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SWOT: The Case Study Files.

*Bad boys, bad boys
Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do
When the SWOT comes for you*

Alright for anyone who doesn’t know what a SWOT is you are lucky first of all and secondly a SWOT is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses/Limitations, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieve that objective. The technique is credited to Albert Humphrey, who led a convention at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s using data from Fortune 500 companies.

  • Strengths: characteristics of the business, or project team that give it an advantage over others
  • Weaknesses (or Limitations): are characteristics that place the team at a disadvantage relative to others
  • Opportunities: external chances to improve performance (e.g. make greater profits) in the environment
  • Threats: external elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business or project

Now when we put this together with Reading chapters from the book”The Art of the Start” By Guy Kawasaki we are developing a “working” knowledge about how to start our own business, or at least that is the idea I think. I have to be honest here; I loathed doing the case studies. The Case Studies were all the same story, just with different facts and figures. I learned a lot about different companies yes but I learned more about what not to do to have a successful business then I did about having a successful one. They took up a lot time and energy for in my opinion very little “learned” benefit. It may have helped if the case studies where more complete and newer, and gave a broader perspective of the company but most of the time they didn’t. Most of the time we were asked to go out and do extra research to find out how the company of the case study was doing now. The really good news is that they are over and done with.

So that everyone can see what I am talking about I am posting my last SWOT from class, or our take home test as it were. This is a more in-depth SWOT then any of the others and I hope that once you see how much I did for this last one you can appreciate how boring and just down right mind numbing doing two or sometimes 3 of these a week for almost 3 months is. Enjoy as much as I did!

1.         SELECT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING CASE STUDIES:
            []          Gordon Biersch Brewing Company

            [X]       The White Dog Café

            []          Cork’d – Social Network for Wine Lovers

  1. a.                   Prepare a SWOT Analysis of your chosen company but in this case, embellish on each selected strength, weakness, opportunity and threat – stating why each listed point is appropriate to that category.

ANSWER:

Strength-

  • Leadership and vision of Judy Wick-She knew what her establishment should represent in turn she educated and trained not only her staff but her community.
  • Started in pre-established historical location The house where she started her café already had a strong following.
  • Has a 4 part philosophy that is posted (but not where customers can see it) for both employees and business partners
  • Social issues directly addressed-Story teller and table talks events. People from different aspect of the community talking about critical issues.
  • Green team- the restaurants waste is composted and used on the grown of the Pennsylvania campus. A group of employees from the restaurant work to protect the environment.

 Weakness-

  • Locally sourcing product-One of the down sides to locally sourced product is the off chance of losing those sources.  Disasters like a drought or flood can wipe out a considerable amount of local product.
  • Subject to pay the high tolls for products-Sourcing local, fair trade and organic product comes high cost of goods.
  • Other Business like Ben & Jerry’s and The Body Shop have had similar problems with local production of goods.

 Opportunity-

  • Sunshine fund- Gives the staff members that have fallen on hard times a chance to get back on their feet.
  • Take a senior to lunch day- Helps build customer base and is a positive influence on the community.
  • “Table for 6 billion”-Working co-operatively instead of competitively with other restaurants in the community.  This has grown into an international endeavor.
  • Develop a stronger and healthier food system in Philadelphia.

 Threat-

  • Sustaining growth for the future- Net gross of $57,000 in 2005 and $61,000 in 2006. The issue is perpetuating growth while maintaining the social philosophy.
  • Competitions from other local restaurants threaten by the philosophy of White Dog Café.
  • Offering consulting to competitors- This could have the potential of taking customers away from own business.
  1. b.                   State the problem, opportunity or challenge that your chosen company faced and how YOU would have approached it.  (This answer should be well thought out and clearly developed as a strategy : 100 – 150 words)

ANSWER:

Judy Wick is a humanitarian and social activist whom used her establishment as catalyst for her ideas.  Really anyone with the proper funding can start a restaurant and try to keep it from sinking.  It takes an educated and driven person to keep it going.  It takes a visionary like Judy Wicks to make an impact in the community.  The White Dog Café is not only a restaurant but has an ideology and mission to better the community.   Still, the White Dog story suggests many of the challenges facing restaurants, along with those that strive to meet a triple bottom line:

Profitability: As Judy notes, “Popular restaurants come and go in cities, and not many are around for a long time.” Recent downturns in the U.S. economy have been especially tough on the White Dog’s bottom line, and Judy worries how it will stay competitive: “We’re twenty-five years old, and there are so many new restaurants in town with flashy new decors and new ideas.” A new concern is raising food costs. Mindful of the restaurant’s mid-scale clientele, she observes, “Our prices are now up to twenty-five or thirty dollars an entrée, and we can’t really go any higher.”

Balancing Three Bottom Lines: “Allocating resources is always a challenge—when there’s a good profit, how much should go to increasing employee benefits and profit-sharing, how much to community contributions, and how much for installing a solar hot water system or composting project?” Attention to people and planet means that the White Dog periodically skirts on the financial edge. 2008 was a tough year, and 2009 promises to be tougher still.

The Double-Edges of Social Responsibility: One of the most painful experiences Judy had in her restaurant’s history involved a labor dispute during a sabbatical she had taken to write a book. “While I was gone, the servers organized because they felt the person I hired was too corporate, and they were afraid they would lose their excellent benefits, which are unheard of in this business.” Ultimately, the staff decided not to unionize, but the fight was costly. “It was heartbreaking. I couldn’t believe after all I’d done to have a model workplace… the servers organized against me.

Another issue at hand is gaining and keeping community support.  Educating the community to create a better food system and continuing with the next generations.  The best way I can think of to propagate this mission is to expand.  At what point of expansion do you say this is too much because you have lost your original goal. Becoming too big you risk becoming cheap and watered down.  This has happened with both Ben & Jerry’s, and The Body Shop, when they were bought out or buy other companies. Anytime you sell a company or change management you run a risk of losing the original goal of the company. Improving the bottom line becomes your number one goal and you lose sight of what is important.   Judy Wick identifies with these threats and understands that she can’t keep this legacy going by herself.  I would do what she did in 2009; that is finding a partner to take over. After 26 years of business she chose to keep her restaurant alive and sold it to Marty Grims. This decision didn’t come lightly and had a bigger cause for Judy Wick.  She has since continued on with her humanitarian efforts and still does consulting for the restaurant and her competitors.

  1. c.                   From an entrepreneurial perspective state your opinion about the business concept/product and it’s viability.  (Make sure you support your opinion with references to the material covered in class and/or references to Guy Kawasaki’s book). (100-150 words)

ANSWER:

Most restaurants are based on gimmicks and themes. White Dog Café is more of the body that houses the ideals of Judy Wick.  Food and money are two concepts that are relatively easy to relate to.  Food and capitalism have several issues and are directly influenced by one another.  White Dog Café uses not only their monetary vote but its voice to inspire change.  Judy Wick started White Dog Café as a little corner shop that only offered baked goods and drinks. However because she started in a pre-established historical location and started out small she was able to save money and get her product out very quickly. This is a prime example of bootstrapping.  Only a few months after opening her doors; she had already built a loyal clientele.  It took another year till she expanded into a full service restaurant with sandwiches. It took another two years before she had her liquor license and bought the residence next door. Today The White Dog Café is a Zagat 4 star rated restaurant that employees 110 people and serves 138,000 customers each year grossing about $5 million each year. Starting small and building the business up doesn’t require nearly as much capital to jump start a larger operation.  With starting out small and building capital and a brand name for herself she was able to effectively raise the capital needed for these expansions, and this is a great example of raising capital and rainmaking. Judy Wick has used White Dog Café to influence the food system in her community.  This not only helps build her brand but also is a great example of being a mensch. She also used it as a stage to hear the voice of social concerns in the community and then turned around and did something about it. Lastly she made the right choice of a partner who was willing and able to keep the original ideals in place and still take the company in a positive direction.

  1. d.                   Referencing material found on the Web – state the company’s current position/status and how it has or has not addressed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that you defined in the SWOT analysis. (100 – 150 words)

ANSWER:

Presently The White Dog Café is under the ownership of restaurateur Marty Grim.   They have expanded the operation to Wayne, Pennsylvania. The new establishment is still carrying on Judy Wick’s moral and social philosophy. They source 95% of their product with in fifty miles of the restaurant.  All of their poultry, beef and pork are sourced within fifty miles.  The only minor exceptions are things like chocolate and coffee. These limited products are sourced from organic and fair trade producers around the world.  The White Dog Café in Wayne’s aesthetics is unique. The Wayne location has a similar motif to the University City location and represents the white dog image very well.  Judy Wick has stayed on to be a consultant for the existing operation.  One of the reasons she sold the operation to Marty Grim was to pursue her passion of social humanitarianism.  Knowing that Grim would continue on with the philosophy of the original White Dog Café she decided that her mission was to help her community.  Looking ahead to the future I would not be surprised to see this operation finding a place in socially aware areas such as Portland Oregon or even here in Vermont. There is a lot of ground to expand and with Judy Wick’s ideas being very similar to the views and ideals of places like Vermont I don’t see why having another community driven and active restaurant would be a bad thing. As long as she continues to follow the same business practices that got her where she is today I don’t see any reason why she would fail.

Bibliography

 “About Judy …” Web. 12 Mar. 2012. <http://www.judywicks.com/Bio.html&gt;.

“Thedp.com.” The Daily Pennsylvanian. Web. 12 Mar. 2012.

<http://thedp.com/index.php/article/2009/02/few_changes_expected_for_recently_sold_white_dog&gt;.

“White Dog Cafe – Philadelphia, PA – Home.” White Dog Cafe. Web. 12 Mar. 2012. <http://www.whitedog.com/&gt;.

“The White Dog Cafe.” Community Food Enterprises. Web. 03 Mar. 2012. <http://www.communityfoodenterprise.org/case-studies/u.s.-based/white-dog-cafe&gt;.

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One Comment on “SWOT: The Case Study Files.”

  1. Tori March 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    You did a really great job with this SWOT. Especially considering how many of them you had to do and how sick of them you were by the end of the class!

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