English for Business: Intermediate Level
Topic: Business Planning for Success
Reading exercise: Making a Splash in the Bathrooms Market
Vocabulary Exercise: Five questions to check your understanding
Grammar Point 1: Phrasal verbs
Exercise: Phrasal verbs 1
Grammar Point 2: Types of phrasal verb
Exercise: Phrasal verbs 2
Style points: Idioms, puns and metaphors
Exercise: Using more formal language
Business terms: Useful definitions
Making A Splash In The Bathrooms Market
1. A rescue from liquidation may not seem like an auspicious start for a business, yet the
2. new owners of Bathroom Warehouse in Winchester have not only turned around its
3. fortunes, they have made a real splash in the market. The two partners have knocked up
4. successful sales, achieving year on year growth for three years in a row. They simply put
5. their success down to finding out what the customer wants, and giving it to them. But
6. Bill, their Business Adviser, says they bring new flair, new ideas, and a different way of
7. doing things.
9. This starts with the product range where they have introduced unique products, directly
10. imported, to cater for and provide value to a wider cross section of the market. The
11. showroom has been revitalised with ideas gleaned from overseas visits and staff product
12. knowledge and technical know-how improved.
14. The purchase of the Bathroom Warehouse catapulted the owners into a new, bigger arena,
15. and they have gone on to acquire a third showroom in Ascot. The speedy shift in size has
16. also required a sea change in management thinking.
17. "It was like stepping into bigger shoes when we bought the Winchester showroom and we
18. have leaned on Bill for advice as we have gone along" says one of the partners.
20. An initial business review by Bill helped them to focus on just where they were going and
21. how they were going to achieve it. This involved working on the grass roots of the
22. business, putting structures in place from Health and Safety and personnel policies to the
23. creation of a marketing plan and IT strategy.
25. The installation of a complex computer system, integrating the sales and distribution
26. systems, has been a major project. Other new projects include the production of their
27. own brochure, the introduction of an appraisal scheme for staff, and new areas of
28. business expansion, from the setting up of a distribution service to the importation of
29. further new products.
31. "This is an exciting business with both partners imposing new ideas on the bathroom
32. industry in the UK" says Bill. "We have certainly come a long way together but I am
33. convinced that there are much greater achievements yet to come."
(Adapted from a Business Link Case Study)
Question to check understanding.
Choose the correct answer, A,B,C or D
1. Liquidation (line 1) here means:
A. selling the company
B. making the company smaller
C. the financial failure (bankruptcy) of the company
D. expanding the company
(Correct answer: C)
2. The partners believe they succeeded because:
A. they introduced new products
B. they studied customers’ wishes and responded to them
C. their products were cheaper than their competitors’ products
D. their products were good quality
(Correct answer: B)
3. Turn around, (line 2) knock up, (line 3) find out, (line 5) step into, (line 17) lean on, ( line 18) go along, (line 18) set up, (line 28) are all examples of:
A. phrasal verbs
(Correct answer: A)
4. Gleaned in line 11 is a synonym for:
(Correct answer: A)
5. In line 23, the initials IT stand for:
A. Industrial Training
B. Internet and Telephones
C. International Transport
D. Information Technology
(The correct answer is D)
Grammar point: Phrasal verbs
In question 3 you saw some examples of phrasal verbs from the text. Compound, or phrasal, verbs are widely used, especially in spoken English. They often replace a more formal verb of Latin or French origin, e.g. turn off the light (not extinguish the light). Remember that the meaning of a phrasal verb may be quite different from the meaning of the verb alone and that often one phrasal verb has several meanings.
Grammar Exercise: Phrasal Verbs 1
Choose the correct preposition to form the phrasal verb in these sentence:
1. I didn’t pay my electricity bill and so the company cut ……. my supply.
A. out B. away C. from D. off (Correct answer:D)
2. We need someone to look …… our animals while we are away.
A. for B. after C. to D. with (Correct answer: B)
3. Profits fell sharply last year but they are beginning to pick …… again now.
A. on B. through C. up D. round (Correct answer: C)
4. The manager won’t stand …… lateness.
A. up B. for C. on D. under (Correct answer: B)
5. We took a risk in buying that new company but I’m glad to say it has paid …….
A. over B. off C. out D. for (Correct answer: B)
Grammar Point 2: Types of Phrasal Verb
1. Verb + preposition + object
he got over his illness/ he got over it
she looks after the children/she looks after them
he came across a new restaurant/he came across it
2. Verb + particle + object
he broke off the engagement/he broke it off
she called up her friend/ she called him up
I can't make out your handwriting/ I can't make it out
3. Verb + particle
the car broke down
things are looking up
the plane took off
I lay in this morning
4. Verb + particle + preposition + object
she let me in on the secret/ she let me in on it
he will never live up to his reputation/ he will never live up to it
let me make up for the time you have wasted/ let me make up for it
Grammar Exercise: Phrasal Verbs 2
Say which type of phrasal verb each of the following is:
1. He gets up early for work each morning
A. 1 B. 2 C. 3 D.4 (Correct answer: C)
2. They put their success down to finding out what the customer wants.
A. 1 B. 2 C. 3 D.4 (Correct answer: D)
3. They have turned around its fortunes.
A. 1 B. 2 C. 3 D.4 (Correct answer: B)
4. It was like stepping into bigger shoes.
A. 1 B. 2 C. 3 D.4 (Correct answer: 1)
5. We have leaned on Bill as we have gone along.
A. 1 B. 2 C. 3 D.4 (Correct answer: 3)
Notice that the text has several examples of:
idioms (make a splash; step into bigger shoes; grass roots)
metaphors (catapult, sea change)
pun (making a splash in the bathrooms market)
These features make the text more interesting and lively to read but they must be used carefully so as to fit the overall style of the writing. This is an informal, journalistic text in which they are appropriate, but in very formal report, for example, they would not be used.
Exercise: Using More Formal Language
If the text had a more formal style, some of these expressions would probably be changed. Choose the best alternative for each example:
1. make a splash
A. make a noise
B. make a fuss
C. attract attention
D. attract investment
(Correct answer: C)
2. step into bigger shoes
A. become more important
B. put on weight
C. buy new clothes
D. spend more money
(Correct answer: A)
3. grass roots
A. the office building
B. the basics
C. the bosses
D. the shareholders
(Correct answer is: B)
(Correct answer is C)
5. sea change
A. big waves
C. fundamental shift
D. about turn
E. (Correct answer is C).
Note the following useful business terms used in the text:
liquidation (uncountable noun) closure of an unprofitable business so that its assets can be sold to pay its debts
e.g. After several years of falling sales, the company finally went into liquidation.
year on year (adverbial phrase) one year after another; it applies to a steady and uninterrupted sequence of events
e.g. As a result of the pricing policy introduced after the takeover, we have seen a year on year increase in profits.
product range (noun phrase) the goods made by a company
e.g. Our new product range has been designed to appeal to the youth market.
a cross section of the market (noun phrase) a group that represents all the different types of customer in the market.
e.g. Our latest survey takes a opinions from a cross section of the retired people’s market.
marketing plan (noun phrase) the part of business planing that deals with customer research, pricing and targeting a sales campaign so that the goods can be successfully sold.
e.g. This new product range will need a completely new marketing plan before it can be launched.
appraisal scheme (noun phrase) a system for judging the performance of a company’s staff.
e.g. The company’s new appraisal scheme gives employees the opportunity to evaluate their managers as well as managers to evaluate their staff.
business expansion (noun phrase) the growth of a company
e.g. The new investment will allow us to enter a phase of considerable business expansion.
Author: Brenda Townsend Hall