Cleveland (5895)

Friday, 19 July 2002 06:28

Going the extra mile

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In these uncertain economic times, many sales and marketing people are growing increasingly frustrated over the ambivalence of prospects and customers.

Despite strong consultative sales efforts, many sales professionals are finding it takes more time and effort to close business. Even more frustrating are prospects who express remorse over or simply reject customized solutions they helped to define. While buyer anxiety over the economy is increasingly the cause, what is the answer?

If a prospect is not convinced that your solution will work, why not warranty the product or offer a service agreement to ensure results? While this is nothing new for capital goods and software products, most any product or service can be warranted or guaranteed through a service contract.

Why would it make good sense for you business to offer a warranty or service agreement?

  • It represents an opportunity for you to eliminate a perceived or real element of risk in the minds of your customers or clients. This will be particularly attractive to managers oversensitive to meeting company objectives and minimizing their personal career risk.

  • In a downsizing world, fewer internal resources can be used to ensure the job gets done. Outsourcing is often a likely consequence to cost cutting.

  • If priced correctly, service and warranty contracts are profitable. It is more difficult to compare and price shop agreements than products or services.

    What parts of your product or service can be delivered through a warranty or a service agreement?

    Almost any business, from a consumable or durable product to an intangible service, can be covered. The key is to be creative and break down what you sell in the eyes of what the customer or client is buying.

  • Delivery. When, in what form, within what time frame and with how much notice? For example, the challenge of food service is not having food ready, it is having it properly presented in quantities that match quirky appetites.

  • Performance and output. How will the product or service meet the defined need, to what standard, with what outcome, through whose cooperation or involvement? For example, can you commit to your product or service being available 24/7/365?

  • Acts of God: Standard insurance policies cover many of these, but how can you be creative? If Ohio can have an earthquake, what else could happen?

  • The unforeseen. We all laugh at how quirky life can be, even when it comes to routine tasks. Somebody must have insured (and profited) from Tiger Woods' cataract operation. The bigger the downside, the bigger the opportunity.

As with anything new, there are pitfalls. Here are a few worth considering:

  • You are now in the service business. This may be very different from how you operated before. You own the problem long after you have booked the sale.

  • You must deliver to the letter and in the spirit of your customers' expectations

  • You are financially exposed in a new way. Be sure you cover your risks

The bottom line is that selling warranties and service agreements in an uncertain economy can be a real source of salvation for you and your customers. As with all new businesses, if you set, agree on and meet reasonable expectations, success will be yours. Andy Birol (abirol@pacerassociates.com) is president of PACER Associates Inc., a Solon-based firm that provides expert advice to owners and leaders who need to grow their businesses. He can be reached at (440) 349-1970 or at www.pacerassociates.com.

Friday, 19 July 2002 06:23

Giving credit

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Helping employees increase their take-home pay can be a significant piece of your employee retention program. As tax time draws near, consider educating your staff about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Advanced Earned Income Tax Credit (AEITC).

Developed in 1975 as a welfare-to-work incentive, EITC is a refundable tax credit that supplements the earnings of low-income workers. More than 18 million taxpayers received EITC in 1997, and an estimated 15 million employees are eligible for the AEITC.

EITC

To qualify for EITC, an employee must meet six criteria, including a threshold of $2,400 in investment income and earned income of $31,152. Earned income is defined as (but is not limited to) wages, salaries, tips and salary reductions as a result of participation in retirement or insurance plans.

As an employer, your participation is easy: Notify employees who have no income tax withheld that they may be able to claim a tax refund because of the EITC.

The IRS encourages employers to notify any employees who claim exemption from withholding or have wages less than $10,380 for a single employee, $27,413 for a custodial parent and $31,152 for the guardian of more than one dependent child, that they may be eligible to claim the credit for 2000.

AEITC

Employees can receive part of the credit in their paycheck if they qualify for EITC for the year instead of waiting for the lump sum at the end of the year. The payments are called advance EITC payments and can increase a minimum wage employee take-home pay significantly.

"Only 1 percent of people that are eligible for the earned income credit actually activate it in their paychecks, and typically that is going to be (more than) a dollar an hour raise to your employee," explains Bethany Davin, director of a local welfare-to-work program.

For an employee earning minimum wage, the increase could translate into more than $100 a month.

To qualify, income must be less than $28,000 and recipients must be the guardian or parent of a qualifying child. A qualifying child means any child cared for, including an employee's own child, step-child, foster or adopted children, grandchildren and/or any child placed with the employee.

Have eligible employees fill out a W-5, which you keep on file. AEITC payments are made directly to the employees from the employment taxes normally deposited or sent to the IRS. For more information, contact the IRS at (800) 829-3676 or visit www.irs.gov.

Kim Palmer (kpalmer@sbnnet.com) is managing editor of SBN Magazine.

Friday, 19 July 2002 06:11

Influence with ease

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The cold call is a hard fact of doing business. Few people like them but they're a part of every sales strategy.

If your sales team is having trouble with cold calls, consider changing your approach.

Odds are, you're beginning your calls as if you already know the person you're talking to. Instead, when making a business call to a stranger, try this: "Hi, Jane, my name's so-and-so. We haven't met yet. The reason I'm calling is ... "

The key is that you point out that you haven't met yet.

People often receive calls from strangers who take the opposite approach. They don't introduce themselves and instead fake familiarity by asking, "How are you?" This annoys the person being called because it sounds insincere and wastes their time. Jeff Mowatt (jmowatt@attglobal.net) is a 20-year veteran of the service industry who develops training programs and consults to business owners looking to improve their staff's service. He can be reached at (800) 566-9288.

Friday, 19 July 2002 06:08

Peer review

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CWP Inc. general manager Ronald Varesco was drafting a revision to his company's employee screening policy.

Mired in the details and overall legal issues, he told the office staff of his growing bristled brush manufacturing company to call several other West Side manufacturers and find out about their policies. The research paid off.

"That's how we formulated our policy," Varesco says. "Everybody's in the same boat, fighting the same issues."

A business kinship developed among these manufacturers, culminating in the Learners Groups. The Learners Group is the brainchild of the Westside Industrial Retention & Expansion Network (WIRE-Net) and consists of groups made up of CEOs, presidents and general managers who meet once a month at each other's plants to see operations and discuss issues facing small manufacturers.

Holly Harlan, manufacturing assistance program leader for WIRE-Net, says the idea for the Learners Groups took hold after the first plant tour in 1996.

"I couldn't get them to stop talking after they toured the plant," Harlan says. "They were comparing notes and discussing improvements, and we kind of looked at each other and said, 'I think we've got something here.'"

Some company owners are suspicious of the Learners Groups, fearing a competitor will find out trade secrets. Those concerns are allayed after they learn the 10 groups, made up of 34 companies, are split up so no close competitors are in the same group.

"There's not a lot of competitors out there," Harlan says. "With today's market place everybody's kind of going after their own niche."

Here are some of the benefits of the group meetings.

Learning from experience

Consultants and experts are not allowed in the Learners Groups, only decision-makers who are actually running a plant. The exclusive membership is one the group's drawing points.

"There's a real impact when they look at somebody else's operation," Harlan says. "If they can see their neighbor has a new idea started over there, they will pick it up much faster, and it's going to be so much easier to implement."

Each year, five groups tour each other's plants and discuss each other's operations; the other five groups meet to focus on specific issues, such as attraction and retention of employees, plant maintenance, writing training plans and productivity skills.

Sharing resources

The groups weren't formed so that company owners could sell to one another, but new business opportunities are inevitable. In some cases, an owner might recommend a supplier or a customer in the market for another company's product.

More important, CEOs and managers establish a network of contacts they can call on if an issue arises in their plant.

"It's kind of created a business community," Harlan says. "A lot of the time, a general manager is alone, meaning he's the only one making the big decisions. Now he can compare his thought process and decisions with others, and I think it gives them more confidence."

Supporting the industry

While the companies involved in the Learners Groups may independently benefit from the lessons learned, keeping the the overall manufacturing industry in Cleveland competitive is the real motivating force.

"If you're not the low-cost producer, your industry is going to end up in Mexico or a Third World country," Varesco says. "Cleveland, like some other places, would have to pack it in. The strength of this city is dependent on its small manufacturing base.

"I think that's the issue. I think that's what we're trying to do." How to reach: WIRE-Net, (216) 631-7330; CWP Inc., (216) 252-1190

Morgan Lewis Jr. (mlewis@sbnnet.com) is a reporter at SBN Magazine.

Friday, 19 July 2002 06:03

Working in vampire time

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The modern-day businessperson faces pressures similar to those experienced by Jonathan Harker in Bram Stoker's "Dracula."

While you may not have an evil creature of the night thirsty for blood breathing down your neck, you feel mental and physical exhaustion during a typical workday. You -- and your employees -- face numerous challenges that you can sink your teeth into.

But when complications arise due to conflict, global competition and cross-cultural communication, many people experience a loss of time, energy and effectiveness.

This stress is linked to our shifting experience of time in the Internet Age. Time is a vampire. And we can all learn lessons in effective time management from Gothic horror tales.

What is your blood?

Vampires feed on the essence that sustains life. Before you can figure out what drains you, list what you lose to time. To find out your blood, go to the source -- what you hold as valuable in your heart.

What is the lifeblood of your organization? Whether a mission, vision, product or service, something flows through your workplace that sustains your business. How does time impact this?

Why do you return?

The seductive power of vampires often causes victims to return again and again against their will. What tasks and environments have moved beyond the routine to consume you with boredom and stress?

Identify what benefits you receive from returning. Often, the fear we know is more comforting than the fear we refuse to face.

How were you bitten?

Vampires' victims must willingly cross the threshold to enter the castle or tomb. You may feel you have always been stressed, but take a moment to identify when you first entered the time that drains you.

Know the history of your company, as well. Have the same patterns occurred to the detriment of your business goals?

Who is your stakeholder?

Knowing this can help you identify sources of strength as you combat that which drains you. Build trust and seek the guidance of people who can help you with their experience and expertise.

Stakes can also be tools that you can use, such as technology, to help manage time. But beware. Like a wooden wedge that misses the vampire's heart, misguided use of technology can actually put you at greater risk for losing the battle to time.

When are you free?

One challenge to facing vampires is to know when they no longer have power over you. Sometimes the fear of success, of managing your time, can be as overwhelming as the fear of failure.

Be prepared for new difficulties that may arise as you get closer to finding your freedom.

What can you do to fend off the vampires? Try these three exercises:

A day of stress. Tense your whole body, from eyebrows to toes, and hold while you count out seven seconds, then relax. What did you notice? Do different parts of your body hold stress?

Relax in the moment. Inhale to a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, exhale to a count of four and hold your breath again for a count of four. This technique can help bring about calmness.

Find your free time. Think of a situation when you felt confident, successful or at peace. It can be a personal or professional accomplishment or even a special vacation spot.

Close your eyes and spend seven seconds in that memory. How does that change your stress level?

As you take small steps to renew your strength and vitality, you may see new opportunities for productive and healthy time. And, you will be free from the curse of deadly time.

Todd Packer (toddpacker@usa.net) is a Shaker Heights-based consultant. He can be reached at (216) 752-6926.

Friday, 19 July 2002 05:59

Money smarts

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I am having a difficult time getting an entrepreneur to understand that it takes more than just terrific technology and product salesmanship to raise capital.

His company is selling product, but he needs significant new capital to really impact the market. He is an outstanding salesman, but he resists accepting that it takes two types of sales to be successful in raising capital.

To get revenue, you must sell your product or service to customers. To get funding, you must sell the money-making capabilities of your company to capital sources. The two sales are completely different because what you are selling is completely different.

Product sale to customers is based on providing a product or service that fills a need of the purchaser. The sale is greatly influenced by value, the need filled, quality, service, pricing and marketing. These factors are common whether you sell technology or a traditional packaged good such as food or paper towels.

Your competitors are other companies selling mostly similar products to the same general clientele. There is some product differentiation and competition is within an industry, e.g., Nokia vs. Motorola cell phones, or General Mills vs. Kellogg breakfast cereals.

In the product marketplace, buyers may be slightly interested in your company. But it is the product or service for which they are paying, and that is what you are selling.

When you go to raise capital, you must still make a sale, but you are not selling a product or service. You are selling the ability of your company to make money. To do that, you must show that you have a marketable product or service, significant market size, proven management team and other attributes that translate into your company making a lot of money.

Buyers (capital sources) will be interested in your product, but only in regard to how you will make money. It is the company for which they are paying.

The business of capital is money. The bottom lines of a technology company and a food manufacturer are expressed in identical terms: profit and loss. Capital is not in the software, hardware, packaged goods or automobile business; capital is in the money business, and there are innumerable products and services that can generate revenue, profitability and growth.

When business owners go to the capital market, they sell their current financial state and outlook for future success.

When you raise angel or venture capital, you are in direct competition for that capital with all other companies trying to raise angel or venture funds, regardless of their product or service. You are also part of the entire capital industry and in competition with every other company that wants capital.

In the capital markets, Nokia and Kellogg -- two quite different companies -- are in competition with each other and, surprisingly, you. The size and risk of investment vehicles vary from government bonds to seed equity. Capital flows throughout, depending on risk and reward.

Naturally, you must have a product or service to sell in order to generate revenue. But your sell to capital is your company's ability to exploit the commercial value of its product or service. It is your company's ability to make money that is being judged, not merely the product. Sell your product to your customers but sell your company to capital sources. Erwin Bruder (ebruder@gordian.org) is president of The Gordian Organization, which provides business planning and structuring services to startup and growing companies. He can be reached at (216) 292-2271.

Friday, 19 July 2002 05:52

Mapping success

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Last year, Matt Kuenzel designed a Palm Pilot software application that he thought was a perfect match for people on the go.

The program, called Mapopolis (after the company's name, Mapopolis Inc.), allows users to plug in an address and have the destination pinpointed on a PDA-sized map. The software even designates nearby landmarks, like shops and restaurants.

Kuenzel offered the program free as a download from the Cleveland Heights-based company's Web site, where visitors could download maps of not only Cuyahoga County but also hundreds of other regions.

When he designed the software in early 2000, Kuenzel and his business partner, Darren Powell, believed advertising would be the key to generating revenue. But, as many Web-based firms discovered, ad revenue is not the solid business model legions of would-be paper millionaires once thought it would become. Kuenzel, like his Internet brethren, found no one was interested in advertising on the Palm.

The duo quickly changed the strategy and approached major fast food restaurants, asking them to pay a fee for inclusion on Mapopolis' maps. While the idea was sound, they learned that type of sales campaign required more manpower than they had.

"The 1999 business model was crashing all around us, " Powell says. "We decided that it probably wasn't a feasible idea, or sellable to VCs to raise money, so we had to change. Right now, we're maintaining our nimbleness and flexibility by not saying exactly how we're going to (generate revenue streams). It remains to be seen what the market will bear."

No matter what primary revenue model Powell and Kuenzel decide upon, one thing's for certain -- the two have the right pieces in place to build around.

Establish a targeted user base

Kuenzel and Powell pack some muscle when they talk to investors, thanks to a large user base which has already downloaded and is using the software. The Mapopolis Web site logs about 30,000 hits a day, with about 5,000 coming from unique users. They estimate that about 7,500 maps are downloaded each day.

They've also received positive recognition and validation in the press, despite almost no marketing. Recently, the software reviewing agency Two Cows gave Mapopolis a five cow rating, its highest, and Smart Money magazine recommended it in a recent issue.

Link with strategic partners

The duo inked a licensing agreement with Pocket Real Estate, a software company that offers handheld applications for Realtors. The real estate software includes a button that allows the user to tap into Mapopolis and display a map and the surrounding area. One realty company is already using the software.

Kuenzel and Powell are also working on a partnership with local police and fire departments and other emergency medical service providers to use Mapopolis to find the scene of an accident or incident. With those users in mind, Kuenzel designed the last version of the software to coordinate with Global Positioning System units.

"I think a lot of these departments are small," Kuenzel says. "Even a city like Cleveland Heights might not be able to explore all the technology issues."

They also plan partnerships with delivery companies, site engineering and logistics companies, and trucking and shipping companies.

"We're going to do certain integrations with applications, logistics and EMS," Powell says. "There are going to be charges associated with those."

Keep improving the product

Despite the rapidly growing popularity of Mapopolis, Kuenzel continually works on upgrades. The next version will feature a mini-browser to interpret HTML to integrate with other programs, and point-to-point driving directions.

The duo may also start including a subscription fee for a more high quality map library while still maintaining the free map database.

"We've gathered a pretty large community of users already," Powell says. "It's a good idea to continue to develop and enlarge the community. It's like the Windows mentality.

"If you get a lot of people used to using your product, it is certainly easier to integrate a charge because the user base is already there."

How to reach: Mapopolis, (216) 397-0590 or www.mapopolis.com

Morgan Lewis Jr. (mlewis@sbnnet.com) is a reporter at SBN Magazine.

Friday, 19 July 2002 05:47

Change is good

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Change in a business environment is natural, and, if managed the right way, can be beneficial.

Here are some quick tips to help you along the way:

Plan for change

Assume your company will replace roughly 20 to 30 percent its employees every year, and make contingency plans to lessen the impact. Some steps to ease the pain:

Always be in recruiting mode. Identify blue chip candidates, interview them, background check them, keep in touch about their availability.

Cross-train employees everywhere possible. As departments lose talent, other employees will need to pick up the slack, at least temporarily.

Budget for turnover and the training costs involved in making a new employee productive.

Document mission-critical processes, so new, untrained employees can step right in.

Outsource noncritical services. If it's not part of the core business, why do you want to be in that field? Let someone else manage turnover, benefits and other productivity-draining administrative tasks.

Welcome the benefits of turnover

With new employees come new ideas, new perspectives and new experience. Sometimes the needed push for a new system or production makeover is an idea from outside the way you do things.

New people are usually itching to prove what they can do in a new environment -- many times they bring an energy and drive that's needed to move a project, improvement or service forward.

Turnover can be motivational

Sometimes, companies become complacent, willing to accept unquestioningly what is done and why. An influx of new people can bring challenges to those corporate assumptions.

By creating an environment that welcomes critical thinking, you can boost creativity. And rewarding those willing to challenge assumptions and find a better way to do things serves notice to the clock-watchers that a new wind is blowing through the company, and they can fight it, sail with it or find another pond. Don Shadrake is vice president and CIO of The Reserves Network/The FocIS Group.

Friday, 19 July 2002 05:38

A good sport

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It happens all the time. Just when you find that perfect restaurant, little-known bar, great shop or favorite beer, the company goes out of business.

That's what happened to C. David Snyder, former owner of Realogic and now chairman and CEO of Snyder International Brewing Group LLC.

"I saw that Crooked River (Brewing Co.) was in bankruptcy," he says. "It happened to be the beer I drank. So, it seemed natural to help."

Consider it a dramatic change of direction for Snyder, who had spent his career working as a consultant with some of the top firms in the nation, including Arthur Andersen and Cooper & Lybrand. After that, he founded and sold two companies, and in the early '90s, launched Realogic, a local IT consulting firm.

Two weeks before Realogic was scheduled to go public, Snyder and his partners received a phone call that set in motion the changes.

"We got an offer, one of those offers you couldn't refuse," he says. "And it was time to sell."

The sale was supposed to allow Snyder time to relax, but instead, he found himself with too much time and some extra money in his pocket -- a dangerous combination for a man who had no plans to truly slow down, let alone retire.

"I'm one of those guys that will probably do something until the bitter end," he says.

Snyder may be wishing for that end to come sooner rather than later on Feb. 18, when he'll be the guest of honor at "An Evening of Good Sport Networking," a roast to raise funds for Junior Achievement.

Snyder agreed to the roast, presented by the Cleveland Crunch and sponsored by SBN Magazine because, "It's a worthy cause and it sounds like fun."

The event begins with a 3:05 p.m. Crunch game, followed by a cocktail hour from 6 to 7 p.m., then dinner and the roast at 7 p.m. Tickets are $250 a plate, $2,000 for a table of 10.

Snyder admits there's a difference between beer brewing and IT consulting.

"It is a different part of the brain," he says. "It is business-to-consumer and is different because now you have wholesalers and retailers that are selling your beer -- you don't control all of your revenue."

When Snyder assumed the reins of the faltering brewery, he brought with him time-tested business principles to turn it around. He retained most of the brew staff, but developed a new marketing plan and orchestrated a long-range plan for consolidation within the industry.

"You can't be a $1 million to $2 million brewery today and make any money," Snyder says. "It costs too much to run an ad or invest in infrastructure. That's why you are seeing a tremendous amount of consolidation. I had no idea at the time that we were going to get into the beer business. I saw what was happening with the consolidation and I thought it would be good for a roll-up strategy."

Over the past two-and-a-half years, Snyder's been in acquiring mode, snapping up Cincinnati's Hudephol/Schoenling Brewing -- maker of Little King's beer -- and buying a 51 percent stake in the Fredrick, Md.-based Fredrick Brewing Company, a public company known for brewing beer using hemp seeds.

But beer alone isn't enough to satisfy Snyder.

"I'm not a 40-hour-a-week guy," he says. "I could probably hold down a couple of jobs."

And that he does, but on his own terms. Snyder has invested in a number of technology firms nationwide, including Digital Atoms, which is headquartered in the Washington, D.C., area.

"With the exception of beer, it (technology and consulting) is really all I have done," he says. "I have developed a reputation for it, and there were a lot of people who were asking me to get back in. I had a lot of people twisting my arm."

Snyder's arm was twisted enough that he founded a technology consulting firm in Cleveland called Brulant, which means "hot" or "scorching" in French.

To Snyder, business is business, even when it involves the fast-moving world of technology.

"In some ways, it's changed a lot. But in some ways, it hasn't changed at all. It is still about relationships. Technology changes, but you still have to have good people running it."

Snyder says he's enjoying himself now more than he ever has, and he's become an integral part of the Crooked River creative team.

"I came up with Expansion Draft (beer), and it was a great seller for us," he says.

And, Snyder's helped draft slogans like the ones seen at Crunch games, where the side boards read: "Expiration date, born-on date, how about get a date?"

For Snyder, much like frequent product tastings, it's all part of the business.

"We have fun with it," he says. "It's only beer; you can't be too serious about it."

Beer and sports obviously go hand-in hand. Crooked River is involved with most major sporting events in Cleveland.

"People who like sporting events like beer," he says. "There is a lot of statistical evidence out there that says effectively (sporting events) are just a big bar. If you go to the baseball game, you will see people standing in line to get our beer while there is nobody in line to get the other beer."

Beer and sports may go together, but what about a Cleveland-owned beer company that has a stake in a Maryland company, and its relationship to a certain Baltimore football team?

When faced with the question of whether to sell Crooked River beer at the Baltimore Ravens' stadium, Snyder had to make a crucial decision.

"We had an opportunity to sell our beer at Ravens' field and we turned it down," he says. "That should tell you something. We did a deal with the Washington Redskins to sell beer. We sell a lot of beer at Camden Yards, and we were written up in the New York Times about that. But with the Ravens, I just can't do it."

So at least one thing is certain -- on Feb. 18, Snyder won't take any flack about selling out to the minions of Art Modell. How to reach: Snyder International Brewing, (216) 619-7424; Cleveland Crunch, (216) 896-1140

Kim Palmer (kpalmer@sbnnet.com) is managing editor of SBN Magazine.

Friday, 19 July 2002 05:32

Playing the restructuring game

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You need to increase your slumping sales record, so you invest in recruiting new employees with tremendous records at their previous companies.

However, when they join your firm, not only do sales decrease, but the new employees reveal discipline and performance problems. Worse, you've invested more money in this initiative than in any other in your company's history.

Welcome to the Cleveland Cavaliers Inc.

New Cavs General Manager Jim Paxson watched the team's meager ticket sales rise 4 percent from the previous season, but the numbers were still the second lowest in the franchise's 20-plus year history. He watched discipline problems occurring on the team, low employee morale and a fickle customer base.

It was the last factor that disturbed him most -- fans were more than content with the local football and baseball teams and weren't entertainment-starved enough to shell out $30 or more to watch a struggling basketball team.

It was clear the Cleveland Cavs' work force needed another major restructuring effort, not only to deliver more wins -- which is what brings in sales -- but also to improve public relations with the community, which helps sell tickets even if the team may not be that hot.

"Sitting in the general manager's chair for one year and facing the kind of season we did last year, (head coach) Randy (Wittman) and I felt we needed to try and make some significant changes," Paxson told a group of sports writers at a recent luncheon. "I think what really helped us in the start that we are having is changing the chemistry and getting some veterans with some leadership ability on this team. Chemistry is so important in a team game."

Here's what the Cavs have done in the past year to revamp a team -- and a business -- that was on the decline.

Build teamwork

In the off-season, the Cavs released $96-million discipline problem Shawn Kemp, who, despite leading the team in scoring, led the entire league in personal fouls and disqualifications. After trading Kemp, Paxson brought in veteran leaders Clarence Weatherspoon and Chris Gatling, and forwards Robert Traylor, Matt Harpring and J.R. Reid (recently waived) and guard Bimbo Coles.

Getting eager new team players on the roster resulted in improved morale for the Cavs. And as most company owners and managers know, better employee morale means better productivity, and better productivity translates into increased revenue (read: ticket sales).

Paxson says the new Cavs employees believe, as he does, that there isn't one player who shines above the rest, but rather, different players who excel on the court on different nights. There is not just one go-to guy, which is better if you want a unified team.

"What we have is a team; you win with a team and you need talent and need good players. We feel we have talent and we have good players," he says.

Develop leaders and mentors

Part of building a dedicated team is developing leadership through mentors who take younger employees under their wings. In the Cavs' case, the team sought new leaders who, while not superstars, had solid experience and were willing to serve as managers to younger players with tremendous potential.

One player who stands out is Weatherspoon, who's been in the league for eight years.

"Spoon, in my opinion, has been our MVP," Paxson says. "If we start to lose a lead, he's the one getting in the huddle and yelling at guys. He brings that energy and enthusiasm and he wants to win. For an undersized power forward, he's really set the tone for this group."

Paxson also lauds the veteran players, namely Coles, who's been playing since 1990, for their mentoring force on the new Cavs.

"Bimbo came in with the attitude that he wanted to be a part of this team, and he wanted to help Andre Miller grow as a player," Paxson says. "He wanted to be on a team that was committed to winning. From Day One in training camp, he's been a real key person for us."

Teach your younger staff members

Employers face this dilemma every year: They hire a kid fresh out of school who shows tremendous potential but has little real world experience.

Two players on the Cavs seem poised for All Star status, but need to learn leadership skills and discipline from strong management and co-workers who will prevent them from squandering their skills.

"(Harpring) brings an effort and energy that I think a lot of fans here remember in the teams from the late '80s, early '90s," Paxson says. "He brings a lot of effort and energy and hustle, which is contagious with the other players on the floor. And Robert Traylor has shown the potential that we all think that he has, and he also shows a high level of enthusiasm."

That type of lead-by-example attitude sparks a willingness to give extra effort -- something employers strive for in their work force.

Understand budget constraints

Employers would like to invest more in personnel to attract the best employees, but they are often limited by what their CFO says they can spend. In the NBA, however, the industry itself limits how much a team can spend on players through the use of a salary cap.

Even with the restriction, only two teams last year were under the cap. The Cavs were not one of those.

"Part of the thinking that went into the trades that we made was not only to change the chemistry and the environment, but also to change the flexibility in terms of the players we want to keep longer term," Paxson says. "We're looking at it in a way that we want to keep the core group of our guys together and have the financial ability to do that. We might have some cap room in the next two or three years."

The drastic changes have put a new face on the Cavaliers. They seem hungrier and more motivated. And, as is the goal of any good business owner who undertakes sweeping change in an effort to spark production of a better product, the public has stood up and noticed.

The only thing remaining is to drive revenue back up toward the basket. How to reach: The Cleveland Cavaliers, (216) 420-2000

Morgan Lewis Jr. (mlewis@sbnnet.com) is a reporter at SBN Magazine.