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Real Deal: The Case of the Inconsistent Superstar

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Jamie McPherson is the Serena Williams on the Giller’s sales team. When she’s on her game, there’s no one better, and the store beats all its sales targets. But when she’s not, which seems to be happening more and more often these days, the store suffers. What can owner Jeb Giller do to relight the fire under Jamie.

[span class=alert]To be eligible for publication in INSTORE, responses must include your name, store name, and the city and state in which your store is located. [/span]

[dropcap cap=J]amie McPherson has been working for about six years at Giller’s — a family-owned, second-generation business that does about $2.8 million in sales a year. Jamie came to Giller’s after getting her start in another independent business and then having spent five years working for a chain stores. One of the reasons she made the move to was to remove herself from the competition she felt with the commission structure in the chain store. Giller’s compensation system is straight salary along with a bonus to all the employees when the store’s monthly goal is met. In addition, at yearend, Jamie will get another bonus if it turns out to be a “good season,” which it hasn’t been for several years. At Giller’s, Jamie gets most of the same benefits she had at the chain store (health insurance and an employee discount) and, all things considered, she makes about the same amount of money under what she considers to be far more favorable conditions.[/dropcap]

Scott Giller is the son of the founders and the current manager of the store. Scott is firmly committed to his family’s ideal of providing friendly customer service and genuine concern for the client. Following in his parents’ footsteps, he has resisted any type of incentive-based compensation that he feels would diminish teamwork and foster competition among his staff. He believes he is generous with his compensation system and that the benefits he offers are in line with his competition.

Scott considers Jamie one of his best employees. Not only does she have experience in both independent and chain stores, she possesses all the characteristics he looks for in a good employee. The problem is that over the past couple years Jamie seems to run hot and cold. When she is hot, the store not only meets, but exceeds, monthly goals. When she is cold, however, store sales can miss target so badly that it takes months to catch up with the annual projections.

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Scott has talked to Jamie a number of times about whether or not she is happy in her job (which she says she is) and encouraged her to be more consistent in her performance. Jamie insists that she does the best she can with every customer who comes in and she sees no problem with her ability to deliver. Even after several conversations, Jamie remains largely complacent and her performance continues to be unpredictable. Scott doesn’t want to lose Jamie, but is beginning to realize his reliance on her more than a little dangerous.

[h3][b]The BIG questions:[/h3] What can Scott do to make Jamie a more consistent performer. Should be worried about her apparently complacent attitude? Is it time to change his view towards incentives and commissions? [/b]

[span class=alert]To be eligible for publication in INSTORE, responses must include your name, store name, and the city and state in which your store is located. [/span]

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