Myles Berger, co-owner of Hot Tub Central, has quite literally been hands on, owner Midiam Demelo says.

Qualifying for a Raise

What hot tub dealers look for in an exceptional employee

Hot tub industry employees find themselves in a uniquely beneficial situation as the nation’s economy fluctuates. While employment continues to rise and unemployment falls incrementally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in retail trade are declining.

But that’s not exactly the picture being painted inside the nation’s hot tub dealerships. Spa manufacturing is enjoying historic growth not seen since 1983 and sales are booming by as much as 400% in some areas, according to the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance. All of this means employees may be in line for a boost in their bank account regardless of how long they’ve been in the job.

We asked the owners of three retail spa stores from across the country to share what they look for when considering doling out more money to their employees. Don Riling, president of Olympic Hot Tub in Washington; Jamil Toubassi, owner of Flint Hills Spas in Kansas; and Midiam Demelo, owner of New Jersey’s Hot Tub Central shared their rules for raises.

“Obviously, someone considered for an increase needs to be doing a great job, have strong productivity and be contributing to the overall company profit and service picture,” Riling says. “And they need to be a team player who has good work habits and a great attitude.”

That rule goes for anybody, no matter their title. And while the topic of raises usually happens around the employee’s anniversary, it can and does happen earlier for some companies.

“We are not on a set schedule and do not automatically review on anniversary dates,” Toubassi says. “We regularly watch our staff members’ total compensation relative to their responsibilities, performance, value creation and market conditions, and make adjustments when warranted.”

Adjustments to compensation can manifest in various forms. While the annual average raise is approximately 3% among American businesses, it’s not unusual to earn spot bonuses, year-end bonuses or increased sales commissions.

When weighing a raise, Demelo says she looks for employees who provide good customer service, earn positive reviews, manage their time wisely and get results. She does not have an upper limit on how much of a raise she will give.

“Each individual is different,” she says. “We want to encourage our employees to set high goals — because if they are successful, we will be successful.”

Riling also has no set amount for raises, saying that it depends on performance, position and team spirit, among other factors. He notes, however, that other businesses may have different criteria. “Some employees will reach a ceiling based on tenure for what their base rate can be,” Riling says, “but if they are productive and doing what’s needed to earn commissions/incentives/bonuses, they can impact their income.”

While there are never hard-and-fast guidelines for earning a raise, most are determined based on owner and manager observation. Co-workers may also have a say, and customer feedback is considered as well.

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“We are looking for people to be meeting or exceeding the expectations for their role,” Toubassi says. “We want to see that people are hard-working, willing to go the extra mile when necessary and customer focused. Also, mistakes are OK. We want to see learning and improvement from any mistakes.” Don’t miss out on asking customers for five-star Google reviews. Request that they mention you by name. You never know: It might pay off faster than you think.

How to approach your boss for more money

With the labor shortage, you might be able to ask for more money if you understand how to approach this oftentimes touchy topic.

Start by making sure you’re prepared for your annual review. Jamil Toubassi, owner of Flint Hills Spas in Kansas, says every employee is reviewed in the same annual manner without any formulas or caps.

“It is based primarily on owner and manager observation,” Toubassi says. “But co-worker and customer feedback is certainly considered when it comes up.”

So don’t be afraid to ask your customers to leave a good review for your company, and specifically mention your name. This can be done through social media, letter or email sent to your boss. Just get your positive customer feedback in writing somehow and compile it in advance of your anniversary review.

Midiam Demelo, owner of New Jersey’s Hot Tub Central, also implements the standard annual performance review, but allows for bonuses along the way, too. Quality customer service with positive reviews, strong time management and productivity are what she looks for to provide a raise, she says.

Don Riling, president of Olympic Hot Tub in Washington, points out a few other angles employees should consider before making their case for raises, such as additional roles/titles/responsibilities they have taken on as workloads increase inside the store.

“In general, we review everyone on their anniversary date, although sometimes raises may happen sooner,” he says. “Anniversary of hire, merit and changes to positions are all factors.”

Riling also indicated there might be exceptions to company policy if increases are tied to state laws that connect them to the cost of living in that market. Check to see if your state has minimum salary and/or minimum wage increase benchmarks that dictate part of what’s necessary for an increase.

Overall, be prepared to approach the topic of raises at least once a year sometime close to or on your hire anniversary. That said, don’t be afraid to approach your boss before a normal annual performance evaluation to request a salary increase sooner.

“Those are handled on a case-by-case basis,” Riling says. “Typically a performance evaluation accompanies any consideration for an increase in pay. These are done in writing with a direct supervisor and covered in person prior to any increase.”