Gordon Macklin talked about the importance of “failing forward”, referring to people trying their best but when they fail, making sure the failure is a learning experience that will make them better in the future. This is one reason he believed so strongly in the experimental nature of the MBI program, and it is why the MBI Café has developed into the flagship component of the MBI experience.
The Macklin Business Institute Café (MBI Café) is a student-run “We Proudly Serve Starbucks ®” on the Montgomery College Rockville campus. The MBI Café opened for business in the summer of 2003 and since its inception, each class of MBI students has been charged with helping make management and operational decisions that will positively impact the success of the MBI Café.
The MBI Café offers an experiential learning opportunity that is consistent with the MBI program goals in that students learn the tools necessary to develop and challenge their entrepreneurial spirits. MBI students are required to participate in various operational aspects of the MBI Café by contributing five (5) hours of service learning each week.
These hours are focused in various roles such as the Accounting, Marketing, and Operation areas. Students participate in teams and are to create, develop and implement strategies in order to improve the overall financial performance of the business. A description of the respective team responsibilities are as follows:
- Accounting/Finance – Team members are responsible for maintaining proper inventory levels, ordering product and supplies from the appropriate vendors, preparing a break-even analysis to assess viability of proposed promotions, and conducting end of the month inventory counts for use in preparing financial statements.
- Marketing – Team members must develop and implement other short and long term promotions that increase awareness of and traffic to the MBI Café in order to increase revenues. This may include developing cross promotions with other clubs/departments on campus, introducing new and seasonal products, or creating “tie-in” promotions with significant events.
- Operations – Team members are responsible for working at least one (1) shift in the Café as a Barista or Cashier, identify employee workplace issues, train new employees, and oversee the implementation of promotions and/or new business procedures.
In addition to those practical business skills, students also learn the importance of communication within and between units for an operation to be successful. This is an invaluable experience no matter what career path they choose.