In the email I got from Ted, it mentioned a season ticket holder q&a Friday at 10. I figured it was nice to be invited, but I couldn't go. Turns out, they've called me with some auto call technology and I'm listening in and can even ask questions. I'm working now and may have to hang up the phone, but I'll try to track the questions and answers here:
opening statement: long time fan, wants to expand season ticket holder base, now number 2 in the NHL with the caps, thinks we can do it with the Wizards.
Contact him by email, facebook, and twitter.
Treat your employees like you would like them to treat your best customers. What are your plans for making the Wizards a "happy company"?
Ted: good question. Need motivated employees. First, empower them. Treat with respect and dignity. Meet with employees, spoke with everyone yesterday and will continue to do so in an ongoing basis over next 100 days. Thinks employees and season ticket holders know best. Open door policy, likes errors of commission over errors of omission. Will try to replicate successes of AOL and Capitals.
I live on the eastern shore, so can't buy season tickets. Please keep ticket prices down, for individual game tickets.
Ted: want to market to the entire 3 state area. Looking at how we rescale the house and how we can offer introductory packages. Wizards have had very aggressive promotions for low prices. But we need to build a great team and a world class franchise and we need people to buy season tickets because that is revenues you can count on. So we'll focus on that and then move on to partial plans and packages.
Caps fan and Wizards fan. Delighted how the Caps have embraced a family orientation. Lots of kids at Caps game. Will that translate into basketball and Wizards?
Ted: Thanks. the answer is yes. For the most part, it is families that you see at games. We're not like MSG even though we're a cosmopolitan city. At MSG, see thousands in suits, at Wiz and Caps, people dressed casually. Fans go with family or dates. Want to market to families, expand horizon to include more female interest programming and young adult and family programming. Best way to expand fan base. Keep things safe and clean while still having some hipness. Maybe we'll introduce some country music or rock .
How do you motivate athletes and employees toward team goals when they’re paid for individual accomplishments?
Ted: Good question. How do you metric and how do you reward. Reading about the Spurs and how they cast their team around Duncan and how they crafted the team and the important role of Bruce Bowen. They treated him and paid him like a star because he did the dirty work and knew what his role was. Celtics are similar. Key thing is to articulate what the higher calling of your enterprise or team is, and to celebrate winning as opposed to individual accomplishments. Need buy in. Seeing it with Caps and want to expand it to the Wizards. Ovie and Backstrom buying into winning team culture. So we’ve been able to create that type of environment with the Caps and I’m hopeful we can do it with the Wizards. Work with young players who buy in early and understand what we are trying to do together. Explained to Ovie how bad it would be then how good, and he bought in. Hoping we have that opportunity with the Wizards. Players have to be happy and how can they not be happy with a huge energetic fan base with good ownership and fellow players who are like minded. Fans are big part of the equation. Players like playing in front of full house and are more connected. He really means “we’re all in this together”.
Comment: I’m a happy customer. I see that your goal is to keep me a happy customer and I appreciate it.
Ted: Thanks. It is sincere. I am a season ticket holder and so I know how the accumulation of lots of little things add up to the total experience and the performance of the team is important too. Talks about the comments about lack of catsup. Little things are important. I will walk by the catsup stands and make sure they are full and clean. It will make everyone understand that there is no customer request that is too small and is not important. If catsup is important to you, its important to me.
What is your plan to create a world class franchise?
Ted: I’m impressed with the quality of questions and observations. I’ve been doing lots of research into what works in the NBA and the teams considered world class and the teams that have won championships. In 20 years, only 7 teams have won. So it must be hard. It’s the ultimate deliverable to the fan base to win a championship. When I decompose the champions, for the most part were built with their foundational first players around the draft. They traded for pieces, but for the most part, foundational players were picked high in the draft. Same in the NHL. Blackhawks best players were high picks. The Lakers, Magic and Kobe were drafted, Duncan and Robinson were drafted, Jordan was drafted. Other than current Celtics, the majority started with a high and great draft pick. “Blessed by fate” to win the lottery. I knew we would win it. I would like to get another high pick. Use this draft to launch the next generation of the Wizards. Once we see what we have, then we’ll explore trades and free agency. Other than Shaq, can’t remember another big free agent signing that helped the team win it all the next year. Use free agency as one of the tool, not the only tool. Oklahoma is pretty good building around the draft. Primary focus and directives to Ernie and Flip is “Let’s take advantage of this gift that we’ve been given and rebuild with young players, then see about free agents”.
Owner of Caps, Mystics, Verizon Center, and Wizards. Up and down team for the last several years, but dynamics of team didn’t fit playoff scenario, meaning couldn’t get past 1st round. As an owner, with Gil and the first pick, what can the fans expect within the next 1 to 3 years from the Wizards as far as turning it around?
Ted: Most important to articulate strategy and plan. Communicate it and stick with it. Only 6 players under contract. Ernie’s moves were appropriate and exciting because they were not getting it done. Had a high payroll. But bad luck and stale dynamics became apparent. Want players who want to be here, have high basketball iq, combine great athleticism with high levels of coachability. Being coachable and adhering to a system is a big part of the battle for team success and individual success. Players will understand coaches and owner’s expectations. Positive reinforcement with more wins. That’s what we are committed to create. I will be transparent with the expectations and plan. People who don’t buy in anywhere in the organization, will leave the organization. Caps had 2 captains who didn’t buy in, demanded trades, we traded them. So those things happen. Be consistent with expectations and plan.
Small and growing set of hardcore Wizards fans who have bought in. Aside from buying tickets, what can we do to help?
Ted: be very honest with input to us. I really do want to listen. I read email and will have lots of sessions. Doing it in a partnership oriented way. 90% of email is great. 10% caustic. I want to process and make action plans on the input. Give honest but actionable items in your comments and emails. Be a “net promoter”. if you are happy with what we’re doing, you will tell a friend or bring a friend to the game. This is the big goal. Buy in early, because once its gone, there’s nothing else I can sell you. Once we sell out, I don’t have any more tickets. So buy in early. Etc. Wants to turn the Wizards into Malibu beachfront property.