Sweet Servuction: Discovering the Business Behind a Corn Maze

By Ali Fisher

Halloween is a time filled with costumes, candy, and corn mazes. The Dean’s Student Leadership Council decided that visiting a local maze would be a fun first outing to work on team building and to have a little fall fun.

As we approached the line for the corn maze, we noticed a sign, “Corn Maze – Your Future Business.” Until that Saturday, the idea of owning a corn maze had never crossed my mind; however, when accompanied by a group of business students and a wait time of nearly 45 minutes, the conversation quickly went in that direction. Here’s what we determined after reflecting on our experience:

Your experience as a corn maze customer is a result of four components, known as the Servuction Model.

SModel

Other customers. By separating customers into smaller groups, it exposes consumers to two things —emotional behavior and bottlenecks. Before explaining that this buildup of people creates unnecessary time constraints, let’s examine the three types of emotional behavior exhibited from customers at corn mazes:

  • Emotional Involvement: These consumers are invested in the experience, actively engaging to prolong activity, and enjoying suspenseful areas throughout the maze.
  • Emotional Expressiveness: These are consumers who might scream, yell, or maybe even laugh outwardly to perceived scary and suspenseful events. Other consumers in this category may regret spending money on such childish activity and express regret in superficial emotion.
  • Emotional Intelligence: These consumers might as well give you a tour of the maze. They know when and where a service personnel is going to jump out and attempt to scare you. They can easily control their ability to be scared, but may take the fun out of the experience.

cornBottlenecks. Have you ever gotten stuck behind a group of slow individuals just when you were starting to figure out the right path? These are the bottlenecks. And this buildup of people is bound to impact your experience, according to the Servuction Model. They slow your experience right when you are on the edge of your triumphant finish. Is that the dilemma of the owner of the maze, or is it your problem? The company might want to consider making wider paths, admitting fewer people into the maze at once, increasing acreage and therefore expanding the maze, or reviewing the maze patterns to filter consumers in different areas using service personnel as key influencers.

Servicescape. This refers to the environment designed for the service. It includes two features — ambient conditions and physical evidence.

  • Ambient Conditions: Includes features such as the lighting, temperature, smells, sights, music, etc., by providing fog lights, ghost music, and increasing the specific aromas such as apple cider, the servicescape adds to the service experience of the consumer.
  • Physical Evidence: Encompasses features like signs, symbols, and artifacts. Objects such as the ticket booth, the website, and the design on the tickets need to clearly convey and enhance the maze operations; otherwise, discrepancies between the message provided and the message received may be a result of the servicescape.

Servicescape varies between corn mazes, but overall the components should seek to clearly align with the mission of the corn maze. Use this as an opportunity to set consumer expectations from the very beginning.

Service Personnel. This is what keeps people coming back and spreads positive word of mouth for a corn maze. If employees are not in character and do not scare customers, then they do not effectively accomplish the service paid for by consumers. Do they live by the mission of the organization? Do they live up to the level of fear one could expect when experiencing the maze? Service personnel not only interact with the consumers, but serve as an important source for product differentiation.

Organization and Systems. The rules, regulations, and processes implemented behind the scenes determine whether or not consumers will have a positive experience. This includes the proficiency of finances and how they are managed, whether or not human resource areas are controlled, the level of organization in the company’s systems, and performance standards that are in place. These components are not visible to the consumer, though they have a significant effect on consumers’ service experience.

With these four concepts in mind, consumers form perceptions regarding their corn maze experience. Are they satisfied, based on their expectations coming into the corn maze? As an owner, if you create a positive service experience,influential word of mouth, and buzz marketing campaigns, you can increase revenue as a result of increased customers.

Through this experience, I learned that business principles can be applied to everything – even corn mazes. With the right team and the right tools, any venture can be a successful one.

Special thanks to Marketing Professor, Doug Hoffman, for showing us all the power of servuction.

Happy Halloween, Business Rams!

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8 Reasons to Attend the College of Business Job & Internship Exposition

By: Annie  Burnham

Welcome back, College of Business Rams! I hope your summer was relaxing, productive, and that you set and met some short-term goals. Now that the new semester has started, setting a few more short and long term goals (even if they are just in your head) is important to your success this semester.

One of your long term goals is probably to get a job after graduation. Well, there’s no time like the present to start working toward that goal. And here’s one of the best ways you can start – the College of Business Job & Internship Expo.

This event will be held on September 18 and 19 from 4-6 p.m. in the foyer of Rockwell West. The event is taking place two days in order to split up the concentrations. Marketing, Management, Master of Management Practice, Master of Business Administration, Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise Master of Business Administration students are invited to attend the Wednesday session, and

Computer Information Systems, Accounting, Finance, Real Estate, Master of Accountancy, and Master of Science in Business Administration for Computer information Systems, and Financial Risk Management, students are invited to attend Thursday. Register with the Career Management Center today.

Now, why should you go to this event, you ask?

The Career Management Center has eight good reasons students should attend.

  1. You can increase your network. 80% of jobs are found through a personal or professional connection. What better way to start making those connections than in an environment designed to cultivate those relationships? LinkedIn is a great vehicle for these relationships to be formed as well. The COB Job & Internship Expo hosts more than 50 employers and a number of great contacts that are looking for someone like you.
  2. It gives you a reason to dress your best. Your professional appearance makes a difference. Put on your nicest business attire to make a lasting impression. It is always better to be a little overdressed and show that you want to make a good impression rather than look like you decided attend this expo last minute.
  3. It is an opportunity to learn about a variety of companies. Take every opportunity to attend company or industry meetings, conferences, and events. The Job & Internship Expo provides you with a unique opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with a number of recruiters who can tell you firsthand what working with their organization is like. Come prepared with questions and research companies beforehand.
  4. Get a job/internship.  More than 50 employers will be in attendance. They are all seeking College of Business students. Start the career process early and meet with a number of companies one-on-one.
  5. Employers want to meet you. This one goes with No. 4. These employers will be prepared to conduct on the-spot interviews with the candidates who offer the best value to their organizations.
  6. Get a professional photo. Have your photo taken by a professional photographer to use on social media sites like LinkedIn. This is another reason dressing your best will be important. Your selfie in the bathroom mirror should NOT be your LinkedIn profile photo.
  7. Gain experience in career fair settings. Careers fairs can be intimidating – start early in college and learn the best ways to attract employers attention. You can also watch others interacting with employers and take some mental notes.
  8. Discover new companies and opportunities. Chances are you will not have heard of every company that is in attendance. This is a chance to find some companies that you might want to research later on about employment opportunities.

Although you might be a few semesters away from graduating, it is never too early to start thinking about what you want to move on to next. The Job & Internship Expo is a great way to meet new people and learn about opportunities to take advantage of now.

Q&A with a Recruiter

employment stock photo

by Tim Pate

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what the person who may or may not hire you is looking for? I thought so as well; that’s why I contacted Mandy Dicker, national sales recruiter for Total Quality Logistics and friend of the College of Business. I asked Dicker exactly what makes her notice a potential hire – and what puts resumes on the fast track to the trash.

Read our conversation below to learn how you can capture the attention of a recruiter and land your next job.

Q: Generally speaking, what characteristics do you look for in the ideal candidate? 

A: Confident, hardworking (worked while in college, played sports or involved with organizations/clubs), energetic, and positive.

Q: What in a cover letter grabs your attention? 

A: Short, concise, and directed specifically at the position and industry.

Q: What is the most common mistake applicants make on their resumes? 

A: Applicants don’t align their objective statement to the position they are applying to. I would recommend removing the objective statement if applicants are applying to too many positions to keep track of.

Q: Many jobs have hundreds of applicants. What makes individuals stand out above the crowd? 

A: Tailoring the resume to align with the specific position they are applying to. If they are given a chance to interview, it’s important to be conversational and make themselves memorable during the interview.

Q: What is the most common mistake applicants make in interviews? 

A: Applicants don’t prepare for the interview with any research about the company or position. As a result, they don’t have any questions for the interviewer which shows an overall lack of interest.

Q: What would you say to job seekers who are feeling discouraged? 

A: Keep trying, try to get as much feedback as possible, and learn from this feedback.

Are you a recruiter? If so, what makes a candidate memorable? If you are not a recruiter, what have you done to make your cover letter, resume, or interview one that sticks in the mind of the recruiter? 

Follow-up on JC Penney: Will their mea culpa commercial work?

By Annie Burnham

Last month, I posted a blog on the firing of former JC Penney CEO, Ron Johnson, due to his failure to turn around the company’s plummeting sales. Johnson created problems by pushing away loyal customers and ignoring their needs. JC Penney has existed for 111 years and has a large customer base. Johnson treated JC Penney customers like he treated Apple’s customers, despite the differences between the companies and their customers. The failure to recognize those differences coupled with the sudden and vast number of changes helped lead to Johnsons failures as CEO.

Mike Ullman, the old JC Penney CEO reinstated as interim leader, wasted no time in sending out a plea to former JC Penney shoppers. The struggling retailer released a 30–second commercial asking customers for forgiveness:

It’s no secret. Recently, JC Penney changed. Some changes you liked, and some you didn’t. But what matters with mistakes is what we learn. We learned a very simple thing: to listen to you. To hear what you need to make your life more beautiful. Come back to JC Penney. We heard you. Now, we’d love to see you.” The spot ends with the full JC Penney name, and the lines “Come back to see us” and “We’re listening on Facebook.”

While the commercial has garnered some attention for JC Penney, experts have differing opinions about what its outcome might be. Daniel Gross, writer for The Daily Beast, said that the firing of a CEO in such a short amount of time is an emerging trend. The speed at which changes in technology, social media, the market, and investing take place contributes to shorter tenures for CEOs.

“Over the past five years, an average of nearly 1,300 CEOs have resigned, retired, or been fired each year,” said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, a Chicago-based executive coaching firm. “Patient money is nonexistent in the age of immediacy in which we live. JC Penney provides a case study of what happens when impatient money meets a turnaround that is likely to take time.”

Some critics say that there is no hope for JC Penney. According to Douglas A. McIntyre, a writer for the blog 24/7 Wall St, “JC Penney would not only have to reach millions of them with its new message. It also would have to compel these consumers to come back to an experience they abandoned because they did not like it.”

Whether customers return or not doesn’t seem to have deterred Goldman Sachs from approving a $1.75 billion loan for JC Penney this past week. One problem JC Penney now faces with the broadcast of this commercial is to live up to what it has promised. Gaining back its consumers and developing brand loyalty isn’t going to happen just because of an apology in the form of a 30- second TV commercial. Shoppers need to see changes that they like. So, what does the future hold for retailers —particularly JC Penney? Only time will tell.

How have you responded to JC Penney’s recent changes? Is the apology enough to bring customers back? Be sure to leave comments below.

What to do while you’re living in your parents’ basement

By Tim Pate

What NOT to do as a job-seeker

Graduation is looming, and you don’t have a job in line yet. No need to fret; you’re not alone. Plenty of college students spend a little time unemployed before finding that elusive position. Graduates who find success in their job search aggressively seek opportunities and make the connections that others miss. So instead of becoming a master video-gamer during your time off, here are some tips for finding that job as quickly as possible. You and your parents will thank me.

1. Improve your social media presence.

Facebook and Twitter have been fun channels through which we have interacted with friends throughout college, but now it’s time to use these platforms and more to your advantage. First, clean up your personal sites: take down your party pics, commit yourself to clean and sophisticated language, use a professional photograph for your profiles, and sculpt your biographies so that they reflect the best version of yourself.

Then start posting content that is relevant to your interests and the career you want to pursue. Employers want to see that you actually care about your career – demonstrate your passion over social media.

Once you’ve done that, think about exploring other social media sites and learn how they can further serve you in your job hunt. Use LinkedIn as an online resume. Post pictures relevant to your career goals on Pinterest. Showcase your photography on Instagram. Keep a blog that documents your job-seeking activities. Do whatever you think might help you stand out in the eye of a recruiter.

2. Continue self-educating.

Just because you’re done with college does not mean you’ve finished learning. No matter how great your education, remember there is a world of information waiting to be discovered. Read industry magazines and blogs (and share and comment – see advice above!). You can also read up on fields that are only peripherally related to your focus – you may end up diversifying your knowledge and skills.

Another great way to learn and stay fresh on what you learned at Colorado State University is to pass your knowledge along. Offer to tutor students studying what you studied and you’ll retain that information. Tutoring also gives you experience to add to your resume, thereby making you a more desirable candidate for recruiters.

3. Freelance or volunteer – it’s all about networking!

You can also add experience by doing freelance work or volunteering in your desired industry. Say, for example, you’re a marketing graduate but you haven’t found a full-time marketing gig. Who’s to say that new restaurant in your hometown couldn’t use some discounted marketing work? There’s no harm in offering to work a freelance job, and you might even make a few dollars while you’re at it.

More importantly, you continue to build that ever-important “Experience” section of your resume. Doing freelance work shows initiative to employers. You may even make a connection through your freelance work that leads to the full-time job of your dreams.

4. Make applying a full-time job.

As I said at the beginning of this post, jobs come to those who work for them. If you are not actively and determinedly reaching out to employers, they won’t notice you. While some people are lucky enough to find a job with the first company to which they apply, it takes others dozens of applications and interviews before opportunity knocks. Don’t get discouraged. Your hard work and your investment in an education are on your side. Being patient can be hard, but complacency won’t make the time pass any faster. Go find the job you want and don’t stop proving why you deserve it.

Remember that the College of Business has resources to help you find your first job. The Career Management Center is a great place to find job postings and other tools to help you showcase yourself for employers.

How is your job search going, graduating seniors? What are you doing to prepare for the real world? Do you have any advice for underclassmen that you wish someone would have told you? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Should They Stay or Should They Go: Yahoo and the Question of Telecommuting

By Tim Pate

Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer
Image credit: Wikipedia commons

One of the most discussed stories in the business world revolves around what seems on its face exceptionally mundane: a boss wants her employees to work in the office. However, when Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, tells some employees that they can no longer work from home, a palpable buzz rises in the business community. Why is that?

Globally, the traditional expectation that employees conduct their work in the office is decreasing. From private corporations to government agencies, the percentage of companies adopting telecommuting business practices is rising. The reasoning for this shift is varied; some argue that telecommuting increases worker productivity and creativity, that it increases employee retention, or that it accommodates employees whose schedules may not cater to the 9-to-5 workday. China even implemented a telecommuting program in Hubei in an effort to decrease carbon emissions.

The drawback, of course, is that employees who work at home have much less supervision and are therefore more susceptible to distractions and incomplete work. And in fact, this was the problem Mayer faced when she investigated the work of her telecommuting employees.

After spending months frustrated at how empty Yahoo parking lots were, Mayer consulted Yahoo’s VPN logs to see if remote employees were checking in enough.

Mayer discovered they were not — and her decision was made.

Suzanne Lucas of Inc. believes that it is still possible to have success with telecommuting employees. In a recent article on Inc.com, Lucas outlines five questions employers should ask to determine if they should allow telecommuting:

1. Am I the kind of manager that can judge performance on results only?

2. Can the work be, reasonably, done from home?

3. Are your employees already doing a considerable amount of work from home?

4. Do they have a desire to work from home?

5. Will you be able to meet all legal requirements?

Employees should also be thoughtful in determining whether they want to work for a company that allows or encourages telecommuting. Here are five questions I believe one should ask themselves before seeking employment that allows at-home work:

1. Do you prefer the structure working in an office provides, or would you rather build your own schedule?

2. Can you reasonably complete work in your desired field from home?

3. Are you able to effectively manage distractions and complete work on time?

4. How will you remotely manage potential problems that arise with your projects?

5. What benefits will working from home allow you?

I am happy to come to the office for my position with the College of Business. The location offers close proximity to the classrooms I attend after work in the morning, I enjoy the company of my co-workers, my supervisors are nearby to assist me when I have questions, and being in the office helps me concentrate solely on work while ignoring other obligations I will have later in the day. If I worked with another company in a different capacity, my preferences could change. But it is important to remember that the choice between telecommuting and working in an office is not a one-size-fits-all question for companies across the board.

Do you prefer working in the office or from home? Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments section below, and let us know why one or the other works better for you. 

Networking: A Necessity

by Tim Pate

As I’ve progressed through college, I’ve slowly caught on to just how important the connections I make here will be for my future. In high school, it was all about grades and extracurricular activities – a solid application and essay were enough to gain admittance to the desired university. Now approaching life in the real world, I know that my resume won’t carry me very far without people to vouch for my competency, no matter how beautifully crafted that resume is.

When I entered college, making those connections wasn’t the first thing on my mind. I was concerned with other things –  surviving all of my first year classes, trying to make new friends at a university with more than 26,000 students, and enjoying my new-found freedom. I did well in classes and I joined a club here and there, but I viewed these ventures as means for self-betterment rather than actual resources that I could utilize later in life.

What really alerted me to the need for a support system was the means by which I landed my first internship. I had worked in college, but only at tedious, minimum-wage jobs that allowed me to buy groceries once in a while. I had thought about trying to find an internship, but I knew that the job market among college students was competitive, and I honestly didn’t know where to begin or how to highlight myself as the person for the job.

Then one day, a classmate with whom I had taken multiple classes and worked on a number of projects, told the class that his employer was  looking to hire an intern. Intrigued, I contacted my classmate and he put me in touch with his bosses. The job was not posted in any public forum where I could have come by it accidentally; the only reason I was given the chance to apply was because I knew someone on the inside. My friend was able to testify to the work I had put forth in class, and soon enough I was working at my first internship.

Now, classmates are not the only people who can prove to be useful connections to the career or internship of your choice. Since I realized how important these relationships can be, I have consciously made an effort to establish deeper connections with people I meet through classes, organizations, and work – especially those people who have any association with the field I want to pursue upon graduation. When I go to a conference or a meeting for a club, I bring business cards and I collect as many as I can. More importantly, I follow up on those connections with a simple email. I find these people on social media networks and make sure that I stay connected. You’d be surprised how many people are excited and eager to help you follow your dreams. It doesn’t take much effort to let someone know that you were excited to meet them and that you hope to remain in touch.

As my base of connections continues to grow, I feel as though I am standing on much more solid ground as I begin my career search. When I see an opportunity, I find a contact that may be able to offer expertise or another connection closer to the field, and I follow that path where it leads me. Having this support system, be it formal or informal, makes the process of finding your niche much easier than doing it alone.