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Alumni Experiences

How can small companies offer benefits to rival those of large companies?

I own two small companies. It’s hard to pay myself benefits, let alone all my employees. The first thing to look at is making sure they are paid a competitive wage, then add vacation/holidays and keep within reason. Next, they might need health insurance, but if the spouse is working elsewhere and is covered, we can sometimes eliminate it. Finally, you might look at adding tax deferred savings plans and insurance. Since both my companies are retail, we offer very steep discounts to employees. It has been my experience that most people working for small companies do not expect superb benefits. Also, in order to keep costs down, you must do a lot of shopping.

If you are going to provide insurance and deferred savings plans, contact the no-load mutual fund companies and stay away from insurance companies and for-fee planners. When looking for health insurance, check with state governments, because many states offer low-cost plans.

David Mansius Vancouver, WA BA Finance ’75



Our company, Crandall & Associates Consulting Dieticians, Inc., provides services in several states, so our greatest challenge is providing benefits to small groups and individuals across the nation. The only cost-effective solution we could find was to utilize the services of a professional employer organization (PEO), often referred to as employee leasing. A PEO pools the needs of several small businesses and contracts benefits as a larger group.

We began a couple of years ago using the services of a public, nationwide PEO. The benefits were bundled as a package, and we were paying for many benefits that we couldn’t utilize, such as undergraduate tuition assistance.

Recently, we switched to a private, smaller PEO that is better able to customize a benefits package for our employees and is not required to meet quarterly Wall Street numbers. The savings have been substantial.

Rich Crandall Mesa, AZ MAcc ’93


Smaller companies have helped us redefine what benefits are. At the 5 & Diner, we offer traditional benefits such as health care and help with prescription drugs, but only to our managers. It would not be cost-efficient to offer our wait staff, who are primarily part-time, full benefits. We offer benefits to some hourly full-time employees who have been with us for a long time. We also have a profit sharing program for those who have been with the company a year. Many of our benefits come in the nontraditional category. We are more personal. We know our hourly employees’ names, and they get to meet and actually voice their concerns with the owners. Our employees are able to go to the source and avoid the thick red tape often associated with larger companies. Also, promotions come easier because many times our hourly team members are more visible.

John Beeson Mesa, AZ MA English ’96


Alumni Exchange: A forum for alumni to share ideas about challenges facing Marriott School graduates.