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Employee Incentives - Yes or No?

Honestly, Kevin and I were very resistant to giving our design and sales staff incentives over the years but a recent visit to a floral conference had us rethink the concept. We thought - hey, they work for us, we are good to them, our employees should do whatever is in the best interest of the company, right? Well, human nature doesn't work that way.

Let's face it, as business owners, we have a big incentive each and every month to have our sales be as high as possible and our expenses and low as possible - it's called paying the bills. If you don't do what needs to be done, you can't pay your staff, yourself or your bills. Each month as owners we stare at that check book and know we need to get out there and sell effectively or die trying!  

Sometimes even the best employees in the world could use a boost and why not reward them for their efforts, right? This past year we revisited the concept of incentives, first for our sales staff and then for our designers. For the sales staff, each week we give them certain items that we'd like to see them suggestive sell. It might be a dozen red roses (because maybe roses were a good price that week and are very plentiful) or even a box of chocolates. We mix up the incentives often to keep it fresh and fun and have weekly meetings to discuss our successes with each other. Our biggest success to date has been increasing our greeting card sales. We've increased the number of cards we've sold this year to 4 times as many for the same period last year! Wow, that's a lot right?

For the design staff we often have special rewards for using certain containers effectively. Three years ago we were so overloaded on seasonal containers from previous years that we started what was called the push cart. On this cart were seasonal containers from the previous years that really needed to get used and used quickly. Each container needed to be used in it's correct form (a vase when requested, for example) and at full retail value. For each container used the designer was paid a $1.00. Wow, the first fall and Christmas we effectively used over $3,000 of left over inventory and the designers were paid in excess of $300 for their efforts. Was it worth it? You betcha! Turning perfectly good product that might not otherwise be high on the designers list to design in allowed me to manage my purchasing budget better, not to mention really cleared out space! Their reward? Dollars in their pocket each week and money for new containers that I might not have otherwise been able to bring into the shop.  Designers love new containers but now ours know you have to clean out the old before you are rewarded with the new. The end result for us, is that we have virtually no left over containers from holiday to holiday and season to season. Talk about turning your product.

Remember, your staff works hard for you and most likely their heart is in the right place. Having incentives is both fun and profitable for your business and you know what they say, you have to spend money to make money. If you haven't tried incentives, give them a thought. Questions about what we have done? Feel free to e-mail me at and I'll be sure to e-mail you back quickly. Happy Selling!!


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