Jul 20, 2005

Love the one you're with. However...

WOW! I was just over at another site and saw an amazing thread. Someone had asked about a particular direct sales company. The response is EIGHT pages of "feelin' the love" messages.

Once in a while, on a message board, someone will ask about ScrapBiz. Usually, there will be one or two responses from members. I bet there are people out there who think, "Golly, no one must like ScrapBiz." Well, here's why you don't get 8 pages of ScrapBiz love notes. ScrapBiz members are BUSY! They are busy running their businesses and they don't spend time hanging out on message boards waiting to share the joy of ScrapBiz. That makes me glad. They SHOULD be devoting their time and energy to two places - their family (first) and their business. I don't want them to evangelize and opine about ScrapBiz, I want them to be successful and worry about THEIR businesses first.

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One of the things I didn't like about my time with a direct sales company was the nearly cultish atmosphere. There were people who refused to admit that the problems that sometimes arise were really any problem at all. The message was "BE POSITIVE!" or "SAY ONLY NICE THINGS". If you complained or questioned, you were smacked down by others as being MEAN. It was counter-productive to running a business. Honestly, when a vendor I work with now has shipping issues, I tell them and I expect them to respond to me and give me a reason why. I don't expect to tell them and have them email me back and say, "Stay happy and positive - we're having growing pains!"

When Scrap In A Snap was dying on the vine, their fallen leader sent out family members to infiltrate Yahoo Groups and message boards. Whenever one of their consultants - or anyone else for that matter - spoke ill of the company - or even questioned why their order hadn't arrive in 12 weeks - the family member was to immediately tongue-lash the poster - threaten and harrass if neccessary - and report back to the founder. People were threatened with law-suits over the most ridiculous things. It was scrapbook terrorism and intimidation. Yet, there were SIAS Cult Members still worshipping the founder and believing that everything will work out in the end. It was sad - very sad - to watch.

It's great to love the company you're with. But, don't lose sight of your goal - which is running a business. At the end of the day - circle the wagons around YOUR customers and business, not theirs. I always tell people to beware of several Direct Sales phrases and situations.

  1. "Growing Pains" - there isn't anything inherently bad in saying that. Every business that is on the path to success goes through them at one time or another. BUT, the key is what follows it. If they say, "We are having growing pains and here's how we'll handle it" and then they lay out a reasonable plan of action such as hiring more people or ordering more product, that's great. But if it comes out as "We're having growing pains - be patient and positive", then think about what that REALLY means. They have asked YOU to sit and wait while they work out internal issues and have not offered a solution to the problem. Will that affect your business (because your customers couldn't care less and will spent their money elsewhere)? Of course it will!
  2. "the supplier is out of stock right now" - okay, what is it that the supplier is out of stock of? Is it a weird color of cardstock? I can understand that. Several years ago, there was a longshoreman strike and containers got held up in the ports. Hermafix refills were almost non-existent for about three months. There was a REASON no one could get it. But, if the supplier is out of white cardstock - then question what they REALLY mean(because cardstock companies DON'T run out of white cardstock). Does it mean they REALLY can't get it? Or, does it mean that perhaps the supplier won't send it to them for one reason or another?
  3. "If you buy more - you'll sell more!" Baloney! If you buy more, the company MAKES more, but you are probably going to be stuck with a boat-load of inventory. Your profit margin is so low that you can't afford to discount it down to the point that your customers will want to buy it (if you only make 25%, then you will lose money if you discount it at 40% off). It never hurts to have a little bit on hand to make customers happy, but learn to sell from your catalog. You don't make enough to take the inventory risk.
  4. Funky Math - be aware that retail markup and retail profit are 2 completely different numbers. Retail profit is the percentage on a dollar you actually make. Retail markup is the amount you make over what you paid. Common retail markup is 100% which translates into a 50% profit on everything sold. Sometimes retail markup numbers are used because the number is bigger and leads you believe you make more than you do. It's confusing and I believe it's used that way on purpose. Make sure you compare apples to apples. If everyone else tells you what your profit margin is, then ask EVERY company to explain their compensation in terms of profit margin and not mark-up.
  5. If you hear THIS from your upline, "Guess what? I joined a week before you did!", get yourself a copy of a good small business book. This is the person who supposed to train you on how to run your business???!!!!! She probably knows only slightly more than you at this point. YIKES!

I know people join the direct sales companies for a variety of reasons. There are some very good companies out there! And, I also know that ScrapBiz can be hard to "get" because we are not a ML/DS company. But, we operate very much like one. The difference is in shipping and product selection. We leave the distribution up to the pros - people who have been selling and shipping products for years. And, we leave the product selection to the pros, too - our members who can individually tailor their product line to fit their desires and the needs and desires of their customers. Who better to determine what sells in Maine than a member in Maine? Believe me, what sells in the North Carolina or in Manitoba or New South Wales is different than what sells in Washington.

With ScrapBiz, you get the following things - compare it to a direct sales company:

  1. A start-up guide that is a business "how-to" book. This is not a book of information on how to operate within OUR business, or a book of policies and passive marketing techniques. This is a book co-written by an entreprenuerial MBA on HOW to start your business.
  2. A monthly 3-4 page newsletter not full of congratulations and reminders, but information to run your business. Articles are written by members with expertise as well as the ScrapBiz Team.
  3. A message board system where members post ideas, information and support. We are like a family! The support will blow you away!
  4. Special deals from vendors - our members have access to nearly everything! Our Virtual Trade Show is growing all the time with new vendors!
  5. We don't have a convention, but we have a ScrapBiz dinner together at Memory Trends each year for those attending the trade show. It includes goodie bags from our vendors and one heckuva good time! (not to mention YUMMY Cheesecake from my favorite deli in Las Vegas)Image hosted by TinyPic.com
  6. A catalog - our catalog is available to members on CD. It's a PDF catalog. The benefit of that is you can change your product line-up as often as you want. If something isn't selling well, take it out. If you want to add a new product, make a new page - it's very simple! There is a sample page on another message here at this blog.

And, the biggest benefit of ScrapBiz is the bottom line. We can help you set up your business just like any other consulting business. You will pretty much do the same amount of work, but you will reap up twice the profit!

So, if you are mulling over starting a business in the scrapbook industry, or are mulling over joining a direct sales company, look at ScrapBiz as an option. And, if you already belong to a direct sales company, check your contract - you may be able to also join ScrapBiz. It will be like putting your consulting business into high gear! You can offer your customers unbelievable selection and will receive unmatched support!


Anonymous said...

Wow! I didn't realize scrapbiz was so much like the other companies - I'll have to take a look!

Anonymous said...

Wow - you really like to dis other boards - hmmm....don't think I like that - this is one customer and potential consultant you won't get. You should really change your attitude - you can catch more bees with honey then vinegar sweetheart!