• Desiree Grosman

How to Use Spiff Incentives to Effectively Motivate Your Employees

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

As a business owner, you hope employees will care about your company as much as you do. Unfortunately, since they don’t have any real skin in the game, this can be a challenge.


With the current shortage of skilled labor, most techs will continue collecting a paycheck even if they’re underperforming.


Have you tried to manage using a range of incentives, but still see a lack of motivation? You’re not alone. Even the best leaders in the trades have to get creative to see big results.


Ready to inspire motivation, engagement and growth in your company? Take a fresh approach with this spiff strategy.

What is a Spiff Incentive?


Spiff is sales lingo for a small bonus given to employees who meet a sales goal or overachieve in a measurable way. The term is also used as the acronym “SPIF,” meaning “Sales Promotion Incentive Fund,” or some slight variation.


Spiffs are structured in many different ways. Personalization of your spiff program is key to getting employees excited and seeing the change you want.


To get the results you need, the bonus you choose should be custom-tailored to your techs. And you should focus your goals on areas that need the most improvement.


Pros and Cons of Spiffs


Lack of appreciation is one of the main causes of employee turnover. Incentive programs show employees you appreciate their hard work. This creates an encouraging work environment they’re less likely to leave.


If employee retention is high on your priority list, plan spiff programs that invest in the top talent you don’t want to lose.


Whether you run a business in plumbing, construction, HVAC or some other trade, spiffs can increase morale and drive company loyalty...if they’re done right.


With any spiff program, proper management is crucial. A well-organized program with enticing perks can increase performance up to 27%!


But it only works if you have a manager who’s on the ball—someone who will track results accurately and hand out bonuses in a timely manner.


Without a clear plan and someone to lead it, the whole program falls apart. This can create resentment and ruin morale.

When spiffs are forgotten or metrics are poorly tracked, employees will quickly become negative and less interested in participating.


It might even have the opposite effect you’re looking for; performance and engagement drop because techs feel their efforts weren’t recognized appropriately.


How To Plan Your Spiff Program


To make sure your spiff program is a success, it has to be run by a well-organized leader. This person needs to:

  • Understand every detail of the program

  • Communicate the rules clearly

  • Have access to the tools, resources or company metrics that measure performance

  • Carefully watch employee progress

  • Keep the team motivated and on-track

  • Know when deadlines are approaching

  • Deliver the goods at the right time

Set a time frame that’s challenging but realistic. You could create daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly goals, depending on what you’re trying to achieve.


Consider motivating your team with something other than higher sales. While sales might be the ultimate goal, lots of other factors lead to increased revenue.


Try structuring your goal around:

  • Customer Service

  • Customer Acquisition

  • 5-Star Reviews

  • Safety

  • Employee Recruitment

  • Employee Retention

  • Mentorship

  • Attendance

Each of these have a big impact on your bottom line. And by making a conscio


us effort to focus on other accomplishments, you’re not asking employees to upsell unnecessarily or sacrifice their conscience to win.


Finally, consider building your spiff program around team efforts. Set goals for different departments or job sites to encourage collaboration.


Measuring individuals’ performance can create animosity, but working together makes the workplace friendly. And bonding with co-workers increases loyalty to your company. Good employees don’t usually leave when they have strong relationships with other employees.


6 Incentives Employees Actually Want


It might surprise you that non-cash awards are becoming increasingly popular for top-performers. If you get to know your team on a personal level, choosing a non-cash spiff that gets them excited will be much easier.


Pick an item or experience they’ll obsess over. Something that fires them up and fosters healthy competition. You could even get them involved in choosing the prize.


But use the incentive as a way to increase their performance long term. A reward can be fun and enticing, while also improving their expertise in your industry.


I’ve searched high and low for unique perks that employees in the trades crave—something beyond the usual cash or gift cards. These 5 spiffs are out-of-the-box and can be tailored to your specific trade:


Growth Opportunity:

Take a few winning techs to a local trade show or training event. An educational field trip with your team boosts morale and camaraderie. It’s also a reprieve from the usual grind while developing their industry knowledge. Don’t forget to pick up the tab on lunch at the event too!


Career Advancement:

Pay for a training program or certification course for your winner. This helps them get a leg up in their career and increases their value within your business.


All-Inclusive Trip:

Give employees the skills to succeed and take them on an adventure away from the shop. Industry conferences are exciting experiences that double as a vacation.


And educational events don’t have to be all work, no play. For out-of-town trips, allow them to bring a guest and include an extra day for sight-seeing or relaxing.


Tools of the Trade:

Good tools make work easier. So give your techs tools or equipment that help them do their job better. If you live in a colder climate, I highly recommend Milwaukee’s heated gear and apparel. A quality pair of workboots is also a useful perk employees appreciate.


Laundry Service:

Ideal for team contests. Providing uniform laundering services saves employees (or their spouses) time and money. Plus, your customers will appreciate their always-professional appearance!


Ownership Interest:

Get employees invested in your business with profit sharing. When they have real skin in the game, they’ll care about how well the company performs. Even when the spiff competition ends, they’ll feel responsible for going the extra mile long term.


No matter what prize you choose, make the accomplishment a big deal! When employees achieve the goals you’ve set for them, the whole company should celebrate together.


By saying congrats in front of the team, other employees will eagerly anticipate the next challenge. They’ll look forward to their chance to earn bonuses and company-wide recognition.


When employees exceed expectations, it resonates through every department. Outsiders may even hear about your exciting recognition efforts, which can help with employee recruitment.


Need more ideas on employee retention and recruitment? Connect with me on LinkedIn!


#employeemotivation #employeeretention #managementtips #skilledtrades #leadership

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