UNT class helps local businesses

Many small local businesses are started by people with a passion, but passion alone doesn't always mean success. That's where UNT business professor Francisco Guzman and his class come in.

Dr. Guzman started teaching the Strategic Brand Management course in 2007. The purpose of the class, both now and then, was to give the students real world experience in dealing with business consultation. For the course, a business (or businesses if there are multiple sections) agrees to allow Dr. Guzman and his class to act as consultants for the semester. The class is then broken into different teams, doing research and conducting interviews to find ways to improve business. At the end of the semester, the different teams pitch their ideas to the business.

Dr. Guzman's class have worked with both bigger corporations, such as Chipotle and Frito-Lay, and smaller local businesses, like The Bearded Monk, Boca 31 and many others.

In an interview with The Dentonite, Dr. Guzman explained the difference in the experience that his students get with big corporations and smaller businesses.

“The processes are the same, but I discovered the reward and the resulting experience that the student gets is very different. When working for a large company… it's really cool because they get the experience of working with this big corporation and are working with these big brands, and normally that implies that they have to think about spending a lot of money. They have these literally million dollar budgets that they need to plan,” Guzman said.

Guzman said students get the experience of getting dressed up and presenting to the people at their offices. These companies are marketing professionals, so usually the feedback they get from these large companies, at the best ‘wow that is really cool, we were already thinking about this’ or ‘that's great that you've come up with this, because this supports things that we've already thought about,’ said Guzman.

“When we work with the local businesses, it's a completely different story. Because we're working with Monique. We're working with John. We're working with Sally. The students get to know the person,” Guzman said. They get to create something that has a humongous impact on that business. Because the business is not thinking, or doesn't have the capacity or the resources to devote all that time, and in this case human capital, to think about their business.”

Guzman tells the businesses they are going to be working with 46-48 consultants that, for three months, are going to research, collect insights, and develop strategies for them for free. He said some really great ideas come from the teams and the clients really enjoy this usually.

“And we, as UNT students and a professor, get the experience to work with a real brand, with a real company, with a real situation. And we can let the students experience the real marketing process,” Guzman said.

Ultimately what Dr. Guzman's Strategic Brand Management course gives the students is real experience working with brands. The university setting can give examples, statistics and hypotheticals while leaving business students unprepared for working in real life. Dr. Guzman says that one of the rewards he gets from teaching this class is knowing that he is helping prepare his students once they graduate. However, Dr. Guzman laments how difficult it has become for students outside of the UNT College of Business to get into the course.

“The course originally started as an elective, and non-business majors would take it as well. Which is good, often the class would give them different perspectives and they would bring unique perspectives to the class too… Eventually the class became a course requirement, which unfortunately made it a lot harder for non-business students to take the class,” Guzman said.

Although the class is harder for students not in the UNT College of Business to get into, it's still helping students and businesses alike.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the Strategic Brand Management course for Dr. Guzman is the connections made. “I've made friends through this class” he said. Through his work with local businesses, he has created a network of friends. Through his work, he feels more connected to the Denton community, and is grateful for the opportunity to help the community he calls home.

Header design by Clarissa Baniecki.