This regularly recurring column is brought to you by APSP’s Manufacturers Council, featuring hot issues impacting today’s industry, business insights and tips you can use to enhance your personal development and business success.

There are few things that better affirm how your business is run than when someone from another company asks for a job because they’ve heard how well your employees are treated. If you’re worried your employees are starting to slack and lower the quality of your service, the best way to stop it is by taking care of them. It’s as simple as that. Think about it: How would you perform if you felt your boss didn’t have your best interest at heart?

We’ve all been in that situation. However, it does not take much to reassure an employee and make them think they work for a great company. Sometimes it’s something very small, something that you would never think twice about, that bolsters their motivation to do the best for your company. Remember: The harder they work for you, the more money you will make. Here, we take a look at a few things that will set you apart from your competition and leave your employees motivated to work for you.

PAY THEM WELL

Let’s start with the most obvious one: their pay! My employees are the best-paid in my area, bar none. Generally speaking, the better you pay someone, the better they will perform because they know they will have a hard time finding another job that pays as well. The key is making sure they know they’re paid well. You don’t need to shove it down their throat constantly — a friendly reminder of the average wage in the area for similar work will suffice.

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What you need to pay your employees is impossible for me to answer, but a tip to lead you in the right direction is to call around (as a person looking for work) to a few other companies and see what they pay. Then add fifty cents or a dollar more per hour for your starting employees. It’s important to note that you want to start them higher than your competition, but not so high you won’t have room for raises. Annual raises will keep your employees motivated.

DON’T OVERLOAD THEM

Remember when I said I’ve been approached by employees from other companies? There’s no better time to learn about the competition than in that moment. I asked one guy how much he’s paid and how many pools he takes care of each day. Not only did I find he was paid a lot less than my employees, he was also required to do nearly double what my employees do each day. I found out a lot of companies have workers do 25-30 pools per day with about 85 percent being full service. That’s just insane.

I don’t like anyone on my staff to do more than 15 pools per day. The two reasons for that: quality and tenure. If they are overwhelmed, they are bound to cut quality, which will hurt business. And they could also very easily get burnt out, which is no bueno for our business, too. Keep a realistic and achievable schedule to keep your employees motivated.

RETIREMENT

Very few service companies offer a retirement plan for their employees. In my opinion, nothing says “I care about your future” more than offering a retirement plan with a little extra money. You can even take it a step further and offer a company match. Will it cost you a couple thousand dollars a year? Sure, but think of this: If you have constant turnover among your employees, how expensive is that? The cost of turnover can include background checks, payroll costs, training, uniforms, time, equipment and a slew of other things including your net loss of productivity because your resources are tied up training new employees instead of growing.

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There are several different retirement plans you can offer your employees based on your size, desire for a pre- or post-tax plan and several other variables. The most common is the 401k; this is the plan I offer my employees. I also offer a 4 percent match. Not only are you putting food on the table for your employees, but you’re also allowing them to build up a nice nest egg for retirement. This is probably the costliest benefit you can offer your employees, but it will help ensure they keep doing the best they can for you out in the field. Proving to your employees you care about their future will also keep them motivated.

OTHER BENEFITS

This section details smaller things you can do to show appreciation for what your employees do for you each day. Some are relatively inexpensive perks and others are more expensive. I incorporate these as much as possible.

Gym Membership:

This is a very inexpensive perk you can offer your employees that not only shows you care about them, but can make them stronger and ultimately better workers. There are plenty of gyms around me that only cost $10 per month and often do not have a sign-up fee. Is $10 worth your employee’s motivation? I certainly think so. A small incentive like this will keep your employee motivated.

Commissions:

This is a great motivator for your employees to sell equipment and stay on top of broken baskets, leaky O-rings, etc. If my employee solicits an account while working throughout the day, I’ll cut him a check for a month’s revenue for that account. Because of this, my employees solicit new accounts without any prompting from me because it makes them more money.

In regards to equipment commission, whatever percentage you use for your company, make sure you have enough room to absorb it. No sense in taking on all the liability of installing equipment only for the company to break even and have your installer walk away with all of the profits. Adding a commission structure will keep them motivated to sell for you.

Bonuses:

Bonuses are a nice perk because they’re unexpected and always welcome. Your employees may not confide in you when they are running behind in bills, but your bonus could give them the breathing room they need, which in turn gives them the motivation to keep working hard for you. The holiday season is a nice time to give them, but they’re also great to give throughout the year when your employee has done an exceptional job. Random and unexpected bonuses will keep your staff motivated.

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I hope you’ve learned a few ways you can better your company by treating your employees a little better. If you treat them well, they will treat your clients well, which will make your business boom. It’s truly a win-win.

Erik Taylor is the owner of Chlorine King Pool Services, Seminole, Fla. Go online to check out his successful and entertaining YouTube channel and podcast.

Erik Taylor is AQUA Contributor of AQUA Magazine.