Think of it as an ATP compensation plan that’s as customized as the actual work that ATPs perform.
That’s the basic idea behind a new program unveiled by Fuller Rehabilitation and explained by new Senior VP Scott Higley. Higley, most recently the VP of Alliance Seating & Mobility, the rehab division of The SCOOTER Store, started with Fuller’s in mid-May.
He says the idea for the new compensation plan for Assistive Technology Professionals (ATP) came from President Carter Fuller.
As Simple As Possible
“We were working on some new pay plans,” Higley says, adding that believes in keeping such compensation structures “as simple as possible so people can basically add up in their heads and know where they’re at. People just feel much more comfortable like that. If they understand the plan, then they know what their goals are.”
Higley and Fuller discussed the fact that different ATPs preferred different payment plans, with Fuller noting that some are more comfortable with a higher base salary, while others prefer higher commission packages.
That’s when Fuller pointed out that in complex rehab “there’s no set solution to say, ‘This is what you do with this person.’ Every person is different because you have to individualize it.”
Fuller’s resulting suggestion: Let the company’s ATPs “individualize their pay plans, how they feel most comfortable being paid.” It would be Higley’s responsibility to manage the program and determine whether or not ATPs perform to that those plans.
Higley says he then presented the plan to three ATPs that Fuller Rehab is thinking of bringing on board. “I said, ‘Here’s your homework: I need you to tell me how you want to be paid and what money you’re looking to make. And let us work a plan around that. Together, we’ll build a plan. They love it. It’s empowering to them.”
Higley cautions that customized plans are not a free-for-all, with ATPs allowed to demand unreasonable base salaries or commissions packages. For instance, for current ATPs entering the program, Fuller Rehab will scrutinize their histories to ensure that the customized plans are in keeping with past performance.
But for both perspective Fuller Rehab ATPs and the company’s current ATP roster, the individualized compensation plans provide the flexibility to adjust base salaries and commission structures to more closely align with employees’ personal financial needs. For instance, an ATP applying for a bank loan may prefer a higher base salary to show consistent income levels. Another ATP may prefer to start with a lower base salary in order to earn higher commissions.
The Fallacy of “100-Percent Commission” Plans
As for companies that favor paying ATPs on a commission-only basis, Higley argues, “You can’t say, ‘Well, they’re not really doing (well), but they’re not costing me anything because I’ve got them on 100-percent commission.’ That doesn’t solve your problem, because they’re still costing you bandwidth. They costing you space at your location, they cost you all the people who are on salary who have to deal with them. Oftentimes, they’re also costing you benefits. It’s costing you.”
Higley says the customized plans will require careful management: “We still expect performance. But some people are not comfortable with up-and-down income. It just depends on the person and the market, so we’re letting them decide what risk they want to take and the amount of reward they want.”
He admits he was a bit skeptical of the idea at first, “but then I thought, well, ATPs are a little bit different: They feel comfortable if they understand what they put together.” It’s possible that Fuller’s could open new locations if the right opportunities and personnel come together, Higley says. “We’re actually having them make a proposal to us with what they feel they can do, and then we’re determining whether we can build a location or a business around that model for them.”