213 – August 1
“Darling, only cows are contented.”—Stella Adler
Sally’s eyes were snapping and her face burned with resentment. “I’ve been working for these people for five years and have done wonders for them, but they are so stingy they are only giving me a 3 percent raise!” She was so hot she could barely sit in her chair.
It was a beautiful spring day, and we were sitting outdoors at the local restaurant. I knew something was wrong the minute she arrived. Sally was the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce and was quite visible in the community. She did a wonderful job, and I had seen the growth in membership and programs of the Chamber during her tenure. I had no idea she wasn’t well paid. “Tell me everything,” I said, “but start at the beginning. How long have you been working in this job?”
“Five years,” she exclaimed, “starting as a part-time secretary. I’ve been full-time for the past four years and have taken on many more duties and responsibilities. I’ve tripled their membership and their budget, but they still only give me tiny annual cost-of-living raises based on my starting salary as a secretary!” She was seething. “I’m going to quit!”
“Take a deep breath and relax a minute,” I coached. “You can always quit—that’s a last resort option. But you like the job except for the low pay, so why don’t we work together to try to get you the money you deserve?” She thought about that for a minute, then agreed it couldn’t hurt to try.
Over the next couple of weeks, I coached Sally on how to get a raise just like Jennifer Martin had taught me years before. First, I told her to lose the resentment—anger doesn’t sell. People just get defensive. Not being well paid was her responsibility and hers alone. She had been waiting for the Board of Directors to recognize her contributions and voluntarily significantly raise her salary. But she had not given them the facts and figures they needed to justify the increase. Now she understood, so she put together a presentation for the board that outlined every achievement and the dollar amounts her contributions had made to the bottom line of the organization. She did her research and discovered the pay rates for the same position at similar organizations. She prepared written comparisons of the Chamber budgets for the five years she had been working for them.
We met again at lunch just before her presentation to the board, so she could practice her delivery. She did a masterful job and I told her so. She looked powerful, professional, and determined.
She got a 35 percent raise in salary.
Do your research, do a great job, and get your raise!
“I am powerful, professional and very well paid!”
Sometimes the truth about money is counter-intuitive.
A Los Angeles Business Journal article stated that at one time, Antonio Villaraigosa, the Mayor of Los Angeles at the time, was in favor of eliminating the city business tax.
“What?” I though incredulously. “With all the talk about how government is broke and needs to raise taxes and revenues, there’s a movement to eliminate a tax??”
But in reading the article, it became clear that because the city’s business tax was so high, businesses were moving out of the city of Los Angeles and people were deciding not to start businesses in the city. It was estimated that the income generated by the city business tax wasn’t nearly the amount of money that would be generated by more businesses opening, flourishing, hiring employees, collecting and paying sales taxes, etc.
So the cost-cutting measures you hear about aren’t always going to save you money.
Business owners know that in order to expand their business, they have to make a capital investment first – you can never afford to hire the next employee when you need to hire them. In the immediate present, taking that action lowers your profits, doesn’t it? It increases your overhead. You have to pay another person plus their benefits, payroll taxes, etc.
But a smart business owner has to be able to project into the future and see that the employee will earn back the money spent with their productivity – that you can serve more clients, get more done more efficiently, etc. That is what makes businesses grow. Investment generates more income over time than the expense, which equals a greater profit.
In my business, I work with many business owners to help them make more money. My 8-week workshop has proven results at doing that for more than 25 years. But even when I show people that they will more than earn back the money they spent on the class – and do it year after year – they still say, “Well, I just can’t spend any more money right now” or “I have to pay off my debt first”, etc.
It’s a very common blind spot to fail to see the future benefit beyond the present cost. Studies have shown that people are twice as afraid of losing their money as they are hopeful of gaining money, so they fail to make the investments today that are going to pay off in the future. Which means their future is going to have pretty much the same amount of money as they have right now.