Keep 'em Happy
Good salespeople are hard to find, and many C-tailers are going to great lengths to retain them.
By Audrey Gray
2003 will go down in Wilshire Home Entertainment's company
lore as the year no one called out sick.
Interestingly, it was also the year strange packages arrived at the homes of the Southern California C-tailer's sales staff. One day, it was boxes of suntan lotion. Another, chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.
Those packages were helpful little reminders of a huge incentive:
If the sales force met an annual goal, each and every Wilshire employee would be awarded a week for two in Maui, all expenses paid.
"Those packages would arrive at the homes," remembers Steve Honig, Wilshire's director of sales, "and the spouses would go, 'Hey, how's that contest going?' It was crazy. We were all looking at every person every day. 'How are we doing? How are we doing?' You can imagine the camaraderie as a unit as we all worked together for a common goal, measuring it month by month."
In a fraught but stunning climax, the staff met the goal on the very last day of the contest, March 31. That year, Wilshire staggered vacations, flying employees out one by one for their Hawaiian getaways and welcoming back each tanned salesperson for a new fiscal year.
"It was quite expensive for the company to do it, but we couldn't believe we met that goal," says Honig.
While the contest helped Wilshire meet its sales goal, it also reinforced, just as significantly, a long-held company philosophy. "Lyn Perry [Wilshire's owner] recognizes the value of employees, and that's why we don't have turnover," says Honig. "Once they're here, they don't want to leave."
In a business climate where career-long, or even decade-long, employee-employer relationships are becoming the exception rather than the norm, custom retail owners and managers are grappling with the expensive prospects of having to regularly recruit, train and sustain salespeople who really "get it."