Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q (SCNB) announced that thanks to the partnership between the North Carolina–based restaurant brand and North Carolina State University’s College of Management MIE 411–Managing the Growth Venture course, the online sales and ordering process has been streamlined to produce a more customer-centric process.

During the Fall 2009 college semester, a group of students from Professor Lewis Sheats’ MIE 411 course were charged with the task of streamlining the online business model for the restaurant brand—incorporating such tools already in use, like social media and online ordering capabilities, but also auditing shipping and processing models that were not effectively yielding strong profit margins for the restaurant’s shipped barbecue. The group presented a final presentation to Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q and the company quickly began work on applying the recommendations.

Jim Crawford, NCSU Class of 2010 student and group leader, says that “[the group] found it valuable that SCNB believes and focuses on the customer being king. In that regard, it made our project more definitive to zero-in on research, functionalities, strategies, operational efficiencies, and marketing, which on-end enhances the complete customer experience online.”

The opportunities didn’t end with being able to partner with a customer-focused brand for the group, though: “What made our team project so unique was the opportunity to work on a real growth venture within an entrepreneurial organization that has a long standing, unique, and rich North Carolina cultural history,” Crawford says.

“What makes the Entrepreneurship classes at NCSU so special is while students work on developing their entrepreneurial education, they have the opportunity to work with real businesses in the community—identifying problems and creating real-life solutions,” Sheats says. “It is a great learning experience for them to see their work in action. We have several examples of students’ work being implemented and making a real impact on the participating companies, SCNB being one of the more recent ones. It is a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

“Selling our signature product online is a new venture for our company, and like any new venture, you work through the kinks. The students from the College of Management helped us smooth out these issues,” says Richard Averitte, marketing director for Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q. “Their work exceeded our expectations and we are very pleased with the results.”

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