Credit: Illustration: Josef Gast

Many home improvement companies consider event marketing to be a major lead source. Event leads, for instance, make up nearly a third of the total for Weather Tight Corp., in Franklin, Wis. With that much on the line, crafting the best way to use and compensate event staff has become a priority for the company.

Weather Tight attends some 60 events a year with a dedicated staff of “promoters,” says co-owner and vice president Todd Schulz. Since most events take place on weekends, promoters are part-time, hourly employees. “We pay them $10 an hour, plus $25 per demo,” he says. “We don't need them to just generate any old lead; we want them to generate demos. They get that bonus on what we call an ‘on-spot appointment.'”

TELL ME ABOUT IT For Weather Tight promoters, the goal is to set appointments, saving product discussion for the sales presentation. To that end, all promoters are equipped with a Nextel phone. A phone dispatching staff takes their calls and schedules appointments in the computer.

Taking the opposite tack, Hall's Window Center in Sacramento, Calif., encourages its 10-person event staff to talk about product, according to owner Bob Grandinetti, who says the company gets about 20% of its leads from events. “Half [the event staff] have our product, so they can talk from personal experience,” he says.

These part-time employees are paid hourly for leads and appointments. The company also sets appointments at the event, Grandinetti says.

STRONG INCENTIVES Rhode Island Home Improvement, in Warwick, R.I., where events generate more than 35% of leads, gives its full-time, hourly event staff a strong incentive for performance, explains co-president John Aurgemma. RIHI pays a bonus to promoters based on hours worked and leads obtained above a minimum standard.

“We have a certain metric for that event, and when [staff] reach that key metric, they get a bonus based on their total production,” Aurgemma says. Each time the employee reaches another plateau, “they get a bonus on every lead generated retroactive to lead number one.” This offers a powerful incentive to keep promoters reaching for the next level.

None of these contractors offers any additional incentive to event personnel for sales resulting from the appointments they set. “They aren't in control of making a sale and we don't hold them accountable for what our sales department does with that lead afterward,” Aurgemma says. “Event people are there to generate leads and set appointments and that is what their bonus is based on.”