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Commentary: The Business

Jeff Unger: Road Crew



It isn’t easy being a traveling sales rep, says Jeff Unger. So give one a hug today!

Look appealing? Well, here’s what you as retailers don’t know about the manufacturer’s representatives who serve you.  

They will be paid 10% commission on non-discounted accounts. Their commissions will be cut based on how much discount is given. They will be paid only after you, the retailer, pay their bosses. This may take up to 180 days after the shipment to account. However, the retailer may decide to return any pieces not sold during the holiday for credit instead of payment which will be credited against their commission. In the event one of their retailers wants a 1:1 exchange at time of order, they will be paid nothing for their time in the store. Since they are not 1099 employees, they will not receive health, life or dental insurance as part of employment. (These expenses have increased by 85% since 2000 while salaries have increased at a rate of 22.5%.) They will be responsible for all their travel expenses including hotel, car, gas and food. As independent reps, they’re responsible for paying any entertainment of their customers out of their pocket. Since they are independent contractors, there is no IRA matching from anyone but themselves. They’re away from their homes and families as much as 40 weeks a year calling on customers. By the time they get back home, their kids will be in college and their dogs will bark at the sight of them … as if they were intruders.  

It isn’t all bad, though. They do get to see many great parts of this country driving the back-roads. They will see things that few other than traveling salespeople get to see. For example: in the fall, the drive down the Virginia Skyline Drive overlooking the Shenandoah Valley to US 1 through Maine.  

Give your sales reps a hug today! They love what they do ? and that’s making sure your customers thank you.


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