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“My principal suddenly wants weekly call reports and quote updates,” said a MANA representative member. “I need to spend my time selling, not writing reports. And isn’t there some sort of IRS rule against call reporting for independent contractors like manufacturers’ agents?”

I couldn’t agree with you more that he should be allowed to maximize your selling time and minimize his reporting time.

The arguments for this are all logical ones: there are only so many hours in a day, and every hour he takes from selling to work on reporting will drag down his sales numbers. Even if he is working on reports during evening or weekend hours, the time he devotes to reports is taken away from pre-call planning, his own company’s required bookkeeping, and activities he undertakes to learn more about his principals’ products.

Many reps do engage in some sort of monthly forecasting and reporting for their top few lines, but I have never seen any who do that reporting weekly.

As far as IRS argument goes, there was a point at which the IRS treated a reporting requirement from principals as indicating that the rep was an employee rather than an independent contractor.

Their position has shifted somewhat and it is harder to use that argument with principals than it used to be.

The IRS links are:

http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Independent-Contractor-Defined

http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Independent-Contractor-Self-Employed-or-Employee

My recommendation: If he can’t move your principal off weekly reports, perhaps he could ask them to allow him to phone those reports in rather than requiring that he to write them up. This might relieve him of some of the reporting burden, and if he is phoning them in then he also eliminates the nagging concern all reps have that their reports aren’t being read, because they are a part of a phone conversation with the manager who requested.

One final comment: A sudden request for weekly reports could also be a red flag that the principal thinks your agency is underperforming and is putting you under the microscope. Be aware that this could be a indication that your agency may be “on the bubble” with this principal, and if it is an important line you may want to take aggressive steps to salvage your relationship with this principal.

 

My Principal Wants Weekly Reports! What Should I Do?

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