Priority 1 Electronic's president, Heath Kline, figures he got four consultants for the price of one and that, as an added bonus, he's saving $100,000 a year.
Kline, 26, founder of the Chatsworth, Calif., Company, which sells computer components by mail, says Priority 1's "weakest links" had always been order flow and inventory control. So Kline heeded the advice of his banker, a graduate of Brigham Young University (BYU), when he recommended a BYU graduate program that sends students to businesses as consultants and charges only travel expenses.
Kline contacted the school and agreed to fly three students and a faculty supervisor, Bill Sawaya, to Chatsworth last September. After the initial visit, the students outlined ways to speed up order flow and provide better information and control for orders and inventory.
"I already knew where our weaknesses were," says Kline, "but having a third party made it easier to convince my people that we needed to implement change."
Kline estimates that BYU students' systems have resulted in savings of about $100,000 a year. "Even more important," he adds, "is the improved customer service we offer when we turn out orders four times faster."
Since 1978, BYU students have worked with small businesses both at home in Provo, Utah, and as far afield as Corning, N.Y. Although many graduate schools of business do not have specific programs to assist small companies, it's worth checking with various schools to discuss possible collaborative arrangements. To find out more about Brigham Young's program, contact Bill Giauque, 379 JKB, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602.