It’s been a while since we opened the reseller and ISV CEO mailbag together, so let’s dive in and see what’s new. Below are three actual emails from partners of Vantiv, now Worldpay, that I recently fielded in my role as a business advisor for our PaymentsEdge Advisory Services division. Emails have been edited for length and to remove identifying information. But other than that, this is the unvarnished truth about running a small business in today’s ever-changing channel.
How Do I Best Promote An Employee To Manager?
I have a really solid team member that I think could be great in a management position (which I need). The problem is that right now he’s a technical guy that appears to have the personality traits of a good manager but has no experience managing other people. While I can give a certain amount of guidance I feel like that would not be enough to ensure his success. Do you have any suggestions on how to promote someone inside your organization and set them up for success? Thanks!
My quick answer is to give that person some unofficial people-leading responsibilities and counsel them through that. That would be a good test to see how they perform, understand where they’re strong/weak, and give the other team members some experience with that person in charge. In the movies it’s portrayed like someone “wins” a giant promotion and goes from worker to boss in one swoop. What’s healthier would be if the person leads several areas/ projects so when they receive the new title it seems natural and oftentimes obvious to the rest of the team. When someone is “put in charge” (instead of growing into leadership position), the people they’re supposed to lead tend to resist the change.
Salesperson Benefits: What’s Too Much? What’s Not Enough?
Thanks so much for your suggested changes to our sales job posting. They were super helpful. We are screening a good potential candidate: she has a bachelor’s degree, about 2 years of sales experience, and worked her way through college (3 jobs) ... which says “motivated” to me because I did the same. We are giving it another week or two to see if we get more candidates before interviewing her a second time. I wanted to see your thoughts on health insurance, as we are going to get it for the salesperson. Our cost is about $400 per month. Do most companies just eat that or split that in some way with the employee? What do you recommend as a best practice?
Other benefits we offer: company laptop/standard equipment; we pay mileage with a monthly cap ($300 probably on the cap); cellphone; 2 weeks paid vacation; 5 sick days; 5 standard holidays; we take our employees on a few fun outings a year (water park, amusement park, bowling, etc.). What benefits are we missing/do you recommend or see at other companies? When it comes to 401K matching what is standard at most companies?
Before I answer your specific questions, I wanted to give a big thumbs-up to you for offering a quality benefits package. Too many resellers and ISVs I talk with want to get a good person cheap. You might strike lightning and win with that approach occasionally, but that’s not a best practice upon which to grow your business.
As far as healthcare, most companies do ask their employees to contribute, and the amounts I hear most often are somewhere in the range of 15-20%. If you do that, you’ll want to manage the employee’s expectations about the rising cost of healthcare. If you go with 20% and they pay $80/month in 2018, they should anticipate that to rise to some degree each year. If you don’t make that clear, the employee could think you’re the one raising their rate when the cause is actually the rising cost of healthcare.
You are correct that the 401(k) is one key benefit I did not see on your list. Some companies offer a dollar-for-dollar match up to 6%, but that’s considered very generous. A dollar-for-dollar match up to 3% or 50 cents on the dollar up to 6% would be considered typical for a small-to-medium sized company like yours.
Other benefits to consider are disability insurance and life insurance. They’re not expected by most employees, but they would help put your package well above average without spending a lot of cash. Sometimes employers can get a great rate on life insurance, so for just a few dollars a month they offer that perk to their employees. With me being a cancer survivor, my wife and I are grateful that Vantiv/Worldpay offers life insurance as part of their package.
Side note – some unsolicited advice from me: I wouldn’t wait to interview that candidate. If she meets or exceeds your standard, you’ll want to bring her on board. If you wait and she takes another job, you’ll likely be kicking yourself for missing out. Also, you could find out in this next interview she doesn’t meet your standard which enables you (and her) to move in a different direction.
Is Rebranding My Company Worth The Effort?
What is your opinion on rebranding (my company name) to something simpler, easy to spell, say, and talk about? I’ve had a few people tell me they don’t understand it or it’s too long.
Exploring rebranding is certainly one of those “measure twice, cut once” situations. When we rebranded my last company, we had a super compelling reason that drove us. Our name was “Corry Publishing” because the company was founded in the small town of Corry, PA before it moved 45 minutes northwest to Erie, PA. As we grew, we were always struggling to find a high volume of good employment candidates. After talking with prospective candidates at job fairs, we learned many of them never applied because they assumed they’d have a 90-minute two-way commute every day. So when we moved from a smaller building in Erie to a larger one, we took the opportunity to rebrand and change our name to geographically-neutral “Jameson Publishing” which eliminated candidate confusion.
What would be the driving reason for you to rebrand? I personally don’t see [company name withheld] as difficult to say, spell, etc. One thing I learned through our name change process is that you will always receive criticism for your company name. When we switched to Jameson, we received tons of positive or neutral comments but also several about Jameson whiskey. But compared to the other names we were considering, it was for sure the least criticized. Again, every name is going to cause some degree of static.
We also had a list of criteria that the name “Jameson” achieved. Some of those were: geographically neutral (our #1 criterion), unlikely to be mispronounced, unique but not kooky (like Blue Martini), rooted in our 25-year company history, etc. Jameson wasn’t perfect and didn’t meet all our criteria, but it was a clear upgrade over the confusing “Corry” name. So my main questions for you would be:
- What are your compelling reason(s) to rebrand?
- Are those reason(s) compelling enough for you to go through all the grief and expense associated with rebranding?
- If you decide to consider rebranding, what are your criteria for the new name? Make a list and then start brainstorming names.
If you’d like to read an interview with a POS reseller who rebranded a few years back, here’s my conversation with Jason Cowan of Spark Solutions in Utah. He discusses lots of strategic considerations plus the nuts-and-bolts of rebranding. If you’d like to talk with him directly, I could make that happen. I’ve known Jason for 10+ years and he’s one of the nicest people in our industry: Peer-To-Peer: VAR Best Practices For Rebranding Your Company.