Roadside MBA: Back Road Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Executives and Small Business Owners

Roadside MBA: Back Road Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Executives and Small Business Owners

Michael Mazzeo, Scott Schaefer

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 1455598895

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

While playing hooky from a conference in Boston a few years back, three former colleagues from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management hopped in a car and headed on a road trip. They pulled into a shoe store in Maine and noticed that the sales help was unusually pushy. After a few questions, they discovered the store had a "secret shopper" program, in which employees would be marked down if they were not sufficiently aggressive with customers. A lightbulb went off.

Instead of teaching the tried-and-true case studies involving GE and Microsoft, these three wise men decided to pull their heads out of their ivory towers and go in search of insights about product differentiation, pricing, brand management, building a team, and a host of other topics. Why take your cues on employee compensation from Wall Street when you can learn from a Main Street company like Couer D'Alene's best crime-scene cleaner? Want to learn about scaling a business? Come meet Dr. Burris, the flying orthodontist, who operates multiple, profitable practices in rural Arkansas.
The book isn't all egghead; the chapters are spiced with the type of vehicular mishaps and Maalox moments that are common on any road trip.

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what they need and then special order something I saw at market.” Doug combines this depth of knowledge with personal service. He does all deliveries himself using the custom-painted trailer he keeps parked out front as a pseudo-billboard, and while he says he doesn’t always remember customers’ names, he can always remember what crib they bought. Doug has a powerful barrier to entry because, though there is significant demand for specialty kids’ furniture in the Jonesboro area, there is not so

much demand that a second store might open. When Doug opened, his research suggested that there was enough demand for specialty kids’ furniture in the area that he could make a decent living as long as he had the market to himself. But could Doug reasonably assume that he would have the market to himself? Did he have an answer to the question we ask our students about entry putting pressure on prices? To answer that question, let’s adopt the point of view of a potential entrant that might open a

Scott’s dissertation, which examined the forces that make organizational change so difficult, foreshadowed his own later attempts to re-engineer the University of Utah’s School of Business while serving as associate dean. With just those three topics—one study of how companies compete in product markets, one looking at how companies structure pay for employees, and another of how companies can organize for success—we’ve covered much of what keeps business people up at night. Our years of

passes the test. In both cases customers face an information problem: They won’t know exactly what they’ve bought until the deal’s already done. In cases like this, consumers often find it useful to listen to the experiences of other, similar users, and infer from these experiences whether they too might value the product. Hence, for companies that sell experience goods, managing their brand means managing the information available to potential customers about the hard-to-assess characteristics

out there. They just need to be pulled back in.” Panhandle recovers the precious metals with a fifteen-foot-high machine that breaks open the metal housing, smashes the ceramic inside of the converter, and collects the remains. The result is a gray-white powdery dust that, stored in clear plastic bags, looks a bit like a prop from an episode of Miami Vice. The output is valuable, but there is a well-developed market for these commodities, so there is not much scope for negotiation on the selling

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