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Social Business

In: Business and Management

Submitted By lady1010
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COMPANY DESCRIPTION & EXEC. SUMMARY OF SOCIAL BUSINESS CASE

For this assignment we had the fortune of getting to know a bit about the business workings of Brands Cycle and Fitness http://brandscycle.com/. They are a family owned business in existence since 1954 and are located on Long Island, in Wantagh, NY. Brands is very well respected within their industry, and are consistently voted one of the top 10 bike stores in the country by Bicycling Magazine. They have a staff of 90 to 110 employees which scales seasonally to accommodate their peak selling and servicing season in Spring and Summer.

We spent an evening with Dan Sirota who is the 3rd generation co-owner of Brands. His father, Gary Sirota, is still an active owner of the business. We were given a behind the scenes tour of the operation and shown the local inventory management process. We learned that the business has evolved from originally selling luggage, then just bicycles, and then bicycles plus fitness equipment with more recent additions of skateboards, fitness apparel, and bicycle shoes. They currently sell about 7,000 – 8,000 bikes per year. The majority of the volume sold is at the $400 – $700 price point, and their maximum bike price is approximately $3,000. Prior to 2010 they were only selling offline and their volume was approximately 10,000 bikes per year at a lower average price point. Their consumers are comprised of locals in the tri-state area as well as national and global customers online. 2012 was the tipping point in the ratio of online versus offline sales and revenue generation. In 2013 their revenue split was approximately 60% online and 40% offline.

Their current business goals and objectives are to grow specific areas of the business. In retail they are looking to increase their volume of bike fittings, which run a healthy $300 per fitting. For sales they are working to reduce their reliance on Amazon.com and increase volume on owned sites to realize a higher margin. Much of this will come through growth and expansion of the main website and the launch of BikeShoes.com. The final business objective is to improve employee training around product knowledge and customer service.

Following our time with Dan Sirota we scoured the internet to better evaluate their social media and social business activities. We looked into their Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Yelp, YouTube, Pinterest, Klout score, and Hootsuite for social listening. We were able to generate observations and conclusions based on combining these findings with the information from our in-person research.

The primary use of Social Media at Brands is to remain competitive, expand their customer base, and keep pace with society. There is a dedicated on-site social media manager, however his objectives are not tied to the overall business goals of Brands. While owners Gary and Dan Sirota support “being social”, a successful social business strategy cannot be implemented until they set more specific goals for their brick and mortar business. Our recommendation is to set specific goals for their store fronts and create a social business strategy based on those goals. In the near term we’ve developed business objectives for Brands newest company BikeShoes.com.

GENERAL RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Brands currently use social business tools for external marketing and communications with their customers. They are using multiple platforms to achieve various initiatives. These technologies and platforms include: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yelp, Google Analytics, Amazon, Instagram, Foursquare, Wordpress, and Flickr. However, there is no underlying strategy in place, and their current efforts are predominantly social media marketing more so than social business.

Interestingly, the majority view of social media by the owners and leadership team is that customers under 35 primarily use it. They are somewhat conscious of this when tailoring their communications, promotions, and messages.

As a small business their employees don’t have the luxury of being specialist and have to stretch across multiple capabilities. They currently can only justify salaries for 2 ½ employees to support all of the social media marketing, light social business efforts, and online advertising. Some efforts are outsourced to 3rd party providers under modest budgets that meet an ROI threshold.

As a family run small business they are continually under many pressures internally and externally. Thus they invest more year over year into social business technologies and staffing to meet and support these demands. These are the following (in order of priority):

To remain relevant and competitive with their consumer ahead of the big box and large online retailers Increasing dependence on effective manufacturer/supplier collaboration Grow sales and revenue for the business Increase employee productivity Expand customer base throughout North America as online shopping behavior of consumers increase

In order to grow and expand their employees’ product knowledge they are using online training resources provided by the manufacturers. Trek, Shimano, and 3point5.com are examples of services provided by the manufacturers and industry. These tutorials reward the employees for completion and competency while not further taxing the limited resources of the business.

They’ve identified that substantial revenue can be earned from a bike fitting. This is a process involving a camera and computer that analyses how the rider is situated on the bicycle. This is growing in popularity and Brands is getting more and more customers signing up for it. This is a very lucrative service and takes about 30 minutes to complete with a customer. Thus they are adding a second station so that two of these can be conducted concurrently. They are also training employees how to conduct these quicker with customers.

One shortcoming is that at present the company currently isn’t structured or oriented to have organizational capabilities. Social business policies and governance are not formally established within Brands and the ultimate decision making lies with the owners. Workflow and communication has been honed over time through trial and error, but never formalized.

Social Media tools have enabled Brands to have a larger voice online and reach a global consumer audience. This is primarily around product information and the services they provide in-store. They are not using this channel to address issues with existing customers. If a customer reaches out with a product issue or a product availability question they drive this to a phone conversation. There are instances when they will resolve these matters over email or Facebook, but most often they try to have direct contact with their customers over the phone. Given their business they find that a phone call allows them to best address their needs and manage a positive experience. Brands will most likely have to reconsider this approach with their newest online commerce experience, BikeShoes.com.

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING/COMMUNICATIONS

Brands currently have corporate social media profiles on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Foursquare, Yelp, YouTube, Flickr, and Wordpress. They are also using Constant Contact for email marketing.

They use Facebook to provide their basic company information. They also push out coupons there from time to time that are lightly tailored to the purchasing habits of the audience demographic. Brands doesn’t spend much time responding to posts unless they are regarding bad or negative feedback. They find they spend the majority of time responding to feedback that is out of their control and really should be directed to the manufacturers.

Brands has a presence on Yelp as they’ve found the ratings and reviews of the business are valuable and drive some in-store traffic. They have also recently experimented with providing couponing to customers who check in with the app. The data is negligible at present to conclude any significant measure of success.

They are no longer investing time and energy in Pinterest as they don’t s see the value or application for their business. They are also in the process of diverting this energy toward planning for expanding their usage of YouTube for more promotional and product videos. The hope is that this will drive traffic to their online commerce sites.

INTERNAL COLLABORATION

Beyond the online training for employees Brands does not incentivize them to use social business tools for internal communication and collaboration. They have not prioritized this and only passively observe their employees self organize on social media groups for light communications. Their employees have started groups on Facebook for those currently working at Brands as well as past alumni.

Given current business priorities they are not providing a platform for cross-company connections. They don’t have an internal facing blog nor do they share out the various skill profiles of their employees. They haven’t done any online poling of their employees or implemented social networking tools to connect employee information at an enterprise level. The only system they have in place is from their Human Resources provider that gives benefit qualifying employees access to a basic company directory.

During Hurricane Sandy their physical store location was under threat of flooding and extensive storm damage. They used texting, email, and phone for primary communication with their employees. They intentionally broadcast the same message across different channels to cater to various preferences. Many of their employees also have personal Facebook and Twitter accounts, but do not use these for business purposes. Thus they do not encroach on this and are ok maintaining separation between the business the personal lives of their employees.

SOCIAL CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT

Brands has a lot of room to grow their social customer relationship management. They don’t currently have a good process to or strategy in place to identify repeat customers and capitalize on loyalty. At the moment they are in the early stages of developing a customer loyalty program. Their customer data is not well aggregated and they are still reliant on brick and mortar in-person relationship management. They do pay attention to Facebook for customers who reach out with a product issue or to check on product availability. They have also made some progress with the customer information and analytics data they glean from Constant Contact, but are unable to tie that in with their primary sales channel on Amazon.com.

They are very reliant on sales through Amazon.com to support their annual revenue targets. They know that customer star satisfaction rating on products is very important in driving the sale of a products. This in turn requires the brand to be more accountable for the product quality, customer service, and pricing strategy. Brands has had to invest extra time in managing the relationship with customers regardless if the issue is with their product or the amazon shipping service. As a result it now reflects on the quality of service and the impression Brands makes on their customers. Currently, Brands has a 4.9 customer rating on Amazon from 2,651 reviews.

SOCIAL ANALYTICS

In the last 4 years Brands has established their presence on social media. They primarily pay attention to and monitor their Yelp analytics and Google analytics, as those appear to be driving the most in-store and online commerce business for them. They are able to measure an ROI based on their Google Ad spend and the drive to product purchase through their online commerce channel. However they are not able to perform the same analytics against their sales through Amazon.com. They’ve recently launched BikeShoes.com with the intent to measure Google ads to sales conversions more accurately on a modern site platform.

We looked across many of their social channels and identified the following engagement statistics:

Twitter 1,047 tweets 685 followers Following 582 #BrandsCycle appears 10 times 4 foursquare checkins that appear on Twitter

Facebook 3,382 likes 598 visits review rating of 4.7

Google+ 27 reviews averaging 4.3 stars 359,766 profile views 5 followers

Instagram 167 Posts 836 followers Following 385

Yelp 45 review averaging 4.5 stars

Brands Cycle has a klout score of 54 https://klout.com/#/brandscycle. This score is representative of their reactions generated, retweets, and how connected and liked they are as an entity online throughout social media. It also speaks to how engaged they are online in interactions and their perceived authenticity.

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