A Lesson in Trusting a Slick Employer
Power Tool Sales
New to the Boston area at the age of nineteen I landed my first telemarketing job calling contractors out of the Boston yellow pages and talking to them about electric power tools. Knowing practically nothing about power tools didn't seem to matter to the owner of Kalman Electric. I needed a job and thought I could probably do it without too much trouble. It was also a short bus ride from my apartment and they paid $1.84 minimum wage which just covered my food and rent so I was happy to have the opportunity.
Mr. Kalman was the owner, his wife worked as the secretary and their son was the main salesman. They treated me fine and were very nice to work for overall. My job was to read the following pitch along with the current weekly specials to contractors over the phone; "Hello, this is Kalman Electric calling we sell and service electric power tools like Skil, Homelite, and Milwaukee. Our special this week includes Milwaukee core and drill bits. If you would like to set up a power tool demonstration I would be happy to give your information to a salesman." I would then jot down their name and phone number and give it to the secretary Mrs. Kalman who passed it along to her husband or son. They would then set-up the sales meetings and power tool demonstrations.
Most of the contractors I spoke to were initially surprised to hear a young woman calling them to talk about power tools. The majority of them were very polite, but a few cursed me out due to poor business dealings with Kalman Electric in the past.
re·nege (r-ng, -ng)
v. re·neged, re·neg·ing, re·neges
1. To fail to carry out a promise or commitment: reneged on the contract at the last minute.
Sales Commission Promised
This was a working power tool shop where contractors would bring in tools that needed to be repaired and new ones were sold. I was given a wooden chair, desk, dial phone, note pad, pen and the Boston yellow pages. The desk was just to the right of the main counter where tools were dropped off or sold. Sometimes the men I’d talk to on the phone came in to see who they’d been talking to and try to talk to me in person.
My back faced the counter with a bikini swimsuit calendar hanging above my head. I sat in that chair almost eight hours a day calling contractors out of the Boston yellow pages except for bathroom breaks and a lunch. For the most part I was basically left alone to do my job.
I'd only been working one month and power tool sales were way up since I'd started calling the contractors. The owner had me come into his office to tell me that I would be given a commission on any future power tool sales I brought in. I was young and gullible and believed what he said so I continued to work hard for another two months.
The power tool sales continued to climb as I convinced more contractors to see the power tool demonstrations. I witnessed a lot of hand shaking, back slapping and laughing as big sales were being celebrated in the main office. I was not included in these celebrations which seemed odd to me since I had a part in why business was so good. Don't get me wrong I was happy for them and glad my hard work was making a difference. The problem was I still hadn't seen an extra dime on my paycheck after all the promises the owner made that I would be getting commissions on these sales.
After working three months I finally got up the nerve to confront Mr. Kalman reminding him of the commissions he promised me two months back and he flat out told me that wasn't going to happen. He was not a man of his word as I naively thought he was. I quit on the spot and never regretted doing so. He even asked me about giving him a two weeks notice so he could have time to replace me. I simply gathered up my belongings and never looked back.
- Paying commission and bonsues to staff | Smarta
An essential guide to paying commissions and bonuses to staff, from Smarta, the small business support and advice network
Get It In Writing!
Working as a power tool telemarketer taught me that I was pretty good at sales. I not only read the script they gave me but I found out that I enjoyed talking to all kinds of people. I learned a bit about power tools in the process and the hard working people that rely on them and use them.
Empty promises made by employers happen to young and older employees. I learned the hard way not to take my employers word for it when he said he was going to pay commission money for my hard work. If monetary promises are made ask for it in writing, signed by your employer, dated and witnessed if possible.
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