Cash and Carry at Your Home Parties

21 May

Most direct sales companies do not require the independent consultants to carry any inventory. Most direct sales consultants who carry some inventory will tell you it absolutely helps their business succeed. This article isn’t intended to discuss the merits and pitfalls of carrying inventory, but rather to talk about how to handle and process orders and hostess benefits if you choose to bring cash and carry to a home party.

If you want to purchase some inventory to have on hand at parties, it is imperative that you include all cash and carry sales in the party total so that the hostess still gets credit for those items. This is where some consultants get confused.  They are just not certain how to write it up so that it is properly credited.

This example may help:

You’re a consultant who sells widgets. You have a pretty extensive catalog but you like to have an on-hand supply of Widgets B to cash and carry because they’re in high demand and the party guests like to take something home with them.

You’ve already paid for the Widgets B that you bring to the party, along with your catalogs, order forms and display set up.

Customer Laurie wants to order: one Widget A, four Widgets B and two Widgets C. Her order total, before taxes and shipping is $46.  You happen to have on-hand two of the four Widget Bs that she wants. She can take those two items home that night, and will receive the remainder of her order when the whole party order arrives in approximately two weeks.

She wants to pay for the whole order by credit card. On the order form, next to the two widgets she is taking home, you somehow annotate that she already has those two items.  Perhaps write an “H” for “has” or “home” next to those two widgets. Use whatever system you wish, so long as you are clear.

The hostess party total remains the same whether or not any customers take any items home that night. Your providing cash and carry is just a courtesy and an added perk for the customers. It gets a little tricky when you are back home submitting the entire party order into the computer. It’s tricky because it takes focus and organization; but it is not difficult.

Because you already paid for the cash and carry items, and because the customer paid for her order with a credit card, you will need to use her credit card to replace your cash and carry inventory. You would still charge Customer Laurie’s credit card $46. You could reorder the exact same items she took home, or providing the price remains exactly the same, you could choose to reorder something different for future cash and carry orders.

When the hostess’ entire party order is delivered to you so that you can inspect, bag and tag the items before delivery, omit the two Widget Bs from Customer Laurie’s order bag because she already took those home the night of the party. Instead you’ll put those two Widget Bs into your own personal stash of cash and carry inventory.

There is nothing illegal, immoral or unethical about this practice. The customer authorized you to charge her card for the amount shown on the order form. You’re not using her credit card for a personal purchase. You’re merely replacing the advance product you made available for her to take home.

If this seems too overwhelming and confusing to you, then don’t do it. Above all else the customer’s credit card needs to be charged the correct amount and the hostess needs to receive full credit for all sales at her party – cash and carry or those that were ordered.

Do you have items on hand. If so, which ones sell the most for you?


Surviving the J-Months (January June July)

25 Apr

January can be a letdown for some direct sellers who are coming off a busy Christmas season.  June is hard to get bookings with grads and dads. July can be just as difficult with summer heat and planned vacations. Because of the above mentioned challenges, successful party plan consultants often find themselves working harder during the J-months than any other.

It would be a mistake to take these months off. Some consultants have the attitude that if it is slow, they might as well just wait until it picks back up again before they start working.  The problem with that logic is that the party plan direct sales business requires constantly planning ahead.  Planning for the current month, in the current month isn’t going to be very fruitful.  The time to schedule June Open Houses or July pool or patio themed parties is in May.

November and December can be very busy months for direct sellers. They are also months when sales and bookings come much easier and don’t require working as hard to get them.  Because of the easier sales during the holiday season, it’s also the prime time to challenge yourself by setting up for January.

The J-months could require being creative or, in some cases, going back to basics to keep your business running at an even pace.  If you’re struggling it may be because you’ve veered too far off the simple system that your company has set up for you. Or just the opposite, sometimes it requires you to do something a little differently.  Figure out which adjustment is needed for your business.

Use the five ideas below to help prevent your J-Months from being a snooze-fest.

  1. Online Efforts – Fresh content is the key.  Whether you have a website or a blog, adding fresh content will keep your readers interested and can even help drive more traffic to your website. Updating a blog twice a week should be the minimum standard.  Anything less than that, and you’re going to see little to no results.
  2. Offer Special Promotions – many companies will offer additional hostess or customer specials during the J-Months because they recognize it can be a slower time of year. Take full advantage of these extra specials. If you predetermine that no one on your mailing list would be interested in the specials, then you’re doing a disservice to your sales business. Spread the word…
  3. Direct Mailings – Cold calling and soliciting is highly frowned upon by many companies, but that doesn’t mean you can’t break into new markets. Why not mail some catalogs to a targeted audience?  Decide which market segments could benefit from your products. Depending on your product line, potential groups could be daycare centers, animal shelters, senior living communities, or apartment complexes. After a few days, you should call to follow up.

4. Product Displays – Do you know anyone who owns or works at a salon, boutique, or any other establishment that gets a fair amount of foot traffic?  Ask the manager or owner if you could set up a small display at their reception desk for a week or two.  Be sure to leave product catalogs and business cards too.

  1. Ask for referrals – If you’re not comfortable asking friends, family or other contacts for referrals of people they know who may be interested in your business opportunity or product offering, ask where they get their hair cut, or what vet their puppy uses or if they can think of any other business owner who may be willing to set up a display.

It doesn’t matter what month it is now.  Those slower J-months: January, June and July arrive at the same time every year.  Plan ahead and while your competitors are sitting idle and frustrated, you’ll be busy with your business.

Read This If You Befriend Your Team Members on Facebook

4 Apr

Social networking is a wonderful tool to build your business, but should direct sales leaders befriend their team members?

I recently heard a self- proclaimed direct sales expert encourage managers and directors to be friends with their team members on Facebook. She said that way you can get to know what is going on in the lives of your downline.  Some may wholeheartedly agree with this. Yet perhaps there is another way to look at this.

With regard to being offline – for those who work outside the home, are you good friends with your boss? What about your boss’s boss?  Does your boss regularly share photos of grandpa’s birthday party or of himself at the ballgame while enjoying some adult beverages? Does your boss start your weekly staff meetings by sharing her frustrations, her personal highs and lows?  Perhaps for some of you, this is true.  Though for most others, you do not socialize with the boss on your off time.

Some will be quick to defend that direct sales works differently than a “real job.”  That is a sad statement that partly contributes to the maligned reputation that if you have a direct selling business you don’t have a real job. For those who run their business like a business, then direct sales absolutely is a real job.

Still others reading this are saying that being a direct sales leader is not the same as being a boss.  No arguments there. If you are an independent consultant, you are not an employee; so technically you are correct – there is no boss and employee relationship. Notwithstanding, if you are a manager or director within the company or within your downline, you still should behave like a boss and set a good leadership example.

Back to your personal Facebook page: is it a good idea to befriend downline members on your personal Facebook page?

Some say Yes, it is a good idea. Their reasoning is that you’re all one big happy family and you want to share your life with the ‘sisters’ on your team and you want them to get to know you better.  You believe that you may be their manager but you’re a person first and they should get to see the good, the bad and the ugly about you.  Everyone on your team is a new friend and you’re just like blood relatives. You may also believe that you should know everything that they’re up to or that you want them to see how you market your business. You think befriending your team members is a fabulous idea.

Others say No way, it’s a terrible idea. If you’re truly running your business like a business, and if you are a manager or director, especially if you have a large downline, then you need to be able to have some time to yourself. Otherwise, if you’re on Facebook, and if you opt to befriend your downline, they can hit you up on chat and distract you from what you were doing while you are ‘on your own time.’ Your activity and status updates will also be scrutinized. You may work 12 hours a day on your business, but also post a couple different status updates a day, or share a YouTube or play a game – and suddenly there will be downline members that take those actions and assume you’re sitting on Facebook all day while they’re out working their tail off so you can earn a bag of money off of them.  Or you may be frustrated with an idiot driver or store clerk and want to let off steam. Suddenly, some of your downline will find cause to accuse you of being two-faced; all nicey-nice with them and a totally different person on Facebook.  Do you really want to have your every action scrutinized that closely?

There isn’t a right answer here, other than what is right for you and your situation. It’s just wise to consider both sides of the Facebook debate before you opt to befriend your downline. If you already accepted friends with many of your team and are now having second thoughts, perhaps it’s a good time to start a separate FB page just for your business. Then alert your friends that you’re moving your business type activity to the other page. When you delete them as friends, they’ll still have access to you on the work site.

The choice is yours; so choose wisely. I would love to read your comments on this.



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Debbie Shulman, Owner of Home Party Divas is a mom of 4 and a happy wife in a happy life. Lives in Florida. She loves direct sales and feels it is the best way to own a business without a large investment.