SBD/September 23, 2016/Sports Facilities and Franchises

76ers, Devils Execs Talk About Ways They Have Changed Cultures Inside Organizations

Since '13, O'Neil has helped the 76ers grow their amount of season ticket holders
In a 45-minute discussion themed “people, development, recognition,” execs from the 76ers and Devils talked about developing a successful corporate culture. 76ers/Devils/Prudential Center CEO Scott O’Neil said, “The more time you spend on your employees and your culture in terms of making it a great place to work, your business results will reflect that.” O’Neil went through some of the sales metrics of the 76ers, who sit at No. 1 in the NBA in terms of new season-ticket sales and top 10 in the NBA when it comes to season-ticket renewals. He said since taking over the team three years ago, the number of season-ticket holders has grown from 3,400 to just over 10,000. “We have had the third-worst three-year period [in league history] on the court,” O’Neil said. “Yet our business continues to grow, and we’re seeing the fruits of our labor now.”

INSIDE SALES: Devils VP/Ticket, Premium Sales & Membership Services Shawn Doss and 76ers Senior VP/Ticket Sales & Service Jake Reynolds outlined some of the specific ways they are stressing culture.  At the Devils, Doss said new sales staffers get “drafted” during an event akin to a league draft, complete with a press conference, live interview, draft cap and jersey. “The way they are on-boarded after hiring is going to be key in how successful they are going to be,” Doss said. “We take big pride in how we on-board.” O’Neil: “What do millennials want?  They want access. They want an opportunity to do things next to or with their bosses. They also want to be developed -- they think they should be in the corner office on day three. We give them a map that shows them the way.”

CULTURE CLUB: The 76ers have established a “culture committee” that includes a member from each department so that they can try to infuse culture enhancements throughout the organization. O’Neil talked about a simple yet effective recognition program, called “dime cards.” O’Neil: “We found, with the millenials, [recognition is] more about the act than the gift. In basketball, an assist is a dime. So we have dime cards. It’s a card to say thank you, I appreciate you. It allows you to write a short note to thank people.” The team handed out examples of the dime cards to the attendees. The organization also established a “CEO for the day” program, in which someone on staff is nominated to sit in O’Neil’s office for a day. O’Neil: “There are no rules. They can do what they want. Half days. Longer lunches -- whatever they want.” The 76ers ask for 76 hours of community service each year from each staffer. The Devils ask for 82 ('82 is when the team relocated from Colorado to New Jersey).

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: There are 92 members of the Devils sales and service staff, with an average age of 23. They are responsible for making 75 calls a day, plus hitting 20 touch points on LinkedIn and other social platforms. There are roughly 120 people in the 76ers sales and service and CRM team. At the 76ers, sales reps in their second year are producing three times as much revenue than in their first year. In an argument for retention, the 76ers estimate that a seller’s “empty chair” costs the team $612 per seat, per day. 
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