Flyer Enterprises (FE) has added new business units and changed its mission in the past year, altering the future of the nation’s fourth largest, entirely student-run business.
A desire to provide more options for customers, create a more fulfilling experience for employees and once again turn a profit are the driving forces behind these changes, according to Vice President of Dining Services and Joint Ventures Jack Talaga, a senior finance and entrepreneurship double major.
The need for change starts with the Heritage Coffee House, which opened in September 2017. Despite the opening of Heritage, Flyer Enterprises’ coffee divisions suffered a 3.3 percent drop in revenue when measured against the previous year, which nearly erased the 3.8 percent revenue gain that the coffee division experienced in the 2016-17 fiscal year.
“Some of the coffee customer loss is due to changes in where our customers went,” Talaga said. “Some of the customers of Heritage went there instead of the Blend or Blend Express. In addition, some customers started going to Au Bon Pain.”
The Blend and Blend Express are Flyer Enterprise coffee shops, while Au Bon Pain is a University of Dayton-owned coffee and pastry shop.
In addition, Flyer Enterprises’ Chief Financial Officer, senior finance major Kyle Ransom, said that Heritage was forced to spend $73,539 on one-time equipment and renovation expenses related to the opening of the new division.
Ransom said the drop in coffee revenue and simultaneous increase in expenses was the main reason why the organization suffered a $143,382 loss last year. This a significant shift from the past few years, when Flyer Enterprises turned a profit.
Going forward, Flyer Enterprises is addressing the issue of product overlap between Heritage and the established Blend and Blend Express divisions, since they are all heavily dependent on coffee and pastry sales.
In order to offer different products than Flyer Enterprises’ other divisions, “Heritage is adding ‘grab and go’ sandwiches and might add breakfast items in the future,” Talaga said.
He continued by saying Heritage switched coffee suppliers and now is offering 3-19 brand coffee as opposed to Boston Stoker coffee, which is available at the Blend and Blend Express.
As Heritage continues to grow, the management team is hopeful that these new options will separate it from the other coffee shop divisions.
Flyer Enterprises also is continuing to innovate elsewhere by launching two new businesses in 2019 that will allow for diversification from the organization’s food service divisions. Rudy’s Runway will sell University of Dayton apparel online, and Flyer Enterprises is currently in the final stages of creating a website for this new venture. Also, FE Digital will be an IT division that provides technological consulting and troubleshooting to businesses throughout the Dayton area.
Flyer Enterprises also is working toward opening a daytime deli in downtown Dayton. Talaga says the plan is to serve workers, as opposed to the normal student client base. This venture currently has no name or opening date, but it will be the first Flyer Enterprises division to exist entirely off-campus.
Talaga is optimistic that these divisions will represent a big step in growing Flyer Enterprises beyond the University of Dayton campus and into the Dayton community.
Beyond the business additions, Flyer Enterprises has eliminated its original mission and vision statements, which touted the size and revenues of the organization. Talaga says that the new mission, “To create a rewarding experience for our employees,” is intended to remind students that Flyer Enterprises is focused more on providing employment and leadership opportunities for students than simply trying to grow top-line numbers.
Associate Director of Admission and Financial Aid Heather Barhorst said, “Flyer Enterprises is one of the top things mentioned to potential business school students because of the focus on experiential learning all four years.”
Barhorst also said that all of the similar sized student-run businesses are at bigger schools, where a larger group of employees makes it more difficult to have the same opportunities that are available to Flyer Enterprises student workers.
Talaga agreed, saying that “Joining FE is one of the greatest things I’ve decided to do because I’ve been able to learn business processes, have leadership opportunities and build a team. It has provided experience that you can’t get anywhere else.”
Flyer Enterprises will head into the future hoping that these student opportunities continue to grow, with new businesses at the forefront of that growth.