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Does your compensation measure up?

Rikka Brandon - your compensation

It’s the eternal question for most companies, LBM or otherwise: How does your compensation measure up?

And it’s an important one to ask. One of the biggest challenges facing LBM dealers today is finding good team members. Much of the workforce is aging out, and it’s been difficult attracting younger workers to the industry. This means that your  salary and  compensation packages need to be as attractive as your competitors’—both inside and outside the industry.

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If you find out your compensation is super low, you’re at risk of losing your long-term employees. If a team member leaves and gets a $5K or more bump in pay, chances are the word will get out and they’ll all start to talk; you’ll see your turnover rise as your competition snatches up your employees.

These challenges also indicate how vital it is that you attract not just strong workers, but strong leaders. Better compensation will help you create a leadership team.

How’s your compensation?

First and foremost, determine if your company already has a low threshold. Here are a few signs your company’s compensation is off:

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•    People decline your offers, or accept them but frequently don’t actually show up on the first day, or leave quickly.

•    You haven’t reviewed and updated your pay scale in two years or more.

•    You are losing experienced people to your competitors.

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•    You are including your compensation in job ads and getting virtually no responses from qualified people

•    Recruiters you try to work with never call you back.

If these or other signs are happening, it’s past time to evaluate your compensation to see if it’s competitive.

How to compare compensation

There are a number of ways to see how your salaries and compensation packages measure up to competitors. For a larger scope, consider checking the compensation guide(s) published by yours truly, or the more detailed and sales-focused guide published by LBM Journal. These will provide a fairly broad swath for many positions nationally. Here are a few other places to look:

•    Call your local job service and ask about wage surveys or reports for that type of job.

•    Check out The site has basic, free employee reports or you can buy more robust reports designed specifically for employers. The free data is often nationally based.

•    Consult the Department of Labor, which offers wage data by area and occupation.

•    Consult the Society of Human  Resource  Management for wage and salary surveys. Search your local chapter at

•    Google “Wage and Salary Survey” or “Compensation Ranges” for your area.

•    Study similar job postings in your area; some will include compensation.

No matter which tools you use, always trust your gut and market knowledge. If the compensation seems really high or really low, it probably wasn’t pulled from good data.

Also keep in mind that people often only get a 2% to 3% raise when they’ve been with a company a long time, and if people move around they average around a 10% to 15% increase with each move, so they’re going to be much more highly compensated than your long-term employees.

As a national building products recruiter focused on sales, management, and leadership positions, I am able to help my clients understand if their expectations match their compensation. Often there is a disconnect between what a company thinks is a strong compensation package and what the market is currently demanding for proven performers. Once you know what the market demands, you can decide to lower your expectations or raise your compensation. Although compensation isn’t the only reason people change jobs, it is a major factor in nearly every decision. If your organization doesn’t already have an annual or bi-annual compensation review process, you should start one now.

Rikka Brandon is the founder and chief executive recruiter of Building Gurus, a boutique executive search and consulting firm that works exclusively with building product manufacturers and distributors to find, hire, and retain top building products talent

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