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Winner – ServicesOn Assignment is built on a “people first” approach. Whether it’s best serving its employees, the professionals it places or the clients it serves, the staffing company builds strong, trusted relationships.Peter Dameris, president and CEO of the Calabasas, Calif.-based company, leads a team of professionals who are experts in the field they represent. To keep this team fresh, he invests in an extensive health and wellness program at corporate headquarters, complete with a stateof- the-art fitness center. The program incorporates yoga classes, personal training sessions, bootcamp programs, weight loss challenges and lunch seminars on health, wellness and financial…
Finalist – ServicesAs she celebrates her company’s 32nd anniversary this year, Linda Stone is amazed at how far it has come. Starting as a small, independent contractor that provides IT consulting and staffing services for aerospace and utility companies, APR Consulting Inc. is now a national provider of recruiting and contingent work force solutions. And as the company’s president and CEO, Stone has been recognized for her spirit, vision and community contributions.With the company’s success throughout the years — APR has an average year-over-year growth rate of 22 percent — it’s hard to imagine that the company once was struggling…
Let’s say you can pitch your business like Moses delivering the Ten Commandments ? your passion and energy will make a believer of just about anybody. Unfortunately, there is only one of you, and there are multitudes of people who need to hear your message. Yes, technology has changed business communication, but one fact remains as true for you as it was for Moses: nothing beats word of mouth. For that, you need people – advocates ? and you need to arm those advocates with memorable messages about your organization.Who are your potential advocates? Any person within your company or…
From Brian L. Davidoff’s perspective, leaders lean toward two extremes — autocratic or democratic. Their organizations, then, are either flat or pyramidal.He aims for the middle at Rutter Hobbs & Davidoff Inc.“If it’s too flat, you can’t get decisions made and it takes too long,” says the law firm’s managing director. “If the pyramid is too steep, you aren’t hearing the feedback sufficiently of the other folks. Good managerial decisions are the culmination of input from the balance of the organization.”The law firm started out purely democratic about 35 years ago. But as it grew and young lawyers brought new…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 16:01

How Jean Birch engages employees to help IHOP grow

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Jean Birch finds it quite difficult to pick a favorite item on the menu at IHOP. Actually, that’s not really true. She just has a hard time staying loyal to one item as her favorite when there are so many tasty treats to choose from. “It switches just about every week,” Birch says. “Last Saturday, I ordered the Cinn-A-Stacks pancake combo. It’s like the inside of the cinnamon roll rubbed all over your pancakes. I can’t get enough of those. Good stuff, man.” Birch, the president of International House of Pancakes LLC, sees herself as the restaurant chain’s chief cheerleader.…
When UCLA’s Anderson School of Management created an Executive MBA program, its faculty members were concerned.“The suspicion was that somehow the Executive MBA would be a watered-down degree,” says Carol Scott, faculty director of the executive program and professor of marketing at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. “Some were concerned we would relax our admission standards because people who have been out of school for a while might be a little rusty. Also, this was the university’s first program that was to be fully self-supporting. The faculty was nervous about whether we would deliver a quality education or if…
With 70 percent of the world’s intellectual property within the United States, U.S.-based companies continue to dedicate extensive resources to research and development, achieving substantial value and benefit from their IP.Given the high degree of emphasis companies place on their intellectual property, a dangerous trend has emerged. Recent studies conducted by the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS) and the FBI that demonstrate that more than one-third of surveyed Fortune 2000 and middle-market companies have no formal program for safeguarding intellectual property and spend less than 5 percent of their budgets on security.As the regularity and intensity of IP theft…
Do you own a vacation home in Mexico? Have a bank account in Hong Kong? Has your spouse retained Canadian citizenship? Are you a long-term U.S. resident who was born in the U.K.? Is your brother-in-law, who is a citizen and resident of Ireland, the successor trustee of your revocable trust?Each of these scenarios raises complex tax issues that, without proper planning, could easily have disastrous and costly consequences.Smart Business spoke to Laura A. Zwicker, chair of Greenberg Glusker’s Family/Strategic Wealth Planning Group, about how to stay out of the IRS’s crosshairs by being aware.Homes in MexicoMost of us would…
The health care delivery system is broken and costs are spiraling out of control.Federally mandated reforms have only made the system more confusing. Now, more than ever, you need someone on your side to help you make sense of the mess.“If your health care consultant doesn’t understand how the system works, then you’re forced to become an expert in health care when you should be focusing on your core business,” says Frank L. Marrone, senior vice president and partner with Millennium Corporate Solutions. “There are qualified insurance advisers out there; investigate, interview and then engage with one that fits your…
Bulky patient charts holding countless pieces of information and handwritten physicians orders are becoming a thing of the past. Taking their place is the electronic medical record, which can transport patient information in real time with the click of a button.Smart Business turned to Diana Hendel, PharmD, the CEO of Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach and Community Hospital Long Beach, to learn more.What are electronic medical records?An electronic medical record, or what we call an EMR, stores your health history and medical information in an electronic, instead of a paper, format. Using a highly secure…
Cash is the lifeblood of any business, and most business owners experience the need for an occasional short-term infusion of capital to bridge cash flow gaps, finance bulk inventory purchases or to meet other working capital needs. But after the long recession and credit crisis, many owners are reluctant to take on debt that could prevent them from capitalizing on the rebounding economy.The solution is a short-term line of credit, or STLOC, which is typically secured by business assets and provides owners a less expensive way to access capital versus other forms of capital such as additional equity injection from…
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 21:01

How to respond to a class-action lawsuit

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Your company has been hit with a class-action lawsuit. So what do you do next? The first thing is to remember that it’s not like other lawsuits you may have faced, says J. Kevin Snyder, leader of the Class Action Defense Practice Group at Dykema Gossett PLLC.“There are a number of things a company should do when it is served with any lawsuit, including conducting a prompt investigation, implementing a litigation hold, and objectively evaluating the case,” Snyder says. “But for a class-action suit, there are a few things you need to add to that list as you develop a…
Most commercial tenants consider leases to be no more than an administrative hassle. But with real estate overhead the second-most expensive line item for businesses, negotiating leases should not be taken casually, particularly for commercial tenants renewing their commitments for an additional five or 10 years.New terms driven by market conditions and imposed by aggressive landlords can increase a company’s rent and related expenses by more than 50 percent at each renewal. Landlords attempt to impose all costs, risks and inflated profits to their commercial tenants, and most tenants simply sign on the dotted line.“Why the haste to sign an…
"Not a day goes by where I don’t read a headline talking about ‘the cloud,’” says Zack Schuler, founder and CEO of Cal Net Technology Group. “The current, overused definition of the cloud is ‘anything that happens on the Web,’ but in the business world, the more accurate definition of cloud computing is leveraging someone else’s hardware/software and services in order to complete a business task.”Smart Business spoke to Schuler about the role that cloud computing has played for businesses over the last two decades, and in what ways it can benefit their operations today and in the future.How does…
Dr. Dana T. Bedden is a high-energy educator with more than 18 years of experience in educational administration and leadership. Described as a creative and effective leader, he has demonstrated skills in standards-based education, human resource management, fiscal management and school-community partnerships.Bedden began his tenure as the Superintendent of Schools for the 34,275-student Irving Independent School District in 2010. Before coming to Irving ISD, Bedden had served as a teacher, athletics director, community and athletic resource administrator, assistant principal, high school principal, regional superintendent and superintendent of schools in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and Georgia.He has been the recipient of several…
Monday, 02 May 2011 16:37

What makes a great salesperson?

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Douglas Kolker, the president of Summit Selling Systems, Inc. and the owner of the Sandler Training Center, discusses the 33 behavioral characteristics that define what makes a great salesperson, and how to tell if your salespeople have "the right stuff." These characteristics are weighted based on what they’re selling, to whom, for what price points, in how long a sales cycle, etc.Universally, the most important four of the 33 are:1. Responsibility — Do they take ownership of their actions and results?2. Desire — Do they have the “fire in the belly,” regardless of what’s happening around them?3. Commitment — Do…
Before taking the plunge, many people considering an Executive MBA program want to know what they can expect in the classroom.Antonio Bernardo, a professor of finance at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, has taught in the MBA program for 16 years and the Executive MBA program for the last six. He says the real-world experience of the Executive MBA group creates a lively, collegial atmosphere.“There are many occasions when the students relate their work experiences to the issues we discuss in the classroom,” Bernardo says. “It shows how real organizations try to execute policies we recommend in theory.”Smart Business…
Upcoming health care reforms will require employers to monitor and report so much information that staying compliant will require a lot of time and effort.“There are already many laws and rules that exist today affecting employers who offer health insurance benefits to their employees. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly referred to as the health care reform law, will impose many more responsibilities, including many new reporting requirements,” says Alicia Saporito, partner, Millennium Corporate Solutions. “That’s why it is so important to partner with a broker or consultant that not only understands how your business is affected by…
It’s making headlines again with journalists saying it’s the fastest growing crime in America, and anyone with a Social Security number is vulnerable. So how serious is the identity theft epidemic? So serious that former defense secretaries, CIA directors and counterterrorism advisors may be recent victims. Science Applications International Corp., a company known for hiring Washington’s most powerful intelligence and military officials, had their database broken into, an information surprise attack, leaving thousands of employees, many with security clearances, wide open to being stripped of their most valuable information.Stolen identify not only affects Washington’s most elite security advisers, but also…
Shortly after the movie “Saving Private Ryan” was released, I spoke with a World War II veteran who was one of the first soldiers to jump out of a landing craft to storm the beaches of Normandy. He said the movie was the most accurate depiction of that glorious and horrific event that he had ever seen. He was one of the lucky ones.The beaches of Normandy are a good analogy to today’s post-recession landscape of buyout investors and operating companies: Many are dead, many more are severely injured, and a few are strong and thriving. What factors make the…
Don’t tell Adam Coffey, president and CEO of WASH Multifamily Laundry Systems LLC, that his business isn’t capable of innovation. That will just get him started on telling you why you’re wrong.“Our business, like many mature businesses, often continues practices or procedures that were adopted decades ago,” Coffey says. “As time goes by, the reasons for implementing the practice become lost; yet, the organization holds on to outdated methods that as the world evolves, actually complicates business. It is incumbent on a ‘Smart Leader’ to constantly validate everything an organization does to make sure that sound decisions made long ago…
The migration from Windows XP to Windows 7 is certainly inevitable. As updated applications are developed for the newer operating systems like Windows 7, XP users will have to upgrade to use these new applications. Office 2010, for instance, is one of the most commonly used applications that will soon no longer be supported on XP.If the migration is inevitable, then why not switch now and be ahead of the curve? As appealing as this idea sounds, the complicated and often painful process of migrating to a new system is never easy to implement. For your company to be willing…
When it comes to achieving success through innovation, businesses have traditionally tapped their research and development teams for guidance. Today, organizations increasingly turn to their employees, customers and partners to drive them forward. According to research by The Gallup Organization, the engagement of passionate workers is a powerful factor in creating new ideas and catalyzing ‘outside-the-box’ thinking to improve management and business processes as well as customer service.To learn more, Smart Business looked to Diana Hendel, PharmD, CEO of Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach — part of MemorialCare Health System — just one of…
First e-commerce revised the need for brick and mortar, then Web 2.0 redefined the voice of the customer. Now the rise of mobile technology and online collaboration has killed the dream of work-life balance, which has a direct impact on employee engagement.A study of 80 global companies, conducted by Paul DeYoung and Tracy Shamas and several colleagues from Towers Watson, reveals that employees need new competencies and behaviors to manage their personal obligations with the demands of today’s 24/7 work environment. Instead of striving for balance, employees must learn to harmonize work and play so companies can reap the benefits…
Even the owner of a successful business can encounter an occasional financial setback and cash-flow problems, which prevent them from making the scheduled payments on their commercial property loan. But unless they take immediate action at the first sign of distress, they could end up jeopardizing the future of their business and forgoing the equity in their property.Fortunately, committed owners with a viable business model may qualify for a loan modification, which gives them a chance to regroup or wait out an economic downturn by temporarily lowering their loan payments. However, owners need to do their homework and research their…
Tommy Gonzalez is city manager for the City of Irving, a city with a strategic plan to guide its future through growth and development. He has served as city manager since May 2006, and is responsible for the city’s overall activities and operations, including a $726 million budget and a staff of more than 1,800 city employees.Under Gonzalez’s leadership, the City of Irving was the first city in Texas to receive the coveted Texas Award for Performance Excellence, an award whose criteria and process are modeled after the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, recognizing Irving for performance excellence and applied…
Fifteen years ago, just as e-mails were becoming common in the workplace, a client, who we’ll call Jim, called us in a panic. One of his employees, Jenny, was threatening to sue him for sexual harassment. We asked Jim for the real story, and we got the usual response. He may have been flirtatious, but so was she, and it didn’t go beyond that.We told Jim that we needed all of Jenny’s e-mails immediately. Fortunately, the e-mails showed that there really was nothing more than flirtatious banter between Jim and Jenny. What we did not expect to find were e-mails…