That year, she founded Creative Playrooms Inc. to provide day care for five children. Thirty-two years later, approximately 300 children attend each of four schools.
Wenks first center in Maple Heights was joined by others in Garfield Heights in 1972, Solon in 1984, Westlake in 1990 and Strongsville in 1995. Last year, the Garfield Heights center merged with the original location at Maple Heights.
Expansion was coupled with a growth in revenue.
In the last year, we have been growing by leaps and bounds, says Wenk. Because of additional help and additional buildings, our growth has doubled.
In the beginning, Creative Playrooms flourished because of the economy. Wenk transported children to the centers herself and assisted in their instruction, and local companies provided materials she used to make toys.
Because Wenk is so dedicated to children, some things havent changed. When the Strongsville school system stopped bussing children, Wenk improvised with the use of five buses to bring children to the centers. Strongsville students account for 119 afterschoolers who, instead of going home to empty houses, have access to art rooms and computer rooms.
All the money we make goes back into the schools, says Wenk, into new facilities, the building of indoor pools and the purchase of computers. Wenk believes children should suffer no lack of opportunity.
As Creative Playrooms founder, she has met and gotten to know all the children who come through her centers. And now, Wenks love for children has spanned generations.
We have second generations coming now, she says excitedly.
The success of Creative Playrooms has depended on Wenks commitment to a quality staff. She has a talent for finding committed employees who share her passion for putting children first. With children as the top priority, its easy to understand why the centers programs are always grounded in proven child development research. New ideas must demonstrate a cultivation of physical, cognitive, social and emotional development before being implemented.
The emphasis on children is apparent everywhere, even in Wenks reaction to being named a Finalist in Ernst & Young LLPs Entrepreneur Of The Year awards.
I am pleased and lucky, she says. I am just so honored that anybody would honor our love of children. How to reach: Creative Playrooms Inc., (440) 349-9111
Courie Weston (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a reporter at SBN Cleveland.
Sunny Lurie was working at a bank when she learned what would become the core understanding of her own business.
Lurie was a senior performance consultant at Ameritrust when it became Society, then KeyBank. She saw first-hand the power of change.
"I saw how people struggled with the unknown," she says.
Lurie also saw co-workers who relied on their managers for job security instead of on confidence in their own abilities to learn and grow in the face of change. Consequently, she dedicated her doctoral research to the study of what she had experienced, titling her dissertation "Employee Learning in Dynamic Work Settings: An Exploration of Adult Learning in Business Organizations."
As a direct result of her research, Lurie devised a survey that became the basis of her company, Advanced Performance Inc. In a nutshell, the survey tests how individuals handle change and the task of learning new skills.
Lurie, who has a Ph.D. in organizational systems, says those are key challenges in today's fast-paced workplace.
"There are two major factors that help people become resilient learners," says Lurie. "The first is growth seeking. The second is approach to the work world, that being either traditional or nontraditional."
In Lurie's survey, employees are categorized into types of learners. Resilient learners, those who use a nontraditional approach to the work world and are active in growth seeking, are best prepared to face change. Other categories include conventional learners (active in growth seeking and traditional approach to the work world); reserved learners (traditional and passive in growth seeking); and as needed (nontraditional and passive in growth seeking).
One purpose of the survey, titled "Rating My Competitive Edge," is to help employers measure the ways their employees gain, share and use information. Survey-takers, explains Lurie, "can expect to answer questions about how they learn, such as, 'Are you sharing knowledge and building relationships with co-workers in order to learn?' 'Are you reading different types of publications to keep updated?' 'Do you stay within your comfort zone at work, or try out new and different ways to solve projects?'"
Benefitting most from the survey are businesses which have experienced any of the following: customer satisfaction below par; technology changing the way business is conducted; a loss of employees to competitors in the last year; or a lack of a formal employee appraisal and development plan.
"The survey is most helpful to a business that has experienced a growth rate that is lower than expected," she says.
"Organizations have benefited from this survey by maximizing employee performance and making the business more competitive while instilling a sense of responsibility for personal growth in employees. Individuals can benefit by improving their performance and becoming more competitive while aiding personal growth and development."
The most crucial questions focus on the idea of change. As technology expands and forces businesses to update methods quickly, employees must be able to adapt and learn at the same time.
"You have to ask yourself," says Lurie, "are you doing what it takes to remain competitive or are you falling behind others who are leaping ahead in their knowledge and their skill levels and their know-how?" By boosting employee learning, you toe the competitive edge. And isn't that the goal of any business owner? How to reach: Advanced Performance Inc., (216) 595-9698
Courie Weston (email@example.com) is a reporter at SBN.
Matt Moran, owner of Isotherm Technologies, was looking to save money on internal research and development when he found a way to get money that didn't have to be paid back.
Moran received a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) subcontract -- government funding available for what the SBIR Web site calls "high quality projects on important scientific, engineering or science/engineering education problems and opportunities that could lead to significant commercial and public benefit if the research is successful."
Moran wanted to study cooling techniques, so he searched through the Web site's database and found a match.
"We are doing research for a cooling system basically to cool the base platform to shoot down ballistic missiles," says Moran.
The research grant is a blessing, since the cooling system ties into the work he already does with Isotherm, meaning that he has, in essence, just been awarded $65,000 to do research that he could've been doing in the first place.
That's the beauty of SBIR grants. Funds are available for small businesses, and the Web site (www.eng.nsf.gov/sbir) encourages "socially and economically disadvantaged small business concerns and women-owned small business concerns" to apply. Qualifications for receiving a grant are listed online, along with a search form for different types of study.
Searches can be done either by the nature of the research or by region. Visitors are asked basic questions about their company and the key people conducting the research.
"There are basic guidelines you have to follow," says Moran. "They want to know what you're proposing, but they're not too restrictive in terms of what they're looking for."
Instead, the SBIR outlines for researchers just the general areas of study.
Says Moran, "They give you a topic area and basically say, 'This is the range of problems we're trying to solve; if you have any research that could be used toward it, you can propose a project within a time frame.'"
Phase one grants top out at $100,000, but if the SBIR chooses to offer a continuation, phase two funding is available for up to $500,000.
The government also allows companies to retain intellectual property rights to the research, and encourages business owners to commercialize the product for other markets. Considering the process of securing the grant took him less than a month, Moran says, "It's worth it if you're a company doing internal research and development work that you want funding for."Of course, many companies opt for a conventional business loan rather than deal with the U.S. government. But the way Moran sees it, you can't beat money you don't have to repay. How to reach: Isotherm Technologies, (330) 273-2868; SBIR, (703) 306-1390
Courie Weston is (firstname.lastname@example.org) a reporter at SBN.
If you've been to a movie theater in the past 11 years, odds are you've seen Silver Screen Media's movie trivia questions, word jumbles and film stills.
But few realize just how formidable a player the Beachwood-based Silver Screen has become in the advertising game. Within the games and words that entertain us while we wait for the main attraction lie advertisements that statistically reap a greater rate of retention than television and print media combined. It's a seldom-cited fact that's helped Silver Screen's founder Barbara Miller to jump start an entire industry.
When Miller, a bespectacled blonde woman and mother of two daughters, unveiled Silver Screen Media in 1975, most advertisers were scrambling for television commercials and print spots. No one wanted to advertise on the big screen.
So Miller kept to the straight and narrow path, running Harlan Advertising with her husband for 13 years before daring to break from tradition and try something new. Only a few independent theaters on the West Coast were experimenting with advertisements on movie screens in the late 1970s and early to mid '80s, but in 1989, Miller decided the time was right to spring big screen ads on Cleveland.
Nearly a dozen years later, the naysayers have been silenced. Demand for Silver Screen's advertising continues to grow at an amazing clip. Since 1994, Miller has expanded her representation from 400 screens to 900. And, by enlisting the help of companies like hers in other markets, she has the ability to put advertisers in 30,000 theaters nationwide.
It's a celluloid success story that surprises even Miller.
"We try to accommodate as much as possible," she says.
Here's how she's done it.
Follow the trends
In Silver Screen's early days, Miller noticed a trend: The most successful ads were those for considered purchases like cars, homes, televisions and life insurance. She recognized that these are the sorts of purchases that families decide upon together.
Combined with the notion that movie theaters bring couples and/or families together and the fact that broadcasters usually save the strongest nighttime programs for weekdays, Miller realized there was an opportunity not being explored.
She did a bit more digging and found many double-income families want to relax on the weekends and often go to the movies together. That led her to the conclusion that if you broadcast ads for the types of purchases these families don't usually have time to discuss during the week, you're tapping into a virtually untapped market opportunity.
While Miller doesn't limit advertising to any niche, she has found there are several industries that see better returns from in-theater advertising -- realtors, car dealerships and retailers of electronics equipment. That explains why those types of ads dominate Silver Screen's client list.
Target an unencumbered audience
Advertisers that choose the big screen reap another advantage -- they catch the most receptive audience.
Miller recently studied the statistics of her advertising success as a possible marketing device. The results were stunning. Explains Miller, "[The researchers] found that after 24 hours, 83 percent of audience members remembered the theater ads. With television, recall is more like 22 to 23 percent."
There may be several reason why this is so, but Miller's made her own conclusion. A Silver Screen brochure attributes recall to the notion that moviegoers aren't distracted by the ads: "Every other advertising medium -- TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, even direct mail -- competes against constant distractions and clutter. In-theater movie screen advertising through Silver Screen Media locks up the audience's attention, focusing it on your message."
Silver Screen's other major advantage lies in its ability to reach people on the weekend, when most purchases are made. The company's Web site drives that point home to potential clients: "No other medium is as compelling. Viewers can't zap channels like they do to avoid TV commercials. Or switch radio stations. Or turn the page.
"And best of all, research shows that advertising on the movie theater screens has extremely high recall: after 24 hours, 83 percent of all viewers remember ads they saw at the movies, compared to just 23 percent recall on TV commercials after one day. And with good reason: your message is hitting viewers in a relaxed, receptive mood. Plus, 58 percent of the adult audience has annual incomes exceeding $30,000."
Assemble a dedicated team
Miller gets help from her daughters, Erica and Melissa, both of whom are vice presidents at Silver Screen and found the opportunity to work with their mother too exciting an offer to pass up. In fact, Miller says, when Melissa graduated from college, she turned down a high-paying job offer to return to her roots and help build the business.
That family atmosphere has made it easier to concentrate on satisfying Silver Screen's burgeoning customer base. And taking care of the customer is really the philosophy that Miller tries to follow.
"Our business is a two-way street," she says. "If you take care of us, we'll take care of you."
Miller's dedication to serving her clients was demonstrated recently when she apologetically interrupted an interview with SBN to field a call from a client and clear up a confusing situation. She told the client, "First, I'll worry about your needs. I know this is complicated for you the first time you try something like this. I want to uncomplicate it for you."
Build a loyal clientele
Miller's commitment to getting the job done extends beyond simple troubleshooting. Nearly all of the work for creating ads and putting them on movie screens is done in-house.
She employs her own graphic artists. She mounts the slides on-site at Silver Screen's headquarters. She markets advertising through in-house ads on the movie screens, and recently ran her first radio ad through a trade.
These efforts have helped make excessive overhead virtually nonexistent and let Miller concentrate on satisfying her current customer base while targeting new prospects.
So far, her perseverance has kept her competitive in the world of advertising and she has retained clients that started with Silver Screen at its inception. And with a constantly evolving marketplace, it's becoming more likely that business owners and young entrepreneurs will seek out alternative advertising mediums to get their message across.
"Ad agencies have told us that they literally have to work with us because their clients are asking for it," says Miller.
As a testimony to Silver Screen's success, Miller relates the story of ads that were actually too effective.
"We were doing really well with recruitment and employment spots until theater ushers started quitting their jobs and applying for the ones we advertised," says Miller. "That's when a couple theaters started refusing to carry those ads." How to reach: Silver Screen Media, (216) 831-1990
Courie Weston (email@example.com) is a reporter at SBN.
"As a result, I have a fairly vivid imagination, and I like problem-solving by nature," says Zimmerman, CEO of Computer Systems Co. (CSC) of Brecksville.
A natural analyst, Zimmerman likes to look at problems and seek solutions.
"There's that old saying," he says. "Somebody's problem is somebody else's opportunity."
That attitude has been the catalyst for his ventures during the radical changes in computer technology over the past 36 years.
Grow with the industry
Zimmerman opened Computer Systems Co. in 1964 to develop software. Five years later, the company broke into the micrographics industry. Micrographics, a new concept at the time, held Zimmerman's attention for a few years but his energetic and innovative nature couldn't be held at bay for long. From there, CSC went on to tackle 10 other business venues in the course of more than 30 years.
"I get excited about new opportunities and solving problems, so that's where I spend most of my time," Zimmerman explains. "We used to just do software development; now we do 12 different things."
In addition to its software development and microfilm production applications, CSC handles data entry service, document imaging and its biggest achievement, a health care business office automation product, PAPERS.
PAPERS, which stands for Patient and Provider Electronic Record System, streamlines operating procedures by providing eight services in one database -- forms, charge, claims and payment processing, collection and follow-up, document imaging, medical records and lab records processing. Over the past seven years, PAPERS has helped numerous health care institutions, such as University Hospitals Health System, save a combined tens of millions of dollars.
Make innovation contagious
CSC's expansion isn't something Zimmerman takes credit for. Instead, he points to his staff, which he says has caught his innovative bug and now runs with it.
"We've got some really great folks who, once we scope out a solution, can turn around and develop products or put a service operation together to solve that problem," he says.
Employees contribute regularly to CSC's vision, with several forward-looking corporate direction groups.
"We meet every quarter or so to look at things we're trying to accomplish, see how they're coming and put new ideas on the table about possible business ventures," says Zimmerman.
The meetings started several years ago with the goal of getting more employees involved in looking at and being a part of CSC's future. Recently, Zimmerman asked all the senior managers to submit three ideas to help improve the company -- a new product idea, internal improvement, anything that would help.
"I got quite a group of submissions," Zimmerman says. "We began analyzing them and synthesizing them down into some workable things and we've put probably two-thirds of them into place already. The last few years, we've been involving the staff a lot, and they've been contributing heavily."
He is a man who says that he is generally embarrassed to talk about himself and he attributes his company's success to his dedicated employees.
"We've got a lot of great folks that have some great ideas," he says. "They've been keeping me busy trying to take their kernels and form them out to full ideas here in the last couple years." How to reach: Computer Systems Co. Inc., (440) 546-4272
When ProForma founder Greg Muzzillo created Inaquest.com in 1999 with hopes of establishing a strong Web-based presence in the promotional printing industry, he understood the value of leveraging relationships.
So it should come as no surprise that Inaquest.com president Bob Daugherty did just that to build the sites first large partnership. The company? A simple software firm based in Redmond, Wash.
Microsoft held out the potential of $1 million in a six-month period, says Daugherty of the deal, which made Inaquest the sole sponsor of Microsofts My Business Web site at www.bcentral.com.
Were doing something very unique, Daugherty says. Were providing not only products, but ideas. Business owners can come to our site and learn from case studies how to put on trade fairs, market their business and hold press conferences.
Inaquest.com, an Independence-based online seller of business, provides commercial printing and promotional products such as business cards, stationery, labels and logo merchandise.
And while the Microsoft partnership is expected to drastically increase Inaquest.coms sales, thats just one of Daughertys objectives. The sponsorship also promises to drive traffic to Inaquest.coms Web site, since bCentral is a popular small business site. Attracting traffic, or eyeballs, according to Daugherty, is the first step in getting customers, and Inaquest sees more customers now than if it werent partnering with Microsoft.
Additionally, by partnering with a company as respectable as Microsoft its current legal woes notwithstanding Inaquest.com stands to improve its merit.
Microsoft is pretty successful, Daugherty says, which lends us credibility.
The partnership arose because of existing ties between Inaquest employees and Microsoft from previous smaller deals, Daugherty says. Employees used to their advantage the business relations they had formed with employees at Microsoft, essentially calling on old buddies, he says.
Linking up with larger companies isnt a new practice, but in the race to stake out unique claims in the burgeoning field of e-commerce, its a necessity.
The Internet changed everything, says Daugherty.
It opened marketing channels that otherwise may have never been explored. If a small Internet business merges with a larger entity, the small business can target a local, loyal client pool. It also works in reverse. Microsoft stands to gain from Inaquest just as much as it offers, by tapping into Inaquests client base. The result is a collaboration thats mutually beneficial.
Says Daugherty, Inaquest widens its audience and Microsoft gains Inaquests local, loyal client pool.
How to reach: Inaquest.com, (216) 901-9746
Courie Weston is an editorial intern at SBN.
Today, Polk is president of Affinity Group Strategies and extremely quick on his feet.
A background in improv gives you the confidence to get the process going, Polk says, explaining that in business, the faster you think in pressure situations, the better chance you have of success. You (learn to) make it up as you go along.
Polk, who once led the Greater Cleveland Growth Associations Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), credits his experience in improvisation as a key factor in his success in the business world.
Polk is not alone.
Improv skills are tremendously useful in business, says Michael Bloom, producer of Second City Cleveland. They help with confidence, talking to people, public speaking, learning how to improvise and the ability to sell.
Still not convinced that you or your staff could stand to improve interpersonal skills by practicing comedy? Consider this scenario: Its your next board meeting. You stand up to begin your sales pitch or proposal and see vacant eyes and pursed lips. Without question, if nothing changes, youre in for a long, unproductive meeting. Wouldnt a laugh make for a good icebreaker to get things rolling?
Bloom certainly thinks so, and its one reason Second Citys launched a business theater program, which offers eight-week workshops, full and half-day intensive programs for businesspeople who want to learn improvisational skills and apply them to their jobs.
Exercises are designed to strengthen teamwork, creativity and trust, Bloom says. An exercise such as Yes, and hones negotiating skills. Instead of hearing a suggestion and immediately writing it off, participants are urged to build on the idea, one after another. The group may be given the prompt, Its a nice day. Another participant might add, Yes, and we should go to the park, while another joins in with, Yes, and we should take a picnic lunch.
This type of exercise is especially useful for salespeople, says Bloom, because of how the profession is structured.
It (improvisation) teaches you to take a step back, develop a thick hide and deal with rejection, he says.
Other exercises are meant to build trust. Trust is crucial because people naturally tend to gravitate toward secure environments.
Im constantly amazed when executives say, They dont trust me, about their staff members, says Joseph Keefe, executive producer of Second City Communications. They place the blame on others instead of themselves. To get, youve gotta give.
Trust building exercises include falling into the arms of a partner and being led blindfolded. Although these activities sound simple, the skills they strengthen are invaluable.
At the heart of improvisation is the ability to adapt and adjust quickly and efficiently, says Polk, skills that are certainly conducive to business.
Entrepreneurs generally have improv in them, he says. They just need a road map for getting there.
How to reach: Second City, (216) 621-4000; Affinity Group Strategies, (216) 221-7655
Courie Weston is an editorial intern at SBN.
With the Internet quickly becoming the preferred forum for information, entertainment and shopping, it is no surprise that business owners are racing to use it as a recruiting and training tool.
What other venue links you with users worldwide? And arent those users bright, young people with valuable skills who are computer-savvy and capable of navigating the Web the ones youre looking for to add to your company?
Under the fair assumption that computer users have something to offer todays corporations, human resources personnel have picked up the vibe and are running with it. Mary Antal, manager of compensation and benefits at Fairlawn-based Bioproducts Inc., says she routinely uses the Internet for recruitment, posting positions on career boards, the online versions of help wanted ads in newspapers.
Its wonderful as far as having access to the whole public, she says.
Beyond recruiting, Bioproducts is developing software for Web-based training.
Explains Antal, We are starting to implement career development team training, to be tested this year.
Candidates take tests and complete questionnaires to find career paths. Bioproducts is creating software so that what was previously done in print and saved to a computer can now be saved instantly for analysis.
While Bioproducts has a foothold on Web-based recruiting and training, other corporations are still in the planning stages. Allison Wallace of Goodrich-Ganneti Neighborhood Center says she would like to increase the nonprofit organizations Internet activity.
We need to be using the Internet more if we want to be more competitive, she says.
To further that goal, Wallace has bought more computers for her staff.
We want the employees to have access for research purposes, she explains.
Wallace also plans to use the Web to find candidates for employment.
More people are accessing the Internet as a vehicle for employment, she says. This translates into making our services more well-known.
Because most employees at Goodrich-Ganneti are part time and there is a high rate of turnover, Wallace says she welcomes any way to make hiring easier.
Internet recruiting will hopefully speed up the process, she says. Instead of the delay of newspaper advertising, where you wait a week to post a job, I can post on the Internet, where the information is available immediately, and job seekers can find out about our organization.
Antal and Wallace are on the right track, says Lori Gottlieb, community manager of CareerBoard.com, a forum for online job seeking and recruitment where applicants post resumes for viewing by potential employers.
Gottlieb, who found her own job at CareerBoard.com, is ecstatic about online recruiting.
The Internet is redefining recruiting, she says. It will be the number one way to recruit as people use the Internet more and more.
Results of the Inside HR survey, conducted by the Employers Resource Council for SBN, reveal that the Internet will play a role in human resources. Seventy percent of respondents would consider using Web-based training within their organizations, and 60 percent already utilize an intranet to communicate internally.
Bioproducts Inc. and Goodrich-Ganneti both say they plan to use the Internet primarily as a recruiting device, a growing application as the Web becomes more accessible. The popularity of the Internet is not in question; what remains to be seen is how companies will take advantage of that popularity and translate it into methods of improving their bottom lines.
The obvious answer is in the increase of corporate utilization of online recruiting and advertising.
How to reach: Bioproducts Inc., (330) 665-2120; Goodrich-Ganneti, (216) 432-1717; CareerBoard.com, (216) 595-1632
Courie Weston (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a reporter for SBN.
Of the four employees with whom the husband and wife team began the business, three were family members. This year, Katherines Collections at Silver Lake looks drastically different the Kleskis employ 55 people and recently outgrew their facility in Twinsburg. The duo has a history of consistent growth, which seems likely to continue.
Wayne Kleski worked in the gift industry for 25 years before going into business with his wife. He creates original designs that Katherine sells through gift trade shows. Their line of dolls, decorative eggs, ornaments and other collectibles is recognized by agents for niche catalog companies and esteemed department stores.
It can be grueling, Katherine says of the trade-show circuit. Well ship 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of product to a show.
After 30 hours of booth set-up, trade shows usually last four days. Katherine and her crew then clean and pack up the supplies and ship them on to the next show. Despite the long hours, Katherine says the trade shows are important to customers because it is their only chance to buy Waynes exclusive designs.
Were usually the last ones out of the show, says Katherine. Our booths are crowded because participants know we dont produce a catalog or have salespeople calling them. It creates an excitement people know they cant buy our products later.
One reason behind the Kleskis success is that they sell to retailers, not wholesalers. In effect, they have nearly 12,000 customers instead of 30, which allows them to control which stores sell their items.
Too many people in the industry try to sell the same product to the mass merchants, the discount store and the regular gift store, says Wayne.
Their direct method seems to be working. The Kleskis plan to move into their new expanded location in Cuyahoga Falls in September. How to reach: Katherines Collection, (330) 963-7788
Courie Weston (email@example.com) is a reporter for SBN Cleveland.
By now, e-commerce has integrated itself into nearly every business.
Those that haven't taken the cyberplunge are quickly finding themselves left behind. But as with any new part of a business, e-commerce has not only increased efficiency for business owners, it's also created a new line item in the budget.
So what does this mean for your company's ability to adapt financially? When going Webwide, consider the costs, many of which aren't so obvious, says Peter Constantino, a partner in Ciuni & Panici's management advisory services division.
Watch the trends
Constantino says that he's seen two trends among businesses going on the Webwide, the first involving the basic business Web site.
"Probably almost all of our clients are either in the process or have set up Web sites," says Constantino. "There's an initial cost to do it and there's a cost to keep it current."
When business owners launch their Web sites, that second part -- ongoing costs -- often isn't considered, taxing the coffers of many businesses beyond what was initially budgeted.
The second trend involves e-commerce.
"A lot of our clients will deal with larger publicly held companies who deal with many suppliers," says Constantino. "More and more, there's a push that they don't really want to do things in terms of just paperwork."
Businesses, he says, have found that one of the main benefits of going cyber is the ability to handle transactions electronically.
"That means businesses get set up so they can communicate with that computer's system," says Constantino.
And, buyers create a profile and billing info and the Web site stores it. Because of this, the paper-based purchase orders and invoices of many companies have become a thing of the past.
Invest in the basics
Although Constantino says that it's rare not have the basic equipment, he explains that the bare minimum needed to connect your business to the Internet is one high-speed computer with modem, Internet service, a printer and Web development software.
However, most businesses today are on a network, so the added cost of maintaining a Web site is minimal because when a business already has a network, the only costs are in developing a site and putting it on the Web.
Maintaining the site involves minimal costs -- paying a technician to update prices and other pertinent information -- and the added cost isn't a challenge to a company's budget. Investments for keeping the site updated with the latest technology are a bit more costly, though not much.
"We haven't seen any incidents where the cost had too much of an impact on a company," Constantino says.
Reap the benefits
While simply opening shop on the Net won't generate sales, using your company's site to complement existing bricks-and-mortar operations will. Considering that the costs are minimal, the added business a Web site can generate makes the prospect a virtual no-brainer.
Constantino says some of his customers are quick to point to specific sales they have garnered through their sites that they wouldn't have garnered otherwise.
"One manufacturing customer told me recently that he got a large order through their Web site from Canada," he says.
This introduces the obvious implication of expanding beyond one's physical location. By putting itself on the Web, a business plugs itself into an infinite community of potential customers, not to mention potential employees and suppliers.
The other main benefits are customer satisfaction and ease of use. Customers like the convenience of ordering and keeping track of purchases online because they can do it on their time from the privacy of their offices or homes.
And, in this day and age, when business has become a 24/7 venture, being able to satisfy a customer at 4 a.m. certainly has its merits. How to reach: Ciuni & Panichi, (216) 831-7171
Courie Weston (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a reporter at SBN.