Westchester County Business Journal

Even small businesses can
master the 'Net, panel agrees


As director of operations for a Maid Brigade franchise based in Pleasantville and Greenwich, Conn., Mark Glazewski is a pro at cleaning houses for customers. But, he confesses, he's so unfamiliar with the Internet that every time he sends people an e-mail, he follows up with a phone call to see if they received it.

"I'm a traditional businessman. The whole thing (the Internet) kind of scares me. I feel that it's all over my head and flying by," Glazewski told an audience of some 80 business people at a technology seminar in White Plains earlier this month. "Hopefully, the Internet's not going to figure out a way to clean houses."

Four of the five guest panelists on hand had some comfort, and answers, for Glazewski. The first thing he needs is a new website specifically for his local franchise, with a link to Maid Brigade's national website (www.maidbrigade.com), said Edward L. Jenny, IBM worldwide Internet services offering executive with the Global Small Business unit of Armonk-based International Business Machines Corp.

More advice came from Michael Drapkin, chairman of the e-commerce track of Columbia University's Advanced Information Technology Management program and principal of the Monsey consulting firm Drapkin Technology.

"Ask yourself, What can I use this medium for that I can't do in other ways? Schedule appointments? Cleaning tips? Emergency business?"

Drapkin and two another panelists said the web should be seen as a means to an age-old end customer satisfaction.

"As a small business, your competitive advantage is your relationship with your customers. Leverage that. Use the Internet as a tool to get those communications more effective, more personal, to solidify that relationship," said Steve L. Abrams, senior vice president for corporate payment solutions with MasterCard International Inc. in Purchase.

The panelists were on hand to address "How Your Small Business Can Utilize and Adapt to the Internet," the title of the seminar presented June 10 by the New York State Small Business Development Center, Mercy College and The County Chamber of Commerce Inc. at the White Plains Public Library. MORE

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