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RANT The #1 reason why Brick & Mortar businesses fail.

IamCJTurner

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*My apologies if I have allocated this thread to the wrong Category.*

So I went to a local computer hardware store the other day, to price up some items that I wanted to purchase. Being that I am a bit old skool, I like to go inside shops, look around and test out the sales staff.

Sales Guy - Let's call him Colin.

Colin: Hey, can I help you with anything.
Me: No, I am just looking thanks.
*Awkward silence as I looked him in the eye
After about 5 minutes of walking around the store, I saw something I liked and matched prices on my phone off the internet.
Me: Can you beat internet prices?
Colin: We can match them.
Me: No, I asked if you could BEAT them (In a joking manner)
Colin: That's not my decision
*Another awkward moment. 5 seconds silence whilst I waited for Colin to use an ounce of initiative and see if he could find out more info.
Nothing!
Me: Ok, let's just say I wanted to buy 7 of these machines, would you be able to provide a discount.
At this stage, I couldn't have thrown a bigger bait for him to bite
*Customer buying signal - ALERT ALERT*
Colin: I wouldn't be able to decide that, it's a head office decision. I can give you the number of you like, so you can call them.
Me: No, that's not how it works (In a joking way).
*Pulls out my business card and hands it to him
Me: Tell you what, why don't you ask the head office to reach out to me, so we can work something out.
This the most shocking part
Colin: We dont really have contact with them, it'd be best if you contact them directly.
*Hands me my F*cking business card back*
Me: Right ..... *Lost for words*. Ok, I'll give them a call.

I then walked out of the store.

So, let me get this right, I walked into the store, showed the intention to purchase some pretty expensive equipment - then they allow the customer to walk out the door, without even knowing my name? Good lord..

Apart from being a private equity bloodbath, this is the very same reason why businesses like Toys R Us go into liquidation.
The store in question was not even a big chain, more of a multiple independent, selling high ticket premium goods, so I would imagine there sales staff or going to be on-point.

I see this failure day in, day out.

KNOW WHO YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE.
I believe the failure of this, is the reason why retail businesses fail... and even for all businesses for that matter.

They are people just like you & Me..

Rant over.

As you were.

 

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Sounds like you met with an employee just looking to get through his day.

He could careless about what you wanted to buy, he just wanted the day to end and the paycheck at the end of the week.
 

ClaverCasley

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*My apologies if I have allocated this thread to the wrong Category.*

So I went to a local computer hardware store the other day, to price up some items that I wanted to purchase. Being that I am a bit old skool, I like to go inside shops, look around and test out the sales staff.

Sales Guy - Let's call him Colin.

Colin: Hey, can I help you with anything.
Me: No, I am just looking thanks.
*Awkward silence as I looked him in the eye
After about 5 minutes of walking around the store, I saw something I liked and matched prices on my phone off the internet.
Me: Can you beat internet prices?
Colin: We can match them.
Me: No, I asked if you could BEAT them (In a joking manner)
Colin: That's not my decision
*Another awkward moment. 5 seconds silence whilst I waited for Colin to use an ounce of initiative and see if he could find out more info.
Nothing!
Me: Ok, let's just say I wanted to buy 7 of these machines, would you be able to provide a discount.
At this stage, I couldn't have thrown a bigger bait for him to bite
*Customer buying signal - ALERT ALERT*
Colin: I wouldn't be able to decide that, it's a head office decision. I can give you the number of you like, so you can call them.
Me: No, that's not how it works (In a joking way).
*Pulls out my business card and hands it to him
Me: Tell you what, why don't you ask the head office to reach out to me, so we can work something out.
This the most shocking part
Colin: We dont really have contact with them, it'd be best if you contact them directly.
*Hands me my f*cking business card back*
Me: Right ..... *Lost for words*. Ok, I'll give them a call.

I then walked out of the store.

So, let me get this right, I walked into the store, showed the intention to purchase some pretty expensive equipment - then they allow the customer to walk out the door, without even knowing my name? Good lord..

Apart from being a private equity bloodbath, this is the very same reason why businesses like Toys R Us go into liquidation.
The store in question was not even a big chain, more of a multiple independent, selling high ticket premium goods, so I would imagine there sales staff or going to be on-point.

I see this failure day in, day out.

KNOW WHO YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE.
I believe the failure of this, is the reason why retail businesses fail... and even for all businesses for that matter.

They are people just like you & Me..

Rant over.

As you were.

1. They hired the wrong sales guy.

2. The owner didn't equipped him with much training.

Some business owner prefer employee's obedience rather than profits. (pretty stupid huh?)

I would have prefer B&M model instead of online, BTW.

Sent from my Z130 using Tapatalk
 

Mr.Brandtastic

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He could careless about what you wanted to buy, he just wanted the day to end and the paycheck at the end of the week.
Sounds just like my experience in retail auto parts. How can I distract myself long enough so that my head doesn't explode? Yes there is a such thing as a stupid question, work in retail to find out.
 

RobD88

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On the flip side the exact opposite is how the brick and mortar stores that are surviving/thriving do so. Good customer service is so rare these days that the businesses that focus on it truly do stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Having employees that are knowledgeable about the product or service and empowered to make decisions (so long as they fit within the company's goals and a set of minimum parameters) is the key to winning customers and repeat business.

I specifically use an auto repair/service station for this exact reason. The counter guys are also technicians and allowed to provide discounts and added services for free. They keep a detailed database of their customers, the last time they were in, what was done, what was talked about maybe needing to be done in the future, they provide a great experience and it keeps me coming back even though there are five other shops nearby that sometimes offer better pricing or special sales.
 

rollerskates

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1. They hired the wrong sales guy.

2. The owner didn't equipped him with much training.

Some business owner prefer employee's obedience rather than profits. (pretty stupid huh?)
Lately, it seems like this is everywhere. I'm not sure if employees are getting stupider or employers are getting lazier in their hiring and training practices. The dumb is EVERYWHERE.
 

WJK

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KNOW WHO YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE.
I believe the failure of this, is the reason why retail businesses fail... and even for all businesses for that matter.
Retailers started on this slippery slope many years ago with self-service stores -- big box stores with a cashier at the front of the store... Grocery stores with no butchers -- their meats are prepackaged and presented in self-service cases. No bakers or produce people -- just people stocking the shelves. Think of self-checkout with scan bars. The other factor is that manufactured goods have gotten relatively cheaper than they were in the past. They no longer have the same comparative value in our lives. Then, enter Amazon.com and the internet stage left. Almost everything that we buy these days is treated like a commodity and it ends up a computer generated comparison grid. Yes, the little clerk in the corner store has no power. The power is centralized and the clerk is soon to be replaced by a scanning machine.
 

NickNack

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Colin's blog entry for today:

Some guy came into the store today. It was obvious he wasn't here to buy - He would look at a computer, then down at his phone, and repeat. Obviously just checking out hardware so he can get it for the cheapest price online later.

Still, got to walk the walk, and of course we can match online prices from reputable dealers, although it doesn't leave us much margin. But a customer is a customer, so I ask if there's anything I can help him with.

"No, I am just looking thanks."

And then he just... stares at me for a bit. OK man, you're just looking. Go to it! Eventually he broke off and kept wandering around, but it was weird - I felt pretty uncomfortable, to be honest.

So a few minutes go by and he comes over, still with phone in hand, and he's definitely been comparing prices, because he has the screen open on the site for the cheapest, nastiest online seller I know of.

Sure enough:
"Can you beat internet prices?"

Ah, beat. Most people ask us to match, which we can, but like I said, it doesn't leave us much margin. Beating the price basically means we're paying the customer to take merchandise away. It's frustrating when people don't understand the simple maths behind this. We have to pay the rent for the nice store he's walking around, keeping display stock up to date, public liability insurance, and on and on - it costs a LOT of money to just have the doors open.

I start to explain.
"We can match them, but unfortunately..."
He cuts me off, grinning "No, I asked if you could BEAT them"

No, but we can definitely beat their yelp scores mate.


I've pretty much given up on the guy at this point. I reckon I explain to about half a dozen customers a day that we can't beat the lowest online price, that's just the nature of a brick and mortar store. If you want to be able come and try the product before you buy, access instant new-for-old warranty replacement, a friendly returns policy, or complementary after-sales technical support, then you pay a little bit extra. We're happy to negotiate, but can only go so far. If a customer really doesn't want anything other than lowest price, we even have a few online retailers we can recommend. We don't like to see people getting screwed, and there are some good online shops out there who still offer pretty decent service.

The one he's been looking at is not one of those ones!

Anyway, I have a spiel to explain all this, but there are some other customers coming in at this point, and it's abundantly clear that this guy isn't really here to buy. I tell him it's not my decision, hoping he'll say thanks anyway and move on so I can get on with serving customers who plan to actually spend money.

Except oh yay... he's eyeballing me again.

Finally he speaks: "Ok, let's just say I wanted to buy 7 of these machines, would you be able to provide a discount."

I quickly do the maths - let's see, if we give him one at below-cost, we'll lose money.

So now if we give him seven... oh well sure, we'll get right on that.

No of course I don't say that, although I'm tempted. Instead I pull out the "above my pay grade" line again, say something about head office, and offer to give him the number.

"No, that's not how it works" he says, with that weird grin again. "Tell you what..."
he handsme his business card, "Why don't you ask the head office to reach out to me, so we can work something out."

I'm tempted to do it - head office will explain the margins, explain the in-person after-sale service he'll receive in return (something I'd assume would be valuable to him as a business operator) but the other customers are waiting for service, and I've spent enough time with this guy. Go buy them online mate - hopefully they send you the right thing, and it doesn't break, otherwise have fun sending them back to a warehouse in the middle of nowhere for repair...

"We dont really have contact with them, it'd be best if you contact them directly."

I hand his card back and go serve the next customer. It's an older gentleman who wants to replace his computer. We sell him a laptop, and are able able to also suggest a new printer so he can print out photos for the mantlepiece, and a WiFi extender so he can use the computer in his summer house. Our tech will be around at his house tomorrow to transfer all the data from his old machine set it all up for him. He won't get that shopping online!
 
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minivanman

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Now THAT ^^^ is GOLD right there NickNack because that is exactly what I was thinking.

I LOVE paying by commission. When I had a secretary I tried to pay her commission but couldn't find a way. I bet if the marketing crew did their job and brought several customers to Colin every day and he was paid on commission, he would have been more than happy to pull out his cell phone and see if he could work a deal. But Colin gets paid peanuts so he doesn't really care if the COMPANY sells 20 a day or 0 a year. He drank (spent his last $4 on cheap wine) until 2am so he prolly didn't really want to be there anyway. His cabinets have no food in them, his rent is past due and it all stems from no one showing Colin how to be more as he was growing up. Not to mention all the PITA's he has to put up with every day wanting something for nothing. An why do they think HE has any control over that?

I have a question for the OP.... have you ever contacted a seller online to ask for a cheaper price? If so, did they give it to you? I don't know.... just asking..... I mean, an online seller has WAY less overhead than a brick and mortar so they should be able to give you one HELL of a price compared.... right?

Personally, any business that I've ever owned has never given even a 1 penny discount.
 

TommyZ

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I must say that I have experienced poor service in big clothing stores so many times now that I've given up on them. And I genuinely wanted to buy, and buy fast!
When I used to go to buy clothing, I'd go into one of the big stores because they have a large range and are usually cheaper.
Thing is, I cant get any help no matter what, and I'm their to buy and buy fast. I want to get this clothes shopping business out of the way!
So I end up in the smaller boutique clothing stores where I actually get help, even though they have a poor range and cost more money.
I've experienced it where a good sales girl in a smaller store has sold me $500 over what i planned to spend, just because she gave me some service and I kind of did need the clothes.

Then I start thinking how much money these big stores are losing.
How do they not see it?
They must have smart people working for them and doing these sums?
Does a business get to a certain size where it becomes corporatized and starts to miss the obvious?
I know the costs are tight in a retail store, but when a good sales person can sell 5-10 times that of a poor one...
The margins must be their!
I've run a number of business's over the years and I just don't get this, I just don't.
 

RobD88

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Colin's blog entry for today:

Some guy came into the store today. It was obvious he wasn't here to buy - He would look at a computer, then down at his phone, and repeat. Obviously just checking out hardware so he can get it for the cheapest price online later.

Still, got to walk the walk, and of course we can match online prices from reputable dealers, although it doesn't leave us much margin. But a customer is a customer, so I ask if there's anything I can help him with.

"No, I am just looking thanks."

And then he just... stares at me for a bit. OK man, you're just looking. Go to it! Eventually he broke off and kept wandering around, but it was weird - I felt pretty uncomfortable, to be honest.

So a few minutes go by and he comes over, still with phone in hand, and he's definitely been comparing prices, because he has the screen open on the site for the cheapest, nastiest online seller I know of.

Sure enough:
"Can you beat internet prices?"

Ah, beat. Most people ask us to match, which we can, but like I said, it doesn't leave us much margin. Beating the price basically means we're paying the customer to take merchandise away. It's frustrating when people don't understand the simple maths behind this. We have to pay the rent for the nice store he's walking around, keeping display stock up to date, public liability insurance, and on and on - it costs a LOT of money to just have the doors open.

I start to explain.
"We can match them, but unfortunately..."
He cuts me off, grinning "No, I asked if you could BEAT them"

No, but we can definitely beat their yelp scores mate.


I've pretty much given up on the guy at this point. I reckon I explain to about half a dozen customers a day that we can't beat the lowest online price, that's just the nature of a brick and mortar store. If you want to be able come and try the product before you buy, access instant new-for-old warranty replacement, a friendly returns policy, or complementary after-sales technical support, then you pay a little bit extra. We're happy to negotiate, but can only go so far. If a customer really doesn't want anything other than lowest price, we even have a few online retailers we can recommend. We don't like to see people getting screwed, and there are some good online shops out there who still offer pretty decent service.

The one he's been looking at is not one of those ones!

Anyway, I have a spiel to explain all this, but there are some other customers coming in at this point, and it's abundantly clear that this guy isn't really here to buy. I tell him it's not my decision, hoping he'll say thanks anyway and move on so I can get on with serving customers who plan to actually spend money.

Except oh yay... he's eyeballing me again.

Finally he speaks: "Ok, let's just say I wanted to buy 7 of these machines, would you be able to provide a discount."

I quickly do the maths - let's see, if we give him one at below-cost, we'll lose money.

So now if we give him seven... oh well sure, we'll get right on that.

No of course I don't say that, although I'm tempted. Instead I pull out the "above my pay grade" line again, say something about head office, and offer to give him the number.

"No, that's not how it works" he says, with that weird grin again. "Tell you what..."
he handsme his business card, "Why don't you ask the head office to reach out to me, so we can work something out."

I'm tempted to do it - head office will explain the margins, explain the in-person after-sale service he'll receive in return (something I'd assume would be valuable to him as a business operator) but the other customers are waiting for service, and I've spent enough time with this guy. Go buy them online mate - hopefully they send you the right thing, and it doesn't break, otherwise have fun sending them back to a warehouse in the middle of nowhere for repair...

"We dont really have contact with them, it'd be best if you contact them directly."

I hand his card back and go serve the next customer. It's an older gentleman who wants to replace his computer. We sell him a laptop, and are able able to also suggest a new printer so he can print out photos for the mantlepiece, and a WiFi extender so he can use the computer in his summer house. Our tech will be around at his house tomorrow to transfer all the data from his old machine set it all up for him. He won't get that shopping online!
Your point is well taken and there are definitely two sides to every story. However, I will suggest that in today's world, more times that not it's the other way around. Just poor customer service. Most companies today spend more time and money obtaining new customers with discounts and fancy offers than they do on retaining profitable repeat or long term customers. They would rather have the sale of the century than train and empower their employees to treat their existing customers better.

I for one would have rather had the spiel about after the sale service, liberal exchange policies, warranties, product training, etc. Maybe in my fervor to find the best price and not get ripped off I didn't think about that.

The only way brick and mortar survives is by decomoditizing their products/services. Why do you think Starbucks is what it is? They don't have the best coffee and definitely not the cheapest. They figured out a way to make coffee not a commodity.
 

ironman150

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This is a great post and thread. My first employer (oh so many years ago now) was HUGE into training. He said once that it hurts when they spend so much time and money into training people and then they leave but it was far worse back when they didn't train anyone and the employee stayed.
 

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Encourage you to send the feedback to the company or owner. Sometimes they don't know!

Give them a chance to fix it and you just might get the vendor you need!
 

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Hi CJTurner

You know the Texan comedian Reginald D Hunter?

He made a joke about us in one of his shows years ago about why we have crap customer service and in Texas they have great customer service.

The employee in the UK knows we don't have a gun in our bag! The Texan employee...:)

Dan
 

Patrickg

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POSITIVE RANT - To Follow


I believe this a much deeper problem than just one B&M store. There is a societal issue today of not getting shit done. All to often employees just accept this isnt going to work so I'm gonna give up.

I see it in online interactions too FYI. Try callling in something that doesn't fit the script. Especially health or government.

The positive spin for the younger generation is we have immense opportunity because the sheep are so a custom to just accepting status quo. If they attempt to start a business the best they got is selling a red stapler instead of a black one on Amazon.

Another positive is if you deliver ** Extremly high quality customer service you will have find great success. I saw that in my last business people would say, "Wow, I cant believe you called me back." Called you back .... I thought that was business 101.

I'm relatively young still. But from the people I talk to there was a day when people return calls.

POSITIVE RANT CLOSE
 

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WJK

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POSITIVE RANT - To Follow


I believe this a much deeper problem than just one B&M store. There is a societal issue today of not getting sh*t done. All to often employees just accept this isnt going to work so I'm gonna give up.

I see it in online interactions too FYI. Try callling in something that doesn't fit the script. Especially health or government.

The positive spin for the younger generation is we have immense opportunity because the sheep are so a custom to just accepting status quo. If they attempt to start a business the best they got is selling a red stapler instead of a black one on Amazon.

Another positive is if you deliver ** Extremly high quality customer service you will have find great success. I saw that in my last business people would say, "Wow, I cant believe you called me back." Called you back .... I thought that was business 101.

I'm relatively young still. But from the people I talk to there was a day when people return calls.

POSITITIVE RANT CLOSE
This lack of follow through has always been part of the human experience. It's just more in-your-face these days. It falls under the 80/20 rule. If you are a member of the 20% club, it's your day to shine by TCB!
 

luniac

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I think every employee should get some kind of commission, why should only the sales guys get it?
When i worked as a litigation support analyst, it was my department that did the actual work that the clients wanted, why does only the sales guy who got the contract get a commission, isn't it a group effort?
I'm not complaining because i gave the job what it gave me in return, but i know for a fact i would have been a more chipper employee if i knew my performance directly correlated to more earnings.

Same thing where i work at the moment, i build light fixtures at 16 dollars an hour, they sell at 300 dollars a pop, some "modern art" style lights. I recently built like 200 of them, i mean damn can i get a one or two hundred bucks at least thrown my way? i mean i built the fukin things, i know im the lowest rank employee and i don't expect anything major, but a tiny little slice goes a long way.


TMF teaches us about "uncontrollable limited leverage" as one of the big reasons to control your own business. Commission would give some sense of ownership to even the lowest employees. I would totally do this if i get employees one day.
 

Patrickg

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I think every employee should get some kind of commission, why should only the sales guys get it?
When i worked as a litigation support analyst, it was my department that did the actual work that the clients wanted, why does only the sales guy who got the contract get a commission, isn't it a group effort?
I'm not complaining because i gave the job what it gave me in return, but i know for a fact i would have been a more chipper employee if i knew my performance directly correlated to more earnings.

Same thing where i work at the moment, i build light fixtures at 16 dollars an hour, they sell at 300 dollars a pop, some "modern art" style lights. I recently built like 200 of them, i mean damn can i get a one or two hundred bucks at least thrown my way? i mean i built the fukin things, i know im the lowest rank employee and i don't expect anything major, but a tiny little slice goes a long way.


TMF teaches us about "uncontrollable limited leverage" as one of the big reasons to control your own business. Commission would give some sense of ownership to even the lowest employees. I would totally do this if i get employees one day.
Curious are you serious or just kidding around?
 

luniac

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Curious are you serious or just kidding around?
deadly serious, and i know itd never happen lol.

Both companies i worked and work now for are private too, so no stock options to buy to show i have faith in the company.

i dont think im proposing something crazy, isn't this how it was 100 years back in america. When someone joins a company, it was more "family" like, as compared to today where job hopping is norm in order to get a respectable raise and progress in your career.

Admittedly im not the expert on that, im trying to go fastlane lol
 
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Patrickg

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deadly serious, and i know itd never happen lol.

Both companies i worked and work now for are private too, so no stock options to buy to show i have faith in the company.

i dont think im proposing something crazy, isn't this how it was 100 years back in america. When someone joins a company, it was more "family" like, as compared to today where job hopping is norm in order to get a respectable raise and progress in your career.

Admittedly im not the expert on that, im trying to go fastlane lol
Just curious. That seemed very employee minded not business owner minded.
 

luniac

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Just curious. That seemed very employee minded not business owner minded.
I'm speaking from an employee perspective lol

Although if i owned the business, i would be curious to see if a little commission would stimulate my employees to be more productive and happy and decrease turnover.
 

Patrickg

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I'm speaking from an employee perspective lol

Although if i owned the business, i would be curious to see if a little commission would stimulate my employees to be more productive and happy and decrease turnover.
I worked in a factory after high school. The owners did profit sharing if the whole factory hit certain goals. Worked well.
 

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Me: Can you beat internet prices?
Colin: We can match them.
Me: No, I asked if you could BEAT them (In a joking manner)
I instantly got the sense you was up to no good and was putting him on the spot trying to play smart. If he low-balled their own goods he would probably have to answer to the management at a later point which he didn't feel like, so it was either you or the management giving him a hard time, no wonder he just gave up.

Most haggling is likely because of power play by the customer which wants to get a sense of accomplishment in the purchase (otherwise why didn't you just order online?). Sorry the clerk didn't bend over backwards for you so you could feel like you made a steal.

Online businesses thrive because they don't have to deal with bullshit like this at all and everything is automated, you either click buy or move on

Please post a pic of you so I can see what the male equivalent of this haircut is
 

ironman150

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I think every employee should get some kind of commission, why should only the sales guys get it?
When i worked as a litigation support analyst, it was my department that did the actual work that the clients wanted, why does only the sales guy who got the contract get a commission, isn't it a group effort?
I'm not complaining because i gave the job what it gave me in return, but i know for a fact i would have been a more chipper employee if i knew my performance directly correlated to more earnings.

Same thing where i work at the moment, i build light fixtures at 16 dollars an hour, they sell at 300 dollars a pop, some "modern art" style lights. I recently built like 200 of them, i mean damn can i get a one or two hundred bucks at least thrown my way? i mean i built the fukin things, i know im the lowest rank employee and i don't expect anything major, but a tiny little slice goes a long way.


TMF teaches us about "uncontrollable limited leverage" as one of the big reasons to control your own business. Commission would give some sense of ownership to even the lowest employees. I would totally do this if i get employees one day.
The salesman is the one who takes all the risk if they are commissioned based. They are also always "on". Taking phone calls at all hours, handling all the headaches that come along. No weekends off, no vacations. Aside from the owner, they put in more hours than any other employee. In a sales organization, the salesman should be the highest paid employee even more than the owners. I've been both inside support and outside sales and the inside job is much much easier.....much.
 

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