devry-sbe420-week-6-case-study

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Read the case study, Circle R Ranch, on page 814, and answer the four questions at the end of the case study. Summarize your answers in a Word document that is two-to-three pages in length and double spaced.

Case 4 Circle R Ranch

How can a venue that hosts corporate events counter declining sales?

Steven and Wendy Foster purchased the Circle R Ranch, located 10 miles north of Dallas, Texas, as newlyweds in 1997. The ranch specializes in hosting corporate meetings, conventions, and events in an authentic Western-style setting, complete with barbecues, steers, hayrides, country music, and almost anything else a corporate event planner requests. The ranch is known for its stellar customer service. Friendly cowboys and cowgirls greet arriving guests and guide them to the appropriate venues, which include the Western Pavilion, an enclosed 28,000-square-foot structure that features a performance stage, a dance floor, a game arcade, and adjacent recreation area, or the smaller Chisolm Ranch House and Conference Center, which overlooks a pond and can accommodate between 20 and 200 guests. In addition to barbecues and picnics, the Circle R Ranch offers guests a multitude of options for their events, including fireworks shows, a huge swimming pool, a biker bar (complete with airbrushed “tattoos”), and team-building activities with its reality television-based “Survivor Rodeo Team Challenge.” Companies can even order steaks branded with their logos.

An economic recession not only resulted in a 38 percent decline in annual sales (from $4 million to $2.5 million) but also was a harbinger of an era of corporate austerity. Companies are cutting back on high-end (and highly profitable) options such as staged gunfights, ice sculptures, rodeos, and fireworks and are sticking to tried-and-true (and less expensive) options such as barbecues, picnics, and hayrides. The business remains profitable and debt free, but the Fosters are seeing their profit margins squeezed ever smaller. To restore their lost sales, the Fosters, both veterans of the hospitality industry, are considering branching out into the wedding market. They are hesitant to make the move, however, because the revenue per event is much smaller than they are accustomed to but the work involved in creating the perfect wedding is not. Steven and Wendy are worried about burnout; they both regularly put in as many as 100 hours a week at the ranch. Their full-time staff of 12 employees, which they supplement with as many as 200 part-time workers during the busy spring-to-fall event season, also put in long hours. The Fosters want to make sure that their employees are not overworked and stressed so that they can continue to provide the superior customer service that distinguishes the Circle R Ranch from other event venues.

If an event planner visits the ranch, the Fosters say that there is a very high probability that they will win the planner’s business. However, they believe that as companies’ travel budgets continue to shrink, more planners are conducting their searches for event venues online. The Fosters know that their Web site (.circlerranch.org/”>www.circlerranch.org) is due for an update, but doing so would cost an estimated $20,000. “Can we afford not to make the investment?” they wonder. Currently, the site features uninspired photos of each venue, lots of cowboys with guns, and barmaids dressed in period saloon garb. “Remember,” says one advisor, “you’re not selling meeting space; you’re selling an experience.”

Questions

1. What steps can the Fosters take to increase sales at the Circle R Ranch? Should they enter the wedding market? What are the advantages and the disadvantages of entering this market?

2. Where should the Fosters look for new employees who are passionate about providing superior customer service? What steps should they take before they begin the employee selection process? What hiring criteria should they establish?

3. How should the Fosters motivate their staff to continue to provide the stellar service that sets the ranch apart from its competitors?

4. Visit the Circle R Ranch’s Web site. How effective is the site? Develop a set of at least six recommendations for improving the site.

Sources: Based on Patricia B. Gray, “Party Down,” FSB, June 2009, pp. 41–44; “Circle R Ranch,” .circlerranch.org/”>www.circlerranch.org.

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