Here at Globe University, one way our students learn how to apply their classroom skills to real-world situations is by completing what we call a Service Learning Project.
Service learning projects in and of themselves require that our Online students identify a need or area of opportunity for a local business, and conduct a research project on effective solutions that could be presented to the business once the project has been completed.
So, with that in mind, three Online students in our Small Business Management course decided to take a look at the value a business’s website holds for the actual business. Amanda, Sean and Kelly worked together as a group and decided to conduct their service learning project in conjunction with a business called Fitness Focus.
The group of students began their project by reaching out to the business owner, Bob Maixner. Mr. Maixner agreed to work with the students and kicked off the process by allowing the group to ask interview questions to gauge how the owner viewed the current website and if he felt there were any areas of opportunity to potentially reach new customers.
During their research, the students found that the Fitness Focus owner had already established a business website and had done a great job of interacting and responding to customers on the site, but the business’ app had plenty of room for improvement.
The app had originally been designed with only current gym members in mind, and it had primarily been used by members to view class schedules and set up appointments. The group felt, however, that Mr. Maxiner could maximize the impact his app had by including other options that could be opened up to potential customers as well.
The group said, “The app didn’t include promotions, updates, fun facts or even a fitness meter. It is clear that Fitness Focus primarily uses their website to interact with their current customers; and customer retention is vital to growing a business. Given their success communicating with their current customers through their website and app, it is reasonable to believe that they could find similar success communicating with potential customers as well.”
Next up on the group’s agenda was to inquire about whether or not Fitness Focus had considered using social media as a platform to reach a bigger audience of potential clients. Mr. Maixner informed the students he did have a Facebook page, but had not really paid much attention to it in the past few months. The students worked to help motivate Mr. Maixner to update these pages more frequently and pay attention to what his customers were saying on those platforms.
The students felt their research had a true impact on the Fitness Focus business. The group concluded their research by saying, “Many times, providing small recommendations can be a great deal of help to a business. We are offering an outside perspective, a different view; we may see something that has been hiding in plain sight for the business owner. We also have the opportunity to offer the owner advice that they may not have considered to this point for various reasons. By offering our assistance to small businesses, we can help shape our communities—one business owner at a time.”