SBJ/20090831/Offseason Report

Loving the customer, and flexibility

This is the final installment in our series asking NBA and NHL team executives what sits atop their to-do lists over the summer as they prepare for the 2009-10 season. Responses were edited for clarity and brevity.

John Steinmiller
Vice president of business operations
Milwaukee Bucks

“Our focus this summer is to create an environment where our sales staff is empowered to make decisions on the fly, whether they are dealing with a season-ticket holder or a sponsor. We want them to be able to feel like they can close a sale by giving them the tools and information to be more flexible. We want our staff to think on their feet and work with a season-ticket holder who has lost their job or taken a pay cut. … It is moving away from ‘I’ll have to check with my manager.’ We want to give our staff the confidence that, as our customers make the tough decisions, we are invested in their decision. It is not just about us. That’s how we have to think.”

Chris Dey
New York Islanders

“We’re working to have better communication with our fans, sponsors and media. We held a draft party that was a ticketed, free event, and 22,000 people signed up for tickets. Had we just announced the event and opened the door, I don’t think we would’ve had something nearly as special. Plus, it really helped us gather new data. [Team owner] Charles Wang wrote a personal letter to our lapsed season-ticket holders, too. We also are looking at our in-game entertainment. We’re meeting with an improv show and asking, ‘What can we do? How can we reinvent this?’ We have all this great audio-video equipment and this great stage of the ice, but I feel like a lot of teams do the same thing.”


Richard Peddie
MLSE, Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs

“The first thing is, I’m making sure both of our general managers have the resources they need to be competitive. Second, we’re preparing our facilities for 2009-10. We have a $48 million capital plan [$43.9 million U.S. ]. We’re spending $20 million on new signage [$18.3 million U.S. ]. Finally, love your customer. Love your fans. Love your corporate partners. There’s never been a more important time to give them all types of service and all types of value.”

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