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!

How Studying Abroad Changed my Perspective on Communication

Guest Post By: Ali Fisher

Ali in Prague

First day in Prague

June 19, 2013 was the first time I needed a translator. I had arrived in Prague, Czech Republic to begin my summer education abroad experience through the Colorado State University’s Central and Eastern European Studies Program.  I had no idea what any of the signs said, what the numbers meant, or what social norms were encouraged for effective communication. Before my arrival, I had the privilege of speaking only English and had successfully communicated with nearly everyone in the United States. I had never been challenged to learn another language or taught the keys to communicating with people of different cultures. Reflecting on my experience as an English-speaking individual in a non-English speaking country, here are a few tips for those of you who plan to travel abroad.

Understand that people generally want to help you. 

When I registered at the University of Economics dormitory, the advisor’s response immediately indicated that she did not know English. I had been told that citizens would tell me that in order divert conversation barriers. In need of keys, contracts, and program information, I initially regretted not studying in an English speaking country; however, she went out of her way to pull up Google translator to communicate with me via computer. Throughout my education abroad experience, I encountered this same experience in restaurants, the university, the public transportation system and various locations outside the capital. I learned that if you take the time and brainstorm resources to understand one another, foreign-to-you language speakers will try to be of assistance.

Don’t assume everyone will adapt to your language. 

ali2

Kaufland Shopping Center

It was very easy to assume Czech speakers would try to understand me, but I quickly realized that I needed to understand their language as well. This required knowledge of Czech words, which I had zero background with. I invested in a small dictionary and would learn a few words every night. In the three weeks that I was there, I obviously did not become fluent, but it helped to show Czech speakers that I wanted to understand them. It made it even more helpful when shopping at “Kaufland,” the local market. All the food packaging was written in Czech, making milk even difficult to locate. One time my roommate and I purchased yogurt as a mistake because it was packaged in the shape of a milk carton. Since the store did not accommodate English speakers, we were unable to purchase our desired item and have made the similar mistake on various occasions.

Use gestures for further clarification.

I learned that communicating involves more than talking. The uses of pointing, hand expressions, and facial reactions have sometimes been the most effective. I was in the train station in Venice, Italy, for a weekend trip when I realized I had no idea where I was going. With my address and map in hand, locals were able to draw out which route was most appropriate. Being approachable and open to alternative conversation methods enabled me to connect with German-, French-, Deutsche-, Italian-, Croatian-, and Czech-speaking individuals while abroad.

 Be patient.

First day of school

It took studying abroad to realize how impatient I have been when overcoming language barriers in the United States. When I didn’t understand someone, it was almost guaranteed that someone close by could help me. But while abroad, this wasn’t likely. During school, I was challenged to present a business plan in a group of Spanish-speaking and French-speaking students. We experienced three language barriers and a set time limit, which led to frustration. After multiple attempts to finalize our project layout, we realized lack of patience in understanding each other’s goal was the only thing hindering our success. Allow time to understand one another before initiating action.

Studying abroad gave me a deeper understanding of the definition of communication. I have learned that English is not the only way to communicate with others. Differences in communication styles, culture, and language can produce barriers, but through patience, you can overcome them.

 

2013 Involvement Fair

SLiCE

by Tim Pate

I know I’ve said it before, but it deserves to be said again: getting involved with extracurricular organizations at Colorado State University is a great way to get the most out of your college experience. Student organizations are designed to complement your coursework and enhance your time at CSU, and there are literally hundreds of organizations that would love to have you.

That’s why you should stop by the 2013 Involvement Fair at the Lory Student Center, Wednesday, Jan. 30.

The Involvement Fair is an opportunity for CSU students to get involved on campus and in the community by connecting with student and community organizations. The Involvement Fair will feature dozens of organizations to match the interests of students with diverse backgrounds.

This semester, a number of business-oriented organizations are set to make an appearance, including BizMiss, DECA, and the Marketing Club. Following is a full list of registrants as of Jan. 29:

• 220 (formally The Net)

• Ability Club

• Alpha Phi Gamma

• Alpha Phi Omega

• ASCSU

• Beta Gamma Nu

• Biomedical Student Association

• BizMiss

• Brew Crew at CSU

• Christian Challenge

• Colorado State Shotgun Sports

• Dance Marathon

• Minecraft Club

• Science Fiction and Fantasy Club

• Snowboard Team

• DECA

• Delta Alpha Pi International Honor Society

• Fair Trade U

• Farmhouse Fraternity

• Fort Collins Rotaract

• Global Ambassadors Program

• Hillel: Foundation for Jewish Campus Life

• Hui O Hawaii

• Insideout Serve

• Japan Club

• Journal of Undergrad Research

• Lambda Theta Nu Sorority

• Leaders in Free Thought

• Lutheran Campus Ministry at CSU

• Marketing Club

• Nu Alpha Kappa Fraternity

• On the Bright Side

• OtterBox

• Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority

• Premedica

• Psi Chi/PSA

• Ram Runners

• Rams Organizing for Animal Rights

• SACNAS

• Sigma Alpha Epsilon

• Sigma Lambda Beta

• Sigma Lamda Gamma Sorority

• SLiCE

• Snowriders

• Social Work in Action

• Society for Conservation Biology

• Society of Global Health Researchers in Actions

• Students United for Reproductive Justice

• SURG

• Swim Club

• Team Handball

• TEDxCSU

• The Wildlife Society

• Theta Chi

• Timmy Global Health

• Triathlon Club

• Women in Physics

• Women’s Rugby

• Women’s Volleyball

• Young Americans for Liberty

 

Whether you want a club that corresponds with your studies or simply to find a group of people who share your interests, there exists an organization at CSU for you. Stop by the Lory Student Center today and connect with an organization.

Giving Thanks

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving, and we at the College of Business have a lot for which to be thankful. Without the support and dedication of some terrific people and organizations, the College of Business would not be renowned program it is today. With that, we would like to take the time to thank some people who have helped build this college to be one of the best in the nation.

Our Students

CSU StudentsWith the right tools, any college can build the framework for a successful program. However, actually achieving success is impossible without hardworking students to make it happen. We believe that within the CSU College of Business you can find the nation’s best students, and they are at the heart of our program. Thank you students: for your hard work, your involvement, and your commitment to your school. We are consistently amazed by your accomplishments. Keep it up!

Our Faculty and Staff

In each of our five departments, you can find professors who are thought leaders in their fields. Their research continues to make an impact in the business world, and we are proud to have them at CSU. We are also excited by the stories we hear from students of professors going beyond their roles as researchers and teachers and becoming mentors. Our professors are dedicated to not only instilling knowledge in students but also building character and helping them reach their goals. Thank you to our professors for being so awesome!

Our Centers of Excellence

No matter what your interest in business, CSU’s College of Business has the programs and people to help you reach your goal. That’s why we’re so glad to have a number of centers dedicated to the specialized interests and aspirations of our undergraduate and graduate students. To the Beverage Business Institute, the Center for the Advancement of Social Enterprise, the Career Management Center, the Everitt Real Estate Center, the Center for Marketing & Social Issues, the Center for Professional Development & Business Research, the Tribal Technical Assistance Program, and the Institute for Entrepreneurship – thank you all for enriching our students’ experiences.

Colorado State University

Finally, we want to thank Colorado State University as a whole for…well…just about everything. From the students to the faculty and staff to the multitude of programs and organizations, everyone that works to make CSU a special place has gone above and beyond. Thank you all for doing what you do, and doing it so well.

What CSU’s Rocky Mountain Showdown Victory Teaches Us About College and Business

On the first day of September, virtually the entire Colorado State University community had one thing on its mind: the Rocky Mountain Showdown football game against the University of Colorado Buffaloes.

Defense

For those who were able attend the game in Denver, the Rams put on an exciting show both schools have come to expect from the annual faceoff. After 48 minutes of white-knuckle action, the CSU Rams emerged victorious in a 22-17 win over the Buffs.

If you watched the game, you know that the play wasn’t always smooth. Penalties inflicted harm on both teams, and there were turnovers to go around. However, the Rams were able to fight for the win, and the tactics that gave them the advantage serve as a great analogy for personal success in the collegiate and professional worlds…

You have to earn respect and recognition.

Before the game ever started, Coach McElwain sent a message with his choice in uniforms for the 2012 season. McElwain ditched the pizzazz of the previous year in favor of plain, sharp jerseys.

“To me you have to earn the uniform,” McElwain said. “As of right now, we haven’t done any of that. I do believe we will.”

In the professional world, you have to expect to work your way to the top. Your first job will likely not be an upper-management position, but there is nothing stopping you from reaching your goals. If you begin your career humble but determined, you will earn the deference you seek in time.

When an opportunity comes along, take it.

 The Rams found opportunities on both offense and defense that aided in their victory. On defense, the Rams were able to hold the Buffs to a grand total of 58 rushing yards for the entire game. The CSU defense also put a great deal of pressure on CU’s quarterback, Jordan Webb, and made it difficult for the transfer from Kansas to compensate for the team’s weak running game.

On offense, the Rams were able to capitalize on two mistakes by the Buffs. The first was a bad punt that gave the Rams excellent field position. CSU was able to move the ball forward and score before halftime. The second mistake was a personal foul by a CU defenseman, which moved the Rams an additional 15 yards forward, and subsequently led to another touchdown.

Finding and taking advantage of prospects is crucial in college. Especially in terms of networking and finding job opportunities, students should always be on the lookout for chances to advance their careers. At work, employees also need to seek these opportunities. Taking the lead on projects and going the extra mile in your position are great ways to grab the attention of your boss.

Solid leadership is essential for success.

CSU was truly invested in a “Bold New Era” when McElwain was brought to Fort Collins from Alabama. He brought with him not only a solid skillset as a coach, but a mentality of winning that the CSU football program desperately needed. McElwain’s statement that hard work would produce results was an indispensable component of the Rams’ victory.

Becoming a good leader is not necessarily something that students can gain from textbooks – it takes experience. That’s why the College of Business encourages students not only to get involved in the many programs and organizations available through the College, but to also take part in a leadership position. The ability to govern groups (be they small groups for class projects or large teams for national competitions) is a skill that automatically boosts your employability.