Volume 14, Issue 3 - May/June 2010

AsktheExpert


For What It’s Worth

Hello and welcome! I am excited to be a new part of Window Film magazine, as the window film industry is one that is continuing to evolve and grow. Some of these changes may leave you wondering how best to handle a particular situation, and that’s why I am here to help. Please feel free to send in your questions (see box below for information on where to send your questions) regarding how to improve your business, how to market your business or how to handle clients. It is my job to answer those questions with an unbiased opinion, hopefully giving you insight on how to improve your business.

Commission vs. Salary
The following is one question that came across my desk twice within one week:

What have you found in the marketplace on how window film installers (both flat glass and automotive) get paid? Do companies pay hourly or salary? What seems to be the going rate?
Thank you,
Anonymous


While I cannot give you exact numbers or rates, I can give you guidelines on how to handle this delicate balance. I am limited in this column as to the depth of my explanation but, for those of you who are seeking guidance on this subject, I will be able to open the doorway for you to think about your employees’ incomes in a new light.

Traditionally, companies in our industry have paid a percentage of the ticket to automotive installers and square footage to flat glass installers. Percentages can trigger repercussions for the business owner on a weekly basis. For instance, if you are an automotive installation company and you are offering high-end products, should the installers expect to receive the same percentage as they would on a less expensive product? Is the installer entitled to make more money on a premium product?

In another instance, what if you are a flat glass company and you send two installers to the same jobsite. The job has removal, upper windows and some panels, which will require a seam. How do you decide which installer will do what aspects of the job? Who is climbing the ladder and do you pay additional fees for work off the ground? Who is keeping track of the work being completed? What if the client calls you back for a few replacement panels due to poor workmanship? Who is sent to the jobsite for the removal and re-tint? Who is paying for the material?

If you have been in business for any length of time, you have probably already encountered such dilemmas. I have danced this dance with many installation teams throughout the years. My best advice is this: simplify your payment structure. At one point in my business life, I had more than 20 employees. Can you imagine figuring commission for this many installers, sales team members and staff? Yes, it was challenging.

So, my solution was to put everyone on salary. Each staff member was evaluated based on several areas of criteria and then each staff member was offered a salary with benefits. Salaries were negotiated annually based on their yearly evaluation, and bonuses were given to those who excelled or exceeded expectations.

Payment Plan
Staff members understood that the summer months might still require long hours, nights and weekends. However, in the winter, when our industry has the tendency to slow down, no one had to worry about whether they’d be able to get in enough hours. Each employee received a paycheck every week and each employee was paid the same one week as the next.
No longer did installers suffer financially when they took a vacation. The company was even able to afford benefits for the entire staff, such as paid vacations and health benefits.

This solution turned out to be the best way to keep everyone happy all year around. The best part of the solution was that employees were happy and stayed with the company.

I hope this helped give you one solution to the compensation dilemma. I look forward to answering your questions in the next issue.

Got a question for Donna?
Please e-mail it to us at erogers@glass.com. Individual names and company names will be withheld upon request.

Donna Wells has worked in the window film industry since the 1980s and is currently sole proprietor of Image Imagination in Huntington Beach, Calif. Ms. Wells’ opinions are solely her own and not necessarily those of this magazine.


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