One thing school is for is to get the experience needed to survive the real world. Students in Shannon Smith’s accounting class at Creston High School are getting just that.
Smith’s students teamed up with Creston Pizza Ranch to look at how they could influence sales through different promotions.
“It was basically going to be a competition to see, between two groups, what group could improve sales more from this time last year,” said Smith. “... I thought this is a good opportunity for the kids to actually try and influence the numbers.”
The students broke into two groups: Team Cripple, focusing on dine-in, and Team Hashtag, focusing on delivery and carryout.
Jake Tiernan, The Pizza Ranch general manager, came in and spoke to the class and gave feedback as to what he was looking for.
“We’re always trying to think of ways we can involve our business with the community,” said Tiernan. “We also feel like it’s important that today’s youth understands what the real working world is about and how those different demographics come into play when it comes to affecting sales.”
Ellen Gerharz, Chamber of Commerce executive director, also came and spoke about marketing and Creston and Union County demographics in general.
The project began Oct. 15 and will run till Jan. 15.
The groups tried different things to boost sales. Promotions for dine-in included meal deals for kid’s nights, Black Friday, and after a football game. Promotions for delivery and carryout included flyers, radio advertisements, a student-made commercial and “wagon wheels” that went toward donations.
The promotions each group came up with had to be approved by Tiernan, then the group filled out a project planning form to turn in to Smith. Each student also had individual performance reviews.
“A lot of the ideas we had we didn’t fully think through them,” said student Michelle Powers. “And so (that) kind of helps us not just (with) the positives, but the cons too, and what might go wrong and how sometimes in a business it’s hard to get through and it needs a lot of follow up ... it takes a lot.”
One example is the meal deal after a football game. The weather was bad, it was one of the last games of the season, there was an injury that pushed the game well into the night, and Creston High School lost the game.
“I think we focused on, like, teenagers too much so a lot of the dine-in things kind of went through,” said student Jana Johnson. “They didn’t go as planned, so, like, we didn’t focus on older adults, and I think that’s the majority of our town.”
The groups sometimes broke down into smaller groups, allowing for more focused attention on several things at once.
“It’s competitive,” said student Adam Baker. “We didn’t want each other stealing each other’s ideas, but then again, we’re too different, you know, dine-in versus carryout, so you couldn’t steal too many ideas.”
Tiernan said he was willing to do this project again in the future.
“Both teams have done well,” he said. “I’m still finalizing the numbers for both groups, but both teams have shown positive progress in affecting sales. They both have done a good job. We want to help the community and we enjoy being involved in the school. That’s important to us as a company, not just this local branch.”
For several students, the project wil be extended beyond the end date. These students are using the project to compete in a Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) event called Partnership with Business. They will write a report describing and analyzing the project and then will present it to judges at state competition.