For What It’s Worth
Hello and welcome! I am excited to be a new part of Window
Film magazine, as the window film industry is one that is continuing to
evolve and grow. Some of these changes may leave you wondering how best
to handle a particular situation, and that’s why I am here to help. Please
feel free to send in your questions (see box below for information on
where to send your questions) regarding how to improve your business,
how to market your business or how to handle clients. It is my job to
answer those questions with an unbiased opinion, hopefully giving you
insight on how to improve your business.
Commission vs. Salary
The following is one question that came across my desk twice within one
What have you found in the marketplace on how window film installers (both
flat glass and automotive) get paid? Do companies pay hourly or salary?
What seems to be the going rate?
While I cannot give you exact numbers or rates, I can give you guidelines
on how to handle this delicate balance. I am limited in this column as
to the depth of my explanation but, for those of you who are seeking guidance
on this subject, I will be able to open the doorway for you to think about
your employees’ incomes in a new light.
Traditionally, companies in our industry have paid a percentage of the
ticket to automotive installers and square footage to flat glass installers.
Percentages can trigger repercussions for the business owner on a weekly
basis. For instance, if you are an automotive installation company and
you are offering high-end products, should the installers expect to receive
the same percentage as they would on a less expensive product? Is the
installer entitled to make more money on a premium product?
In another instance, what if you are a flat glass company and you send
two installers to the same jobsite. The job has removal, upper windows
and some panels, which will require a seam. How do you decide which installer
will do what aspects of the job? Who is climbing the ladder and do you
pay additional fees for work off the ground? Who is keeping track of the
work being completed? What if the client calls you back for a few replacement
panels due to poor workmanship? Who is sent to the jobsite for the removal
and re-tint? Who is paying for the material?
If you have been in business for any length of time, you have probably
already encountered such dilemmas. I have danced this dance with many
installation teams throughout the years. My best advice is this: simplify
your payment structure. At one point in my business life, I had more than
20 employees. Can you imagine figuring commission for this many installers,
sales team members and staff? Yes, it was challenging.
So, my solution was to put everyone on salary. Each staff member was evaluated
based on several areas of criteria and then each staff member was offered
a salary with benefits. Salaries were negotiated annually based on their
yearly evaluation, and bonuses were given to those who excelled or exceeded
Staff members understood that the summer months might still require long
hours, nights and weekends. However, in the winter, when our industry
has the tendency to slow down, no one had to worry about whether they’d
be able to get in enough hours. Each employee received a paycheck every
week and each employee was paid the same one week as the next.
No longer did installers suffer financially when they took a vacation.
The company was even able to afford benefits for the entire staff, such
as paid vacations and health benefits.
This solution turned out to be the best way to keep everyone happy all
year around. The best part of the solution was that employees were happy
and stayed with the company.
I hope this helped give you one solution to the compensation dilemma.
I look forward to answering your questions in the next issue.
Got a question for Donna?
Please e-mail it to us at email@example.com.
Individual names and company names will be withheld upon request.
Donna Wells has worked in the window film industry
since the 1980s and is currently sole proprietor of Image Imagination
in Huntington Beach, Calif. Ms. Wells’ opinions are solely her own and
not necessarily those of this magazine.
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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.