Tag Archives: W.P. Carey School of Business

Small Business Leadership Academy

Small Business Leadership Academy: Aligning Strategy With Corporate Resources

The 2012 Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) kicks off with two nights devoted to strategy, and more specifically, competitive advantage and how to achieve it. Emphasis is put on the importance of aligning a company’s activities to create an advantage over competitors.

The cornerstone of the strategy course is analysis. Any business owner can use analysis to determine what their organization offers to their industry as well as to their customers. Determining whether a business’s organizational strategy fits its resources is the first step towards maximizing competitive advantage.

“(Business owners) need to be honest with themselves about their organization, its resources, and whether their current strategy is in need of updating,” stresses Professor Trevis Certo. “A common strategic mistake that many small businesses make is not understanding how common their product or service is, and how easy it would be for another company to imitate.”

Many companies suffer from being a “jack of all trades, master of none” by trying to be all things to all customers. Once a strategy is decided on, not all customers should be pursued and current customers might even need to be “fired.”

Spend some time over the next week thinking about your company’s value proposition. Take the time to really analyze whether all aspects of your business are aligned with that value proposition. Are you pursuing the right clients? Are your compensation models aligned with your goals? Are there operations that you have undertaken that take up more resources than they are worth?

Next, make necessary changes. While this exercise may not currently be at the top of your priority list, it can mean the difference between growing your business and closing your business.

Next week, we’ll explore how to take what you see as your company’s competitive advantage and making sure it is not easily imitated by your competitors.

The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U.S. Bank.

Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.

Home Prices

Soaring Phoenix Area Home Prices Finally Slow Down

Phoenix-area home prices, which had been sharply and steadily rising since last September, finally went down a little this summer.

A new report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University reveals the numbers for Maricopa and Pinal counties, as of July:

  • The median single-family home price dropped slightly between June and July this year – down less than 1%.
  • The median single-family home price was still up almost 31% from last July.
  • Sales of bank-owned homes plunged 73% from July 2011 to July 2012, with fewer foreclosures coming into the pipeline.

The median single-family home price in Maricopa and Pinal counties in July was $149,000, very slightly down from $150,000 in June. Even though this was the first monthly median drop since last summer, the report’s author, Mike Orr, does not think it indicates a reversal.

“This small drop is likely a reflection of both the normal, annual summer slowdown in the Phoenix-area housing market and a natural pause in the soaring prices we’ve seen here,” explains Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “I expect it will continue through August, but prices are likely to resume their upward direction in late September or October.”

The median single-family price was still up 30.7% from last July, when it was at $114,000. Realtors will note the average price per square foot went up 21.1% from last July. The median price for townhomes and condos was up 17.3% from $69,900 to $82,000.

Activity in the market remains limited by the amount of homes available for sale, with the number of transactions down 7.7% from July last year. As of Aug. 1, the supply of homes for sale — excluding those already under contract – was down 26% from the same time last year. Many homeowners still don’t want to sell, since their homes are worth much less than when they bought them.

Also, so-called “distressed supply,” the number of homes up for short sale or that recently went through foreclosure, went down a whopping 69% from last July to this July, meaning fewer bargains are out there.

“Seventy-eight percent of the existing homes available for sale are priced above $150,000,” says Orr. “That means competition for the other 22% is fierce. Most homes priced below even $250,000 are attracting a large number of offers within a short time, and offers often exceed the asking price. Ordinary home buyers are still struggling to compete with investors who offer all-cash, with no appraisal required.”

In fact, 54% of the homes that sold for $150,000 or less in July went to all-cash buyers. The low supply in this range has many people turning to new-home construction. As a result, new construction permits went up a massive 87% from July 2011 to July 2012. New-home sales went up 58% year-over-year.

Completed foreclosures for both single-family homes and townhome/condos went up 13% from June to July. However, Orr believes this is the beginning of a short, passing wave that came from the February signing of a legal settlement between the states and five of the nation’s largest lenders. Foreclosure starts — homeowners receiving notice their lenders may foreclose in 90 days – went down 14% from June to July.

“Most lenders are strongly encouraging homeowners facing financial hardship to use short sales as a preferred alternative to foreclosure,” Orr says. “Consequently, we have seen single-family short sales grow by 12 percent over the last year, while foreclosure rates have declined sharply.”

Almost all parts of the Phoenix area have seen prices go up since last summer. Even the high-end areas of Scottsdale and Paradise Valley have had average prices per square foot go up 9 and 12%, respectively. The only areas still showing a decline in average price per square foot are Rio Verde and Sun Lakes.

Orr’s full report, including statistics, charts and a breakdown by different areas of the Valley, can be viewed at wpcarey.asu.edu/finance/real-estate/upload/FullReport201208.pdf.

More analysis is also available from knowWPCarey, the business school’s online resource and newsletter, at knowwpcarey.com/index.cfm?cid=13.

stk150362rke

Soaring Phoenix-area Home Prices Finally Slow Down

Phoenix-area home prices, which had been sharply and steadily rising since last September, finally went down a little this summer. A new report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University reveals the numbers for Maricopa and Pinal counties, as of July:

The median single-family home price dropped slightly between June and July this year – down less than 1 percent.
The median single-family home price was still up almost 31 percent from last July.
Sales of bank-owned homes plunged 73 percent from July 2011 to July 2012, with fewer foreclosures coming into the pipeline.

The median single-family home price in Maricopa and Pinal counties in July was $149,000, very slightly down from $150,000 in June. Even though this was the first monthly median drop since last summer, the report’s author, Mike Orr, does not think it indicates a reversal.

“This small drop is likely a reflection of both the normal, annual summer slowdown in the Phoenix-area housing market and a natural pause in the soaring prices we’ve seen here,” explains Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “I expect it will continue through August, but prices are likely to resume their upward direction in late September or October.”

The median single-family price was still up 30.7 percent from last July, when it was at $114,000. Realtors will note the average price per square foot went up 21.1 percent from last July. The median price for townhomes and condos was up 17.3 percent from $69,900 to $82,000.

Activity in the market remains limited by the amount of homes available for sale, with the number of transactions down 7.7 percent from July last year. As of Aug. 1, the supply of homes for sale — excluding those already under contract – was down 26 percent from the same time last year. Many homeowners still don’t want to sell, since their homes are worth much less than when they bought them. Also, so-called “distressed supply,” the number of homes up for short sale or that recently went through foreclosure, went down a whopping 69 percent from last July to this July, meaning fewer bargains are out there.

“Seventy-eight percent of the existing homes available for sale are priced above $150,000,” says Orr. “That means competition for the other 22 percent is fierce. Most homes priced below even $250,000 are attracting a large number of offers within a short time, and offers often exceed the asking price. Ordinary home buyers are still struggling to compete with investors who offer all-cash, with no appraisal required.”

In fact, 54 percent of the homes that sold for $150,000 or less in July went to all-cash buyers. The low supply in this range has many people turning to new-home construction. As a result, new construction permits went up a massive 87 percent from July 2011 to July 2012. New-home sales went up 58 percent year-over-year.

Completed foreclosures for both single-family homes and townhome/condos went up 13 percent from June to July. However, Orr believes this is the beginning of a short, passing wave that came from the February signing of a legal settlement between the states and five of the nation’s largest lenders. Foreclosure starts — homeowners receiving notice their lenders may foreclose in 90 days – went down 14 percent from June to July.

“Most lenders are strongly encouraging homeowners facing financial hardship to use short sales as a preferred alternative to foreclosure,” says Orr. “Consequently, we have seen single-family short sales grow by 12 percent over the last year, while foreclosure rates have declined sharply.”

Almost all parts of the Phoenix area have seen prices go up since last summer. Even the high-end areas of Scottsdale and Paradise Valley have had average prices per square foot go up 9 and 12 percent, respectively. The only areas still showing a decline in average price per square foot are Rio Verde and Sun Lakes.

Orr’s full report, including statistics, charts and a breakdown by different areas of the Valley, can be viewed at http://wpcarey.asu.edu/finance/real-estate/upload/FullReport201208.pdf. More analysis is also available from knowWPCarey, the business school’s online resource and newsletter, at http://knowwpcarey.com/index.cfm?cid=13.

Online Real Estate

W.P. Carey School Offers New Online Real Estate Program

From the foreclosure crisis to roller-coaster home prices and a trove of new investors, we’re watching the world of real estate dramatically change. This evolution has some real estate professionals looking to blur the lines between what they do now – and what they can do.

For example, general contractors may see opportunities to complete their own real estate projects, and some realtors are looking into buying homes for renovation and investment. A new online program from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University will help address this.

“We’ve been talking with real-estate industry groups, and they see a need for a flexible, convenient program to provide an overview of the development process for current real estate professionals who want to expand their horizons,” says Mark Stapp, the Fred E. Taylor Professor in Real Estate at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “We designed the new online Real Estate Development Certificate program for this purpose. It teaches real estate fundamentals, law, investments and land development, all in an easy-to-use format from a top business school.”

The new online program is essentially a real-estate development education sampler, which lasts nine months. The first classes will begin on Oct. 1. Industry groups, including the Urban Land Institute (ULI), the Valley Forward Association and the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP), have already taken an interest, and members will be eligible for a discounted tuition rate.

“In addition to the basics, we’re going to focus on responsible community development and themes like sustainability and creating real value for customers,” explains Stapp, an instructor in the new program and a developer himself. “There’s a new era of real estate construction emphasizing fewer cookie-cutter homes and more focus on buyers’ needs. We want to help real estate professionals deliver an even higher level of service to their clients, make better business decisions, and better position their products and their companies for revenue growth.”

Until now, Stapp only taught in the school’s Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) program, an in-person, one-year program for mid-level real estate professionals. He’s executive director of that program, which is in its sixth year and enrolls students from eight countries, who learn about design, law, construction and business. Many of the same seasoned faculty members will teach in the new online program.

Applications are already being taken for the new certificate program, and more information can be found at www.wpcarey.asu.edu/REDcert. Additional information about the in-person MRED program is available at www.wpcarey.asu.edu/mred. The school will also soon launching a new online publication about its real estate research and programs called knowRE, which will be available to the public at www.knowwpcarey.com/realestate.

Small Business Leadership Academy

Brandon Taylor: Small Business Leadership Academy Past Participant

Brandon Taylor discusses how his participation in the Small Business Leadership Academy has benefited him and his business, CPR Savers & First Aid Supply LLC.


Small Business Leadership Academy Past Participant:

Brandon Taylor, CPR Savers & First Aid Supply LLCBrandon Taylor
CPR Savers & First Aid Supply LLC

Tell us about your business: CPR Savers & First Aid Supply is a distributor/manufacturer of CPR, first aid, AED, survival and medical equipment. We offer nationwide CPR/AED/first-aid training to corporate clients. We provide disaster preparedness supplies to government agencies.

Year of participation in SBLA: 2011

What was the most important thing you learned from SBLA? The need to work on my business to grow it instead of spending all my time on the day-to-day operations just to keep my business going.

How have you changed the way you do business based on what you learned during SBLA? To some degree, yes. It is difficult to allocate the time necessary to work on my business, but I have implemented many of the ideas learned in the SBLA classes.

How has the SBLA alumni community been helpful to you since you went through the program? To some degree, we have been in contact with a few of our peers and have met occasionally. I need to find the time to participate in some of the activities that have been provided by the SBLA.

What aspects of SBLA do you consider most valuable for other small business owners in Phoenix? The information provided is very helpful for business owners to learn how to grow their business to the next level. It will help you generate new ideas and encourage you to learn more about the subjects that interest you most. One surprising benefit of the SBLA entrepreneurship class is to participate with like-minded peers who are in the same position and want to help one another and share their knowledge.

The next Small Business Leadership Academyprogram will begin Wednesday, August 29, 2012.

For more information about the program, including admission requirements, please visit SBLA’s website.

home prices

Phoenix Home Prices Up, New-Home Sales Coming Back

Foreclosures are dramatically down in the Phoenix-area housing market. This means fewer cheap homes coming onto the market, home prices rising for the sixth month in a row as a result, and many buyers finally starting to turn their attention from bargain resale homes to new-home sales. A new report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University reveals some trends for Maricopa and Pinal counties, as of March:

> The number of foreclosures completed this March was down a huge 60 percent from March 2011.

> The median single-family-home price went up more than 20 percent from last March.

> New-home sales rose 35 percent in the same time period.

Mike Orr, the report’s author, says the home-buying season is in full swing and peak activity will last until June. The median single-family-home price in the Phoenix-area was $134,900 in March. That’s up 20.4 percent from a year ago when it was $112,000. Realtors will note the average price per square-foot went up 14.4 percent.

“Prices have begun to rise at a fast pace, and bargains are no longer plentiful,” says Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Most homes that are priced well are attracting multiple offers within a couple of days, and many are exceeding the asking price.”

Orr emphasizes there’s been a dramatic change in the types of transactions happening in the market. Normal resales, new-home sales, investor flips and short sales are on the rise, while lender-owned home sales are down 61 percent from the year before.

Overall, the supply of single-family homes on the market (without an existing contract) went down 64 percent from March 2011 to March 2012. Orr estimates there is only a 23-day supply of homes priced under $250,000 available and that the market is very unbalanced, with far more buyers than sellers. The existing supply is heavily weighted toward the higher-priced end of the market.

“The very low number of inexpensive homes available for resale means more buyers are considering purchasing new homes as an option,” says Orr. “This signals the start of a distinct upward trend in new-home sales.”

When it comes to resales, Orr says all-cash buyers are still receiving preference over those with offers that require some form of financing. That’s because lenders need an appraisal, and appraisers are typically looking at months-old home sales for comparison. Those are priced well below the current market value.

“This puts ordinary home buyers at a severe disadvantage,” explains Orr. “More than 26 percent of Phoenix-area transactions are investor purchases.”

Orr’s full report, including statistics, charts and a breakdown by different areas of the Valley, can be viewed at wpcarey.asu.edu. More analysis is also available from knowWPCarey, the business school’s online resource and newsletter, at knowwpcarey.com.

carey school - graduate

More Than 2,000 Will Graduate From W. P. Carey School

More than 2,000 students will graduate from Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business next week. This is one of the biggest graduation classes ever for the school, known as one of the largest and highest-ranked business schools in the country. The president of the Phoenix Suns, a group of executives flying in from China, and a student who already started a nonprofit to help foster teens will be part of the ceremonies.

“We have another fantastic graduating class this year,” says W. P. Carey School of Business Dean Robert Mittelstaedt. “These students exemplify why our undergraduate, full-time MBA and part-time MBA programs are all ranked Top 30 by U.S. News & World Report. It’s another batch of high achievers.”

The school’s graduate-level convocation will include more than 900 students, most of them receiving MBAs, but others getting master’s degrees in accountancy, tax, information management, real estate development and health systems management. The event will be held Friday, May 4 at 5 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. The featured speaker will be Brad Casper, president of the Phoenix Suns basketball team, who is known for his community involvement and heavy focus on area schools.

In addition, about 20 of the 120 executives graduating from the school’s executive MBA program in Shanghai are traveling to Phoenix to participate in the Tempe ceremony. The Shanghai program educates some of the highest-level business and government leaders in China and is currently ranked among the Top 20 executive MBA programs in the world by the Financial Times, Britain’s equivalent of The Wall Street Journal. Past students have included the CEOs of Baosteel and Shanghai Electric, three vice governors of China’s major provinces, six city mayors, the chief executive officer of the Shanghai Stock Exchange, several bank chairmen and the chairman of Shanghai Airlines.

At the undergraduate level, more than 1,100 students are eligible to walk the stage, and more than a dozen different types of business degrees will be awarded. The undergraduate convocation is set for Thursday, May 3 at 8 a.m. at the Wells Fargo Arena. The main speaker will be Chris Spinella, chief executive officer of Apriva, which develops and advances smart-card technology and wireless applications for payment processing and secure mobile communications.

The graduates at this ceremony will include the winner of the spring 2012 Turken Family Outstanding Graduating Senior Award, Christos Makridis. He co-founded the Quanta Foundation LLC, an educational services company that connects high school students with high-profile university projects to produce research and multimedia materials. Makridis is also a McCord Scholar, an economics teaching assistant, chairman of the business school’s Dean’s Advisory Council and editor in chief of an international undergraduate-research journal on science policy at ASU.

Another finalist for the Turken Family award, Priya Nathan, co-founded a nonprofit to benefit young people. Partnered for Success helps foster and orphan youth successfully transition out of the foster care system in the Phoenix area. The program has been recognized by Fast Company magazine and was selected as an ASU Innovation Challenge grant winner twice.

“Many of these graduates are already making their mark well beyond the classroom,” says W. P. Carey School of Business Executive Dean Amy Hillman. “We have students who are small-business owners, working moms, members of the military and lots of others already making us proud. We look forward to their continued success.”

For more information on W. P. Carey School of Business, visit W. P. Carey School of Business’ website at wpcarey.asu.edu.

Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs: Three Key Things To Consider Before Starting Your Business

Three key things for entrepreneurs to consider before starting their own business


The benefit of a challenging economy has been the inspiration for new business. As individuals find themselves out of a job they may have held for decades, they are no longer taking their talents elsewhere. Instead they are choosing to create their own jobs; and in the process, jobs for others.

On a recent visit to the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, I had the honor of meeting a group of enthusiastic future entrepreneurs. Growing up during a time of uncertainty has inspired these students to explore the possibilities of starting their own businesses.

Whether you are a college student with a great idea or a professional seeking to take control of your fate, there are three key things for entrepreneurs to consider before starting your own business and venturing into the world of entrepreneurship.

Do something you’re passionate about

Being in control does not mean more free time. Starting your own business will consume the majority of your time and energy. But if you are passionate about what you do, it won’t feel like work. And when you love what you do, you are more likely to be successful. Think about what you know, what you like and where you may be able to fill a need or provide a benefit to others. This line of thinking most often leads to great ideas that can ultimately become great companies.

The right person for the job

Entrepreneurs wear many hats, especially during the start-up phase. In the beginning, you may be the receptionist, janitor, most valuable employee and CEO — often simultaneously. At a certain point, though, you will be ready to hire full-time employees or need to contract expert help. Running a small operation makes it essential to surround yourself with strong people that fill your weaknesses. While you may be a very knowledgeable about your industry, it does not mean you understand how to execute marketing, public relations or finance.

When hiring, take the time to find people with the right experiences and qualifications to fit your needs. Also, consider personalities, work environments and schedules. As you begin building your team, you want to do your best to find people that you can work well with and will help grow the organization. Finally, consider the qualifications of the team as you reach out to secure potential investors.

Understand the numbers

Entrepreneurs tend to be great idea people or visionaries, but successful entrepreneurs know and understand the financial side of things. If you are still in school and think you may want to launch your own business someday, consider majoring in accounting. If you graduated already, consider taking a few accounting courses. If the thought of accounting repels you, partner with someone or hire someone who understands accounting to serve as a trusted financial adviser. Knowing the numbers and how they are calculated can help to eliminate the risk of fraud. It will also boost your credibility when talking to potential investors because they will realize you know the ins and outs of your company.

Starting a new business is a risk, but the rewards can be great. Taking charge of your own destiny and being your own boss can be empowering and challenging. In the end, having passion for what you do, the determination to make it happen and the dedication to see it through will be what sets you apart from others.

For more information about becoming an entrepreneur, visit fswfunding.com.

W. P. Carey School

W. P. Carey School Earns Award For Children’s Charity Work

People don’t always associate the business world with charity. However, students at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University are taught to understand that charity work is vital to your real, genuine success in life. This week, the nonprofit Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) Parenting Arizona is honoring the school for its extensive work on behalf of the children’s charity.

“We’ve had a never-ending stream of generosity from the W. P. Carey School of Business,” says Julie Rosen, executive director of CPLC Parenting Arizona, a statewide program that works to ensure a positive and safe environment for all children. “Not only have students, faculty and staff provided monetary gifts and special events for the families we help, but professors and students have also done pro bono work, providing valuable business advice to help our organization touch more lives.”

W. P. Carey MBA students have adopted CPLC Parenting Arizona as a primary charity. The group is aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect by providing statewide multi-cultural family support services.

Associate Professor Dan Brooks’ class of consulting scholars recently revamped CPLC Parenting Arizona’s website, so the nonprofit can now offer services like parenting classes online to its many recipient families who live in remote areas of Arizona, including Native American reservations. Professor James Ward’s marketing class did a complete, free analysis of CPLC Parenting Arizona’s donor relations strategy. Rosen says the nonprofit received so much good information, it will take a year to finish implementing everything.

“They have shown us how to make our outreach much more positive and targeted,” says Rosen. “We could never afford to pay for the advice and assistance provided by the W. P. Carey School of Business. They just offer amazing access to business experts and caring students.”

For the last couple of years, the school has thrown a December holiday party for families receiving assistance from CPLC Parenting Arizona. Gifts were provided to dozens of children. Last year, students and staff also threw a Halloween party, complete with trick-or-treating stations and cookie decorating. School representatives and students have also held spring cleanup events to paint and spruce up the charity’s offices. Even the winning team from a recent softball event held by the school donated about $2,000 in prize money to the nonprofit.

“Our students, faculty and staff members are always coming up with ways to support CPLC Parenting Arizona because it represents such a great cause,” says W. P. Carey School of Business Dean Robert Mittelstaedt. “They emphasize healthy parenting and provide services to families at risk for violence toward children. We have the shared goal of improving young people’s lives.”

CPLC Parenting Arizona is part of Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc., one of the largest nonprofit organizations in Arizona and one of the largest Latino community development organizations in the country. Its chief operating officer, Martin Quintana, is an active board member of several community organizations and a W. P. Carey School of Business Homecoming Hall of Fame member, who graduated from the school’s nationally recognized executive MBA program. Several other top representatives at Chicanos Por La Causa have also been through the school’s executive MBA program, and the school is actively involved in helping to cultivate new board members to ensure the nonprofit’s success.

The W. P. Carey School of Business will be honored at CPLC Parenting Arizona’s “Champions for Children” Luncheon on Friday, March 16 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort’s Grand Ballroom in Phoenix. The other honorees at this year’s event will be Bank of America, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and former Arizona Diamondbacks baseball player Luis Gonzalez.

wpcarey.asu.edu

Phoenix-Area Housing Market

Prices Up & Foreclosures Down In Phoenix-Area Housing Market

Several pieces of good news are trickling into the hard-hit Phoenix-area housing market. A new report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University shows positive trends for struggling homeowners, as of January:

  • Single-family home prices are moving higher.
  • Fewer foreclosures are coming into the pipeline.
  • The glut of underpriced homes on the market has ended, with a more balanced market now for houses under $300,000.

 

Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business, says things are shifting for the better in Maricopa and Pinal counties. He says the median price for all sales, including new-home sales, in the market was $120,500 in January 2012. That’s an increase from $113,166 (up about 6.5 percent) from January 2011. Realtors will note that the average price per-square-foot for single-family homes increased 3 percent from January 2011.

“Single-family home prices overall in the Phoenix area have been moving up since they reached a low point in September,” says Orr, the report’s author. “Also, looking forward, I expect a declining trend in foreclosures.”

A total of about 2,450 single-family home foreclosures happened in Maricopa and Pinal counties in January 2012. That’s significantly down from almost 4,200 in January 2011. The number of foreclosure starts – homeowners receiving notice that their lenders may foreclose in 90 days — is also down 49 percent from last January.

Orr also believes there is no longer an oversupply of homes for sale in the price range below $300,000. He says investors have bought up and eliminated the excess inventory. However, ample supply remains in the upper price ranges, which were less affected by foreclosures.

“Many people think there’s a glut of homes the banks are hiding somewhere, and that may be the case in other markets, but not here in the Phoenix area,” Orr says. “We’ve gone through so many foreclosures that the system has been working itself out for about five years. Everything is cyclical in housing. The market doesn’t go down forever, and it doesn’t stay up forever.”

Orr says the supply of homes listed for sale went down 42 percent from January 2011 to January 2012. As the supply dwindles, prices are likely to rise. Orr adds fewer homes are reverting back to the banks at auction, as investors snap up what bargains are left in the Phoenix area.

“Buyers from Canada, New Zealand and Australia, in particular, are taking advantage of the exchange rates to purchase investment and vacation homes,” Orr explains.

The market saw about 8,000 new- and existing-home sales in January 2012, up from fewer than 7,500 last January. The peak buying season normally starts in February, so more activity is expected.

W.P. Carey

ASU Business School Community Mourns The Loss Of W.P. Carey

The Arizona State University and Phoenix business communities are mourning the loss of a great benefactor, philanthropist and businessman. William Polk Carey, one of the nation’s most prominent real estate investors and the major donor behind the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU, has passed away at the age of 81.

“The ASU family mourns the loss of our benefactor and friend Bill Carey,” says ASU President Michael M. Crow. “Bill Carey was not only a great business leader and philanthropist, but also a visionary. He knew that metropolitan Phoenix needed a first-rate business school to advance in the 21st century and saw in ASU the potential to develop that school. Through his generous investment in ASU almost a decade ago, the school that bears his name has become world-class and will continue to educate future business leaders for many generations to come.”

The New York-based banker, founder and chairman of W. P. Carey & Co. LLC donated $50 million from his educational and philanthropic W. P. Carey Foundation to ASU in 2003. In recognition of his extraordinary support, ASU renamed the university’s business school in his honor, and the gift has been instrumental in helping the W. P. Carey School to become one of the world’s top business schools. U.S. News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times all now rank W. P. Carey School programs among the Top 30 nationwide.

At the time, Carey’s generous donation was the second-largest gift ever to a U.S. business school. Carey’s family has deep connections to Arizona State University. His grandfather introduced legislation that created the university in 1886. Carey also had an honorary Doctor of Science degree from ASU.

Carey has said of his gift to the business school, “The key to future economic growth is quality education, and this school will be dedicated to producing our country’s next generation of business leaders.”

The school’s leadership agrees.

“Bill gave us the ability to dramatically advance the quality and status of the school much more rapidly than would have been possible otherwise,” says W. P. Carey School of Business Dean Robert Mittelstaedt. “He was a philanthropist who believed a primary way to advance our country was through education, and he helped a number of schools, including ours. He was also a student of economics and a great admirer of top-tier economists.”

Mittelstaedt also says Carey was a smart businessman who pioneered a way for smaller investors to participate in large real estate projects with consistent top-tier returns. Carey had an incredible 60-plus-year career in the finance industry and will be remembered as a visionary leader with fierce loyalty and abundant generosity.

For more information about the W.P. Carey School of Business, visit wpcarey.asu.edu.

Small Business Leadership Academy

Small Business Leadership Academy: Building High Performance Teams (Part II)

Small Business Leadership Academy: Building High Performance Teams (Part II)

Ria Robles, owner of B2B Delivery LLC, was spending the lion’s share of a couple days a week checking and re-checking the complex bills she sends to customers. She reached a point where she asked herself, “Why am I doing accounting?” So, Robles turned the job over to her accountant, but not until the two worked side-by-side, going through the pricing details and the way she scoured the invoices for mistakes.

The story is an important lesson about delegation, explained W. P. Carey clinical assistant professor Ruth Barratt, who taught two classes on how to build high performance teams in the Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) where Robles is a student.

SBLA, taught by W. P. Carey School of Business faculty, is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona.

If you want to build highly effective teams, you must know how to delegate tasks, according to Barratt.

Here are some concepts and pointers from last night’s class:

  • Think carefully about the task and who might shoulder it. Provide lots of background: paint a picture of a successful outcome if you can. Identify the key points of the project.
  • Encourage employees to give you regular progress reports. These are the junctures where the business owner or manager can provide feedback.
  • Be prepared to accept the fact that someone else probably will not do the job exactly the way you would. If you nitpick your employees will be reluctant to do the task again.

 

Robles followed the steps when she delegated the billing. Last night, she reported that the accountant does an even better job than she did, and it’s clear that the accountant enjoys ferreting out errors and saving the company money.

Alex Zuran, owner of Phoenix National Laboratories, Inc. described himself as “the guy who does it right.” A self-admitted perfectionist, Zuran performed many of the tasks at his company personally in the past; not any longer.

“Instead of being the guy who does it right, I’m the one who makes sure it’s done right,” he said. His employees can’t always perform the work as fast as he does, and that does affect profitability, but Zuran says employees do master the tasks, and “it’s pretty cool when it happens.”

Zuran said that delegating has “totally changed his role” at the firm, freeing him to build the business. Robles, smiling, said, “I got my Tuesdays and Wednesdays back!”

Last night’s class was the final session in the 10-week course of study. Students came to the W. P. Carey School every Wednesday for four hours of instruction. Next week they graduate.

Keep an eye on the Small Business Leadership Academy’s website for information on next year’s program.

[stextbox id="info"]The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U. S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students. For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.[/stextbox]

 

ASU W.P. Carey School of Business

W.P. Carey School of Business Teams With The Rockefeller Group

Arizona State University is locating its newest W.P. Carey Evening MBA and Custom Corporate MBA programs at Chandler 101, an executive office park to be developed by The Rockefeller Group in Chandler’s prestigious Price Corridor.

This program will be the first of its kind in Chandler, and complement the Price Corridor’s economic development strategy of recruiting high-tech, high-wage employers.

“Chandler has been working diligently to bring an added educational presence to our city,” Chandler mayor Jay Tibshraeny said Monday at a press conference to announce the partnership. “ASU makes a great addition to the Price Corridor, which attracts high-profile businesses and an educated workforce.”

Because the Price Corridor is home to six miles of large-campus, high-wage employers, this location allows ASU to reach a large executive workforce in a convenient location.

“Bringing ASU’s highly-ranked MBA programs to Chandler offers the opportunity for ASU to provide a stellar business education to working professionals in the area that ultimately will benefit the state’s economy,” said ASU president Michael M. Crow.

Chandler 101 will include 844,000 SF on 24 acres with 8- to 10-story office towers, restaurants, retail, and a parking structure on the SEC of Chandler Blvd. and the 101 Freeway. ASU’s presence will help make Chandler 101 attractive to prospective tenants, as it will offer on-site convenience to higher education to their employees. Colliers International, Inc. will be representing The Rockefeller Group for all leasing inquiries.

“The Rockefeller Group is pleased that ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business MBA Programs will be part of Chandler 101,” said Mark Singerman, regional director, Rockefeller Group Development Corporation. “We look forward to securing an anchor tenant so that we can begin development on phase one.”

The W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU is one of the largest and highest-ranked business schools in the U.S. The school will offer its prestigious evening MBA program in Chandler that is currently ranked number 17 among all part-time MBA programs, according to U.S. News & World Report. The evening MBA program is an ideal fits for professionals who want to broaden managerial and professional expertise.

The school will also offer its new Chandler location as an option for custom corporate MBA programs. These can be specifically designed around individual company’s strategic objectives. Custom corporate courses create opportunities for businesses to develop future leaders, elevate managers’ knowledge and skill levels, link course content to company challenges and aid in attracting and retaining top talent.

The school will also offer its new Chandler location as an option for custom corporate MBA programs. These can be specifically designed around individual company’s strategic objectives. Custom corporate courses create opportunities for businesses to develop future leaders, elevate managers’ knowledge and skill levels, link course content to company challenges and aid in attracting and retaining top talent.

For more information about The Rockefeller Group visit www.rockgroupdevelopment.com.

SBLA: Building High Performance Teams

Small Business Leadership Academy: Building High Performance Teams (Part I)

Last night, students in the Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) formed two teams and competed to see which could navigate a “minefield” best. The exercise was designed to help students experience the dynamics of high performance teams as they move through all the stages of group development.

“Many of these owners are getting ready to launch their businesses into the next stage, and at some point they will need to form and lead teams,” said W. P. Carey clinical assistant professor Ruth Barratt, who is teaching two classes on how to build high performance teams. “Even the solo practitioner needs to understand team dynamics,” she added, “because they will be interacting with customers who work in teams.”

“One of the common mistakes managers make is to give teams too little time to do their work,” Barratt said. Managers must come in on time and under budget, and in a challenging economy, the pressure intensifies. But teams don’t achieve peak performance unless members have a chance to get to know each other – each person’s strengths, weaknesses, style – and the assignment.

Knowing yourself is the first step to understanding others, so before last night’s class the students completed the Myers-Briggs personality inventory. “It’s a valuable tool for understanding what their stressors are and how that affects the way they interact with other people,” Barratt said. Before class she had already heard from a handful of students: “the extraverts,” she laughed.

The class delved into the stages of team development and management, how to build a culture that leads to achievement, and what it takes to lead a team. “Story-telling is an effective way to build culture,” Barratt said, “so for next week’s class the assignment is to get ready to tell your business story.” In preparation, students heard about Miller Brewing Company’s Norman Adami, and how he used culture to turn around a sluggish company. And for an example of a well-told tale, she showed them Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech.

Next week’s class will be the final instructional module of the 2011 SBLA program.

The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U. S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy and building high performance teams and team development, please visit SBLA’s website.

 

Small Business Leadership Academy

Small Business Leadership Academy: Negotiating Skills Build Relationships (Part II)

This week’s Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) negotiating module continued where last week’s left off, with participants using the tenets of the Harvard Negotiation Project (HNP).

HNP combines both theory and practice to develop ideas that are useful and successful in everyday application. These standards of practice involve focusing on interests rather than positions. Using independent standards of fairness, all parties involved can come to mutually beneficial agreements (win-win) rather than cannibalizing the relationship for the sake of more favorable terms for one party (win-lose).

W. P. Carey professor Dr. Alan Goldman guided the Small Business Leadership Academy participants through the use of HNP tenets to establish a framework for a current negotiation within their organizations. One of the small business leaders determined that, despite reservations about a deal she had been offered, she was truly getting a fair deal and should consider accepting it because she had undervalued one particular aspect of the offered deal. For another, the tactic to move forward was to try to rebuild a broken relationship. The main difference between the two negotiations was that for the former person, once she accepts her deal, the relationship would be over; there was no need to protect an on-going relationship. The latter, on the other hand, has a long-term contract with the other entity and needed to protect his interests.

Another exercise the class participated in was a brainstorming session. No suggestions were too far outside the box. More than one participant saw an immediate application for that exercise.

“The brainstorming that we did in today’s session was great,” said Alex Zuran, president and CEO of Phoenix National Laboratories. “The whole process of learning how to brainstorm I can see taking straight into my business.”

A term that came up often in the evening’s discussion was “BATNA” or “best alternative to a negotiated agreement.” When determining whether the deal that is on the table is worth accepting, knowing your fall-back plan enables you to make a more educated decision. Is your BATNA better than the deal that is being negotiated? Then it’s time to walk away.

As one of the HNP videos elaborated: “Preparation, know your walk-away alternative.” Another important step is estimating what the other parties BATNA is. Is it a strong option for them or a weak one? Thinking about these aspects ahead of time prepares you for many of the twists and turns that the negotiation can take.

The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U. S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit the Small Business Leadership Academy’s website.

 

Small Business Leadership Academy

Small Business Leadership Academy: Negotiating Skills Build Relationships (Part I)

Small Business Leadership Academy: Negotiating Skills Build Long-Lasting Relationships (Part I)

With everything that goes on in the day-to-day life of a small business, learning how to better negotiate everything from employee salaries to vendor contracts might not be top-of-mind for the leaders of the organization. “It is tremendously important for small business leaders to learn negotiating skills,” says W. P. Carey Professor, Dr. Alan Goldman.

In this week’s Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) session, participants were exposed to the tenets of the Harvard Negotiation Project (HNP). HNP was created in 1979 and combines both theory and practice to develop ideas that are useful and successful in everyday application. These standards of practice involve focusing on interests rather than positions. Using independent standards of fairness, all parties involved can come to mutually beneficial agreements (win-win) rather than cannibalizing the relationship for the sake of more favorable terms for one party (win-lose).

There are both hard (adversarial) and soft (people-oriented) negotiating skills. Which skill is most effective “depends on the type of business that you’re in and what type of clients you have,” commented Dr. Goldman. “Your negotiating approach has to be customized.”

Participants watched videos of both successful negotiations and those in which one or both parties left the table dissatisfied. Through these examples, it was stressed that determining the interests of each party is of utmost importance. They also should determine whether they are in a position with their clients where they are supposed to know best or where their clients are more involved in the decision-making. That is the difference between a specialist model and more of a partnership. For their application exercise, participants will put themselves in the middle of a negotiation and determine the best course of action.

“This is a way that I can perfect my negotiations skills,” shared Jeff Campbell of Western Truck Equipment Company.  “I never went to college so everything I’ve learned has been from my father and other managers I’ve worked with.  This session is showing me a more astute, a more polished way of negotiating.”

The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U. S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.

Small Business Leadership Academy, Brandon Taylor - AZ Business Magazine November-December 2011

Small Business Leadership Academy Helps Boost Knowledge Base For Executives

Small Business Leadership Academy Helps Boost Knowledge Base For Executives

Like most small business owners, Brandon Taylor is always looking for ways to boost business.

“I wanted to learn how to be a better manager and entrepreneur,” says Taylor, president and co-founder of Scottsdale-based Small Business Leadership Academy - AZ Business Magazine November/December 2011. “I eventually want to get an MBA and I thought the Small Business Leadership Academy program was a great step in that direction.”

Jointly developed by the W.P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business insight, skills and knowledge of small business executives. The 10-week program is now in its fourth year.

“The curriculum is based primarily on courses taught in our MBA programs,” says Trevis Certo, an associate professor at Arizona State University who taught an SBLA module called Strategy for Competitive Advantage. “At the same time, we focus our discussions on  concepts and topics that are most relevant to small companies.”

Gaining a better understanding of those concepts that can impact a small business owner’s bottom line is what benefits participants the most.

“The SBLA program touches on strategy, marketing, procurement, negotiation,” Taylor says. “I have learned some important principles like Porter’s Five Forces (a framework for industry analysis and business strategy development formed by Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School), services blueprinting, and procurement techniques that have helped me think about ways to improve our business efficiency and day-to-day operations.”

Certo says increasing a business owner’s knowledge base is particularly important in a turbulent economic environment.

“Business owners are always looking for new ideas, and these searches are amplified during economic downturns,“ Certo says. “Several participants have discussed how competitors have ‘disappeared’ during the downturn. These disappearances provide opportunities for those who remain in the marketplace.”

Taylor is one small business owner who sees education as a way to grow his business and make it stronger

“The more I learn, the better businessman, leader and manager I become,” Taylor says. “Everyone gets caught up in day-to-day operations and your business becomes a job.  Taking the SBLA program has forced me to spend time improving the business operations and growing the company.”

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Learn more about the Small Business Leadership Academy

What it is: Small Business Leadership Academy
Who does it: W.P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor.
What it entails: A mandatory orientation followed by five modules – each consisting of two class periods — taught over a 10-week period. Classes consist of lectures, case discussions, group exercises and simulations, all geared to provide participants with key takeaways to strengthen and grow their businesses.
Requirements: To qualify, you must have a minimum business tenure of three years; have annual revenues between $1 million and $10 million; have fewer than 100 employees; be able and willing to attend all scheduled classes and related activities.
Tuition: $4,000, which includes all instruction, books and materials, parking, and graduation. A limited number of scholarships will be made available.
Web: wpcarey.asu.edu

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Arizona Business Magazine November/December 2011

 

 

Small Business Leadership Academy: Understanding Corporate Procurement Practices (Part II)

Small Business Leadership Academy: Understanding Corp Procurement Practices (Part II)

Small Business Leadership Academy: Understanding Corporate Procurement Practices (Part II)

One company’s purchasing is another company’s marketing.

If small and mid-sized businesses can keep that in mind, they will have discovered one of the secrets of success for a supplier, according to Joseph Carter, the Avnet Professor of Supply Chain Management at the W. P. Carey School of Business and instructor for the procurement classes in the 2011 Small Business Leadership Academy. Carter, a leading academic in the supply chain field, is also a Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) and Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM), designations granted by the National Association of Purchasing Management.

“The eye-opener for these business owners is self-awareness,” Carter said. “They are beginning to understand the role they play in their customers’ supply base.”

And that’s when procurement meets marketing.

“The owners of small businesses are so wrapped up in surviving that they don’t have the time – or the personnel – to specialize,” Carter said. “As a result many feel that their companies are under-appreciated by their customers.”

A company like SRP wants value from all of its customers, but a purchasing manager may be managing hundreds of suppliers. “A company, because it’s a large company, is not going to understand the supplier’s business and the supplier’s potential for adding value as well as the supplier does,” Carter said. Understanding the buying process and how the purchasing groups at large companies think enables suppliers to figure out what and when to communicate.

Suppliers must show how they add value to their customers’ enterprises. Sometimes that means understanding who the customer is. “The procurement officer is not your final customer,” Carter says. “Your customer is the user.” So small business owners cannot just try to compete on price. When dealing with procurement officers, they must elaborate on the total value that their company brings to the table, including “what’s in it for the procurement officer.” Elaborating on why working with their company will be worth the additional work of changing vendors, adding a new vendor, and the inherent risk of working with a new vendor, will enable that procurement officer to make that difficult choice with confidence.

The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U. S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

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For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.

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Small Business Leadership Academy

Small Business Leadership Academy: Understanding Corp Procurement Practices (Part I)

Small Business Leadership Academy: Understanding Corporate Procurement Practices (Part I)

If you are the owner of a small or medium-size business interacting with a big corporation, you need to know how that company thinks about procurement. That’s what students in the 2011 Small Business Leadership Academy are learning from Joseph Carter, the Avnet Professor of Supply Chain Management at the W. P. Carey School of Business.

Typically, suppliers concentrate on the internal operations of their companies, Carter says, but if that’s their predominant focus, they will miss out on the advantages of optimizing their relationships with the companies that are their customers. Jeffrey Campbell of Western Truck Equipment Company, Inc. had the right idea when he asked, “What can I learn to better service the companies that we work with?”

“Today, the creation of value often requires careful coordination of activities across the boundaries between functions, business units and firms,” Carter explains. “In short, organizations that learn how to leverage procurement collaboration can obtain speed, innovation, dependability, flexibility, cost and/or quality benefits that go far beyond those potentially realized from solely optimizing a single firm’s internal operations.”

Carter is one of the top scholars worldwide in the field of supply management. He has published 60 articles about sourcing and supply management issues, and he has shared his expertise with firms all over the world.

Students are learning to understand strategic sourcing and their role as suppliers. To begin, they need to understand the importance of developing a collaborative relationship with a customer and how to manage it efficiently. Carter is taking the students “inside” their client companies by explaining the various roles and functions of a procurement department.

“Business owners need to understand the primary importance of sourcing when developing their strategy,” Carter says. “We’ll be talking about what they need to know in order to drive success for the buyer’s company as well as their own.”

Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.

[stextbox id="grey"]The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U. S. Bank. [/stextbox]

Small Business Leadership Academy, W.P. Carey School of Business, ASU

Small Business Leadership Academy: Competing Through Services (Part II)

Small Business Leadership Academy: Competing Through Services (Part II)

Last week, Small Business Leadership Academy students learned how to blueprint processes within their organization that affect customer satisfaction. Their application assignment was to pick an aspect of their organization to blueprint. By detailing the process, including both what happens behind the scenes and in plain sight of the customers, students were able to identify areas that are ripe for innovation and improvement.

Several students identified the phenomenon about how readily positive information gets passed up through the organization, while it is harder to get honest information about what is going wrong. Blueprinting your service can find pain points where the customer is not receiving optimal service or when the backroom systems aren’t running optimally.

“By going through this process, we were able to identify double handling inefficiencies,” says Rebecca Koury from Prudential Cleanroom Services. “Now I have a blueprint that I can use to write thorough work instructions. I think that will definitely benefit the customer, us, and our employees. Employees will be able to provide better service to the customer because they’ll now know where our inefficiencies are, and we can do a better job of keeping the customer happy.”

One of the factors mentioned in multiple students’ presentations was how a customer’s expectations of the service can have an influence on how they view the service. If front-line employees don’t communicate with their managers about the quality of their interactions with customers, or if there are too many layers between front-line employees and those managers that can affect change, then there will continue to be a gap between the customer’s expectations of the service and their actual experience with it.

“Another factor that can affect a customer’s perception of a service is how the front-line employee is evaluated,” says Professor Doug Olsen. If a customer wants fast service, but the employee is rated on whether they get the proper approvals, there will be a disconnect. If a customer wants resolution for their problem, but the employee is rated on how quickly they get the customer off the phone, there will be a disconnect. The desires of the customer need to be aligned with the evaluation system for the front-line employee to maximize service satisfaction.

By making those sometimes incremental improvements to their service offerings, small business owners can ensure that a customer will not walk away due to disappointment with a customer service interaction with their organization.

The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U. S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit the Small Business Leadership Academy’s website.

 

SBLA: Building High Performance Teams

Small Business Leadership Academy: Competing Through Services (Part I)

The second module in the 2011 Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) includes an examination of factors necessary for innovation and competitive success. One of the key mechanisms for companies to distinguish themselves in the marketplace, retain loyal customers and grow profits is through the design and execution of service.

Many small business leaders fall into the trap of saying “yes” to any and all potential customers.

“It is easy for small business leaders to get myopic,” says Douglas Olsen, associate professor at the W. P. Carey School of Business. Many owners try to be all things to all potential customers, and in the process, do not satisfy any of them. “Business owners should step back and ask what do people want, how am I segmenting the market, and how can I target segments differently?”

Instead of focusing on features, the focus should be put on benefits. This will help a potential customer determine whether your product/service can satisfy a need for them. Segmenting the marketplace and serving a specific target segment can lead to a clearer expression of your organization’s value proposition. Then, recognize that maximizing the service experience that these customers receive may provide a very strong competitive advantage. Learn how to diagram the process so that improvements may be identified.

Over the course of the next week, SBLA students will pick an aspect of their organization to blueprint. By detailing the process, both behind the scenes and in plain sight of the customers, students will be able to identify areas that are ripe for innovation and improvement.

“A lot of our business is customer service, asking questions about the product, placing orders,” commented Brandon Taylor, president of CPR Savers. “I haven’t really thought about the process from start to finish, of how many times a customer has interacted with our staff. This will be a good assignment for us to apply to our business and learn where we can improve on some aspects.”

The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U. S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.

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Missed any parts of this series?

Read Small Business Leadership Academy: Strategy for Competitive Advantage (Part I)

Read Small Business Leadership Academy: Strategy for Competitive Advantage (Part II)

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Small Business Leadership Academy series

Small Business Leadership Academy: Strategy for Competitive Advantage (Part II)

Small Business Leadership Academy: Strategy for Competitive Advantage (Part II)

Students spent time over the last week determining their company’s value proposition. Each student presented their value proposition to the class and fielded questions about it. For a small business owner, taking the time to occasionally review their organization’s strategy — and making necessary changes — can be the difference between staying in business and closing their doors.

As Professor Trevis Certo mentioned last week, “A common strategic mistake that many small businesses make is not understanding how common their product or service is and how easy it would be for another company to imitate.” With that in mind, several students put their value proposition in terms of what was rare about their businesses.

For Robert Lassner, project manager for Photovoltaic Systems Manufacturing, the value proposition isn’t always a product. “One of the rare things we have is experience and knowledge,” he says. “That is our most valuable asset.”

Ria Robles, vice president of B2B Delivery, also detailed the valuable aspects of their same-day courier service, commenting, “None of our competitors have all of these aspects, which is what helps keep us so successful.”

This exercise allowed these company leaders to take a high-level look at their day-to-day activities. What plans are pushed aside to keep the business moving forward? Steve Taverna, president and owner of TAVCO Sales & Service Company, has new accounting software just waiting to be implemented. “As we get bigger, we’re hoping to have more people that will be willing to take the lead on implementation of new technology.”

Going through this exercise created a strong foundation for the students as they move into next week’s topic, competing through services. With a better handle on the value proposition of their organization, these business leaders will no doubt refine their business practices over the next eight weeks.

The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U. S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.

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Missed the first part of this series?

Read Small Business Leadership Academy: Strategy for Competitive Advantage (Part I).

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Small Business Leadership Academy Introductory Course

Small Business Leadership Academy: Strategy for Competitive Advantage

Small Business Leadership Academy: Introductory Course

The introductory course for the 2011 Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) focuses on concepts of strategy and competitive advantage and how to achieve them. Through readings and discussion, students focus on the subtleties of strategy and organizational effectiveness. Also, they’ll learn the importance of fit among a company’s activities to realizing an advantage over rivals.

The cornerstone of the strategy course is analysis. Students learned frameworks to analyze not only their industry but their organization’s value proposition. Students will need to determine whether their current organizational strategy is a good fit with their resources. To bring these concepts to life, students engaged in an interactive case discussion regarding an entrepreneurial venture trying to grow to the next level.

Professor Trevis Certo stresses the need for students to be honest about their organization, its resources, and whether their current strategy is in need of updating. “A common strategic mistake that many small businesses make is not understanding how common their product or service is, and how easy it would be for another company to imitate,” Certo says.

Many companies try to be all things to all clients, rather than focusing on their core competitive advantage. Some students in the class had personal experience with the lesson of the evening.

Alex Zuran, president and CEO of Phoenix National Laboratories, says “We didn’t start (seeing an improvement) until we started cutting certain programs. We were trying to do too much.”

Students will spend the next week determining their company’s value proposition. Each student will present their value proposition to the class, and field questions about it. For a small business owner, taking the time to occasionally review their organization’s strategy, and make necessary changes, can be the difference between staying in business and closing their doors.

The framework of this first course on strategy and competitive advantage sets the foundation for the remaining courses. Participants should be able to see how each component fits back into the organization’s strategy.

The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U. S. Bank.

Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.

Small Business Leadership Academy, W.P. Carey School of Business

Small Business Leadership Academy Impacts Business Growth

The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U. S. Bank.

The 2011 SBLA program kicked off on Wednesday (August 31) night with an opening reception at the University Club on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. More than four dozen people, including several of the programs professors and administrators, sponsors and alumni celebrated the incoming class.

The alumni present spoke overwhelmingly about the benefits of going through SBLA. Many felt that SBLA had had a direct impact on the growth of their business. The alumni community continues to meet every two months, focusing on solving issues that many small businesses in the Valley face. The network is an on-going benefit to participation in SBLA.

Now entering its fourth year, the 2011 Small Business Leadership Academy program covers topics as varied as:

Business Strategy:

This course focuses on concepts of strategy and competitive advantage and how to achieve them.

Competing through Services:

This course asks students to examine the factors necessary for innovation and competitive success.

Procurement:

This course seeks to help students understand the principles, philosophies and value of an effective purchasing management process.

Negotiations:

This course teaches skills and tactics to add value to business relationships.

Building High-Performance Teams:

The capstone course of SBLA focuses on techniques for building a high-performing team of people in an organization.

Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.