. Baled waste does not cause the landfill to have the messy, littered appearance of traditional landfills. Baled waste is dense, and, with paper and other recyclables removed, there is minimal blowing waste to litter the area. The "active" area is covered by earth and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sheets, thus reducing odor, vectors, birds, and insects.

Keys to Success

  1. Concentrate on bringing to Martin Creek and Barton as much waste capacity as possible.
  2. Process the waste stream as efficiently and profitably as possible. Strive to reduce down time and stoppages.
  3. Operate the landfill operation as efficiently and safely as possible using every method to increase profits yet maintain a high concern for the environment.
  4. Maintain family-like atmosphere for all associated with GER, co-workers and customers alike.

Critical Issues

GER is still in the speculative stages as a new operation. The critical issues that they face are:

  • Ensure that the revenue stream is sufficient to offset the debt load.
  • Continually invest in research and development activities that will help increase the lifespan of the finite-space landfill facilities.

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