Tuesday, April 23, 2024

LSUS business seniors suggest strategic improvements to local companies as part of capstone project

by BIZ Magazine

Senior LSUS business majors put on their consultant caps to analyze local businesses and offer strategic recommendations as part of their capstone project for the MADM 480 Strategy class. 

The 12 students each evaluated one local business, presented recommendations to the class Tuesday, and will then complete their project by making a presentation to that particular business on strategic improvements they can make to gain or maintain their competitive advantage. 

Students took a deep dive into business operations, delving into each company’s industry, operations, and competition on a local and national level, and analyzing that company’s strengths and weakness as well as opportunities for growth. 

“Students apply things they’ve learned from all of their previous business classes to wholistically look at a business and recommend strategies for improvement in multiple areas,” said Dr. Mike McDaniel, assistant professor in the management and marketing department. “Specifically in this class, we approach strategic analysis through external and internal analysis tools like Porter’s five forces model and value chain analysis, which then allow students to develop a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) for a business and make strategic recommendations.  

“Developing graduates who can make strong information-based decisions is one of our key goals in the College of Business.” 

Better use of social media and digital marketing was one of the most common suggestions to mitigate the threat of competitive rivalry, though differentiation of products and services was also frequently recommended. 

Amira X evaluated a home remodeling company that specializes in refinishing bathtubs and kitchen countertops. 

“There’s not capital for marketing or training, so I’m suggesting that the owner builds a company website to showcase his work and takes advantage of free marketing streams like social media,” Amira X said. “Most of the work he does is residential, but if he gets some commercial clients like apartment complexes, he could create a more consistent income base.” 

Adeline Parker analyzed a local corn maze farm that has been in operation for more than 20 years. 

While that established brand is successful at reaching moms on Facebook, Parker said becoming more active on Instagram and TikTok could help the farm capitalize on this seasonal social media craze. 

“They have an Instagram account, but it’s not updated regularly,” Parker said. “There is a lot of social media buzz around pumpkin farms and corn mazes in the fall, and a more active Instagram along with the creation of a TikTok account can reach younger moms who are looking for activities for their family.” 

Even for companies like a small bakery that relies totally on internet sales, student Drew Webb suggested an increase in social media platforms could help it compete in a crowded marketplace. 

“The owner does all of his sales through Facebook … and he has Facebook and Instagram accounts,” Webb said. “But I think he could widen his audience through Snapchat and reach more customers. 

“Establishing a company website would also be beneficial and give off a polished appearance that matches his incredible cookies.” 

While many local businesses may hesitate to allocate limited money to their marketing efforts, students continually suggested to take advantage of free marketing through social media activity. 

Social media can do more than just reach its customers, it can reach its potential workforce as well. 

Student Dalton Pierce evaluated a local construction company, a subcontractor that constructs housing frames and metal studs and specializes in acoustic ceilings, and addressed the challenge of finding qualified employees. 

“They may advertise positions through social media once a year for a couple of weeks, but I think a consistent advertising presence as well as adding their positions on websites like LinkedIn will produce a more steady workforce,” Pierce suggested. 

Riley Hartline analyzed a local veterinary clinic, adding that the state veterinary association just recently relaxed its position on Louisiana vets advertising through traditional and social media avenues. 

He urged the clinic, which bills itself as a specialty animal clinic for companion animals, to jump into social media marketing with both feet in addition to developing an app to help owners keep track of their pets’ care. 

“The statewide association used to look down on vets advertising their services, but I’m suggesting the creation of a mobile app that will do a lot of different things,” Hartline said. “This app can provide digital medical records and treatment plans along with hosting contests where owners submit cute pictures of their pets. 

“The app is also a great way to collect consumer data. There’s a lot that can be done through the app, including scheduling appointments.” 

These students’ efforts will help local businesses improve their competitive advantage in the local market as LSUS continues to engage with and invest in its local community. 

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