Little Things Lead To Big Retention At The Next Trend Designs

Recognition And Benefits Extras Go A Long Way

The Next Trend DesignsThe Counselor Best Places to Work Road Tour began its second day in Mississauga, Canada, with a red carpet welcome from distributor firm The Next Trend Designs (TNT). But really on display was the company’s highly unique and inviting showroom, a 2,000-square-foot space that includes a bar, pool table, large conference table, and samples of all of the company’s private-label apparel and other promotional products.

“Once we get clients into this place – and we try to have people in here as much as possible – then we can usually get them to sign deals,” says Robert Charlton, one of the founders of TNT, who began the company in 1992. “It’s an impressive room that usually gets people to want to do business with us. It makes us look professional and sophisticated.”

This company, though, doesn’t need an impressive showroom to make it seem like they know what they’re doing. They’ve grown the business steadily and have seen 10% to 15% growth every year since the 2008-2009 economic downturn. No doubt, they already know what they’re doing – especially when it comes to creating a workplace that’s highly collaborative, motivating and productive.

Charlton and Janine Taylor, who had been married but no longer are, founded the company together and continue to oversee its daily operations today. And, it’s all done in the mold they’re looking for – one which retains great employees. TNT has 12 employees and five salespeople, and Taylor says that 80% of the staffers have been with the company for more than 10 years. The secret? The little recognition and benefits extras that go such a long way toward motivating and satisfying people. “When somebody has been with a company for 17 years, they’ve probably reached their pay potential or money isn’t going to be their big motivator,” Taylor says. “So, you need to be creative.”

At TNT, that manifests itself through boat cruises for the whole company, barbecues, a big Christmas dinner, pizza lunches, massage therapists brought into the office, and a host of unique benefits like car allowances and TNT Bucks, which are credits that can be spent on goods from the company’s best suppliers. Plus, the company tries to honor as many employees as possible with plaques on their office walls of broken albums to signify broken sales records, as well as employees of the month and year.

“We do these extra things all the time to constantly try to honor people,” Charlton says. “It’s a celebratory atmosphere and we like it that way. Janine will even just walk around the office at times and give people gift cards or other gifts to thank them for working hard on a project or closing a deal. We always want to be recognizing our people.”

And they work so hard at employee retention because hiring good salespeople has been a challenge in the past. Identifying good people has proven difficult for TNT, so when they have a good one, Taylor and Charlton want to make sure they keep them. “We look for people with a burning desire and we want to make sure they’re a fit for our culture,” Charlton says. “I don’t care if they have knowledge; we can teach them the business. But we can’t teach a desire to succeed and we can’t change their personality to make them fit in.”