Students help keep a local music business humming

January 9, 2023

STUDENT EXPERIENCE

Students in a Robins School of Business data analytics course put their skills to the test in a consulting project for a local business last semester.

“As a small business, I don’t have a data analytics team to do this kind of deep analysis and pull data into a more usable format,” said Katherine Knight, who owns Melody Magic Music Studio in Henrico. “This was a great opportunity to have my business be a case study.”

Knight submitted her business as a case study to the Robins School. The students helped her organize and sift through three years of data from the music studio to inform how she could keep her music studio growing. Knight and her team offer children’s music lessons for instruments ranging from piano and violin to ukulele and electric bass.

“She needed a better way to organize her data so that she can make more informed decisions,” said Weilan Moyer, a sophomore studying mathematical economics and business. “Whether that meant optimizing advertising expenses or planning for literal rainy days, she wanted our advice. We received the data she has on her business from 2019-2022 and were instructed to extract meaningful insights and present them.”

The students, split into four groups, came up with ways to organize the information Knight had on her business, including enrollment numbers, advertising spending, overall profits, and student attendance.

Knight had several scenarios she wanted the students to examine, including ways to track enrollment and avoid unnecessary spending. The students created predictive tools, identified key performance indicators, and developed templates from their findings that Knight could continue to use in the future.

“I love that they offered different ways to manage my data that would further guide me in decision-making,” Knight said. “They had several recommendations for me in terms of when to advertise, what kind of advertising, which of our music programs were the most successful and had the best retention rate, which programs would be worth investing in to gain more students, as well as tracking across the years to see which months of the years had the most enrollments and profit. The students were very professional, just as if they were a consulting company.”

Tenace Setor, assistant professor of analytics and operations, guided the students in the process. “Throughout the semester, students develop a working knowledge of how to extract meaningful insights from enterprise data,” Setor said. “These insights save businesses and managers from making decisions that are based on inaccurate assumptions.”

But he also hopes the students remember the relationship they made with Knight, and that it can be an example of how to do business in the future.

“At the Robins School we believe that our students must ethically connect with local businesses not just to gain some real-world experience but also to be engaged citizens of the local communities,” Setor said. “Aside from the obvious hands-on experience they may gain, such engagements instill in our students a habit of performing a service for others.”