I have been earning a commission-based income for over 15 years. As a result, people often ask me how I deal with the uncertainty of my monthly income amount. I admit that working for an unknown amount of money each month has many challenges. Aside from the potential discomfort that can come with the uncertainty, it can be challenging to plan for emergencies and set a monthly budget, for example.
The fact is, I grew up lower middle class with a single mom working two jobs. Money was scarce, and we undoubtedly lived paycheck to paycheck. Due to watching my mother work so much to support my brother and me, I decided at a very young age that, to break that cycle, I needed an education and a high paying job to follow. So, I looked to the financial industry for my future. After all, what better way to make it than to join the profession that is at the heart of financial security and the money required for it?
As a result of my childhood, I had always been financially driven, but unexpectedly, my first job would change my perspective. I had made my way to West Virginia University to major in Finance. To support myself, I worked in a local restaurant as a server. Throughout any given shift, I would find myself dealing with a roller coaster of emotions. The evening would start great, and then I would have a customer leave me a two-dollar tip—even after I went the extra mile, cleaned up after their kids’ messes, and made 100 trips back and forth to the kitchen to deliver their food, clear their table, and refill their drinks. After that, the next table would be a bunch of kids that had no idea about the concept of tipping, and might even stiff me from time to time. Then, the opposite would happen, and someone would tip me more than the amount their check warranted based on the standard tipping percentage. I soon noticed that evenings with these types of ups and downs would infuriate me, and I would carry that anger over to my other tables for the rest of the evening. By the end of the night, I was exhausted and questioned how I had made so little on such a busy night.
Finally, after years of screaming, crying, and soul searching, I tried an experiment. I decided that for the next several shifts, I would not count the tips from my tables. Instead, I would just put them in the pocket of my apron and go on about my night, all while reminding myself that I was there to serve. Each night, as we were closing out, I would then count my tips—the total was now based on the sum of the entire evening vs. the result of anyone table or incident.
After several months of trying out this new method, I learned to judge less, listen more, and treat everyone with kindness through service. And I made a stable, steady income, as an added bonus. As a car dealership Financial Manager, I still use this principle to help me stay focused on serving people instead of on the amount of money each customer or up-sell will put into my pocket. So, each month, when I am stuck in a rut or am hit with three to four cash deals in a row where I will make virtually zero commission, I do my best to not scrutinize the numbers. Instead, I appreciate the opportunity I have every day to serve and help someone achieve a dream, secure a job, or provide a ride to school for his or her children through the purchase of a vehicle.
Every customer you meet has a story. When you take the time to listen to that story and then serve that customer based on what is shared with you, it has the potential to open up a whole world for you and them. And, when you focus on serving, profit naturally follows. That profit could be in the form of a sale, an up-sell, a referral, or repeat business.
We can change lives every day in this industry by simply choosing to care and be of service—one customer at a time.