LSAT Writing Prompt - June 2007 LSAT
BLZ Stores, an established men’s clothing retailer with a chain of stores in a major metropolitan area, is selecting a plan for expansion. Using the facts below, write an essay in which you argue for one of the following plans over the other based on the following two criteria:
- The company wants to increase its profits.
- The company wants to ensure its long-term financial stability.
The “national plan” is to open a large number of men’s clothing stores throughout the country over a short period of time. In doing this, the company would incur considerable debt. It would also have to greatly increase staff and develop national marketing and distribution capabilities. Many regional companies that adopted this strategy increased their profits dramatically. A greater number tried and failed, suffering severe financial consequences. BLZ is not well known outside its home area. Research indicates that the BLZ name is viewed positively by those who know it. National clothing chains can offer lower prices because of their greater buying power. BLZ currently faces increasingly heavy competition in its home region from such chains.
The “regional plan” is to increase the number and size of stores in the company’s home region and upgrade their facilities, product quality, and service. This could be achieved for the most part with existing cash reserves. These upgrades would generally increase the prices that BLZ charges. In one trial store in which such changes were implemented, sales and profits have increased. The local population is growing. BLZ enjoys strong customer loyalty. Regional expansion could be accomplished primarily using BLZ’s experienced and loyal staff and would allow continued reliance on known and trusted suppliers, contractors, and other business connections.
As you read through the facts, take notes that list out the pros and cons for each plan. Here’s a simple outline that you can follow as you come up with your own pros and cons:
- Potentially increase profits dramatically
- Positive name recognition (in home region)
- Better buying power
- Stronger ability to fight national competition
- Considerable debt
- Potential severe financial consequences
- Not well known outside of region
- Positive name recognition (in home region)
- Existing cash / less liability
- Limited study shows success with upgrades
- Customer loyalty in home region
- Doesn’t rock the boat/less risk
- Forced increase in prices?
- Continue to fight national chains in region
- Smaller potential increases in profit
- Study is limited as proof of success
In your first sentence, tell the reader what plan the company should implement.
Next, give the reader reasons why the company should follow that plan. Tie your reasons back to the two goals of the company.
Also, when you give your reasons, don’t forget to address the potential weaknesses of your plan. But do so quickly. And immediately follow each weakness with a reason why the company should follow your recommendation. In other words, concede a weakness and then get back to arguing for your position as soon as possible.
In your last sentence, restate your position.
Model Writing Sample
BLZ should adopt the regional plan for expansion because the company can accomplish its two goals of increasing profits and achieving financial stability without much risk. Under the regional plan, BLZ can upgrade with cash on hand without taking on considerable debt and potential unknowns required under the national plan.
Also, BLZ currently enjoys strong customer loyalty and positive name recognition in their home region. Gaining those attributes at a national level might be possible, but the business could run out of cash before securing a national footprint and a sizable market share.
The national plan could increase profits more than the regional plan. But the regional plan allows BLZ to expand in conditions that use its current and highly skilled staff, allowing for moderate growth and upgrades to its regional facilities. According to the case study, upgraded facilities at a regional store increased both sales and profits. These results may not apply to every BLZ store, but they suggest the regional plan is the safer bet.
The national plan could also provide BLZ better buying power and a greater ability to fight national competition in its home region. These benefits, however, are outweighed by the huge risk of taking on tons of debt to compete outside the region where they are known. BLZ is already struggling against the national chain inside their own territory where it enjoys strong customer loyalty.
The regional plan positions the company for expansion where BLZ can get the most bang for its buck. Customer loyalty and name recognition is key to the success of an expanding store. By choosing to stay on home turf, BLZ risks far less to upgrade facilities where it already has customers. The more moderate increase in profits and sales may take BLZ longer to achieve its desired goals, but the national plan risks BLZ going out of business altogether.
Finally, the regional plan does not preclude BLZ from expanding nationally in the future. The same is not true for the national plan. Going out of business with the national plan is a real risk. To pursue the goals of increasing profits and achieving long-term financial stability, BLZ should adopt the regional plan for expansion.