SHU students help local merchants attract classmates as customers
By Sean Curran /News-Record of Maplewood and South Orange
December 16, 2010
“When Seton Hall junior Zach Tady met the owner of Town Hall Deli to learn more about the business, he was not trying to master the art of making the deli’s famous Sloppy Joe.
Rather, he and other students in his marketing class worked to create a plan for the local eatery that offered ways to get more business from university students.
Professor Adam Warner, who teaches in the Stillman School of Business, divided his class of mostly juniors and seniors into teams.
Each team, made up of five to six students, then had to contact a local business willing to work with them. In all, six businesses —UPS, Stony’s, Munchies, Town Hall Deli, Beaded Path and University Sub Shop — agreed to participate.
“It’s good for the students,” said Tony Wonski, owner of Town Hall Deli. The graded project took the entire semester. Aside from meeting with the merchants, teams had to conduct research by having focus groups with other Seton Hall students as part of their work.
In the end, each team would have to make a presentation with the business owner in attendance.
Warner, a recent addition to the faculty, said he is a believer in hands-on learning. Students also said they gained from the experience. “The hands-on part was a lot better,” said Megan Healey, a business management major whose team worked with UPS. “This was a good program.”
Teams suggested how businesses could attract more student customers. And there were some common themes. Students advised businesses to have visual connection to the university. Tady’s group, for example, suggested the deli create a new sub or the “Pirate” sandwich. Other recommendations included having a presence on Facebook, a social networking site. Students who worked with Stony’s created a Facebook page for the restaurant, a site that has more than 1,000 followers, Warner said.
Tady said another way for eateries to reach students is to put their menus in the dorms.
Seton Hall has around 9,600 students at its South Orange campus, who bring their buying power with them. Yet the community has wrestled with being a college town for what students say is still mostly a commuter school.
Some students might not venture far off campus to see what’s available.
“Not everyone is being super-adventurous,” Tady said.
“The business owners have been great,” Warner said. “It really has been a good win-win for the students and the business community.”
Philip Sean Curran can be reached at 908-686-7700, ext. 116, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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