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The right vacation plan for your shop will drive staff loyalty, longevity

What pay and/or benefits would you need in place to actually have your top performers all producing at top performer levels?

In parts one, two, three and four, we talked about incentive plans and their motivations, plans for technicians, teams and advisor/manager. In our final installment of the series, we enhance them even further by looking at vacation benefits.

Dave Schedin

Benefits typically have a multi-focus context and understanding their context helps discover benefits that may make sense in your business model. The benefits listed here are not meant to be the all and all or the translation of exactly how it could look. The benefits have a purpose and you will need to monitor whether or not it is actually achieving its purpose. Or you may have benefits that cost you a lot and they are not doing their job or you may have a benefit that is too small and it has a negative impact.

All of this starts from what we first stated in part one — that you need very refined forecasting and budgeting in place in order to see what you can truly afford now and how to grow that into greater benefits. By doing so, you stand out as an employer with applicants who are on your “want to come work for you” list.

Having a third party, such as a coach, who will help you avoid “over blessing” is also helpful so you don’t “give away the farm” and end up with regret, frustration and feeling stuck about having to “take back” what was put in place. And those who lean toward “only pay enough so an employee won’t quit and not a penny more,” might discover that mindset only created the exact thing you didn’t want — employees leaving and underperforming.

Benefits context are basically twofold:

  1. Time Based
  2. Security / Loyalty Based

Today we will look at Time Based:

Time-off based are easier to create and reward and all should be based on an employee’s performance in both production and quality. Here is a short list of some time-off benefits that help drive loyalty and longevity:

  1. Vacations:
    A. Scaled by time worked: One year, one week; two years, two weeks; five years, three weeks; 10 years, four weeks. This was the scale I used starting back in 1997 when I started my shop. Most shops only gave two weeks maximum. Drive your team to be at 150-percent efficiency and at four hours per RO, or more, then this is affordable and allows you to be different and stand out in the marketplace.

    B. Managing tech vacations: Here is what I did to manage four techs with lots of vacation and not kill cash flow. This was a vacation benefit agreement signed when hired.

    All techs had to have the year’s vacation request into me by Jan. 15 of the new year. Techs with the longest term of employment got first dibs on the dates off if there was a conflict. If the senior tech turned it in on the 16th they lost their seniority and if another tech had picked the same dates.

    • When a tech had two or more weeks of vacation, they needed special approval from me to take two weeks back to back. One of their weeks had to be taken in full so they could actually reset and rest. The other week(s) could be split apart. This was before any forced PTO (see below) days were in place.

    • No two techs, or advisors, could take vacations back to back. Two weeks off back to back, or more, kills cash flow. If there was a tech who took two weeks off at a time, then there had to be at least two weeks in between before the next tech could take time off.

    • The January submission and techs scheduling their vacations amongst themselves made them more intentional about planning things in their lives. They had planning conversations with their families as well.

    • Off-season bonuses. If a tech takes time off during the “slow” season, some shops are incentivizing them by offering $500 or more. That way, they are there for the “harvest” season and it more than makes up for itself.

    • Vacation weeks that are split up worked well at giving more three-day weekends throughout the year, which greatly reduced burnout.

    • Tech vacation pay was not at their base wages for 40 hours. It was their total wages over the last six months calculated down to a weekly average amount so they wouldn’t take a pay cut to go on vacation. A tech that is used to getting 60 hours or more a week and gets their vacation time off “reward” paycheck does not feel rewarded. Same with advisors and managers.

2. Paid Time Off (PTO): With PTO newly added to benefits, this is a longer conversation than time allows here, but know that there are hybrid vacation-PTO plans able to be created.

3. Performance day(s) or week off earned based on production. This is where you can have fun with your team. It can be for performance over a week, month, quarter or year. Yearly for example: Set goals from a deep forecasting that allows you and the team to take the whole week off from Christmas to the day after New year’s day. If they hit the goal(s) by Dec. 15, 11.5 month forecasting, then the whole team gets the week off.

There are more vacation thoughts and ways to manage that are too involved to include here.

Ask these questions of yourself, and for the team:

  • What pay and/or benefits would need to be in place to actually have top performers all producing at top performer levels? Email me if you’re not sure what top performer levels are for techs and advisors.
  • What would it take from you and the team to get to those levels?
  • Do you have a plan with a date on it to get there or is your date to get there “someday?” (FYI — “someday” is not a day of the week!)
  • Do you have a coach who can help you, and your team, work through your glass ceilings?

Over the years, as a service manager and a shop owner, I had spent thousands of dollars on wasted efforts of trying to figure it out on my own. It was much more than a coach would have cost and the real cost was what I didn’t create while not having a coach. I had a client who waited three years to pull the trigger and hire me as their coach.

During their first year with four techs they created more than $400,000 in NEW Gross Profit dollars above what they done the prior year. He later came to me and asked a question and then made a statement. The question was, “Was all this money always there and I was in the way?” The answer was yes and yes. Then he stated something very profound, “You know, Dave, it cost me over $1.2 million to wait three years.”

Pay and benefits plans work really well when owners and teams shift their thinking. You can think to create increase or you can think and stay stuck. Either way you are thinking, so you might as well as think about growth!


Dave Schedin can be reached at 800-385-0724, dave@computreksystems.com, and www.computreksystems.com. A complimentary 30-minute discussion is available for the asking.

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