Business Students Consult for Real Estate Startup

Do you know what one of the biggest challenges facing business programs across the county is? It has challenged programs, faculty, and instructors for years, but the challenge of giving business students hands-on, real-world experience continues to this day.

“Business fields struggle to give students projects that provide hands-on experience, unlike STEM fields that have labs and opportunities for students to go out and conduct research,” shared Dr. Tracy Lawson, Instructor for the Hallmark School of Business. “There needs to be a mechanism in place where students can engage with local businesses to learn and gain real experience in their field.”

In the Hallmark School of Business, that mechanism is Hallmark Consulting Group (HCG). In HCG, businesses from the San Antonio community work with students to research, analyze, and strategize ways to target new consumers, resolve ongoing challenges, and more.

Hallmark Consulting Group

“HCG is a platform for students to engage with businesses in the area to give them that real-world experience. To bring businesses in and to share their knowledge, to tell students what they need to be successful and learn more than they would in the classroom.”

HCG Logo

Students present marketing strategies, website redesigns, social media plans, and more to businesses that partner with HCG, while companies give students valuable insight and experience from the industry. After learning about the program, Hallmark University Board of Trustees member Tim Lyles saw how Home Tax Shield, a new startup, could benefit from the unique program.

“When I got involved with Hallmark, I wasn’t aware that there was a real consulting group that gave students a new level of experience,” share Tim Lyles. “It was something that I’d never seen before, and I knew it would be a tremendous opportunity for students to work with Home Tax Shield.”

Home Tax Shield Partnership

Home Tax Shield helps homeowners reduce their taxes by protesting the over-inflated valuation and tax rates of their homes, reducing the amount owed to the correct amount while simplifying the entire process. The company is geared toward new growth, driven by its goal to help homeowners throughout Texas.

“The team at Home Tax Shield is relatively small and focused on building out the platform,” shared Tim Lyles. “When you announce a new product or service, you must know your market and your target audience, or else you won’t be able to reach them. Narrowing down on our target audience and learning how to reach them were important questions that were great for Hallmark Consulting Group.”

Tim presented the idea to Home Tax Shield’s CEO Craig Hancock, detailing how the company would profit from the information that students in Hallmark Consulting Group presented at their project’s end.

“I’ve worked with universities on projects before, but the Hallmark Consulting Group concept was fascinating,” Shared Craig Hancock. “The program is organized like an actual consulting firm, which I think is especially great from the perspective of business students getting to learn and even execute plans to create real value.”

Tim and Craig met with faculty from the Hallmark School of Business, presenting students’ the opportunity to consult directly for Home Tax Shield and help them with their plans geared for growth.

“Once we met with Craig to discuss his company’s needs, we outlined new projects for our students,” shared Dr. Tracy Lawson. “In the first phase, we tasked students with leading a feasibility study for expansion into new markets and possible avenues of growth. In the second phase, we were looking at it as an action plan to target new clients, how to reach homeowners, and to formulate a strategy to execute.”

Presenting New Data and Strategies

Students worked with just enough information to know how to move forward independently, organize their strategies, gather original data, and return with an actionable plan based on the knowledge they gained.

“The findings that students presented to us were based on data that can’t be found anywhere else,” shared Craig Hancock. “No one else has access to it since students ran original consumer surveys, market research, and so on. It helped us to answer our questions, and they were able to give us precise advice on what we should pursue.”

The final project lent Home Tax Shield insight into the challenges they faced and opportunities to address them as they moved forward with their expansion plans.Student Presentation

“We underestimated how much of an awareness problem property taxes are for homeowners, as a lot of them don’t know that they can take action on their taxes. It was a big chunk of learning they brought to the table, and it has been very eye-opening. It’s affected our marketing, messaging, and really our approach to everything.”

Home Tax Shield gained new consumer data, targeting strategies, and more from the project, while students gained experience and understanding by immersing themselves in the role of business consultants.

The Outcome for Business Students

“Projects in HCG give our students experience as though they are real consultants,” shared Dr. Tracy Lawson. “They work hand-in-hand with companies to learn about their business, conduct research, and give back actionable advice. It’s something that students can put on their resume when they graduate because this is real-world experience that you don’t get at other business schools.”

Kilwins OwnerHallmark’s students get the experience and insight missing in other business schools, giving them a level of understanding and expertise that employers look for in employees.

“What we’re doing with Hallmark Consulting Group is making it so that when students graduate and go out into the field, they’ll be asked by companies what university they went to. They’ll get to say Hallmark University, and employers will go, ‘oh yeah, we know that university. Come on in, and let’s talk.”

Hallmark University continues to expand on new exercises and opportunities for students and businesses to work with one another. Learn more about Hallmark Consulting Group and previous projects by clicking here.