Incentives for chocolate chip pancakes

"Well Sean, it’s either you or me who has to sneak behind that tight boiler and make that repair. Since I’m the one climbing up those extension ladders, because you’re afraid of heights, I vote you squeeze behind this nice boiler here,” Glenn said.

“Not a problem! These tight spots, cockroachesspiderwebs and crawl spaces are no problem for me, just as long as you keep marching up those ladders when need be,” I said.

So, I jokingly began my stretching and started to maneuver my way between the boiler and hot water heater. As I pushed through I had to inhale in order for my waist and stomach to fit.

I’m sure all of you reading this right now know exactly what I’m talking about. Once passed the boiler and hot water heater, I finally made my way back to a cold, concrete wall. I then had to slip under some copper piping and bend my head awkwardly to the side to avoid contact with the still very warm flu piping.

“OK, I have a visual on the zone valve,” I said.

“OK, are you nice and comfy in there?” Glenn asked.

“I would have it no other way, Glenn. I’ll take this any day over sitting at a desk bored out of my mind,” I replied.

Glenn began to hand me the drop light and all of my necessary tools I needed to begin my procedure of splicing out an old Honeywell zone valve. I was hoping it was the newer model Honeywell zone, and I could just replace the zone head and be in and out of there. But, of course the one zone on the entire boiler, which was placed ever so perfectly in the back, turned out to be the one of which I had to drain the entire heating system in order to sweat in a new zone. Nonetheless, I began the work at hand to make the proper repair.

“So, how are the boys doing?” I asked.

“They are doing great actually! Quinn (his son) is playing hookie today with Jenny (wife) because he had earned a 92 percent on his exam in school. They are headed into town for lunch at his favorite restaurant and then going to play some bowling.”

“Wow, that’s great you guys do that for the kids, Glenn. If my parents did that for me, I definitely would have scored higher grades on my exams.,” I said jokingly.

As I was soldering the last joint the thought came to me. Why don’t we use incentives for our coworkers when it comes to selling and performing well on the job?

Let’s be honest now, either when you were a child or if you are now a mother or father of your own children. There was at least one time or another you were offered some kind of incentive or had offered an incentive to your children.

I remember it like it was yesterday — my parents said if I behaved in Sunday morning church, that my brothers, sisters and I would go out to Perkins Restaurant for pancakes. And let me tell you, we were on our best behavior every Sunday morning because all we could think about were those delicious chocolate chip fluffy pancakes!

It is amazing to me how well children and adults react and respond to an intriguing incentive. So you have to ask yourself, why wouldn’t this work with your business? My father and I took action just recently this summer and began to create an incentive or an upsell sheet for ourselves and our employees. On the sheet of paper we listed all of the things we could upsell to our customers while in their homes. Pressure regulator, boiler, hot water heater, toilet packages, etc. And for each upsell, the workers would take note of what they sold to that customer and keep a tally throughout the month. For each additional part or product they sold they would receive a cash incentive. It’s amazing how much we all now are trying to upsell in times where we didn’t before.

Of course, you are not going to walk into Mrs. Smith’s house on a toilet flapper repair and start selling her on a new boiler in the middle of the summer. You have to be a little more creative than that. I’ll give you an example that happened last week. A customer of ours called about a leaky bathroom faucet and wanted us to stop over and take a look. So, I shot over there, assessed the situation and found that the basin faucet was on the old side, and it was a cheap home goods special.

I explained to the customer that instead of replacing the stems to the faucet, I felt it would be in her best interest to replace the faucet with a better quality product.I also explained to her that she may have a pressure issue in the house. I told her,“Faucets usually begin to leak when the pressure is high, which is no different than blood pressure in your body. When your blood pressure is high it puts a lot of strain on your organs. The same principle applies with your water pressure and your fixtures, being the organs of the house. This is where I usually get that “wow, interesting” look on their faces.

So, now I have sold her on the basin faucet package on our list, and I’m headed downstairs to check the pressure. The pressure was very high, which lead to me changing the regulator. And while in the basement, I was able to get my eyeballs on her hot water heater and boilerand throw a couple of stickers on them.

Before we had our company's incentive program, I may not have sold the regulator, or for that matter, the upgraded basin faucet. The company was now making extra money, and I had some extra cash in my pocket at the end of the month to take the family out for a nice dinner.

I would like for you to give this a shot and implement an incentive list into your company. Even if you have to start small and eventually build up the list and incentives. It doesn’t have to be cash. You can offer many things to catch your employees’ attention.

There’s one thing I know for sure, regardless of the reward, I will not be stepping foot on those rickety extension ladders. However, whatever it is you decide, I’m sure that you will see an enthusiasm you’ve never seen before from your workers, and you will certainly start seeing an increase in your company’s profit.

Sean McCormack is co-owner of BMC Plumbing and Heating Inc. He can be reached by email at; phone 845-596-7770; Twitter @seantheplumber1; and Periscope @seantheplumber. Visit Sean’s website at

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