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Businesses are successful in part by remaining keenly focused on a core product or service offering. This focus includes allocating management time and cash to support and grow the business. Often companies that own their real estate are able to redeploy these resources for additional growth by executing a sale/leaseback strategy.“Many companies that own real estate are able to generate substantial proceeds through a sale/leaseback,” says Ben Smith, vice president of Plante Moran CRESA.In addition to monetizing an owned real estate asset to provide cash flow to reinvest in your core business, sale/leasebacks can allow you to devote more time…
If your business is looking for a better way to communicate, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) may be the answer. SIP, a signaling protocol, can improve voice and video over Internet Protocol, video conferencing and file transfers. And best of all, it can spell substantial savings for a business over traditional phone lines, says Anton Loon, director of enterprise sales at PowerNet Global.“When a company uses SIP technology instead of traditional phone lines, it can move much more quickly and at a lower cost,” Loon says. “SIP solutions are available for businesses of all sizes, from a small company that needs…
The current economic climate has made it necessary for many companies to change the roles of their employees.Often, this results in company safety responsibilities falling to an employee who may not have much experience in managing and implementing a safety program. This, coupled with a new enforcement-oriented posture from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), can result in a deficiency gap between OSHA compliance and the safety conditions that actually exist in a company, says Brad Swinehart, senior safety consultant at Sequent, Safety & Risk Reduction.“This enforcement-oriented position is based on recent changes to the OSHA administrative penalty structure…
As an employer, does your organization have departments with tasks or duties that never seem to get done? If you are like many employers in Ohio, the answer to this question is yes.One possible solution to create a win-win scenario for both your organization and your injured workers is to consider implementing a transitional work program with the assistance of grants offered by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). Transitional work is a cost containment strategy for workers’ compensation that helps injured workers return to productivity in the workplace by providing modified job duties that accommodate their medical restrictions…
As labor rates rise in China, shipping costs increase, the dollar weakens and supply chains grow more complex, many industry analysts are suggesting U.S. manufacturing activity will increase over the next five years.And while some risks such as supply chain failures may be reduced if manufacturing firms are closer to operations and manage them more effectively, other risks — such as medical cost inflation for workers’ compensation and nonoccupational injuries — are on the rise, says Mike Stankard, managing director and Industrial and Materials Practice leader at Aon Risk Solutions.“High-frequency, low-severity type risks, such as workers’ compensation or fire prevention,…
The only sure thing with health care reform is that things are changing. No one is sure how, exactly, those changes will play out as current reform legislation is reviewed in the Supreme Court, or what will happen following the presidential election.That uncertainty makes planning for the significant and steadily escalating cost of health care a real challenge for businesses. As costs increase, how can employers continue to provide benefits that attract and retain quality workers while managing their expenses?“One of the things that employers should be doing now is reviewing their health care costs to begin to identify ways…
Businesses often need to evaluate where they are in order to decide where they want to go, and sometimes the best way to do that is by comparing themselves to a standard.“In today’s world of sharing information, companies can now drill down to specific cost drivers within workers’ compensation, direct medical care, direct pharmacy source and litigation management, to name a few,” says Daniel Slezak, vice president at ECBM. “Benchmarking has proven to be a most valuable process for identifying performance improvement areas. Once the information is shared in scale, you can identify the best-performing companies, which leads to the…
A fundamental investing concept is that investors need to be compensated for taking on additional risk. However, investors often do not anticipate operational risks, and as a result, are often not compensated for them, says Todd E. Crouthamel, director, Audit & Accounting, at Kreischer Miller, Horsham, Pa.“Operational risk can be difficult to price into the risk premium because human error is unpredictable,” says Crouthamel. “Therefore, many investors are left to assume that human errors will be prevented by the managers’ systems and controls, in order to rationalize hiring that manager. However, this is not always the case.”Smart Business spoke with…
From greater flexibility to lower costs, self-funded insurance is attracting the attention of more and more employers.“Self-funding plans have been gaining popularity as a way for companies and employees to save money in the face of the recession, recent health care reform and increasing health care costs,” says Mark Haegele, director, sales and account management, for HealthLink. “Health care reform adds a number of taxes and restrictions on fully insured companies that those on a partially self-funded basis are typically able to avoid.”Smart Business spoke with Haegele about how you can manage a self-funded plan to ensure your company gets…
Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:00

Honoring the best of the best

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Each year in June, Ernst & Young celebrates entrepreneurial leaders across the country as part of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards. This year marks the 26th year in which Ernst & Young has recognized those leaders.Over the years, we’ve learned that entrepreneurial leaders are a little different from the rest of us. They can take ideas and put them into action where others cannot, and along the way, they lead others into a better future. We call this “turning vision into reality” as that is exactly what entrepreneurs do.In recent years, we have had a slower…
As fall approaches, millions of Americans are facing one of the most important decisions for themselves and for their families. The annual ritual called open enrollment is often the only time each year that businesses allow their work force to make changes to their health benefits plans.Smart Business Magazine spoke to Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., president and CEO of the nationally recognized MemorialCare Health System and also the past chairman of the California Hospital Association, about how employers and employees can learn to make smarter choices about their health.Why is open enrollment so important?The choices that employees make during open enrollment…
Dealing with the daily responsibilities of running a business can distract an owner from the big picture. To take some of the burden off of CEOs running small and mid-sized companies, Professional Employment Organizations offer services that handle outsourced aspects of daily business, including recruiting, payroll, workers’ compensation, risk and safety management, and training and development.However, selecting the right PEO for your company requires thoughtful consideration. And J. Richard Hicks, CEO of HR1 Services Inc., says that working with a PEO requires cooperation and commitment.“This is really a partnership to help streamline and make your company more cost and time…
Mid-sized manufacturing companies face a number of pressures — inflation, a weak dollar, growing foreign demand and stagnant domestic sales — but targeted tax incentives can help businesses decrease their tax and allow them to breathe a little easier.Two incentives drawing interest from employers are the Last-In, First-Out (LIFO) method of accounting and establishing an IC-DISC (Interest Charge-Domestic International Sales Corporation) entity, says Philippe Simoens, CPA, partner in tax and strategic business service for Weaver.“Although the U.S. has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, there are ways to get more sophisticated with your tax planning through…
Health care reform is a topic that is on everyone’s mind, and for good reason.How health care reform evolves over the next several years will impact all of us. We have already witnessed more than 1 million dependents under the age of 26 being added to their parents’ employer group insurance plans.In addition, these plans no longer have lifetime limits for coverage and many plans have removed any cost sharing, such as copays, deductibles and coinsurance for selected preventive services. High-risk pools have also been established for those who have previously had difficulty obtaining coverage, says Chuck Whitford, a client…
As labor rates rise in China, shipping costs increase, the dollar weakens and supply chains grow more complex, many industry analysts are suggesting U.S. manufacturing activity will increase over the next five years.And while some risks such as supply chain failures may be reduced if manufacturing firms are closer to operations and manage them more effectively, other risks — such as medical cost inflation for workers’ compensation and nonoccupational injuries — are on the rise, says Mike Stankard, managing director and Industrial and Materials Practice leader at Aon Risk Solutions.“High-frequency, low-severity type risks, such as workers’ compensation or fire prevention,…
The entire health insurance industry is holding its breath right now, waiting for the Supreme Court to hand down its decision regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.But regardless of what happens, insurance brokers are urging companies to take steps now to ensure that they have the best insurance plans in place.“We’re expecting most employers to maintain what they currently have,” says Danone Simpson, founder and CEO of Montage Insurance Solutions. “However, to be prepared, employers need to make sure they are offering a variety of insurance plans that can compete with a low-cost insurance plan in a health…
Monday, 04 June 2012 13:54

Diligence required to improve company value

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Recovery continues to be slower than most businesses would prefer. Part of the slow growth is due to concern from many business owners regarding whether they can trust some of the leading economic indicators released in the past few months.On a positive note, recent trends have shown that unemployment is being reduced overall. The National Association of Manufacturers also reported that more than 31,000 new U.S. manufacturing jobs were created in February. This increase, however, is tempered with the belief that many unemployed individuals have simply given up on job searches, as they have now been out of work for…
Friday, 01 June 2012 10:43

The happy and effective executive

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As an executive, your overall well-being consists of your effectiveness combined with your happiness. Effectiveness means that you are able to produce desired results; happiness means that you are in a state of well-being and contentment.Most executives spend a good amount of their time worrying about effectiveness. They set tough goals and push hard each day to achieve them in the most effective manner. They are results driven, and any thought of happiness comes only after the results are achieved.This begs the question: Can a busy, hardworking executive be both effective and happy?I believe the answer is yes. In fact,…
Anthony Najem felt something was missing a few years back at the company he co-founded with Karl Meyer in 1987, and he was a little frustrated.As Meyer Najem Corp. grew and started to change, the challenges involved in adapting along the way became more evident. Some employees weren’t real keen on adjusting to change. They were finding it hard to become more engaged just because of the demands on their workloads — those demands and work-life balances became a key issue.“As an owner and founder, you get the pulse about what’s happening in the company,” Najem says. “What you find…
It’s OK to quit. Think about how much time we waste with stuff that isn’t working.Quitting doesn’t necessarily mean failure. It’s OK to change your mind, to quit a job where you are miserable or to let go of a partnership or a goal that is no longer moving forward.Seth Godin, said it in his best-selling book “The Dip”: “Strategic quitting is the secret of successful organizations.”Strategic quitting — or proactive, thought-out change — is not about stopping because something was harder than you anticipated. Life is hard. Strategic quitting is about identifying the wrong turns. It’s about not wasting…
When running a business, it’s difficult not to compare your company practices to those of other successful businesses. Benefit plans, however, need not be identical. Effective benefit plans should be as unique as the companies that create them and the employees for whom they provide financial security, health assurances and lifestyle perks.There are, however, some best practices that can transcend all plans.Design a benefit plan that achieves the employee’s goals and yoursWhen creating or redesigning a benefit plan, consider what you hope to achieve for the company and for your employees. Do you want a plan that provides financial security…
After a major computer company sold a division to an international rival, the buyout left Susan wondering about her future. Susan found herself on the outside of the corporate world looking in. No longer the young college graduate on the fast track with the company she had worked for since graduating with honors in engineering, Susan watched as the restructuring left her without her high-paying job. Now at age 49, Susan was concerned, and she questioned whether her age had anything to do with her being let go. “They hired my body double from the same university and another kid,”…
Even before he became president and CEO at Mission Hospital, Kenn McFarland knew a change was coming. Health care reform was on the doorstep and it was going to find its way inside, one way or another.“The new health care environment was taking shape, whether you call it Obamacare or just the country responding to health care taking up so much of our gross domestic product,” McFarland says. “You might call it the riding of two horses, moving from this one horse at a gallop to this other horse that has yet to catch up.”McFarland had been the chief financial…
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was signed into law on March 23, 2010, and since then, the health care delivery system has experienced rapid change. Health care reform will be the biggest change to the U.S. health care system since Medicare was established in 1965. According to KPMG and Milliman reports prepared for the Ohio Department of Insurance, nearly 1 million more Ohioans will shift to Medicaid in 2014 at a cost of $250 million to taxpayers. It is estimated that this will increase to $600 million in 2019, while another 524,000 individuals could shift into the…
One thing MedSynergies Inc. has gotten good at is growing fast. The company’s revenue has been rising at an eye-popping rate, 30 percent plus for eight years running. But a byproduct of that whirlwind growth is that it’s difficult to find and retain workers who can keep up the pace. Sometimes people get left in the dust.“The biggest issue we face is getting and keeping quality people,” says J.R. Thomas, CEO of Irving, Texas-based MedSynergies, which manages business operations for health care providers. “It’s tough to recruit and develop human talent while growing so quickly.“Our growth comes in spurts,” Thomas…
Historically, the Council of Smaller Enterprises — COSE — has made its name as a health insurance provider for small businesses, relying on discounted rates to provide value to its members.But over the last decade, as the health insurance market has become more commoditized, COSE has differentiated itself by providing excellent health insurance-related customer service.COSE, which is led by its president and executive director, Steve Millard, has a member service department consisting of 10 professionals based in the organization’s call center. When members have a question or problem, they call on COSE rather than calling the insurance company directly. COSE…
Five years ago the economy was humming along, and Service Foods was humming right along with it. The Norcross, Ga.-based gourmet food supplier was growing steadily throughout its five-state Southeastern base. But CEO Keith Kantor was uneasy, because he felt his company was vulnerable. Many of Service Foods’ customers regarded the company’s home-delivered fare as a luxury. If the economy were to turn sour, some customers would start cutting their household budgets — and luxuries would be among the first things they would cut.“Several years ago, I started to feel like we were headed toward an economic downturn,” Kantor says.…