A few years ago, Robbinsville, N.J.-based Jon Vogel was selling about $1.5 million in projects and working 75 hours a week. He wanted to expand New Outlooks Construction but knew he couldn't do it with just himself as the only salesperson. From talking to other remodelers, he knew a full-time salesperson could add a $500,000 to $1.5 million in revenue.

He had worked with Ann Dempsey for 10 years in her capacity as a salesperson at a retail plumbing showroom. As part of his growth plan, he wanted to open a showroom and he knew her expertise would be invaluable. She also had a great personality and he thought a woman salesperson would have better rapport with female clients.

He hired Dempsey and within six months moved into a new space and opened a 3,500-square-foot showroom. Dempsey designed and now runs the showroom. “She brought with her not only knowledge but other contacts. She knew sales reps for many companies we wanted to utilize, including plumbing, cabinetry, and hardware,” Vogel says. For that first year, he set a goal for her of $700,000 in sales, which she exceeded.

For the first three months, Vogel and Dempsey went on all sales calls together. He taught her how to use Chief Architect to design and how to review estimates. As the sales manager, Dempsey also pre-qualifies every lead. She is paid a base salary, plus a commission on sales. She receives a percentage of sales from the showroom and a 1% management fee for overseeing the other salespeople the company has hired.

Vogel has cut back on sales to concentrate on management, so Dempsey hired another salesperson. The new hire had experience in the industry and brought in her portfolio. “We need someone with experience. With this job, there is so much to know, coming in without knowing anything is overwhelming,” Dempsey says. To keep the salesperson motivated and involved from start to finish, she receives 6% of the gross sale, 3% after the client signs the contract, 2% at completion of project and a final percentage at client's final payment. They are planning to hire another salesperson this year.

Vogel says the new showroom and sales staff have met his expectations. With just Vogel, sales were at $1.5 million. With Dempsey, the sales jumped by $1 million. Now, with the additional hires, he expects to reach $3 million in 2005.