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“Should I Pay a Signing Bonus?” And More Reader Questions Answered

Plus, how to sell customers on higher prices, as well as how to find local talent to appear on cable.




“Should I Pay a Signing Bonus?” And More Reader Questions Answered

Should I offer a signing bonus? The holidays are bearing down on us, we’re short-staffed and I don’t seem to be able to get a decent candidate to join our team.

It’s a tough one. There are currently more jobs available in America than qualified workers. That means every solid candidate is likely to be deciding between competing offers. If a signing bonus will get the deal done and ensure you get a worker in place before the critical holiday season, then it could be a wise move.

Of course, with anything you’ve never tried before, there are important factors to consider:

  • You need a properly worded contract to ensure the worker doesn’t simply take the bonus and run. All terms and conditions, such as clawback clauses or performance goals, need to be clearly communicated. And ensure the new employee has realistic expectations about future compensation or performance.
  • You won’t be able to keep this secret from existing staff, and paying a hiring bonus to only some employees could possibly lead to resentment or even lawsuits for alleged discrimination. Sell it well to your existing staff, though, and they will understand — and no doubt welcome — whatever efforts you have to make to bring in new hands, especially if they are feeling overworked already.
  • You need to ensure that the employee will be satisfied with other aspects of your store environment, such as culture, benefits, and growth opportunities. You don’t want a situation where a contract creates a sense of obligation or resentment in a worker, who might feel trapped or unhappy in their job.
  • How do you know when to pull the trigger on a decision?

It will never feel 100 percent right, so the question becomes: How right should it feel? Amazon’s Jeff Bezos famously thinks most decisions can be made when you have somewhere around 70 percent of the information you wish you had. Wait longer and you risk slipping into “analysis paralysis,” that state of over-analyzing a situation to the point where a decision or an action is never taken. There are two other dangers of waiting: One is mistaking impotent ruminating on an issue for useful consideration, and the second is confirmation bias. Studies with Wall Street traders, for example, have shown that after a certain point, additional information doesn’t yield better decisions; it is just used to support existing positions. So, gather all the data you can, and then set a deadline to make the decision. This will force you to take action. As the saying goes, make a decision. And then make it right.

What tells you it’s time to renovate or refresh your store interior?

Lyn Falk, founder and president of Retailworks, a design, branding and display firm, suggests you use these three rules of thumb to guide you:

1. If you haven’t updated your store’s interior in five years and you have a lot of repeat customers, and you’ve seen a drop in sales for no apparent reason, it’s time to refresh.

2. If you haven’t done a refresh in five years and you have more than five years left on your lease, then it’s time to do a renovation.

3. If you recently rebranded your business via a new or tweaked logo, new color palette, and new mission statement, then you need to bring that new “look/brand” into the interior.

We do Grade A work in our shop. I want to raise our prices to reflect this, but how will our clients react? I’m not sure our customers appreciate the skill level we provide.

Start by investing more time educating your customers about the skill levels and experience of your bench staff, how many years they’ve worked, what big jobs they’ve completed, and what makes your work stand out. (David Geller has written about how to do this in numerous columns, which you can read at Second, prune your customer base of those customers that just don’t get the Iron Triangle of Business: “You can have it fast, good, or cheap. Pick two.” Such clients aren’t worth the effort. And finally, double down on your commitment to quality. Exacting standards rigorously enforced will allow your reputation to shine. Always criticize the work, not the worker. What you’ll likely find is that your staff is eager to buy into high standards.

I’d like to experiment with some TV ads this holiday season but there’s just no way I can put myself on camera. Where can I find inexpensive local talent?

First, we’d say reconsider your “no way” position. Local ads are much more powerful with the owner’s face out there. (And if cable TV is too big a step, try a video for your website.) If, however, we can’t convince you, call your local volunteer or professional theater company. They should have some suggestions on the local talent pool. You could also try a nearby college or university’s drama department. If neither of those are options, call the television station that will air the spots. They can often help not only with talent, but with scripting and all other elements of production.



She Wanted to Spend More Time with Her Kids. She Called Wilkerson.

Your children are precious. More precious than gold? Absolutely! Just ask Lesley Ann Davis, owner of Lesley Ann Jewels, an independent jewelry store that — until the end of 2023 — had quite a following in Houston, Texas. To spend more time with her four sons, all in high school, she decided to close her store. Luckily, she was familiar with Wilkerson and called them as soon as she knew she wanted to move on to bigger, better and more family-focused things. Was she happy with her decision? Yes, she was. Says Davis, “Any owner looking to make that life change, looking to retire, looking to close, looking for a pause in their career, I would recommend Wilkerson. Hands down!”

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