Students rate restaurants on cleanliness, friendliness

Reporter and Reporter

If you’ve ever received bad service at a local restaurant, then College Student Insights will work on having your voice heard.

College Student Insights is the first student-run market research firm on campus sending out surveys about local restaurants to get student feedback.

Ali Rieger, the company’s project director, said it will provide data collected from the surveys taken by college students and sell this data to restaurants, Residence Life, and University Athletics. The firm is looking to help out local businesses by finding out what the typical consumer responses are from local students.

“We are trying to find out what it is they are lacking… is it the cleanliness of the business, or is it the customer service… in order to improve their business,” Rieger said.

In order to start their research the firm used an online database, Qualtrics, which is helping it create and distribute the surveys. The program will also help Rieger and others analyze their data.

“This week our survey will be distributed to 9,000 undergraduates via email… we are currently focusing on fast foods and have two surveys going out… one for quick service and one for full service such as Easy Street Cafe,” Rieger said.

The way the surveys are conducted is that students will either get the quick service or full service survey and then pick out which restaurants they have patronized in the past three months, the company’s president Rachel Dyas said. They will then be asked to rate restaurants in terms of cleanliness, service, employee friendliness and more aspects.

Once the firm has examined its results, it will send out a report to local businesses showing the business’s ranking in comparison to other businesses, in hopes of selling the results to them. The money gained from the results sold to businesses will be used to start a scholarship fund at the University, Rieger said.

“We have legitimate data that these businesses need, so why would we give them the results for free, when we can raise money and support a scholarship so that kids can realize that this is something they can be a part of,” Rieger said.

There are two aspects to College Student Insights: customer satisfaction and living labs, Dyas said. In Fall 2012 the firm will use three floors of a residence hall dedicated to a “living lab” where students who live on those floors will participate in trying out new products and foods and then providing feedback for more data.

“If Pizza Hut is coming up with a new advertisement or logo and they can get student opinions on which they would look at first,” Dyas said.

The College of Business is trying to make such on-campus research a replacement for the cap-stone course — something necessary for graduation, Rieger said. The reason for this is because it allows for real-life experience and using techniques from marketing classes.

“It took a while for us to conduct this because we had to come up with a business plan, a strategy and so much more… we also have board members and board member meetings… we won’t settle for anything less than perfect,” Rieger said.

In addition, the company is looking for funding from sponsors in order to have a grand prize of an iPad, a second-place prize of $100 gift card and a third-place prize of a $50 gift card, Dyas said. Everyone who takes the survey will get entered into a drawing for the prizes. The prizes will be distributed after the results have been gathered, taking approximately two to three weeks, Dyas said.

Graduate student Chris Lorenzen, who’s the manager of business development and sales, said any businesses in the city has to rely on the student body as its customer-base, and the research that College Student Insights will offer them will be at a discounted price compared to other companies, but the quality will still be the same.

“It’s important for students to know that this is their opportunity to get their voice heard… we may be handing out iPads and other great goodies… but this is a great place to have their opinion implemented,” Lorenzen said.