Equal Justice Awards

Qualified Distributions

Chalk Talk For New Exporters

Keep Prices High, But Sell Successfully

Corrections or additions?

These articles were prepared for the November 22, 2000 edition of

U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

What’s New in Employee Handbooks & Manuals?

The workplace is rapidly changing, as is the nature

of work," says John J. Sarno, president of the Employers

Association of New Jersey (EANJ). "Companies that have handbooks

and those that are creating them have to get a handle on how these

changes are driving policy."

The New Jersey Department of Labor and the EANJ sponsor a seminar

entitled "Policy Manuals and Employee Handbooks" on Tuesday,

November 28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Gloucester County Library

in Mullica Hill. Sarno, who is the author of a book helping employers

stay out of court, "The New Employment Contract," presents

the afternoon portion of the program. Cost $10. Call 609-984-3518.

An example of a major change is the burgeoning area of temporary

employees.

Sarno advises that companies define who is and who is not an employee.

"You need to be very clear about those classifications, because

employees will be entitled to benefits and temporary employees or

independent contractors are typically not eligible for benefits,"

says Sarno.

Sarno provided a couple of examples of how in recent years, the legal

landscape has changed regarding company policies:

The Family Medical Leave Act, enacted in 1993, requires that a company

with 50 or more employees publish a policy outlining how the

provisions

of the act will be administered. For instance, employers can require

workers to use their sick and/or vacation days before tapping into

the FMLA’s 12 weeks of unpaid leave. But they must plainly inform

workers of this policy. "Federal law permits the employer to

choose

that avenue," says Sarno, "but you have to have that built

into the policy." Other caveats apply.

Discrimination law requires that employers have policies that provide

an opportunity for employees to complain about harassment and

discrimination.

Employers also need to explain to employees that they have certain

rights and outline how the company will deal with employee complaints.

Not heeding these laws can have serious repercussions, according to

Sarno. In the case of discrimination and harassment, not having a

policy may be evidence of negligence, which can lead to legal

problems.

"Today a small business has basically the same employee

relationships

as a large business, and they certainly are not immune to

employment-related

litigation," says Sarno.

On the question of how big your company needs to be before considering

whether to provide a handbook, there apparently are no hard and fast

rules. Sarno recommends that if a firm has 10 to 12 employees it is

a good idea to have a formal employee handbook. Companies with fewer

than 10 employees can handle policy issues through memos and other

similar documents. Members of EANJ have access to a template for an

employee handbook.

Areas that Sarno feels lead to the most disputes and litigation

include

disclaimers, harassment policies, grievance procedures, privacy

issues,

E-mail privacy policies, desk or locker searches, workplace violence,

and solicitation and distribution. The latter would cover attempts

by a trade union to distribute literature.

Some examples of bad or clumsily written handbooks:

Handbooks without disclaimers. In order to retain the

right to hire and fire at will, the employer wants to maintain the

"at will" relationship with the employee. Without a

disclaimer,

the handbook might constitute an contract for employment that would

be enforceable under contract principles.

"If the at will status is not preserved," says Sarno, "the

relationship will be governed by contract law, which would place

restrictions

on discharge and discipline." He compares it to a trade union’s

collective bargaining agreement, which sets out a rigid contractual

relationship with employees. "A handbook creates a contract

unless

there is a disclaimer."

Handbooks without a policy that preserves the employer’s

discretion to make decisions outside the policy . "A sex

harassment

policy typically says that the employer will take prompt action. But

if it doesn’t build in enough discretion to make decisions about

actions

that fall below harassment, it puts the employer in a box."

One disclaimer might be: "Even though we want to maintain zero

tolerance, we still have the discretion to make whatever decision

we think is necessary under the circumstances."

Handbook policies that are inconsistent with other documents.

A common area of confusion is the number of hours part-timers can

work. If the handbook sets one standard, and the medical insurance

policy has another, workers might be denied health benefits

unnecessarily.

"The employers definition may be inconsistent with what the health

care contract says," says Sarno.

Sarno, 44, received his undergraduate degree from Ramapo College

and a master’s in counseling and a law degree from Seton Hall

University.

He practiced law in Bergen County and had been an instructor at Ramapo

College.

Established in 1916, EANJ is a non-profit organization providing

direct

and immediate assistance, information, and advice to New Jersey

employers

(www.eanj.org.). The over 1,000-member employers enjoy services

such as a telephone help line, a Labor Law Compliance Manual, research

reports on human resource practices and benefits, salary survey data,

and other publications.

"Although there are legal issues involved, my advice is to not

let the legal tail wag the dog," says Sarno, "A company should

form a committee, debate and discuss the policies that make sense

for them, draft those policies, and then have them reviewed by a

lawyer.

I would not let the lawyer write the handbook, because those are often

steeped in legalese. The object is to write in a way that the average

employee can understand. The company should decide what it wants to

do and take the first shot drafting it and only then should it be

reviewed by competent legal counsel."

— Jeff Lippincott

Top Of Page
Equal Justice Awards

Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ) and the New Jersey

State Bar Association (NJSBA) will honor two retiring New Jersey

Supreme

Court justices at the sixth annual Equal Justice Awards reception

on Tuesday, November 28, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the New Jersey Law

Center in New Brunswick. Marie L. Garibaldi and Daniel J.

O’Hern will receive the Richard J. Hughes Career Public Service

Award.

Steven Kropf, a private attorney with the Old Bridge firm of

Heilbrunn Pape, will be honored for representing pro bono clients,

taking difficult family law services, for Middlesex County Legal

Services

for nearly 20 years.

Receiving Equal Justice Medals will be David Heins, director

of the division of family development of the Department of Human

Services;

Barbara Price,, head of the New Jersey Coalition for Battered

Women; Frank Askin who teaches law at Rutgers Newark; and Ann

Bartlett, immediate past president of the NJSBA.

Three banks — First Union, Provident, and Ocean City HOme Bank

— have changed account structure and rates so as to increase

revenues

for funds for Legal Services programs, and will be so honored. Legal

Services programs provide legal aid in civil matters to people who

could not otherwise afford lawyers.

For a free invitation to the reception, call 732-572-9100.

Top Of Page
Qualified Distributions

Family businesses have enough hurdles to jump without

running the risk of making mistakes in how they pay out benefits.

That will be the topic for Stark & Stark attorney Allen M. Silk,

who gives a workshop on Qualified Plan Distributions on Wednesday,

November 29, at 4 p.m. at 993 Lenox Drive, Building 2.

Silk majored in accounting at Penn State, Class of 1969, and has law

degrees from Villanova and New York University. Among his many

professional

credits are his service on the estate and gift tax committee on

business

plan of the American Bar Association. He is a founding partner of

the Rutgers Family Business Forum and chairman of the Mercer County

Economic Development Council. In representing family-owned businesses,

he helps the owners choose a legal structure, plan for succession,

and transfer business ownership to other parties. For free

reservations

for the workshop, call Nadine Dunn at 609-219-7413.

Top Of Page
Chalk Talk For New Exporters

If your business has a product or service ready for

export, but doesn’t have trade experience, the Market Entry Program

for New Exporters can help by teaching how to enter the global

marketplace,

including Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean Basin, and the European Union.

This free course starts in December at the Small Business

Administration

New Jersey District Office, Two Gateway Center, in Newark. The first

of seven sessions begins Wednesday, December 6, at 10 a.m., and the

14-week program concludes on Wednesday, March 7. While the classes

are free, there is a $50 registration fee to cover weekly refreshments

and operating costs. To qualify, you must have an operating business,

an exportable product or service, and be able to attend all seven

classes. Class size is limited to 15. To apply, call Dina Vulpis,

U.S. Department of Commerce at 973-645-4682, or E-mail:

dina.vulpis@mail.doc.gov.

"Students can expect lots of good discussions with teachers, each

other, and with industry experts from both the United States and

foreign

countries," says instructor Roger S. Cohen, a consultant

for the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC).

"Last

year we brought in a consultant from the Mexican Trade Commission.

This year we’re hoping to bring in a representative from the Dominican

Republic."

Cohen will teach marketing, sales, and distribution. He will cover

the "how to" of creating a personal business plan.

Participating

companies will learn how to identify geographical markets, customize

products for targeted consumers, and work the local distribution

channels.

Cohen’s expertise comes not only from his bachelor’s degree in

planning

and policy from Cornell University, Class of 1980, but also from

career

accomplishments. Between 1984 and 1987, he managed a complex financial

and technological project that had been dormant for years. The

results?

Self-adhesive postage stamps. Cohen smiles whenever he enters a post

office and thinks about the "millions of tongues that are now

being spared the aftertaste of glue."

He has worked at the Japanese trading house Nichimen; has represented

the Japanese Ministry of Finance to the U.S. Department of Treasury;

managed factory construction for Coke, Pepsi, and 7-Up in Canada,

and handled a mergers and acquisitions program for the Japanese

manufacturer

Komori in the United States. Currently he is president of Cohen

International

based in Cranford, acts as a consultant for the Technology Help Desk

(800-432-1832), and is the lead international trade consultant for

NJ SBDC.

Referring to NJ SBDC’s Ten Keys to Export Success, Cohen shares some

advice:

Don’t assume anything. Particularly, do not assume that

a product or market technique that has succeeded in one country will

automatically succeed in other regions. What works in Japan could

fall flat in Saudi Arabia. You might have to modify products to meet

regulations, cultural preferences, and local safety and security

codes.

Translate everything. When printing information about

your product, speak in locally understood languages. Although a

distributor’s

top managers may speak English, you can’t assume that all service

and sales personnel will.

Foster autonomy. Recognize that overseas distributors

need to act more independently than their United States counterparts

because of communications and transportation issues.

Share the goodies. Finally, the overseas marketing should

be treated equally with efforts within the United States. Don’t forget

to include your trade market in advertising campaigns, special

discounts,

sales incentives, warranty offers, and so on.

The Market Entry Program covers these topics in detail, says

Cohen, "and students can get individual counseling from industry

representatives, free of charge. After last year’s course, students

often told me, `This is the first time I contacted a government body

and spoke to a person who gave me one-on-one help’."

When asked if students are given take-home projects, Cohen responded

in a few words, "No. Our students have a business to run. That’s

their project."

Other course topics include finance and banking; legal aspects of

international trade; pricing; transportation and shipping; and trade

missions. Taking part in a trade mission in another country is

optional,

and there is a fee. Last year, Governor Christine Todd Whitman

accompanied the mission visiting Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

In addition to the classroom program, there are several online

options:

YourBizPartner at www.yourbizpartner.com tells how to get

free counseling from the NJ SBDC. The first session could take place

in person, or it could be conducted via E-mail. At this site you can

also link to a schedule of affordable business and technology

training,

and you can request a market research report specific to your

industry.

The NJ Small Business Development Center (www.nj.com/njsbdc)

provides a link to international trade where you can sign up for the

export course on line, read the "Ten Keys to Export Success,"

learn about the top ten countries that trade with the U.S., and more.

Cohen has his own website, www.rogercohen.com. Here you can

get information on doing business in Japan, NAFTA and Mexico, and

government contracting, as well as services that Cohen offers.

About the Market Entry Program, Cohen notes that "there’s

no other place where someone can get this kind of in-depth information

on exporting, and get it for free. Other states charge as much as

$3,000 for a course like this. You can’t get this kind of expertise

on international trade from a community college. And you can’t earn

an MBA in seven sessions at no charge."

— Lynn Robbins

Top Of Page
Keep Prices High, But Sell Successfully

Any idiot can give stuff away by cutting the other guy’s

price," says Lawrence L. Steinmetz of High Yield Management.

"Selling occurs when your prices are higher, but you are still

able to close the deal. If you want to give stuff away, get a job

at the welfare department."

"People have to realize that most price cutting is a

self-inflicted

wound," says Steinmetz, who is based in Boulder, Colorado.

"Most

sales reps are ill at ease talking about the price." He gives

an all-day seminar, "How to Sell at Prices Higher than Your

Competitors,"

on Thursday, November 30, at 8:45 a.m. at the Sheraton Newark Airport

Hotel. Cost: $395. Call 800-323-2835 (www.pricingexpert.com).

An alumnus of the University of Missouri, Class of 1959, Steinmetz

earned a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He was a professor

and chaired the department of management at the University of Colorado

but founded his own firm more than 30 years ago. Now he owns four

small companies — a consulting firm, a rental property management

firm, a publishing company, and a company that builds special interest

cars — street rods and custom conversions.

The workshop will cover how to know when a customer is not a price

buyer, how to sell "commodity" products at prices higher than

your competitors, how to determine when your higher price is actually

to your advantage, how to test your prices without losing sales, how

to ask for an order, how to purge yourself of unproductive sales

tactics,

and how to avoid "giving away the farm."

Steinmetz uses the terms "wow" and "crack" to describe

how salespeople sometimes bend to price-cutting pressure. "Sales

people `wow’ in innocent ways," he says. One "wow" is

to emphasize that the price is high, saying "Are you sitting

down?"

or "Can you believe this price?"

Another "wow" is to change the subject. "To avoid the

subject of price tells the smart buyer you are scared," he says.

"Customers will attack you on price — asking to know the price

— because they want to hear you `wow,’" he says. "When

you start evading and avoiding, you show you are scared. They think

you aren’t telling the price because it is too high."

Confront the price, he advises. It is not going to go away. "If

you want to sell at a premium price, you have to face the fact your

price is higher than the competitor. And then hang in there."

In other words, acknowledge the fact that the prices are higher but

let the customer know you expect to get the sale anyway — because

of higher quality, or better service, or whatever.

Salespeople "crack" when they actually tell their customers

they are willing to negotiate the price. "They crack under

pressure

and say something stupid." He lists these "dumb things"

to tell customers:

You know I want to work with you on this.

Tell me where I need to be.

You know you are one of our most valuable customers.

What do I need to do to get the business?

If you want to sell at premium prices, you have to hang in

there,

says Steinmetz. "When you start to negotiate your price, it is

going to go south. The minute the customer senses that, he will start

hammering you."


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