Sales were down 26 percent at the Cookies by Design franchise in Long Beach. Arrangements of freshly baked sugar, cinnamon, chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies weren’t selling like they used to so there were budget cuts and layoffs. After three years in business, owner Renee Kim was working longer hours with fewer employees and her husband was called in to replace the delivery man. The sweet smell of success seemed to be wafting away … fast.
Kim needed help so she contacted the Los Angeles Times’ small business makeover column and they called in business consultant David Choi, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at Loyola Marymount University. Choi and a team of undergraduate and former College of Business Administration students went to work to devise “make over” for Kim’s cookie shop.
The team, which included a restaurateur, a marketer and an entrepreneur, visited Kim’s neighborhood. “We checked the outside of her store for 20 minutes,” before ever meeting with their client, Choi said. “We were looking at the location, signage, pedestrian traffic, and what other businesses were nearby.”
After talking to their client, they determined that Kim, a former CNN reporter and hard worker, needed to be more organized in her approach to marketing. The team came up with a plan to help her and other small business owners work smarter, not harder.