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State of Retail: What kind of benefits and perks — if any — do you offer your employees?

Published May 16, 2023

A version of this feature ran in the May issue of BRAIN.

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — For our May magazine edition, we asked our State of Retail panel members: What kind of benefits and perks — if any — are offered at your shop? Which benefits are the most meaningful for recruiting and retaining staff?

BOISE, Idaho: Jason Bauer, owner Bauerhaus Bikes

Jason Bauer

We stay at the top of the pay scale for our region and offer really lovely hours. Quality of life is very important. Our shop hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and we are open Monday through Friday. No weekends. This offers the lifestyle of a very accommodating and flexible schedule for our two full-time employees. Paid time off is also part of the equation, at least two weeks per year, and we offer hourly pay rather than salary. We would rather pay overtime to our established employees if they choose to work more hours during prime season. For us, it’s better than hiring part-time employees that would draw time and training from our already small staff.

Our next plan for an increase to employee perks is to put a healthcare spending account, or HSA, option in place. It’s a good option for a business with healthy employees, though it’s still a difficult plan to find for such a small operation.

WALLA WALLA, Wash.: Kathryn Austin, owner/manager Allegro Cyclery

Kathryn Austin

Other than paid training on the job, employee discounts, and perks such as payment for race entries, et cetera, there are no traditional benefits offered currently. We only employ part-time employees right now, and the same has been true since we lost our full-time employee in 2019. We have not been able to fill that position. Now with the downturn in consumer spending, we cannot afford to fill that full-time position. Most employees seem to be pretty excited about employee purchase pricing and discounts. It helps to fund their own cycling addictions. Looking ahead, the one benefit we would prioritize adding for our employees would be health insurance.

MOBILE, Ala.: Brad Burton, owner Cadence120 Bicycles

Brad Burton

We offer all employees two types of performance bonuses. One is for individual performance, and the other is based on an overall store bonus. Additionally, we offer paid training and employee discounts. In the past, when we had more full-time staff, we offered different types of benefits; however, we are currently running more part-timers for staff, and they are not eligible for some of the benefits, such as paid time off. When it comes to the benefits we would prioritize adding, health insurance is always the No. 1 choice.

STAMFORD, Conn.: Julie Gabay, owner, president, buyer Pacific Cycling & Triathlon

Julie Gabay

At Pacific Cycling & Triathlon, we understand that each employee has unique needs and priorities. That's why we offer a range of benefits that are tailored to the individual employee. Depending on the length of their employment and their specific requirements, employees can choose from a variety of options. 

Our benefits for all employees include paid time off, employee pricing, and a 401(k) plan. In addition, we offer a range of other benefits. As a small shop, we pride ourselves on our ability to customize benefits for each employee, ensuring that they feel valued and supported.

MASSILLON, Ohio: Molly Lehman, marketing manager Ernie’s Bike Shop

Molly Lehman

We have a diverse staff, so the benefits that resonate the most are also very diverse. Competitive wages and a fun working environment are consistently important to recruit and retain great employees. In the future, we'd love to develop a commuter program that rewards staff members who bike to work.

Full-time employees receive health insurance and paid vacations, and all employees are eligible for our retirement plan. We also pay monthly bonuses based on shop sales, as well as spiffs on closeout items. All staff members can purchase tools at cost, and receive an employee discount on all other items; we participate in all employee purchasing programs provided by our distributors. We also provide a yearly stipend for work clothes.

There's fun stuff, too: free coffee, an annual all-staff party, and the requisite post-work cold beer after a busy day. We also operate a canoe livery, and during the season staff members can use canoes and kayaks at no charge.

HOPKINS, Minn.: Jonathan Minks, owner Jonny Rock Bikes

Jonathan Minks

As owner operators, we are always looking for ways to help our staff. We can always do better, and we need to get more creative. We give everyone paid training on-the-job. You learn as you work. We also offer free service labor for staff and deep discounts for employee purchases. We offer vacation to our full-time employees after they have worked with us for a year. That is a newer policy. I have purchased glasses out of my own pocket for employees who needed them. We give out Christmas cards every year and put a little something in there. We have also done limo rides and dinner events in the past. 

As for traditional benefits, we have looked into offering our staff medical and dental insurance, but it's too expensive for us. We haven't found a great solution that makes sense. I would love to find a solid affordable healthcare program because healthcare has always been a need to fill. We would look into a SIMPLE IRA or another retirement savings plan if the staff wanted it. When we discussed adding this, there wasn't any interest, but we would be willing to look into it if there’s demand in the future. 

BROOKLYN, N.Y.: Ilya Nikhamin and Kasia Nikhamina, co-owners Redbeard Bikes

Ilya Nikhamin and Kasia Nikhamina

Back when we had employees, they got five days of paid vacation in their first year, and 10 days in their second. Per NYC law, we provided 40 hours of paid sick leave each year. All training time was paid. We had a SIMPLE IRA retirement plan via ADP, our payroll service, with employer matching. Employees could order bikes and gear at shop cost/employee pricing. We bought breakfast and lunch on special occasions and crazy busy days. Most importantly, we bartered with a local coffee shop so our staff was always well-caffeinated – at no cost to them. We did not offer health insurance because our employees had better coverage through their spouses’ (or parents’) plans. We still haven’t found a good insurance option for a business with a (fluctuating) headcount of 10 or fewer. As owner operators, we purchase our own basic health insurance through the New York State Marketplace (Obamacare). In 2019, we changed our shop hours in a meaningful way. After seven years of being closed on Wednesdays, we switched to closing on Sundays and Mondays, which gives everyone a “weekend” every week.

ENCINITAS, Calif.: Will Schellenger, owner El Camino Bike Shop

Will Schellenger

As an independent, family-owned bike shop in Southern California, we offer paid time off, employee purchase discounts, paid training and other benefits. Full-time employees get five paid holidays each year and two weeks’ paid vacation time. People seem to like flexibility in their schedules more than anything else. Being able to have weekends off and take personal days is as important as any monetary benefit. 

BRADENTON, Fla.: Paul Tobio, owner Ryder Bikes

Paul Tobio

We offer health insurance (a package including medical, dental, and vision), paid time off, employee discounts, and a bonus plan. These items are crucial to finding great employees and keeping them. In addition to health, having incentive-based benefits keeps employees motivated. We have looked at offering a 401(k) retirement savings plan but have preferred to provide a quarterly bonus structure instead at this point. When our suppliers are able to donate some items (saddles, components, etc.) these are provided to the employees to ride the products we sell. This makes recommendations for customers easy when staff members have first-hand knowledge of the products. We pay employees to complete supplier-based training modules at home, which provides them with a better understanding of the products and their functions and helps in helping customers and making sales recommendations at the shop.

Molly Lehman.
Topics associated with this article: From the Magazine

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