Raise Up

Travis’ Terrific (and Terrible) Ideas on Raises

April 08, 2020 Amanda LeFever Episode 2
Raise Up
Travis’ Terrific (and Terrible) Ideas on Raises
Chapters
Raise Up
Travis’ Terrific (and Terrible) Ideas on Raises
Apr 08, 2020 Episode 2
Amanda LeFever

Travis LeFever steps up in the kickoff episode where we interview high-flying executives about all the things YOU can do to get a raise at work!

This guy has turned around three multi-million dollar corporations, taking them all from the brink of bankruptcy to their best years ever.

In this episode, Travis offers some “first job mistakes”, plus practical advice about how to approach your next conversation about getting paid more, especially how and when to do it in a down economy.

It’s more fun than hard-hitting journalism because he and your host Amanda have been married for almost a decade and he’s her very first victim...uh...guest...on the Raise Up Podcast!

Get the show notes and more great resources from this episode at the link below!


RAISE UP SHOWNOTES:

https://www.raiseuppodcast.com/2

Love the show? These sponsors make it possible!

Beauty Counter Consultant

Kati Jo Barber

https://www.beautycounter.com/katibarber

Show Notes Transcript

Travis LeFever steps up in the kickoff episode where we interview high-flying executives about all the things YOU can do to get a raise at work!

This guy has turned around three multi-million dollar corporations, taking them all from the brink of bankruptcy to their best years ever.

In this episode, Travis offers some “first job mistakes”, plus practical advice about how to approach your next conversation about getting paid more, especially how and when to do it in a down economy.

It’s more fun than hard-hitting journalism because he and your host Amanda have been married for almost a decade and he’s her very first victim...uh...guest...on the Raise Up Podcast!

Get the show notes and more great resources from this episode at the link below!


RAISE UP SHOWNOTES:

https://www.raiseuppodcast.com/2

Love the show? These sponsors make it possible!

Beauty Counter Consultant

Kati Jo Barber

https://www.beautycounter.com/katibarber

Travis:

I still remember what he told me. He said, Travis, we were here before you got here, and we'll be here a long time after you're gone. And if you need to find another job, then that's what you're going to have to do.

Amanda:

Welcome back to the number one podcast that teaches people how to get paid what they're worth. I'm your host and resident human behavior nerd. Super excited about today's guest . You guys, you should be too . My guest today is none other than the infamous Travis Lefever, serial entrepreneur who started and successfully exited three businesses, ran corporate turnarounds for three years, and has spoken in taught in eight different countries. You know, he's worked with some big-name clients like Facebook, Kraft, and Tyson foods, LOCTITE, every branch of the military, Ripley's believe it or not, and NASA, that's just to name a few. But mostly he's my husband. He's my baby daddy and the bug-killer in our house. So mainly that's what he does, especially since we're all working from home these days, and its springtime. There are a significant amount of bugs for some reason. And we live in the woods, and we found a snake the other day in my garage after I set up my workout equipment out there, and I'm not excited about that. Anyway. So, if this interview gets a little off the rails, like it just kind of did. It's because we've been cooped up together with my mom and our four-year old daughter for three weeks straight. Nonetheless, he has a few decades of experience as in the executive ranks, leading people, managing people, and negotiating compensation. And he agreed to come on the show after I asked him multiple times over coffee and stuff and basically said that he had to . So, he's going to share some of the things he's learned about getting a raise with us. So, thank you, Mr. Lefever, for coming on the show. How is your self-isolation going?

Travis:

It is good. Good, and an interesting thing, of course, stuff we have never seen before or done before. A lot of things we're doing as you know, we're working from home, so at least we're being productive. And if I have to be marooned with anyone, I can't think of anyone else. I'd rather be marooned with, you're my person.

Amanda:

Well, thanks. Let's talk about getting a raise at your job. My first question, are you ready? What is your best advice for someone who feels undervalued at work?

Travis:

Undervalued. So that question hits at a lot of different levels. I think in my experience, feeling undervalued has a lot less to do with your paycheck and a lot more to do with the leadership at your company or at your office. You can be making 10 bucks an hour, and a team culture makes you feel valued and wanted, and you want to get up and go to work every day. Or I've seen people making $500,000, and they're miserable and feel like nobody cares about them. So , that's probably a little bit off-topic, but if somebody came to me and said, Hey, I don't feel valued at my job. My best advice is to find another team to play on. That's a leadership failing a culture. All the money in the world doesn't necessarily make people feel valued, make them more money. Obviously, it makes it more tolerable, though. There's sometimes no way to escape a toxic workplace, especially in the short term. So, if you're just talking about getting a raise, I could help a little bit. Is that what you want, is to go into like the money part?

Amanda:

Yeah, I'm talking about the money part. The money part. Yeah , for sure.

Travis:

I remember my first real experience of asking for a raise myself. It's kind of a funny story. I was working at the Raleigh Durham airport here in North Carolina, and I was co-opping with UPS. And I remember I started at $7.15 an hour, and I think it was back then, minimum wage. And, if you don't know what UPS does at the airports , on the night shift, we load all the overnight packages from Piedmont here into 757's, and i n DC-8's, and they fly up to Louisville, Kentucky for the big overnight sort. And then on the morning shift, those aircraft would come back in, we would unload all the next day air packages, and distribute them all over North Carolina. But it was really hard work in the rain and snow. We were out on the tarmac in the summer, it was super-hot, and after about a month of this I realized that I felt that I was out working everybody else, I'm sweating, sweating my rear off out there, an d I was already supervising people. I was really helping out. And so, I went to my boss after one of the shifts was over, I was like, Hey Jerry, how am I doing here? It w as kind of setting him up, and of course, he told me how good I was doing and how much he appreciated me. He s aid some nice things and, an d t hen I delivered the blow, right? I was like, well, I've been thinking this is really hard work, and I think I should be making more money and if we can't work something out then I'm go ing t o h ave to go find another job. And I learned pretty quick, in fact, I even still remember whatever it is, 20-25 years later, I still remember what he told me. He said, Travis, we were here before you got here and we'll be here a long time after you're gone, and if you need to find another job then, that's what you're going to have to do. So, my first piece of advice before I tell anybody how to get a raise, I'll tell people how not to get fired. And so that piece of advice is never to give your boss an u ltimatum or try to take advantage of a bad situation. And I think that that's appropriate. With COVID-19, what we're going through now in a recession, a lot of companies or p eople might feel, I've got my boss right where I want th em, o ver a barrel. They need me here to se ll o r to help with operations or to drive or whatever it is. And it's a perfect time to really get them for more money, and it is not the perfect time. It's a really bad time, a horrible time to put anybody over a barrel.

Amanda:

Well, and even for yourself too because of the situation. I mean, if you give them an ultimatum and they're like, okay, and you don't have any other options.

Travis:

Yeah, yeah. You gotta work out your options. And that's something that I've kind of been thinking about since you asked me to come on. What are people's options? But I'm sure you want me to tell you what I would do, right? Not just what I wouldn't do.

Amanda:

Yes. I liked the, would not , that was helpful right from the beginning, especially in our current situation. So, what would you do then? Let's go that route.

Travis:

My second piece of advice and I've got some notes here is to , first put together some hard data about what you might be worth on the market today and what you're bringing to that business in terms of hard dollar productivity or savings. Then once you've gathered that information to present that to your boss with a reasonable ask and not as an ultimatum, as a request, I'm big on the three- sentence, ask. And if you're not familiar with the three sentence ask, it goes something like this. Get your pencil ready. First, you've always been a good boss. This has always been a great place to work. Second, that we work well together, and what I contribute to the team, I've even made a list for us to talk about. And then the third sentence is, if it makes sense based on what I'm bringing to the business, I'd ask you to consider an increase in my compensation of $10,000 a year. Is that fair? And that would be the conversation that I had with my boss.

Amanda:

Nice. Well, that sounds interesting, to say the least. So, I hadn't heard about the three sentence, ask. But I want to go back just to what you had said before that, you said to gather data, like hard data. So, where do you recommend that people find that data? First of all, that's comparable, just Google it, or is there anywhere that they should look specifically?

Travis:

Yeah, Google is absolutely the best place. There are tons of resources, tons of webinars on LinkedIn, the Slide-Share app, and you can find tons of salary surveys. I got one the other day from a headhunter, from a recruiter, and they were like, here are all the people that we've placed in your executive positions in North Carolina. And they had a giant list of the positions and their salaries. And to be honest, I was blown away by what some people were getting as executives here in North Carolina. And it definitely informed, not just me, but if I was asking somebody for a raise, that would be an incredible piece of paper to slide across the table to them . Look what my skillset is worth on the market.

Amanda:

Hmm. Okay. So that's awesome. Then let's move to the big three. One thing that I saw that you had said is the $10,000 a year, right? Is there a magic number that you're thinking? Is there a percentage? Should people go for the big number, or should they go for the $1 - $2 per hour raise? What's the best approach you feel like with something like that?

Travis:

Everybody's going to be different? I think it's all situational, but if I was making $40,000 a year, I did some research and saw that everybody else in my geography had my job title was making $50,000 a year. I think a fair ask would be to increase to at least the mid-point or to maybe the ask, was to increase to the $50,000 and settle for the mid-point. I think there's a lot of negotiating skills that we could talk about at some point , about how to get to where, cause it's all about being fair, right? We want to feel like as humans that we're being treated fairly and a lot of the discontent and probably a lot of the reason people are listening to this is that they don't feel they're being paid what they're worth, that it's not fair to them. And if they were being paid fairly, they'd look at things, a lot different. So, it's not about is it a dollar, is it $5,000 or is it $20,000 it's all about getting to where you feel like you're fairly compensated for your contributions.

Amanda:

Okay. So, we were talking about earlier, the current climate and not taking advantage of your bosses or giving them an ultimatum. Do you feel this is a good time for people to be asking for raises or what do you think the approach should be during COVID-19 right now?

Travis:

Yeah, I think it's less about a good time or a bad time to ask for a raise other than a good time to find that information and to be prepared to have a conversation about what's fair. With the people who are making decisions about what you're being compensated. And eventually, I believe that getting a raise is a process. It's not something that you hear me give advice, and you go have that conversation next week or hear something on the podcast, it sounds like a good idea and clicks off the podcast and walk over to your boss's office. That's not my advice.

Amanda:

Okay. That's good clarification.

Travis:

Yeah, I think this is a very strategic thing. This podcast you said in your intro, it's for smart people who have the ability to sort of plan ahead these conversations and get ready for the comp review. Get ready for their review every year. And that's what I'm thinking is my advice is how to get ready for the review, not how to go tomorrow and get a raise .

Amanda:

Yeah. So as part of getting ready for the review, also have other options, if they can't pay compensation, are you trying to get another week of vacation or are you trying to get more sick pay or is that something that you feel people should be prepared with as well?

Travis:

Absolutely. I see having and hear in my career people do not realize that compensation, your total compensation is made up of different things. For example, it's not just your paycheck. You could be paid $50,000 a year. If you are also given a company car, all of a sudden, you do not have to pay out of your $50,000 for gas, insurance, maintenance, and car payment. So, a company car could really be worth $10,000 a year in your compensation. And the same for extra vacation days, right? Days, you don't have to show up at work or don't have to actually contribute paid vacations on top of comp , paying health insurance for you rather than splitting it or making you pay it. That's all part of compensation. And I don't feel people recognize that enough. So , a fair ask might be, I know you can't give me a raise right now, but I know that you have company cars, and that's already factored into the overhead. And if you could give me a company car that'd be a great little bump to my compensation that I think is fair.

Amanda:

Okay. So having options is a good idea going in.

Travis:

Yeah. Understand what compensation or what your company already does and asking for things they're already doing for other people. It is almost like the easy street. If you're asking to use the company condo when only the president gets or , our executive team gets to use that. I mean, that's one thing that's a much harder uphill climb.

Amanda:

I remember whenever I was , working in the restaurant business, one of the other girls that was working counter with me, she was making $2 more an hour than I was, and I found this out. And so, it made me so upset that I felt like I was working harder and longer, and I guess better than she was and she was making more, and she wasn't reliable. And I remember taking that kind of to my boss, but I'm not sure if that's necessarily the best approach, right? Hey, this person makes more than I do, I should make as much as them. Is that kind of what we're saying too? Or no, not really?

Travis:

I think it's a much weaker argument. Not that it wouldn't work or appeal to your boss's sense of fairness. But executives, business managers, and owners, they manage to budgets, a lot of times and they have terminology that they use, and vocabulary that they use, and they understand productivity and savings and that kind of stuff. I feel a much stronger argument would be for you to couch your value and the fairness of your compensation in terms of how you're impacting the bottom line. So, if you can go in and say, look, I landed this client, and that client contributes a million dollars to our bottom line every year, and I'm the one who manages the relationship. That's worth money. That's hard compensation. But to say, Jane makes $50,000, and I only make $46,000, I think I deserve a raise up to $50,000 now . Yeah , that falls apart quickly. There's no hard connection. I'm suggesting that you go and capture your contribution in business terms that managers understand, and that the CFO understands your company. Because a lot of times your boss isn't the one making the decision about your compensation. They may love you to death and think that you're worth millions . The last turnaround that I did, I had folks who were worth a $100,000 only making $60,000 and tries as I might, and as much as I would argue for those people to make even $80,000 or $90,000 that it just wasn't happening, the CFO didn't see it in terms of contribution to compensate somebody that much. So, you really have to dial in what you're bringing to the business in dollar terms, the language they can understand and present it, make those connections super solid.

Amanda:

So that rolls me into my next question. Sometimes, there are real financial constraints for businesses. They believe that you're worth more money and they want to pay you more money, but it's just not in the cards for them at that time. How do you suggest kind of waiting through those types of situations?

Travis:

Yeah, that's a great question. I've been in that spot myself as a business owner, and want to pay folks more money, realizing their contributions, and just because we had a bad job or a bad year or something, not being able to really pay them what even I thought they were worth. So I think coming from a position of someone who's asking for a raise, if you're in a small company , that has real financial constraints, or maybe he's having a bad time, then you really have to look for non-financial bumps in the comp. So that looks like time off, telecommuting, the company car. I mean, paying the health insurance, things that don't cost them as much as just giving you a $10,000 raise in your salary. Because another thing I don't think people realize is why those non-monetary raises are easier is because every time that a business or your boss gives you a raise, right? Like $50 - $55,000 or $50 - $60,000 or whatever it is , it costs them 10% more than the raise they gave you on their bottom line. So, if a company gives you a $10,000 raise, it costs them $11,000 to do that because of employer taxes, unemployment taxes, workers comp, all those things are based on payroll dollars. They're a percentage of payroll dollars. And so, the lower they can keep their payroll, it's kind of leveraged to lower cost across the board. But asking for an extra week of vacation is a no brainer for them. It costs them nothing.

Amanda:

Hmm . It doesn't? How does it not cost them nothing? I don't understand.

Travis:

It cost them nothing, and they don't have to pay any more money out the door than what they've already been paying.

Amanda:

So like paid time off almost?

Travis:

Yeah. You're just not there contributing to the company. But that doesn't mean that you're not keeping up with your clients or keeping up with your deadlines or still managing your team. You're just not necessarily in the office 40 hours that week. Yeah, absolutely.

Amanda:

But you'd still be preparing and everything to leave for the week, and then you would make up or pick up.

Travis:

Well, of course, you have to keep up with your responsibilities. We're not saying ditch completely, but in fact, you could argue the fact, and there's some research out there that you're more productive. Yeah . You're more productive because now you have deadlines, and now you have to catch up, and you want to prepare to not be there. But that's stretching, right? A little bit.

Amanda:

Yeah. I don't know. There are some companies that have moved to unlimited vacation, just so that their teams have the leeway.

Travis:

So I think that my contribution to the conversation is that you have to do it correctly. There are no ultimatums or taking advantage of people. You have to value your company and those people who run it just as much as you expect them to value you. But there are typically gaps and especially in small businesses between market value and what you agreed to come on to work for whatever it was last year or a month ago or ten years ago. It's unlikely that your salary has kept up with the market rates and there's some gap that you should understand how to go and do the research and figure out what to ask for to make it more fair to you. And so, you feel fairly compensated for your contribution. I think that's a relatively easy thing to do for most people.

Amanda:

All right . So, I really appreciate you coming on the show, Travis LeFever. Thanks. You're a smart guy. I think that you added a lot of value and definitely gave some great advice around getting a raise . How can people find you or ask you questions or if they need any clarification about what we talked about, where can they hit you up?

Travis:

Oh yeah, happy to help in any way that I can. You can find me on LinkedIn. Travis LeFever, the one in North Carolina, not the one in Colorado.

Amanda:

I didn't know there was a guy in Colorado?

Travis:

And unfortunately, he's also in construction. So , a lot of folks get us confused. Or you could just connect with Amanda. Of course, she'll get us hooked up. But on your Instagram or Raise Up podcast.com, of course, you can just put, hey man , let me talk to Travis in the contact email.

Amanda:

Oh, that's hilarious. I will pass along the information very quickly.

Travis:

Or I can give you Amanda's cell phone number.

Amanda:

I guess you could give out my cell phone number. I might not answer it, though, because I rarely answer numbers that I don't know. And I know you guys are the same way. So, don't judge me for not answering telemarketers that pretend that they're my friends.

Travis:

Maybe I can come back and tell some of my crazier raise stories of people asking for a raise when they went bad and went good.

Amanda:

That would be awesome. Those are my favorite stories, to be honest.

Travis:

Maybe in your Podcasts, you can have war story episodes, like compilations.

Amanda:

Ooh, like a bonus. And that's, and to be honest, that's how you get the bonus ones is if you subscribe . So subscribe to the podcast, or you know, you can always like and share and take a screenshot of this episode and put it on your socials and tag me in it because I want to connect. I want to see what you guys are liking, and not liking, let us know. This is a community, Raise Up Nation, and we want to be in this together. So, thanks again, honey, for being on the show.

Travis:

My Pleasure. Bye you guys.

Amanda:

Bye.