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A group of Lakeland College business students recently assisted Joe Van Horn Chevrolet in Plymouth with some marketing ideas to generate new business.
Students enrolled in Lakeland's "Business Leadership, Ethics and Decision Making" course worked with Shannon Laehn, Van Horn's internet sales director, and Bruce Vreeke, the dealer's new collision center manager, to develop a marketing plan for the body shop.
The class, taught by Brett Killion, assistant professor of accounting, was divided into nine small groups, and each developed and submitted a marketing proposal. Laehn and Vreeke selected their top two proposals, and the final two groups gave an oral presentation to Laehn and Vreeke, who then selected a winner.
"The students really offered us some great insight," Laehn said. "We have implemented a few ideas that the students came up with and are taking all the ideas into consideration. The group that won really spent a lot of time investigating our current tactics and offered feedback on our current website that led to us making some changes."
Killion and Laehn got connected at a job fair on Lakeland's campus that Van Horn attended. The dealership had just started a process of increasing its marketing efforts to generate new business, so the timing was perfect.
Laehn and Vreeke had an initial meeting with the students to detail their current marketing efforts and target markets, and students were invited to visit the dealership and tour the collision center.
"This exercise provided our students with a real-world opportunity to learn more about the processes of an existing business and provide some helpful suggestions," Killion said. "It was a great way to bring to life several of the concepts we had discussed this semester."
Other ideas Van Horn is considering using include use of social media to target younger demographics, participating in a campaign about the dangers of texting while driving and hosting different events at the dealership that will create awareness for the collision center.
"Bruce and I were very impressed with how the project turned out and we really enjoyed working with the students," Laehn said. "We are very thankful that Brett gave us the opportunity to work with his students and we look forward to having a continued partnership with Lakeland."