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A Wrap Shop Plots to Take Back a Poached Installer

But how? That’s the question in “The Case of Egg’s Over-Easy.”

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DEAR READER, YOU LIKELY don’t recall where we left things from “The Case of the Poached Egg” (see St, May 2022): Tommy Farmer, owner of Pleasant Ridge Wraps was on the verge of losing top installer Edgar “Egg” Garcia to wealthy and sneaky new rival Pat Coyote…

To continue our story, Egg took the job at Coyote’s shop, and who could blame him? Coyote, who drove a Lamborghini Aventador that he had wrapped at Pleasant Ridge, cloaking a secret recruiting raid, was paying Egg nearly twice what Tommy could afford. Egg gave two weeks’ notice, at the end of which Tommy, Egg’s wrap partner Jim “Ham” Hampton and high school apprentice Casey threw Egg a going-away party at the shop and wished him well.

ABOUT REAL DEAL

Real Deal scenarios are inspired by true stories, but are changed to sharpen the dilemmas involved and should not be confused with real people or places. Responses are peer-sourced opinions and are NOT a substitute for professional legal advice. Please contact your attorney if you any questions about an employee or customer situation in your own business.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Created by ROLF L’MAO, Signs of the Times’ mascot. Email him at editor@signsofthetimes.com.

Illustrations by Karina Marga Cuizon

Tommy’s parting advice to Egg was “be careful around Coyote.” Tommy desired nothing more than to lash out at the wily wrapper for breaking up his team and throwing money around. Upon reflecting and talking it over with his wife, Tommy decided to take the high road — simply to snub Coyote if and when he ever saw him again.

Seven months later, Pleasant Ridge Wraps was on its third replacement for Egg. The first had exaggerated — okay, lied about — his wrap experience and abilities. Then, even as an apparent newcomer, he didn’t take to training. The second replacement was better but abruptly ghosted the shop after only two weeks, her first paycheck freshly cashed. The third try was really a subcontractor from out of town, competent but pricey and not always available without a fair amount of notice.

Ham went about his business, though he clearly missed the friendship and professional bond he’d enjoyed with Egg. They hadn’t seen each other outside of work much, and not at all lately. Apprentice Casey had graduated high school, did all he could during the summer, but six weeks ago, he’d gone away to college in the state capital. “See you next summer!”

Pleasant Ridge Wraps was hanging in there all right, more than just surviving, but without additional reliable help there was no way to grow. Then, yesterday after work when Tommy and Ham were saying goodbye and heading to the shop parking lot, Egg was standing between their cars. “Hey…” he began.

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After 20 minutes standing there, the three walked two blocks to their local tavern and talked more over the course of several hours. Sure, Egg was happy with his higher pay — but nothing else about his new sitch. Hyde Park lacked other skilled employees, too. Egg found himself constantly training and cleaning up after his co-workers’ errors. In addition, the shop produced uninspired or outright boring designs. Few were layouts Egg would be willing to point out and say, “I wrapped that car.”

Amid the drinks, the happy reunion and the ritual trashing of the competition — punctuated with Ham howling like a real coyote, then raucous laughter from all — the three finally called it a night and pledged to find a way to bring Egg back to “the Ridge.”

In the morning the plan was on. Tommy got up with the dawn. But at the same time, he had never gotten so tipsy the evening before to notice how he and Egg were carefully avoiding the issue of pay. Pleasant Ridge could never match Coyote’s inflated rate. And any raise given to Egg would obviously have to be matched to Ham.

Perhaps a structured arrangement could be agreed upon, at least for three to six months. In that timeframe, maybe Pleasant Ridge would be able to build their volume and revenue to offer a bonus followed by a bump in pay.

As he opened the refrigerator, Tommy decided. He would do it — rip from the very jaws of Pat Coyote his precious Egg. Biting into a delicious leftover Monte Cristo sandwich, Tommy mumbled, his mouth full but his eyes gleaming, “I shall have my revenge!”

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The Big Questions

  • How should Tommy structure the offer to bring Egg back to his shop? Has your sign company ever made — or would you ever consider — a similar arrangement for a raise structure based on increasing revenue in the future?
Robert B.
Oakdale, CT

So, Egg has learned that money isn’t everything. If this was our shop, I would allow him to return to his old position at the same pay as he was making before he left — with assurance to Egg and Ham that they would receive a commission on completed jobs that exceed prior months’ levels of sales. This way they see the ability to make more and also boost the company’s bottom line. Let go of the bad feeling of him leaving and move on.

Jeff T.
Lynnwood, WA

Performance pay is a good idea for most team members. It’s not just a traditional commission for salespeople. Tie it to qualified leads or completed jobs. Relate it to overall sales increases or company profitability. Use any measurable that relates directly to the position. In a wrap expert’s case, you might lock base pay but offer bonuses per certain vehicles or fleets that meet a particular level of effort, expertise or complexity.

Heather J.
Oklahoma City

Better compensation doesn’t always have to be in the form of a raise. They could negotiate using other company benefits. Offer a couple extra sick/vacation days or some kind of profit-sharing in lieu of more pay. That way he still feels as though he is getting a better deal than before, even if it isn’t as much as what he gets currently [from Coyote]. Sometimes an employee isn’t interested in their hourly pay so much, but having 12 paid days off instead of 10 would be something they would be very interested in. Get creative with it. In the end what matters is that you have your experienced employee and they have something that is valuable to them in return.

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