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Cost-Benefit Analysis

Dave and Susan Weston are avid kayakers and amateur naturalists who spent many weekends exploring the Coastal Georgia’s numerous creeks and tributaries. Dave was a sales representative and Susan worked as a freelance Web designer. Two years ago, Dave’s division was purchased by a rival company, which announced plans to move operations to another state.

Rather than relocate, the Westons decided to launch TSK. They reasoned that Susan could continue her work, which would provide some income while Dave tried to build TSK into a profit- able business. Dave and Susan are convinced that the ecotourism market will expand greatly, and they look forward to sharing their experience and knowledge with others who enjoy nature and kayaking.

Tybee-Savannah Kayaks advertises in regional magazines and maintains a website, which Susan designed. At this time, four other kayak rental firms operate within 10 miles of TSK’s location. Customers say that the TSK site is attractive and informative, but the Westons are not sure it is attracting new business.

So far, the Westons’ plan is working out well. TSK rents space at a nearby marina, where Susan runs the office and operates her Web design business. She also handles rentals when Dave is giving lessons or busy with a tour group. On summer weekends and holidays, Jill Herndon, a local college student, handles telephone inquiries and reservations.

TSK’s inventory includes 16 rental kayaks of various types, lengths, and capacities, eight car-top carriers, and a large assortment of accessories and safety equipment. Based on customer requests, Susan is considering adding a selection of books and videos about kayaking and ecotourism.

TSK has three main business segments: rentals, instruction, and guided tours. Most customers make advance reservations for scheduled tours and instruction sessions, but sometimes space is available for last-minute customers. Rentals are split evenly between reservations and walk-in customers.

Reservations are entered in a loose-leaf binder, with separate tabs for each business activity. Susan also created a Microsoft Access database to record reservations. When she has time, she enters the reservation date, the reservation details and kayak type, and the customer information into a table, which is sorted by reservation date. Each day, she prints a reservation list. For quick reference, Susan also displays kayak availability on a wall-mounted board with color- coded magnets that show the available or reserved status of each rental kayak. In addition to the database, Susan uses an inexpensive accounting package to keep TSK’s books.

Although the TSK database handles the basic information, the Westons have noticed some drawbacks. For example, reservations for guided tours or instruction sessions sometimes conflict with Dave’s or Susan’s availability. The Westons also would like to get more information about rental patterns, customer profiles, advertising effectiveness, and future business opportunities. Dave and Susan have talked about updating the system, but they have been too busy to do so.