Why Is it so Hard to Get People on Your Bus? Part One: Sales People

I've been consulting with and advising entrepreneurs/small business owners for over 45 years. In my experience, the most troublesome job to fill is the technical salesperson position. That does not mean there aren't other positions that are hard to find competent skilled people, but this blog will focus just on technical sales.  Why technical sales?  The combination of knowledge and a proper mindset, coupled with the problem that most small ventures do a really bad job in this area makes this very difficult.

I've been consulting with and advising entrepreneurs/small business owners for over 45 years. In my experience, the most troublesome job to fill is the technical salesperson position. That does not mean there aren't other positions that are hard to find competent skilled people, but this blog will focus just on technical sales.  Why technical sales?  The combination of knowledge and a proper mindset, coupled with the problem that most small ventures do a really bad job in this area makes this very difficult. 

If you don't have problems finding and keeping good sales people, you are not only in the minority, but you don't need to read the rest of this blog!

Here are some of the most memorable examples I have encountered that illustrate the difficulty of finding and growing the right sales people for your business.  

Ineffective Sales People

One company hired a salesman (we'll call him Fred #1) who had great credentials.  His sales performance over the 18 months he was with the firm didn't cover the cost of his fringe benefits.  Interestingly, when he returned his company laptop , the owner discovered solid evidence that Fred#1 had been running a side business out of his office.  Fred #1's successor, Fred #2, was also highly credentialed; his demise was a stubborn attitude that he could do his job (technical sales) exclusively using Linked In.  It only took the company 4 months to release him, with the final straw being Fred's refusal to call a major customer to set up a meeting - he insisted on using email instead. In both instances, neither Fred # 1 or Fred # 2 would spend any time in the plant to find out what the company's real capabilities were despite ownership's demands that they do so.   

Another company has been trying unsuccessfully to develop a salesperson to cover a territory 200 miles from the home office.  The latest hire (there were at least 4 others over the past ten years) came with good recommendations and a track record of some success in a closely aligned industry.   Without effective supervision and training (this was also a technical sales job), after 16 months the company President recently concluded this hire was a failure as well.

Successful sales people but not effective in developing new business 

Then we have companies with very good to excellent sales success servicing existing customers but little/no success with acquiring new customers.  Two examples come to mind.  The first one is a SE United States firm with multiple territories.  The salespeople were almost all very experienced and had long relationships with their customers. They were generally well compensated for customer retention.  Their compensation was so high (the average compensation was $85,000 in the l980's - you figure out what that translates to in 2016)   that there was little motivation to find new customers even though the incentive plan would have rewarded prospecting sales success very handsomely.  At least two of these super salesmen were so comfortable that the company could not hold a sales meeting on a Monday morning or on a Friday because they would both be 'on holiday'.  A similar experience occurred at a Virginia company with which I consulted for several years in the late l980's.  The salespeople were great at satisfying existing customers, and it was a good thing they did because the top two customers constituted 90% of total company sales. The goal was to hold onto those two customers and build new business to reduce customer concentration risk.  The effort ultimately failed because the company never could figure out how to attract a different kind of salesman who was comfortable with prospecting for new customers.

Some Analysis

In the first examples above, the salespeople needed experience and understanding of the capabilities of the company as well as an appreciation of customer needs for which the company could provide solutions.  There is a technical aspect to almost all sales, and the more difficult the technical side of the business, the more difficult it is to find good salespeople to sell those technical solutions.  Could either Fred # 1 or Fred # 2 have been turned into productive salespeople for that company?  In my opinion, they were destined for failure because both felt it was beneath their dignity or stature in the firm to get their hands dirty.  The fact that it took a shorter time to fire Fred # 2 than it took to fire Fred # 1 tells me the company was getting smarter about recognizing  hiring mistakes had been made. 

In the examples of the companies with good relationship sales people, at least two critical mistakes were made.  First, all of these salespeople were great at holding on to customers but did not have the demeanor or fire in their bellies to do the difficult task of finding new customers.  Those who are good at keeping ( maintaining) customers are rarely the same people who are good at acquiring (prospecting) new customers.  The sad fact is that there are a lot more people who are good at maintaining customers than there are people who are good at finding new customers.  The second critical mistake these firms made was that not only did they have the wrong people in place to find new customers, but their compensation systems were such that there was little incentive to go after the higher hanging fruit in the market. 

The People Analyzer

One of the best books in the market today that should be required reading for any entrepreneur/business owner who wants to make his/her company demonstrably better is Traction, by Gino Wickman (disclosure: we make use extensively of this book in the COSE Strategic Planning/CEO Development course, beginning its 37th year this coming Fall).  Wickman's Chapter 4 talks about getting the right people on your bus (which I borrowed as the header for this blog), and a key component of getting the right people on your bus is Wickman's concept of the People Analyzer.  It starts with determining what the core values of the company are and then looking for people who Get It, Want It, and have the Capacity to Do It.  In layman's terms, that means determine what the job is and seek out candidates who fit the core values and who have the capacity to do the job and want to do the job.   In none of the examples I have discussed above were any of those factors seriously considered in the hiring process.

Takeaways

l. Hiring the right person for the job begins with determining exactly what the job is.  If, in the case of sales people, the job is to find new customers, the fit of the person to that job is critical. Likewise, compensation/incentive plans need to be structured to drive sales behavior. 

2. Even the best hires need to be educated and managed. Performance goals must be established  and results monitored.  One of my favorite sayings is "what gets measured gets done".

3. Because small businesses rarely have much bench strength, there are very few instances where someone from the company's farm team can be brought in to fill a need, particularly for sales. That's why most new sales hires come from outside the company and an education process to integrate the new hire into the company culture and values is important.

4. In technical sales especially, the temptation is to take someone with a technical background and try to convert him or her into a sales person.  The mindset of an engineer rarely coincides with the mindset of  the salesman.  If you find the exception, value him or her highly because you won't find it that often. 

5. It should also be mentioned that the best salesmen rarely make the best sales managers, and that is true for all sizes of firms in all kinds of industries/markets.

6. Finally, it only makes sense to admit mistakes earlier rather than later.  If the hire (sales or any other function) isn't right for the job,  admit the mistake and move on.  That also says take the time to hire the right person in the first place.  The notion of "hire slowly, fire quickly" should be embedded in the company core values and operations.

These are the kinds of issues we routinely discuss and dialog about in the COSE Strategic Planning Course. If you would like to learn more about the course, consider attending one of our information sessions and/or look into the material about the course in this same website.

Jeffrey C. Susbauer, Ph.D. is Associate Professor Emeritus at the Monte Ahuja College of Business, Cleveland State University where he has taught strategic management and entrepreneurship courses since 1970. A long-time consultant to scores of businesses, a member of the boards of advisors to over 60 companies, he co-founded and serves as the principal instructor for the COSE Strategic Planning/CEO Development Course for the past 36 years. The course is concerned with providing entrepreneurs with education to guide their vision, strategic thinking and execution in their businesses. 

Learn more about the Strategic Planning/CEO Development course or contact Jeff via email

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  • Next up: Tips for Your Business: Solving the Foreign Hiring Puzzle
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  • Tips for Your Business: Solving the Foreign Hiring Puzzle

    Nationals of other countries represent a significant portion of the U.S. workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor  Statistics, there were 25.7 million internationally born employees working in the United States during 2014, a figure that represents 16.5% of the total workforce in the country.

    Nationals of other countries represent a significant portion of the U.S. workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor
    Statistics, there were 25.7 million internationally born employees working in the United States during 2014, a figure that represents 16.5% of the total workforce in the country.

    As hiring foreign nationals is essential to the U.S. economy—the BLS notes that the number of these workers over the age of 16 comprised 16.1% of the nation’s workforce in 2012—employers need to understand the process, limitations and benefits of hiring a foreign national, said attorney Erin Brown, a partner at Robert Brown LLC.

    “Before making an offer, companies need to be asking themselves, ‘What do we need to do to be sure we are complying with U.S. Immigration laws?’”

    She identified a number of factors an employer should be aware of in advance of hiring a candidate who is not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.

    Sponsorship

    The first step is to determine whether the potential new hire requires visa sponsorship. If the person is a foreign national, know what type of visa the foreign national currently possesses, the type of visa they may require and the expiration dates (and maximum stay) for the particular visa type. 

    Expiration dates can be particularly tricky, she warned. Some visas, for example, are good for a limited duration, usually a few years, and need to be renewed. It is good practice to put a system in place to keep track of such expiration dates.

    Further, many visas are employer-specific. The employer will need to file a petition with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services to obtain employment authorization in the United States. 

    Plan ahead

    Advance planning will help ease employment headaches later on, Brown said. 

    Employers sponsoring a foreign national may have certain obligations and responsibilities as the petitioner. 

    “You want to know that before you hire somebody,” Brown said. Seeking consultation from a qualified professional early on can help facilitate the process and eliminate
    potential employment eligibility issues.

    At the end of the day, forward planning goes a long way, she said. “The further companies plan ahead, the less likely they are to run into issues or interruptions in employment.” She added that there are many benefits to hiring a foreign national and the more an employer is educated on the visa options, the smoother the hiring process will be.

    Want more expert advice? Check out COSE Expert Network, an online forum connecting business owners with creative solutions to the tough questions they face every day.

    This article originally appeared in the August 24, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.


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  • Next up: Tips for Your Business: Source a Supply of Interns
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  • Tips for Your Business: Source a Supply of Interns

    There are a number of reasons your business should place a high priority on internships. Besides the fact that your company is playing an integral part in training future employees, you are also developing your own pipeline of potential future employees. According to a report from the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education, 53% of employers increased their number of student interns in 2014, compared to just 35% who did so in 2013.

    There are a number of reasons your business should place a high priority on internships. Besides the fact that your company is playing an integral part in training future employees, you are also developing your own pipeline of potential future employees. According to a report from the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education, 53% of employers increased their number of student interns in 2014, compared to just 35% who did so in 2013.

    But what’s the best way to source and utilize these students? First, in my professional experiences as a former recruiter, the best way to find a supply of interns is through developing partnerships with local colleges or universities. Contact your local career center to understand the programs offered and their process to identify interns. At Cuyahoga Community College, we are prepared to meet you at your office to understand your talent acquisition plans and how we can supply you with talent through our internship program with resumes of students actively seeking internships.

    Hiring student interns should be similar to the process and assessment of hiring professional staff to your organization. Most employers include multiple staff members from the department and cross-functional teams to help represent their area in the selection process. Using this collaborative approach will provide a strong assessment of the student intern’s background and support from the department. Employers need to identify the technical and soft skills necessary to be successful in their department and how that student would fit in their organizational culture. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, concludes before an organization takes their performance to the next level to be truly great you need the right staff in place. Hiring internships is important to identify the right staff to be on the right bus and in the right seat.  

    Internship program structure

    Internships are typically part-time throughout the year and are short-term assignments. Employers provide us with feedback during our site visits and consistently are seeking students with strong soft skills and business acumen to work in a business environment. The technical knowledge is important and they are willing to train students on their processes to be effective.  

    Highly successful internship programs have a thorough job description that includes productive work assignments related to department and organizational goals. Students are eager to practice what they have learned in the classroom and apply it to their internship.

    Employers who create a learning environment for students and provide the opportunity to use their skills, knowledge and abilities on projects creates a sense of ownership to make the internship experience a success.

    According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ 2015 Co-op survey, most of an intern’s day will be spent doing analytical/problem-solving followed, in order, by:
    • project management;
    • communications;
    • logistics;
    • clerical tasks; and
    • nonessential functions.

    Small business advantage

    The advantage of being a small business can allow students to get more exposure and experience in business operations. They usually report to the owner or senior leader in the organization who will train and prep the student to make an immediate impact. Students seeking internships are encouraged to explore working for organizations that can provide them an opportunity to learn regardless of the size in organization. Our students who have participated in a co-op position routinely participate in College career center events in order to share their experiences with other students and to advise them that they, too, can receive a successful and quality internship experience working for any size organization.

    The feedback we receive from our students has been overwhelmingly supportive of the on-boarding, guidance and relationships with their supervisor. Some employers offer a mentoring program to keep students engaged and identify areas of concern before they become an issue. Other successful experiences from our students indicate a high level of support and commitment from the team they worked with during the internship.  

    For more information, contact JT Neuffer, Director, Employer Relations, Eastern Campus at jon.neuffer@tri-c.edu or 216-987-2893
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  • Next up: So, You're Being Sued Personally For an FLSA Violation
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  • So, You're Being Sued Personally For an FLSA Violation

    Here are five ways to reduce your liability when it comes to being sued personally for an FLSA violation.

    So, you own a business and you’re being sued personally for a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. How can this be? Your lawyer told you that having an entity would protect you from this exact sort of thing. What gives? And more importantly, what can you do to prevent it from happening again?

    Let’s start with the basics. Who is an “employer” under the Fair Labor Standards Act? The FLSA defines “employer” to include “any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee....” The FLSA contemplates there being several simultaneous “employers” who may be responsible for compliance with the FLSA.

    This expansive definition of “employer” goes not only to the entity, but can encompass officers, managers, and even executives with no direct interaction with the employees. As the fifth circuit said, “[t]he remedial purposes of the FLSA require the courts to define ‘employer’ more broadly than the term would be interpreted in traditional common law applications.”

    In deciding whether a party is an employer, “economic reality” controls rather than common law concepts of agency. Does that mean that you, as the business owner, are the “employer” under the statute? Even with your corporate entity there to protect you? Probably yes. The overwhelming weight of authority is that a corporate officer with operational control of a corporation's covered enterprise is an employer along with the corporation and is jointly and severally liable under the FLSA for unpaid wages. In Donovan v. Agnew, the court determined that “corporate officers with a significant ownership interest who had operational control of significant aspects of the corporation's day to day functions, including compensation of employees, and who personally made decisions to continue operations despite financial adversity during the period of non-payment” were employers under the FLSA.

    What can you do to reduce your personal liability? The same things you can do to reduce your business liability.

    No. 1: Assume that your workers are employees

    A court is not going to be impressed with your contract calling your workers independent contractors and will not limit themselves to the definition in your contracts. Courts have instead adopted an expansive interpretation of the definitions relating to employment status under the FLSA.

    Instead, the Supreme Court has stated that the economic realities of the relationship govern whether a worker is an employee, and the focal point is “whether the individual is economically dependent on the business to which he renders service ... or is, as a matter of economic fact, in business for himself.”

    The safest thing you can do to protect your business, and yourself, is to start from the assumption that your workers are employees and work backwards. Please consult with an attorney before you start throwing out 1099s and find yourself in the crosshairs of a class action lawsuit.

    No. 2: Don’t dock your salaried employees’ pay

    Many employers, to avoid the hassle of maintaining employee time, will simply put employees on salary. Then, if the employee must take time off, an employer will reduce their salaried pay accordingly. This is a really easy way for a former employee suing you for back-wages to argue that they truly weren’t an exempt salaried employee, but instead were entitled to overtime for all of their time worked. Don’t do it.

    No. 3: Don’t modify time cards

    Unless you are absolutely, 100% certain the unmodified time on a timecard was inaccurate, and can prove it, do not modify the time card. More than once, evidence about manipulation of time-cards, even if the employer was doing it in good faith, has been the difference between whether a violation was a simple violation of the FLSA, or whether it was a willful violation of the FLSA. Why does that matter? Because ordinarily damages for unpaid wages ordinarily can only go back two years from the time of the complaint. If the violation was willful, that means plaintiffs can go back three years instead. By modifying those cards, you’ve opened your business, and yourself, up to an additional year of damages.

    No. 4: Pay for all time ‘worked’

    Are you making the employee do something for you? That’s work, even if it doesn’t look like it. Mandatory training and meetings? Work. Emails, texts, and phone calls when they’ve gone home already? Work. Break periods less than 20 minutes? Work. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Would there be negative consequences to an employee if they didn’t do the thing you asked them to do? If the answer is yes, then that’s probably additional work that you should be paying them for.

    No. 5: Arbitrate, arbitrate, arbitrate

    What’s worse than an FLSA complaint against yourself personally? How about a class action FLSA complaint against yourself personally? The easiest and simplest way to push that off is to 1) have an employment agreement with each and every employee and 2) include a class action waiver in the employment agreement. The U.S. Supreme Court as recently as last year upheld class action waivers in employment contracts as precluding any class action.

    This article is meant to be utilized as a general guideline for FLSA lawsuits. Nothing in this blog is intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to provide legal advice on which you should rely without talking to your own retained attorney first.  If you have questions about your particular legal situation, you should contact a legal professional.

    Nick Weiss of The Gertsburg Law Firm can be reached at 440-528-1233 or nweiss@gertsburglaw.com.

    An audit of your policies can help you avoid the pain of lawsuits. The Gertsburg Law Firm now offers CoverMySix, a one-stop legal audit for your business, led by award-winning litigators and in-house counsel. CM6 minimizes your exposure to lawsuits, investigations, disgruntled employees and customers, and all the damage that comes with them. Learn more about how to protect your business from lawsuits at covermysix.com
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  • Next up: Keeping the Peace: Strategies for Handling Suspected Workplace Misconduct
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  • Keeping the Peace: Strategies for Handling Suspected Workplace Misconduct

    Employers must strike a careful balancing act when investigating possible employee misconduct. Here are some guidelines to follow if your business is ever in that situation.

    If you’re already committed to a full-fledged investigation for employee misconduct, we’ve got you covered on procedure and best practices for employee workplace searches.

    But merely suspecting wrongdoing before the investigation phase is a different story. What should an employer do to protect the status quo—and employee interests—when an issue arises?

    Do your background research

    The company’s employee handbook should be your first stop in addressing potential misconduct. Consult your handbook to find out exactly what the “official” company stance is on the conduct at issue. This step is paramount because one of the employee handbook’s main functions is to put workers on notice of what conduct is prohibited and, equally important, what the consequences may be. An employee handbook should act as the first fair warning against proscribed behavior.

    By the same token, you don’t want to blindside a worker with an accusation not grounded in sound policies. If the handbook language is unclear or incomplete, you’ll want to consider revising and expanding it (coinciding with an informal discussion between a supervisor and the employee). At a minimum, your employee handbook should define categories of “misconduct,” outline the investigation process, notice requirements, effects of disciplinary action on employee salary and benefits, and any appeal procedures.

    It’s also wise to include a statement of company philosophy to reinforce the policies. Injecting purpose into otherwise formulaic procedures can make workers more responsive to protocol.

    Start informally

    Unless the alleged conduct is severe or some risk is clear and present, a gentle hand might yield the best results. If an employee is under suspicion, start by looking into his or her case file and research the employee’s history. This can provide a framework to the situation and establish a pattern of behavior (for better or worse). It may also give you some talking points.

    Then, you or your HR rep should talk with the employee off the record. The goal is to gain insight into what might have happened in a neutral and non-threatening way. Keeping lines of communication open is important, especially in this type of situation where undesirable behavior can stem from discontent or concern regarding something that may not be on your radar. Remember, the company’s role in any inquiry is that of a neutral arbiter, and by representing yourself in this way you can give an innocent employee the opportunity for vindication or expression of discontent.

    If the scenario involves a third party or another employee, consider a round table discussion with all individuals present. When the company is more interested in resolution than punishment, mediation can be a powerful tool, and you should never underestimate the influence of a respected coworker acting as a mediator.

    Set the groundwork for something official

    If an informal resolution isn’t forthcoming, you’ll need to prepare to launch an official investigation.

    In preparation, you should assign an investigator. This person can be a supervisor from another department, an HR rep, or some other person; but it should always be someone removed from the “chain of command” who is objectively neutral.

    Next, decide how to handle the employee who is the subject of investigation during this process. If the suspected conduct is serious enough (especially if it affects a third party), consider placing the employee on paid administrative leave during the investigation. This approach tends to strike a balance between fairness to the employee and the ability to conduct an unfettered inquiry.

    Whatever your course of action, the employee will need to be informed. Where possible, make this a face-to-face conversation to keep things personal and respectful—though, of course, if safety is an issue you can send notice of an investigation or administrative leave by phone or email or in writing.

    It can be difficult to discuss these matters but remembering to adopt a neutral stance and refraining from accusatory language will keep things cordial. If you expect confrontation or some other difficulty, you might want to have another ranking worker in the meeting as well.

    Don’t forget the housekeeping

    If the employee will be removed from the workplace for any period, give him or her the opportunity to take necessary personal items from the office. Conversely, be sure to retrieve company items from the employee’s personal possession.

    And of course: document everything. If for no other reason than to protect yourself from legal liability, document all details of the investigation, from the specific inquiries made, to facts and items discovered, to the company’s final determination. Be sure to set up your infrastructure to smoothly handle documentation, as this will be the basis for your employee database going forward.

    Reach an equitable decision

    Sometimes, deciding what to do when all the cards are on the table is the hardest part—after all, you and your managers will need to stand by the decision that’s made. Your best resources here are the employee handbook, which will hopefully serve as a roadmap for possible outcomes, and company precedent for disciplinary actions, which you can use to narrow your options for a consistent decision.

    In determining a course of action, consult company philosophy on such matters. Counseling or coaching is often favorable when dealing with a generally valuable employee. In the abstract, valuing rehabilitation over punishment tends to preserve and even enhance company culture.

    The last piece to the disciplinary puzzle is deciding whether to cite the violation internally. Doing so will put other employees on notice of the prohibited conduct and its consequences but can also expose loopholes in company policy if you don’t stay consistent.

    Epilogue: EEOC compliance

    Several themes run throughout our discussion: clear and constitutional policies, disciplinary consistency, and good documentation. Abiding by these philosophies also has the attendant benefit of avoiding retaliatory employee grievances under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    A strategic approach to workplace disputes will pay dividends, so develop your policies and handle each incident thoughtfully and you’ll be sure to do right by your workers.

    This article is meant to be utilized as a general guideline for handling suspected workplace misconduct. Nothing in this blog is intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to provide legal advice on which you should rely without talking to your own retained attorney first.  If you have questions about your particular legal situation, you should contact a legal professional.

    Mark Turner can be reached by phone at 440-571-7773 or by email at mt@gertsburglaw.com. Mark and the attorneys of The Gertsburg Law Firm now offer Cover My Six, a one-stop legal audit for your business, led by award-winning litigators and in-house counsel. CM6 minimizes your exposure to lawsuits, investigations, disgruntled employees and customers, and all the damage that comes with them. Visit www.covermysix.com to learn more about how to protect your business from lawsuits with this brand-new service.


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  • Next up: Successor Liability: How It Impacts Your Business
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  • Successor Liability: How It Impacts Your Business

    Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 259 on Dec. 22, 2015, that included a provision helping to ensure entrepreneurs will not be penalized in the form of increased workers’ compensation rates, outstanding balances, or uncovered claims costs for assuming space that was previously inhabited by a completely separate business with negative claims experience. Our partners at The Greater Cleveland Partnership and COSE have been a long-time advocate for reforms on this issue in order to avoid unpleasant surprises related to workers' compensation matters for business owners.

    Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 259 on Dec. 22, 2015, that included a provision helping to ensure entrepreneurs will not be penalized in the form of increased workers’ compensation rates, outstanding balances, or uncovered claims costs for assuming space that was previously inhabited by a completely separate business with negative claims experience. Our partners at The Greater Cleveland Partnership and COSE have been a long-time advocate for reforms on this issue in order to avoid unpleasant surprises related to workers' compensation matters for business owners.

    To date, business owners who started a business or who moved their business to a location that was previously occupied by a completely separate company may wind up inheriting certain workers’ compensation liabilities. A transfer of experience and/or debt—an Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) policy known as successor liability—had a negative and unanticipated impact on a business’ workers’ compensation costs. 

    With the approval of this legislation, the Ohio BWC will be required to reduce the transfer of negative experience to a successor employer under certain circumstances. And this legislation paves the way for relief for small business owners that are often unknowingly impacted until it is too late.

    “Business owners have been blindsided when they inherited these liabilities after the move occurs and it jeopardized a small business owner's ability to participate in certain workers’ compensation savings plans,” says COSE Executive Director Steve Millard.

    Due to the passage of House Bill 259, Ohio law now instructs the BWC to establish conditions and criteria that might reduce or waive negative experience to be transferred to an employer who is a successor in interest.

    “My company has opened four restaurants in Northeast Ohio the last few years,” says Operations Manager of Driftwood Restaurants Toby Heintzelman. “In three cases—and despite the fact that our company did not buy these businesses from the previous owners—we were surprised to learn that we were expected to pick up the previous companies’ workers’ compensation history. It made no sense. Moving forward, we’re encouraged that business owners will be responsible for the real risk they bring, not the history or disputes of former occupants.”

    BWC also now provides a limited release of relevant workers’ compensation information before an acquisition or merger occurs. To help facilitate these requests, the Request for Business Transfer Information (AC-4) Form has been created. This form, which both parties must sign, allows the buyer to view any outstanding liabilities as well as the risk experience of the predecessor.

    “The Governor, Ohio BWC, and legislative leaders like former State Representative Barbara Sears are to be commended for listening to the business community and acting on this issue,” says Millard. “The old approach served to prevent, or even worse, penalize new business creation in previously occupied or abandoned facilities. We’re confident these common sense changes will provide small business owners with greater clarity when they move to a new place or open up a new business which will help revitalize Ohio neighborhoods and lead to economic growth.”

     

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