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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.

Theme Party Ideas Not Found on Most Lists

20 Mar

Do a search on home party ideas or home party themes and you’ll likely find a number of existing lists of ideas. Many of the lists contain the same standard beach party or chocolate lover’s party ideas. These are actually some fun ideas, but you’ve already hosted or considered one of these parties, right? Now you are searching for something different that not everyone is doing; time to spice it up a bit. If you want a fun, memorable party, do a “Tacky Party” theme.

Think tacky, tacky, tacky – the tackier, the better! Tell guests to dress tacky, but if they question what that means, don’t elaborate. This is the fun part.  Some may arrive mismatched, some a little promiscuous, and others just bizarre and weird. Seeing their individual interpretations of tacky is just part of the fun. I’ve heard of one guest who refused to participate in the tacky dress portion, but came to the party anyway. Some of the other guests really thought she’d put an effort into dressing tacky, when actually she was wearing her every day clothes. Whoops!

The winner of the tackiest outfit will get a prize, which is also tacky, such as an inexpensive sparkly lawn flamingo from a local craft store. I note this goes against everything I preach, about if you’re going to give away anything to make sure it is a product from your own catalog.  I’m assuming you probably don’t sell tacky items.  So, this is one exception to the rule. You can still send your guests home with a swag bag containing samples of your fabulous products, though.

Print the invitations on scrap paper left over from the neighborhood yard sale or from someone else’s sale flyer, such as what you may find in your weekly free newspaper. Just put a big “X” on the back to cross out the other sale information.

The hostess can serve tacky foods such as Pop Tarts, Slim Jim’s, prunes, Little Debbie snacks, generic, off-brand soda and wine in a box; even better if she has leftover party plates and napkins from her kid’s birthday parties. If not, these are usually available at thrift stores for pennies. Your hostess will love this idea because it’s so easy to prepare the refreshments. How much effort does it take to break up a few Pop Tarts and open up Little Debbie snacks?!

As the consultant, you should participate in the theme as well. Wear a skirt with gym socks and high heels; make a t-shirt using a Sharpie and every single home party slogan you have ever heard, such as “Earn Some Free When You Party with Me” or “Is Money Low? Book a Show” or “I wish I may, I wish I might, have all the products I see tonight!”  You could try “Just Book a Show” or “Join My Team.”  Individually, these slogans are not so bad, but when you have a dozen different ones, it is definitely tacky. Check out the stickers at: thebooster.com, if you need more ideas.

If your hostess really wants her party to be remembered for years to come, she can decorate her front yard with a clothes line featuring giant granny panties and a bra, broken lawn chairs, old tires, and an empty case of beer.

Fun times! If it’s a little too over the top for you, remember that theme parties can be as big or as little as you like. I personally think if you’re going to play, then play big.  You can still have a fun “Tacky Party” if you scale it down a bit. If your guests are having fun, it’s contagious and they’re more likely to buy more. It’s win/win!

xo

Debbie

Join Home Party Divas today for coaching, support, advertising and support for only $19.97 a month.

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.

I Drove All That Way for One Person

18 Feb

I was talking with a consultant recently as she lamented that she drove 50 minutes to get to a home party. When she got there, only the hostess’ mother-in-law showed up; no other guests.  The mother-in-law placed an obligatory order totaling $12.

The consultant earned 25% off that $12 sale or a sum total of $3.00 commission. She drove 50 minutes each way and went through three quarters of a tank of gas for which she paid $3.52 per gallon.  She also turned down an opportunity to do a vendor event that night because this party was booked first.  And she had to pay a babysitter while she was at the party. It doesn’t take a math whiz to calculate that the consultant lost money traveling to do this party.

The hostess spent the day cleaning her house, making cookies and chopping fresh vegetables, and setting up folding chairs around her living room to accommodate all of her expected guests. Imagine how she felt when she went to all this trouble and only her mother-in-law showed up. Talk about awkward.

This is an unfortunate situation. This is also a common scenario that many direct sales consultants may fess up happened to them at one time or another. This is also a situation that could have been avoided.

What went wrong?  From the outcome, it appears a number of things went wrong.  Likely the hostess did not invite nearly enough people. She also very likely did not call those she invited to determine if they were coming to the party or if they wanted to place an outside order.

It also may be a safe assumption that the consultant did not properly coach the hostess. Some things are certain in this business:

  1. Many people will not RSVP, even though requested
  2. Some people will say they are coming to the party, but will not show up
  3. Only a small fraction of those invited will attend a home party

If the consultant had worked with the hostess, there would have been a much better turn out or the hostess would have told her that she didn’t have any confirmed guests other than her husband’s mom.  The consultant could have made an informed decision if she wanted to reschedule the party, turn the party into a catalog or basket party, or make the drive regardless of lack of confirmed guests.

Some consultants choose to make a personal policy that they won’t travel to a party for fewer than five confirmed guests. Others set a mileage limit for those parties where very few have confirmed attendance. You’re an independent consultant, free to set whatever policies you choose to implement for you business.

I hope you never have a party like the one described above. Or if you have, I hope you’ve made corrections to avoid it in the future.

xo

Debbie

Join Home Party Divas today for coaching, support, advertising and support for only $19.97 a month.

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.