Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Florida Panthers’ new owner dramatically cuts PR and sales staffs

Those of us who've worked several jobs know that the term "Under New Management!" can mean very, very bad news for one's job security, especially in sales or service professions, because "new management" tends to want to bring in its "own people." Oftentimes the "new boss" also likes to make a sacrificial firing or three to prove that they "mean business," too, but the story that came out of South Florida today had me shaking my head.

The boss just Tweeted this one out, but I've got a serious case of "What the *#$%@&?!??!-itis," so I'd like to post it. The Miami Herald's George Richards reports that the Panthers' new ownership made some massive cuts today...

The Panthers laid off approximately 30 employees today with most of the damage coming within the team's sales department.

I was told at least one Vice President was fired as well as a long-time employee within the team's public relations staff. Other positions from throughout the organization were closed. I've been told many won't be replaced, at least not anytime soon.

According to someone who spoke with me this afternoon, the team called a meeting in a conference room at the arena and told those employees there they were being let go.

The message: The team is losing money and needs to save some.

And the Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Filkaov notes that the firings were particularly ironic given the team's new ownership's purported financial commitment to putting a winning product on the ice (and his number's at 25...I read a Tweet that suggested 35 people were fired, so the official number of employees "let go" is sketchy):

Apparently, most of the nearly 25 employees laid off were high-level sales people and service representatives and none came from the hockey operations side, a team source confirmed.

The irony is that Panthers owner Vinnie Viola has granted Tallon permission to spend up to the salary-cap ceiling of $71.1 million or about $30 million to acquire top-tier hockey talent. However, the Panthers finished 29th in attendance, averaging 14,177 fans in 41 home dates, so Babich clearly felt a reorganization of the sales force was called for.

Babich's released a statement to the media in which he said that, "we undertook a reorganization that resulted in certain positions being eliminated,'' and the changes, "will enable us to operate efficiently while continuing to focus on bringing the best in sports and entertainment to BB&T Center.''

Babich also sent an e-mail to his season-ticket holders and sponsors.

"While we continue our search for the best candidate to hire as our head coach, prepare for our number one pick in the draft later this month and gear up for the start of free agency, we also continue to focus on striving to provide the best in class service to our fans and sponsors,'' he wrote.

Wowzers.

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: florida+panthers

Comments

Primis's avatar

Your sales staff can’t sell tickets in your market (because it’s a lousy market), so you… fire your sales staff?  How exactly will that result is more butts in seats?

“The beatings will continue until morale improves…”

Posted by Primis on 06/02/14 at 10:13 PM ET

Avatar

Your sales staff can’t sell tickets in your market (because it’s a lousy market), so you… fire your sales staff?  How exactly will that result is more butts in seats?

“The beatings will continue until morale improves…”

Posted by Primis on 06/02/14 at 11:13 PM ET

Well, you can’t fire fans who don’t show up. So something’s gotta give

Posted by George0211 on 06/03/14 at 07:33 AM ET

RockWestfall711's avatar

Winning would cure all.  There are too many options in Miami.  No sports team does worth a damn down there unless they WIN.  Heat, Fins, Marlins, The U all rock thousands of empties unless they win.  Not a hockey issue.

Posted by RockWestfall711 from Las Vegas on 06/03/14 at 07:47 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

I hate to hear of these folks losing their jobs, but I guess that’s just it… you don’t need a big ticket sales staff when your team isn’t very good. Even a salesperson that can sell ketchup to a lady in a white dress couldn’t sell Panthers tickets beyond the die-hards, and the definition of a die-hard is that they’re buying anyways. Seems like compared to hockey ops salaries this is a drop in the bucket, and for that reason it seems silly, but if you want to boil it down to brass tacks, it probably makes sense to cut dollars here, focus on spending on hockey ops and players, and when the team is good, then you rebuild the PR team.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 06/03/14 at 08:00 AM ET

SnLO's avatar

The team is losing money and needs to save some.

So… saying each employee only costs $100k annual; that only works out to be $3m annual saved by reducing the staff. Really? $3m is that significant of an amount to save; it makes that much a difference? The team has 6 players earning over $3m each. Maybe trade a couple of them away to get more value for money first, eh? The penny pinching in this country with employee earnings/salary is really starting to get on my nerves.

Posted by SnLO from beyond the M-1 on 06/03/14 at 09:16 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

Maybe teams need a payroll floor to go along with the salary cap floor. Of course, that would mean the employees would need to organize and bargain collectively. I’d gladly throw a few bones in the pot to help with that.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 06/03/14 at 09:29 AM ET

awould's avatar

$3m is that significant of an amount to save; it makes that much a difference?

Could be the difference between a quality 2nd line center and a crappy one, which could be the difference between making the playoffs and missing them. So yeah.

Could be he’s shifting dollars to what he thinks, as owner, is a more effective way to generate ticket sales, or merchandise sales, or whatever his priority is. Maybe he’s planning on investing more in the on-ice product (i.e. The Team) to win some more games, since winning will sell more tickets than any intern with a telephone could.

Posted by awould on 06/03/14 at 12:46 PM ET

SnLO's avatar

Posted by awould on 06/03/14 at 01:46 PM ET

Bear in mind that I am only speculating. I am probably speculating to the high side of cost when I say that each employee cost an average of $100k annual to employ too. It is one thing to reduce staff in context of obsolescence or redesign of corporate structure, but quite another under the guise of cost savings when the savings is fairly insignificant in the overall scheme of things. It only serves to be a manipulation of perspective on Jon Q Public. Evidence they didn’t fire all the PR guys.

Now had I read the whole post before commenting in the first place, I would have read the Sun-Sentinel excerpt, which included statements like: Panthers owner Vinnie Viola has granted Tallon permission to spend up to the salary-cap ceiling… which contradicts the need for savings. (Point to me) But relative to marketing and sales staff performance: ...so Babich clearly felt a reorganization of the sales force was called for. Babich being team CEO/President Rory Babich. (Point to you) Only problem there is the chicken or egg argument: are people not coming because of poor sales and marketing staff performance, poor product on the ice, people have better things to do outside in nice weather or any combination thereof. (Draw)

Posted by SnLO from beyond the M-1 on 06/03/14 at 01:45 PM ET

awould's avatar

Only problem there is the chicken or egg argument: are people not coming because of poor sales and marketing staff performance, poor product on the ice, people have better things to do outside in nice weather or any combination thereof. (Draw)

Hockey is a tough sell in Florida anyways. If I had a losing team, I wouldn’t keep much of a staff of sales people. I’d keep some marketing/advertising/sponsorship folks. Tickets are a tough sale with a losing team and changing the perception of the team is best done through advertising/PR while working to improve the team.

A winning team doesn’t need ticket sales people, and a losing team negates the efforts anyways, so it seems like he’s saving money be doing away with a relatively useless group of employees (no fault of their own). I mean, obviously you have to keep some around, but how many? Probably less than Florida had.

Posted by awould on 06/03/14 at 01:49 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.

Smileys

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Feed

Most Recent Blog Posts

About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com