McDonald’s Corp. Holds National Hiring Day

May 9, 2011 by · Comments Off 

BEYOND THE BUBBLE

By Meredith Carlton
mcarlton@smu.edu

Juan Hernandez seems like a typical McDonald’s employee. He knows the fast paced environment of the company, interacts well with others and has memorized the regulars’ orders. However, this wasn’t always the case.

“I’m not a fast food person,” Hernandez, who works for a McDonald’s in Irving, said. “I just knew the basics, McDonald’s and the happy meal.”

Hernandez applied for a job at the fast food giant in Irving in July 2010, but within four months, he had worked his way up to a crew trainer position. Now thousands of other people may get the same shot.

McDonald’s Corp. held its first national hiring day on April 19, hoping to hire 50,000 new employees across the United States. In an effort to keep up with increased business and new menu additions that require more employees, they felt this was the perfect opportunity.

Behind the counter at McDonald's. (PHOTO BY MEREDITH CARLTON / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

“The reason we’re doing this is because we want to staff our restaurants,” Mike Ray, the director of operations for the greater Southwest and Houston regions, said. “To be able to continue to grow the business, we need great people in our restaurants.”

The Dallas/Fort-Worth area McDonald’s were hoping to hire between 1,200-1,400 new employees, officials said. Although specific numbers on the area are not yet available, Nicole Neal, McDonald’s communications manager for the Greater Southwest Region, said the region, comprised of North Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and parts of Northwest Arkansas, received more than 31,000 applications, conducted more than 23,000 interviews and hired 2,979 new managers and crew.

However, the number of hires per store would be based on each store’s staffing needs analysis, which tells owners how many employees they need to hire based on their turnover and the current number of staff members.

Ray started his employment at McDonald’s 25 years ago as a security manager for the Southeast United States and the Caribbean. Since then, he’s had the opportunity to go into an accelerated management program and ended in the position he holds today.

The McDonald’s at 8435 North Belt Line Road in Irving was just one of many McDonald’s across the country that held a special hiring day.

Hernandez, a crew trainer at the restaurant, and his black-shirted counterparts across the nation are responsible for making sure new crewmembers know the proper protocol and procedures of the restaurant. These positions are vital to McDonald’s success, teaching employees things such as how to keep the kitchen clean and deliver a fresh meal in less than 90 seconds.

As summer approaches, Hernandez and other crew trainers typically have a handful of employees to take under their wing. This usually happens at different times throughout the country, but this year things have changed because of the hiring day.

Texas has kept its unemployment rate at or below the national rate for the last few years, during the worst of the recession, and the economy appears to be slowly recovering. In March, the state’s unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, down .1 percent from February and .7 percent below the national rate. Because of this, McDonald’s jobs are believed to be beneficial to the area.

“We have such a diverse and competent work force,” Herbert Gears, mayor of Irving, said in an interview. He visited the Irving McDonalds on the national hiring day to promote the hiring and to give the restaurant an award. “We’re known for that, which is part of the reason why we’re the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country.”

However, according to Dr. Dale Boisso, SMU adjunct economics professor, unemployment is especially high for persons with less than a college education and those older (40+) who have been laid off. He believes the jobs are a double-edged sword.

“Some jobs are better than none,” he said. “However, it is unfortunate our economy seems to be generating low-skill work, regression into a service-oriented verses a manufacturing economy.”

Others believe the jobs are marketed to a certain group of people.

“Most of these jobs will go to people who are just starting in the labor force,” Dr. Nathan Balke, SMU professor of economics, said. “This is a very important time in their labor market careers.”

According to CNNMoney.com, the average salary for these 50,000 jobs is $8.30, a little above the federal minimum wage of $7.25. If all 50,000 people were hired as fulltime positions, it would put about $863 million into the hands of people that may be currently making less or, nothing at all.

“Just based on those raw numbers, that’s an additional billion dollars into the economy on an annual basis, and that’s just McDonald’s,” said Simon Mak, SMU adjunct lecturer and assoc. director of the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship.

“I anticipate that employment growth will start picking up,” Balke said. “Maybe this is a signal of what’s happening.”

Stories like Ray’s and Hernandez’s of working up the hiring ladder aren’t uncommon. Officials said 75 percent of managers and 50 percent of all owner/operators at McDonald’s started as crew members. Even Jan Fields, McDonald’s own president, started as a crewmember.

Critics have said hiring 50,000 people in one day could only mean one thing—a publicity stunt—but Jeffrey Smith, owner and operator of four Texas locations, said the sales tell it all.

“Our sales dictate that for us to be able to meet the needs of our customers, we have to hire more people.”

Although some might believe a potential job for these 50,000 people, will be just that, Hernandez knows it ends up to be more.

“Some people think I do it just because I need the money,” he said. “But I just like it.”

Facebook Facts: How Social Networking is Taking Over

February 27, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Logan May
ljmay@smu.edu

As college students sit in class, most of them can be seen checking their friends’ statuses, looking at new pictures from the weekend, or responding to an event invitation.

Facebook is everywhere – on laptops, cell phones, and it even made its premier as a feature film movie in The Social Network. As the social networking site becomes more popular, people everywhere are quickly making it their homepage and go-to site for information.

“Sometimes I get on Facebook and two hours later I forgot what I logged on for,” SMU graduate student Neely Stoller says.

Facebook currently has over 500 million active users who spend a total of 700 billion minutes per month on the networking site. America currently leads the number of users list with almost 150 million users, followed by Indonesia with roughly 35 million users.

The average Facebook user may spend more time on the networking site than they think. On average, users spend more than 55 minutes a day browsing the site. Some more Facebook averages: 130 friends per user, 8 friend requests per month, and 25 comments on Facebook content each month.

Although Facebook was initially intended to target college students, more than 1.5 million local businesses have active pages. Summer Burke, Web Presence Professional, uses Facebook on behalf of businesses to promote fan interaction within companies. At the end of 2010, Google changed the way they rank pages on their results page. Instead of just looking at keywords, they are looking at social interaction and business’ reputations.

“Facebook is a great place to publicize upcoming events and to let fans get a more personal look inside a business,” Burke says.

Barbara Morganfield, SMU Education Senior Lecturer, has developed a Facebook group for her students to use throughout the semester.

“I wanted students to have a way to go beyond what was assigned in class and begin to look for issues that were of interest to them and to have a place to share that information,” Morganfield says.

Facebook provides students the opportunity to put down the pencil and paper and interact with their peers. Morganfield adds that the site allows quick feedback on homework, discussions, and lectures.

Within the last year, Facebook has rapidly expanded. Between 2010 and 2011, total users has jumped 42.4 percent from 103 million to 146 million. Female users make up 55 percent of the site, with males trailing at 43.4 percent.

The 18 to 24-year-old demographic has made a huge jump in active users since 2010 with a 74.1 percent increase. So why is the site expanding at such a rapid rate? The desire to keep in touch is what attracts people, along with the “need to connect and socialize,” says Morganfield. Even the 55 and older demographic have increased by almost 59 percent from 2010. Grandparents are now joining the site to see pictures of their grandchildren who may live in a different state. What used to take days to send, now takes a click of the mouse.

“Now, with a lot of my friends getting married, it’s really easy to create groups to exchange addresses and make event invitations really quickly, and for free,” Burke says.

Facebook is everywhere; and with smart phones, Facebook mobile users are twice as active as non-mobile users. There are over 200 mobile operators in 60 countries promoting the use of Facebook. With numbers like that, it is no wonder people are constantly using their phones.

While there are many benefits to using Facebook, such as networking, sharing ideas, and staying connected, there are some downfalls to the site. If more and more college students are using the site, that could mean less time spent on academics. People may be checking Facebook on their phones while driving and could cause an accident. Children could be playing outside with their friends, but instead they are sitting at the computer for hours at a time.

A Facebook fact that many parents may fear: Drugs are the highest rated public interest on the site. In 2010, a mere 28,000 users exchanged drug- related posts. Now, over 355,000 users are talking drugs. Sex and Rock and Roll trail drugs for the next top interests.

Technology is a powerful tool that is a huge part of day-to-day life. Facebook continues to expand every day with more and more online opportunities for its users. It is no wonder millions of Americans are addicted to the social networking site.

Low Fares Even Lower? Southwest Airlines and AirTran Merge

November 2, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Liz Collinsworth
lcollinswo@smu.edu

Southwest Airlines entered its biggest acquisition ever with the announcement of its merger with AirTran on September 27. Southwest has agreed to acquire its smaller low-fare rival for $1.4 billion in cash and stock. The merger will add 37 new destinations to Southwest’s network, for a total of 100 including a hub in Atlanta and the introduction of international flights.

According to the Spreading Low Fares Farther website, a site developed by Southwest to inform public about the merger, the deal will mean a first ever hub in Atlanta for Southwest, the addition of business markets such as New York La Guardia, Washington Reagan, and Boston Logan, the opportunity to serve smaller markets, and Southwest’s first time access to international destinations.

The merger is currently subject to approval of U.S. Department of Justice regulators and AirTran stockholders. Following approval, Southwest and AirTran plan to integrate within two years.

While Southwest says the deal will mean an expansion of its low-fare approach, critics say it may end up costing passengers—and employees.

According to “Southwest Airlines-AirTran Merger Details,” a blog on stockbloghub.com, “The merger may result in increase in fares, elimination of jobs and might pose major challenges to carriers, especially American Airlines.”

“Gary Kelly of Southwest Airlines is quite adamant that the merger won’t reduce jobs or, by itself, raise fares. He qualifies his statement by noting that cost pressures are forcing Southwest and other airlines to raise fares to cover their higher costs,” said Terry Maxon, airline writer for the The Dallas Morning News.

George Hobica of airfarewatchdog.com believes that the merger will eliminate jobs.

“Some employees will lose their jobs, mainly in functions such as PR, marketing, advertising, procurement, etc. But I doubt many pilots, flight attendants, baggage handlers and so forth will lose jobs, unless the economy takes a turn for the worse,” said Hobica.

Southwest estimates that this deal will provide flyers with the opportunity to save hundreds of millions of dollars annually on airfares. Hobica disagrees with Southwest’s claim, noting that AirTran was already a heavy discounter. Maxon, however, believes that this claim is dependent upon what terms it is based on.

“If the claims are based on what Southwest will charge compared to what AirTran charges, it is hard to make that case. If Southwest is basing the claim on the idea that many more travelers will be exposed to its fares that at present do not have access to Southwest or AirTran fares, its case is stronger,” said Maxon.

Maxon also noted that Southwest does not impose secondary charges such as baggage fees and reservation change fees while AirTran has embraced such fees.

“Between April 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, AirTran collected $189 million in bag fees alone. All other things being equal, its passengers would have paid $189 million less to travel on Southwest because Southwest doesn’t charge for the first or second checked bag,” said Maxon.

Laura Wright, Southwest’s chief financial officer, believes that, once the merger is completed, Southwest’s annual savings will exceed $400 million by the year 2013.

“The combined revenue for the two companies for the 12 months ended June 30, 2010, was $13.7 billion. To put it into perspective, $400 million of net synergies would equate to approximately 3% of the combined companies’ 12 months ended June 30, 2010 top line revenues,” Wright said in a September 27 analyst call.

Despite an increase in fuel costs and remaining economic struggle for airlines, Southwest has maintained revenue growth. Southwest ended its previous quarter with operating income of $363 million, a 195.1 percent increase from the same period last year, and net income of $112 million, a 23.1 percent increase from last year.

These increases are a result of more efficient operations, an increase in passengers, and better management of operating expenses. Competitor American Airlines generated a 16 percent increase in operating revenue last quarter and its net loss shrank to $10.7 million from $390 million from the same quarter a year ago.

Observers predict that the merger will threaten competitors. Hobica believes the merger will “cause some heartburn over at Delta headquarters,” and that “Delta may have to rethink the fees for bags, etc. on flights to/through/from Atlanta.”

A report released by Soleil Securities predicts a “more profitable deployment of flights to a broader to a broader range of destinations that will have some negative impact of DAL (Delta Airlines).”

J.P. Morgan, on the other hand, issued an airline industry report on September 28 claiming that “Delta (is) not uniquely threatened,” by the merger.

VIDEO: Rise in Entrepreneurship in a Down Economy

March 5, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Courtney O’Callaghan
cocallagha@smu.edu

Read more

Campus News Blog: Getting the Most Out of Social-networking Sites

October 4, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Posted by Gwen Sullivan

How much is too much?

For many of us, social networking sites are part of our daily routine. Checking in with friends and uploading photos is all in a days work for the average college student, but how do we know when we are spending too much time on Facebook or Twitter?

According to “Making Social-networking service work for you,” written by Cindy Krischer Goodman, depending on how these sites play a role in your life is how the should be used.

It is important to figure out what you goal is for these sites. If it is to stay connected with friends and family around the country, then limiting yourself to allotted amounts of time after homework and other obligations are taken care of is probably a good idea.

If Facebooking is your guilty pleasure, there are ways to motor your time! By using Leechblock, a Mozilla Firefox plug-in, you can set time limits for yourself and block websites on certain computers.

But for students and employees that use social networking as a means of broadcasting or making connections with future employers, then signing on through out the day isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Students who use social networking sites to stay on top on current events and exchange knowledge with other students in their fields of interest are building relationships and taking advantage of what these sites have to offer.

If those who want more than Facebook and Twitter, blogger Alyssa Gregory suggests 20 other social-networking sites to use to get connected to the business world.

Business News: Pier 1 Imports Closes Stores and Reports Loss

April 28, 2009 by · Comments Off 

By Amanda Mervine
amervine@smu.edu

Pier 1 Imports, the Fort Worth based home furnishings company, joined the parade of retailers reporting a gloomy Christmas. It reported a loss for the fourth fiscal quarter, ending February 28, as well as its plan to close up to 80 of its stores.

The losses amounted to $29 million compared with its profitable fourth quarter of 2007 when its earnings amounted to $14 million. The company reported that total sales for the fourth quarter fell 11 percent to $389 million from $437 million in the year-ago quarter.

The company’s comparable store sales–or sales in stores open a year or more, considered an important measure or retail performance, fell 9.7 percent. Pier 1 blames its losses on the markdown of the price of its merchandise hurting its margins.

Merchandise margins for the company fell to 44.3 percent compared to the 48.1 percent margins it experienced in its year-ago quarter. The company attributes its margin losses to its aggressive clearance of merchandise as the company 1 was forced to manage its inventory level in order to decreased levels of sales.

Total inventory in the fourth quarter amounted to $316 million compared to an inventory of $412 million last year. The company reported that its decrease in inventory was due to management’s continued focus on estimating the appropriate level of purchases.

The company reported that in anticipation of continued economic uncertainty its management would continue to take a conservative approach to merchandise purchases, expense planning, and capital expenditures.

Some of Pier 1’s closest competitors, such as Pottery Barn and William-Sonoma Home, are owned by William-Sonoma. William-Sonoma reported a 90 percent drop in profits during its fourth quarter; along with Pier 1 it has experienced massive layoffs and several store closings.

Pier 1 Imports, William-Sonoma, and other home-goods retailers have experienced severe fourth quarter losses due to the recession and weak housing market.

In an effort to cut its spending on rent the company reported on February 3, 2009 that it had hired an outside firm to negotiate with its landlords. Due to these negotiations Pier 1 has terminated leases on 14 stores and has closed two additional stores for which rental reduction negotiations were not reached.

As a result of these negotiations the company has achieved about $5 million to date in savings for fiscal 2010. It is estimated to close roughly 80 of its 1,092 stores this year.

Although Pier 1 Imports experienced a loss in the fourth quarter it also reported that $79 million of its outstanding senior notes were purchased by a foreign subsidiary of the company, which resulted in a decrease of its debt.

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