By Diane Strand Ray Binkowski, NIU grad and new owner of Wright's Athletic Club on Sycamore Road, has some new ideas to build his business. In April, the club, formerly called Wright's Gym, will celebrate its 30th anniversary. All those years, staff wore name tags, but Binkowski decided to drop that policy when he took over - perhaps wanting a more casual approach. After a recommendation from an MBA class at Robert Morris Graduate School of Management, however, Binkowski decided to slap those name tags back on. Why? Because the MBA class - the kind of customer Binkowski wants to reach and retain - said they like staff name tags. It makes staff more approachable when club members have questions or concerns. That was just one of several recommendations given to the owner as a class project, and Binkowski says he plans to implement all of them. Some of the grad students approached the club owner a few weeks ago and he was amenable to having his business analyzed. He was excited about gaining information from an educated and savvy class of professionals. Binkowski noted that one member of the class - Indever Lal - will be a consultant, probably charging up to $200 an hour for a consultation. The class project meant the same advice would be free. In addition to Lal, the student group included Ata Shakir and Kristen Alanis. Shakir and Binkowski received undergraduate degrees at NIU, in business and mechanical engineering, respectively. The consultation became a “capstone” project required of Shakir and Lal, who are graduating this spring from Robert Morris. What was their assignment? The club owner had posed this question to the students: “How can I improve my relationship with my customers?” Shakir said a customer survey was part of the project, which gave the class real business experience to add to their resumes. “It was a win-win situation.” Facing graduation and “the real world” soon, Shakir said, “I would like to run a business again some day. I had a newspaper for three years, the DeKalb County Small Business Journal.” Binkowski is especially positive about the experience with the students, saying, “The partnership between between us and Robert Morris will be ongoing - with the school using new students in the MBA program” to assist the club. He has his own powerful techniques for building his business - the first being a guarantee to customers that they will see an improvement in their health, lose weight and inches, build muscle and gain energy in a 16-week period. And Shakir and Lal? Wanting their own business or work as a consultant - in other words, being their own boss -fits right into the profile of many college graduates today.
Learning from the students
Text Size: AaAaAaAaAa
|Ray Binkowski (second from left) meets with two graduate students in business administration: Indever Lal and Ata Shakir. (Diane Strand photo)|