Lately I've been hearing a lot from small business owners who are struggling to make ends meet.
One of the biggest problems, besides escalating costs for everything from fuel to office supplies, is getting customers to come in the door since it seems everyone is on a budget these days.
I recently heard about a great business tactic one established company is trying to help combat tough economic times and also cut employee turnover.
1800mattress.com found ways to increase commissions for its workers.
It's brilliant. Fewer customers are willing to open up their wallets, so you incentivize your work force to bring in more patrons by giving them a chance to make more money.
At 1800mattress.com, sales associates can field sales leads through a new web-based system. Not only can they seal a deal at the company's stores, but they can also head over to a "Live Chat" program online and try to make sales via the Web.
"We are constantly evaluating ways to streamline operations and maximize employee efficiency," said John O'Connell, executive vice president of sales and merchandising. "The introduction of this multichannel approach offers a new revenue opportunity by providing a constant flow of sales leads for our employees to succeed. Our employees have embraced this concept, morale is up and online sales have increased 22 percent from last year."
Newer and smaller businesses can be creative with their commissions as well.
Take Kitchen Couture, a housewares and kitchen appliance store based in Brooklyn.
Members of the store's decorating staff are able to make more money if they schedule home consultations with potential customers who are planning kitchen remodels. If the client purchases one of the "kitchen makeover" options, the employees get a commission for bringing in a new customer as well as a commission on the products they sell.
"This program has been very successful for us," says Sara Leibowitz, co-founder of Kitchen Couture.
"Our employees are excited about the additional commission as well as the ability to showcase their creativity," she says. "Customers have been overwhelmingly receptive and have referred our consultants to other friends."
It's not rocket science, folks. When you give your workers some extra motivation in the form of cold, hard cash to help boost business, everyone benefits.