(By Laurie Kahn) Radio has always been known to pay extremely high compensation to corporate officers and managers, but has not been known to pay well to other positions, especially in sales and on air. Don’t misunderstand here; once a seller is established, they can earn a nice income, but often it can take years to get there. And that can create a major challenge in recruiting.
We will be facing that challenge over the next decade, as many of our veteran employees, who make up one third of the work force, will be retiring. So the competition to hire experienced managers and sellers will be fierce, not to mention that many of those who will be hired are millennials, who have a totally different approach to work and life.
Leading a market or a company continues to be a challenge as well, and leaders are faced with a large amount of multi-tasking — multiple properties, multiple platforms, keeping relevant with content and events, recruiting, and engagement of staff to help keep turnover at a controllable level. Most importantly, strong talent on your team will be approached by other companies, often in industries outside media.
To be competitive in hiring, a company needs to dig in and find out what it will take to attract and keep staff when building compensation plans. Not only is it important to research what the industry norm is, by market size, in how much to pay, it is important to know what the going rates are in each community among companies outside of media. Managers need to understand the market’s cost of living to be able to offer packages that are attractive and realistic.
Many radio companies pay solely on performance, and it is important to recognize that. So, while that’s smart, there also need to be concessions when trying to build the right team to succeed.
While it can take more time to manage, one of the more popular ways to compensate is an approach where there is a salary, but with clear objectives and expectations on what needs to be accomplished to maintain that level of income — which can be anywhere from 100 percent for a new hire to 50 percent for a tenured employee.
The rest of the compensation comes into play when specific goals are met, not based just on revenue, but other measurable objectives.
For market managers, it would be obvious to tie incentives to ratings, but also to think about other crucial areas that need strong attention to be successful, like collections, turnover, community involvement, training/ onboarding, and recruitment. Encourage market managers to align with the corporate mission, but also to think out of the box to lead their teams to excel in all areas they oversee.
To build a plan for a sales manager, include measurable goals to encourage them to spend a set amount of time in interviews, out on training calls, and meeting with key community organizations to share not only how advertising can help their businesses, but to build a reputation as a great company that gives back — and thus one locals want to look to for employment. Think about challenging sales managers to do personal training by reading or attending workshops so they can become better trainers and managers. Have them submit a strong plan for how to onboard new hires and creative ideas to keep their team engaged, productive, and less likely to leave for a better opportunity.
Lastly, but far from least, the sellers. If you are still offering starting guaranteed draws for 90 days, with the potential to extend it, get over it! Those days are done, and you will continue to have a hard time hiring. This is why it is so important to know what local sellers are earning in other industries. Put together a plan that offers security for someone joining your team. If your sales manager’s compensation is tied to hiring smarter, offering a better orientation and ramp-up period with strong training, while keeping all sellers engaged and having fun, they will all earn more and the bottom line will be stronger.
Laurie Kahn is the creator and founder of Media Staffing Network. She has worked with media companies since 1993 helping them hire top managers and sellers.