Learn by Doing in Action: Management Students Consult Local Businesses

Management Class PresentationManagement and human resources students in Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business are currently working on their Learn by Doing senior projects, some of which involve consulting and researching for local businesses. Students leading these projects will be working with three local wineries as well as the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce as they collect and analyze data, develop new programs, and evaluate business strategies in an effort to help each organization achieve their unique goals.

Students at the Morro Bay Chamber of CommerceA team of students will be working with the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce, which focuses on advocating for healthy, vibrant commerce as well as considering the needs, perspectives and priorities of its community businesses. The students’ project is focused around planning and executing a “Business Walk” where teams of three to four people visit 10-12 businesses an hour to collect data through a four-question survey. The students’ aim to survey 85 percent of the businesses in Morro Bay, conducting more than 300 interviews over the course of the project. The team will also update databases of the websites, create map logistics for a proposed event, identify the media contacts to ultimately discuss the results of the business walk, and create the survey to be used.

Another Cal Poly team will advise Herman Story, a small, successful, winery in Paso Robles that produces nearly 10,000 cases of wine each year. Herman Story’s goal is to create a more refined and mature brand identity that appeals to higher end customers frequenting the region. To achieve this goal, the students will conduct market research on the current client base, a survey on its sales and distribution model, and interviews with current customers to provide analysis on new opportunities for the business.

Desperada, a small winery in Paso Robles that produces about 3,000 cases a year, is partnering with Cal Poly students as it attempts to reach a wider audience and increase profits. The student team will evaluate the current sales model and market strategies at the winery and suggest a plan to reach a wider audience directly. The team will help the business initiate a market shift to focus on “wine geeks,” who are immersed in the complexity and detail of wine and who can sustain the business as loyal customers going forward.

Last but not least, Cal Poly management students will be consulting Baker and Brain, boutique winery on the Central Coast. It was founded in 2009 and produces about 1,400 cases of wine annually. The team will create a plan to help the winery increase their direct sales to the clients.  They will start with research on current consumers and create a report of social media and marketing strategy; a simulation of looking at numbers to calculating potential profits and setting goals for the future; a calendar of marketing actions for the upcoming year.

These projects are the ultimate opportunity for management and human resources students to Learn by Doing, with real data and real clients. After making final presentations to each business, Cal Poly’s students can see the effects of their recommendations take hold.

To connect with the Management and Human Resources Area so your business can work with Cal Poly students, contact Jean-Francois Coget at jcoget@calpoly.edu.