Besides earning a salary for full-time production responsibilities, the two project managers at Kanon Group, in Towson, Md., can earn thousands more by selling small remodeling jobs that don't require a designer, including basements, bathrooms, and some kitchens.

Kanon Group project managers Christian Honig and Bryan Zbikowski aim to be a high-margin salesforce.
Dan Gerding Kanon Group project managers Christian Honig and Bryan Zbikowski aim to be a high-margin salesforce.

“I've streamlined the process so they can easily sell these projects,” says Greg Rittler, president. His project managers have laptop computers loaded with budgeting and contract templates that let them do a “soup-to-nuts sale” virtually anywhere, Rittler says.

The eventual goal is for project managers to generate half of company revenue at a 67% markup. Their incentive is 5% of the sale price. To keep them focused on production, Rittler also offers them an additional $1,000 bonus for every month they complete $50,000 in work “on time, on budget, and with pretty high customer-service value,” he says.

Production hours are 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and project managers are encouraged to spend an additional 10 hours per week on sales. Rittler feeds them leads that come into the office, and the project managers also generate their own leads by talking with clients, introducing themselves to neighbors, and chatting up friends.

Rittler acknowledges that many production employees aren't sales material, but he says that his project managers are “career-oriented guys who wanted to step it up from the field.” They even sparked the idea. As he focused on large, design-oriented projects, Rittler says, “They were watching me drown in sales opportunities that I wasn't getting around to.” He adds that any sales the project managers make are low-pressure and noncompetitive. “We're a tight-knit group. Basically, whoever has the time will take the lead.”