Question: Making (And Keeping) The Team

A DISTRIBUTOR ASKS: With the workforce growing more competitive, I’d like to focus on strengthening my employee retention efforts. What sort of programs, initiatives or incentives do other distributors offer to keep their top talent?

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Recognition on even the smallest level, from onboard swag kits to years-of-service awards, is important. People want to be part of something great—so make their work life great.

Rena Wells-Ashfeld, CAS
National Sales Manager
Advance Corporation
Cottage Grove, Minnesota

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Not all people are motivated by the same things. We asked each person last year, “What one thing would make your job perfect?” Here are a few things they said: one wanted to work from home one day a week, one wanted to attend a class and two wanted standup desks—all easy to give.

Kate Andrews Ivory
President and Owner
GIDI
Promotions Portland, Oregon

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Giving them an onboarding care package when they start, so they can be proud of where they work, is important. Also, setting goals along the way and rewarding them—even if it’s with something small so they feel appreciated. Set goals on reaching out to so many people a week, setting so many appointments or the number of sales, for example. If you make it a fun place to work, they will tend to stick around.

Michelle Altobelli, MAS
President and Owner
Altobelli Advantage, Inc.
Rogers, Minnesota

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A few “beyond benefits” ideas include:

  • Bring your baby to work with you after maternity leave is up for as long as we can manage working with the baby around
  • Group outings: we’ve done so many fun things, but my favorite was “Best of KC Brands” where we rented a trolley car and toured cool companies in KC, had lunch, etc.
  • Weekly fun stuff, like “Drink Cart Friday” and “Ice Cream Sundae surprise”
  • A catered monthly birthday lunch
  • Valentine’s Day cookie decorating contest
  • Bring your dog to work anytime
  • Flexible schedules, so we can be better parents

Janice Gaunce
President and CEO
Grapevine Designs, LLC
Lenexa, Kansas

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Treat your top talent the way you would treat a marriage. You are never going to agree on everything, but be fair and honest, respectful of their abilities, don’t micromanage and pay them well—and for crying out loud, quit trying to control every single step. Set up a good program for them to follow and promote your business for them so they don’t have to.

Lori Trafford
Co-owner
Chesapeake Promotion
Regina, Saskatchewan

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Treat them as part of the team and ask for their feedback. Also, does bringing in lunch or coffee count?

Zach Wettenstein
Business Development
Dimensional Marketing
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

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A DISTRIBUTOR ASKS: With many single proprietor, small, farm-to-table restaurants and microbreweries opening in communities, what is an example of a successful promotional product marketing program that works well to promote these businesses within a two- to three-mile radius of their location, which is their primary market? Traditional forms of advertising are not the most affordable option for these clients.

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I like cooperative programs, ones in which you leverage relative businesses to promote one another. Identify where the potential client is already doing business, then “share” the client. An example would be to provide a gift or a point-of-service at the local dentist’s office (naturopathic, vitamin stores, eco-cleaners, opticians, etc.) to invite them to visit the barn/pub and, in turn, utilize imprinted cardboard coasters at the bar/pub that advertise the store or service. It’s a win-win.

Jae M. Rang, MAS
President and CEO
JAE Associates Ltd.
Oakville, Ontario

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I do targeted mailers called Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM), where you can choose businesses only and specific mail routes to minimize the cost of both the postage and flyers.

Jason Housman
President
Imprint-Works
Mineola, New York

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For a twist on Jae Rang’s co-op idea, maybe provide a marketing piece that features a collection of neighborhood businesses that can be displayed in each business to promote them all—counter mats, table tents, floor imprints, window clings. Include two or more retail businesses, like a farm-to-table restaurant, craft brewery, yoga studio, baker, vitamin shop, smoothie shop or an indie coffee shop. The businessowner may even know other proprietors and initiate the conversation. Maybe offer a promotional item raffle incentive to text or join, or email to join a marketing list with a weekly drawing. The winner then visits the business to pick up the logoed dish towel, glass, cooling towel, reusable silicone straw, coaster and/or blender bottle, or to receive a glass of seasonal beer or a free yoga class. The list can be used to periodically text or email news about specials, events and new products and/or services, and gives distributors an opportunity to offer promos and marketing services, as desired.

Janie Holbook
Principal
Tee It Up
Promotions Oaktown, Virginia

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A DISTRIBUTOR ASKS: I do a lot of door knocking for new clients. I am looking for ideas on good leave-behinds such as a brochure and/or a promo item. For all of you old-school, face-in-the-place door-knockers out there, what else besides a business card should I leave behind?

What’s Your Answer? Email answers along with your name, title and company name by September 15 to Question@ppai.org for possible inclusion in an upcoming issue of PPB magazine.  

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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