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How to Hire Employees and Help Them Succeed

 May 9, 2018 |  Business Tips |  hiring, training, small business, entrepreneur

By David Stamper, NPI, Inc.'s President & CFO

So your business has grown to the point that you simply have too much work and can’t do it all yourself—congratulations! This is a great problem to have, but hiring employees to help your business grow can be daunting. Whether you’re bringing on your first employee or your 10th, it’s important to follow a few simple guidelines to avoid bad hires and set your new employee on a path to success.

Define the role you're hiring for.
Before you even start thinking about looking at resumes, you need to know exactly what position you’re trying to fill. This starts by defining what your new hire will be in charge of and what their day-to-day responsibilities will be. It helps to be as specific as possible at this point—if you’re hiring another inspector, you’ll want to include details about what they’ll be expected to do in the field, like climbing ladders, going into crawlspaces or operating specialized equipment. If you’re hiring a marketing person, be clear about which marketing and social media platforms they should be familiar with (Google AdWords, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and what you want them do be able to do, whether that’s writing ad copy, attending industry events or visiting real estate offices.

Decide on compensation.
Once you’ve written your job description, you have to decide how much you’re willing to pay someone to perform the tasks you’ve outlined. This may not be an easy question to answer, but a good way to approach it is to ask yourself, “how much more valuable will this person make my company?” If your employee will work directly to bring more money into the business, say by doubling the number of inspections you can perform or increasing your referral sources by 30 percent, you can easily calculate their hourly wage as a percentage of that additional income, with incentives or bonuses for hitting pre-determined goals.

If your new employee will be playing more of an administrative or support role, it can be more difficult to put a dollar amount on what they bring to the business. For these types of employees, it’s helpful to look at how much money they save you. Determine what it would cost you if they weren’t part of the team, and base their wage on this figure. Here are a few compensation models that we’ve found to work especially well for the property inspection business.

For Additional Inspectors:

  • An hourly rate of $15 or $20 during their training period
  • After their training period, add a commission of 20 to 30 percent for each home inspection they perform (alone or with a helper), or 30 to 50 percent of each field service inspection completed
  • Alternatively, a straight commission of 35 to 45 percent of the inspection fee for each inspection performed
  • If the employee brings in an inspection referral, pay them 45 percent of the inspection fee

For Marketing Employees:

  • An hourly rate of $10 to $15 (depending on area and experience)
  • Commission of $2 to $5 for each cold call made by phone that results in an appointment
  • Commission of $10 to $20 for each cold call made in person that results in meeting a new potential referral source
  • Commission of $20 to $25 for each follow-up meeting with a potential referral source that occurred as a result of a previously placed phone call (cold call)
  • Commission of $20 to $25 for each networking meeting attended

Ultimately, how much you pay your employee will be determined by a couple of factors:

  1. What you can afford to pay them
  2. What the market in your area says they're worth

Set your compensation too low and you won’t attract qualified candidates. Set it too high, and you might find your profits shrinking. To get an idea of what others with similar job titles earn in your area, you can use sites like to gauge the sweet spot for your compensation offer.

Find your candidates.
After you have an idea of how much you’d pay your ideal hire, you have to find them! Start by asking your current trusted employees if they know anyone who’d fit the role well. These kinds of referrals are great because they’re essentially pre-screened and reduce the time you spend coming through giant piles of resumes.

If you’re hiring your first employee, though, you can start by posting your listing on job search sites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter or LinkedIn. These sites work especially well for hiring marketing professionals and other office support staff.

Ace the interview process.
The interview isn’t just a time to go over your potential employee’s qualifications—if you go into the interview with a clear strategy in place, you’ll also be able to tell a lot about their personality and how they’ll get along with your existing company culture. Here are a few guidelines to get your strategy going:

  1. Don’t hire the first person you interview—a wise decision comes from comparing different candidates’ strengths against one another. Your first candidate may really wow you, but how do they compare to everyone else?
  2. Have at least a couple of employees interview each candidate if you can. This will help give you a more balanced assessment of each potential hire.
  3. Focus on their qualifications, but don’t forget to ask more general questions that give you a picture of their personality, working style and problem-solving ability. For example, ask them to describe a difficult work problem they had to solve in the past, and how they came to a winning solution.

Get your paperwork together.
You’ve found your perfect match, but where do you go from there? Before they complete even an hour of work, make sure that your file of necessary paperwork is complete. The U.S. Department of Labor instructs every employer to maintain the following items of record:

  • Employee’s full legal name and Social Security number
  • Complete mailing address, with zip code
  • Birth date (for employees younger than 19)
  • Sex and occupation
  • Documentation of hours worked each day and total hours worked each week, as well the time of day their work week begins
  • Whether their wages are paid weekly, bi-monthly, monthly or on another schedule
  • Hourly pay rate
  • Total “straight time” earnings (this can be listed daily or weekly)
  • Overtime earnings, if applicable
  • Additions or deductions to or from the employee’s wages
  • Total wages paid each pay period
  • The date the payment was processed and the pay period each payment covers

In addition to these records, you’ll also want to make sure that your new hire’s tax paperwork is in order. As an employer you’re responsible for a number of different taxes related to hiring an employee, as well as making sure the correct paperwork is filed with state and federal agencies. Here’s a breakdown of the documents you’ll need for each employee:

  • W4 Form – filed once a year for full- and part-time employees to both state and federal governments. The W4 ensures that you’re withholding the correct amount of federal income tax.
  • W2 Form – filed once a year to the Social Security Administration for full- and part-time employees. A share of each employee’s Social Security payroll taxes (FICA) are also due at the same time to state and federal governments.
  • I-9 Form – due at the event of a new hire to determine employment eligibility.
  • 1099 Form – taxes are due for independent contractors either quarterly or once a year to the federal government.
  • Unemployment Taxes – due to state and federal governments for every employee who is paid wages of more than $1500 in any quarter of the calendar year. Check with your state agency for other specific requirements in your area.
  • Proof of Worker’s Comp Insurance – required by federal law. Worker’s compensation insurance indemnifies your business in case an employee is hurt in an accident while they’re working.

Set clear goals and benchmarks for success.
Even talented employees can flounder if you don’t provide goals to help them measure success. Incremental, measurable goals help the company grow and thrive on a day-to-day basis and give your employees a sense of accomplishment as they work toward them. Having everyone on the same page is more than about hitting goals, though—you also want your employees to keep their eyes on the big picture, the “why” of your business. Whether it’s helping people make smart real estate decisions or protecting families by identifying defects in a home, your employees should share your company’s vision.


About the Author
David Stamper, President & CFO
NPI Inc.'s President and Chief Financial Officer David Stamper holds a B.S. in Accounting and Mathematics from Buena Vista University and currently manages day-to-day business activities, performs the company’s accounting functions, coordinates software development and assists with long-term planning. In addition to his management duties, David also helps train and mentor new franchisees and provides business management support for current franchise owners.

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