Archives for category: Thoughts on life
flying $$

Money has a tendency to do this, especially the less you have.

I still like Avon and plan to continue selling it. But I have come to the conclusion that it may not be “the answer”. In fact, I foresee Avon ladies going extinct.

extinction

Avon Ladies, on the verge of extinction

Allow me to explain.

People do like Avon. I have only met a few who did not and it was mostly over allergy issues. But marketing takes consistent drive and motivation. I have a few customers from businesses that I have visited. I acquired one from hanging books on mailboxes. (Important note: I was recently informed that even if you don’t put it in the mailbox and just hang it on the outside, it is still illegal, so don’t do it.)

To acquire the one customer I probably hung at least 50 books and that is expensive, read on to find out more. My district manager went around with me and I got about ten numbers from random people who accepted books from me. Not one of those has materialized into an actual customer. I do not like approaching strangers and I am even more uncomfortable asking for that person’s phone number. Plus, when I call, I feel like a telemarketer – which is essentially what I am. I tried telemarketing and not only was I no good at it, its a miserable way to make a living.

not another telemarketer

So the avenue I have tried thus far that I like the most is hanging books on mailboxes. But that avenue is now closed – I have this strange aversion to breaking the law. Now the only option to door to door. That scares me and I would need to be sure I take someone with me. I tried it the other day and people have a tendency to not come to the door even though you can be pretty confident they are home. I had one open the door and look very surly. He took my book but it was far from a warm and fuzzy experience.

Another option would be to “toss” – meaning to throw them in the driveway like the paper boy. That requires good weather because the literature bags Avon sells do a poor job of keeping out the moisture. The weather here lately has been nothing short of bizarre. It is August and it is raining more often than not. When it is not raining its blazing hot and disgustingly humid.

Now lets visit the subject of profit, or lack thereof. At least three barriers exist that make attaining profitability a challenge to say the least.

1) Avon reps have to buy all their own books. They run from 21 cents if you buy 100 or 67 cents if you only buy 10 at a time. The second 100 is slightly less. I learned from experience that 200 books are unbelievably difficult to get distributed before the next campaign arrives. Every two weeks is a campaign and they are numbered. You are allowed to order up to 2 books back – so it is currently #18 and when I place my order in about a week I can order items listed in #17 and #16 but that is the last time #16 can be ordered from. I still have some of those *&%*&*& to get rid of, um I mean, distribute. If you have any life outside of Avon distributing more than about 20 books a campaign is just not a reasonable venture to attempt.

For simplicity, lets assume an order of 100 books = $21. Samples are very important. For the recent campaign, I purchased skin care samples – 5 packs of 5 each at $3 a pack. That is really not very many. I have also purchased quite a few fragrance samples as the fragrances are higher priced items. Twenty dollars on samples equates to $41 out the door. My first few campaigns I was guaranteed 40% commission and after that I have to reach a certain sales level to attain that. But wait, not all of the items are at that rate. The items not manufactured by Avon like the clothes, shoes, and kid stuff are at a flat 20% commission. There are more of these items in the book than I realized. Anything with a diamond is a 20% item and the promotional merchandize for breast cancer research or domestic violence ranks a 0% commission.

I had an order of $248 but a bulk of that was 20% commission items. My earnings were $63 so deduct the $41 and you are left with $22. Then deduct the processing fee Avon charges every representative to place an order. In this case it was $6.95. After those deductions I made $15.05 which doesn’t even come close to covering what I spent in gas to market and then deliver the products. Also, if you allot any value at all to my time I am drastically in the red. It is costing me money to market and sell Avon products. I thought jobs are supposed to pay you, not the other way around.

Now that I am past my initial campaigns I have to reach an order total, before taxes, of $425 to be eligible for 40% commission. With so many items under 10 and 20 dollars, getting to that number will be a challenge.

Anther fun fact: reps pay for shipping to return products so if I have a customer who doesn’t want to pay I have to return her order, costing me money. I had one customer that I gave an order to and she gave me her card number but I wasn’t able to process the card. She said she would pay for that and the next order in cash when I delivered the second order. When the second order came in she was suddenly very difficult to reach. I had to visit her work 6 times, call her more than I could count, text her multiple times and still she came up with interesting excuses. My personal favorite -“Oh, I forgot my debit card at home. You have to come back. No, actually I will come to you. What is your address?”. Guess what? She never showed. I finally got fed up and called the corporate office for her work (a restaurant I won’t mention to avoid legal troubles). I told them they lost a valuable customer and she was making them look bad by using her position as manager to obtain credit and then not pay. Two days later I had my money. My nerves and my stomach were in knots over the whole thing and I was so very grateful when it was resolved. But my enthusiasm for the job definitely diminished. Now I have another missing customer but thankfully her total is only $25. Part of this is my fault. I need to be assertive and ask for payment when the products are ordered. But all of my customers are previous Avon buyers and they would not take kindly to a change in operations and having to pay up front. Traditionally money is due when the products are delivered.

A good friend of mine was my “upline” and she has stepped away citing one reason being too many customers were slow or reluctant to pay.

(off topic: I read that complaining people live longer so I should get a few more years for this post)

Now onto the topic that may be the straw that broke the camels back – The internet. It seems it is feasible for someone to purchase from the Avon website without being referred to a local representative, or any rep at all. Avon takes all the money. Hold on to your bloomers, it gets worse. Amazon – one of the largest online shopping arenas – has over 4000 Avon products for sale, many at considerably lower prices than I can offer as a rep. I have to wonder how anyone can offer discounts of 50% or more! My husband thinks that Avon is either directly behind this or has their finger in the pie. I hate to admit it but I think he is right. I brought up the subject of Amazon at my first sales meeting and was quickly shushed and told that if an Avon product gets posted for sale, they are in violation and they go after them to have it removed. Quite a few of the products are fulfilled by Amazon which means it is coming from their warehouse and being shipped by them. Avon has to be aware of this and has to be profiting, otherwise as big as they are they would do something about it. I haven’t done the price comparison but I did searches and discovered that Mary Kay and Rodan & Fields products are also listed for sale on Amazon. These are two of the big direct sales companies that are supposed to be dedicated to seeing their reps succeed.

Bottom line, Avon, like most big companies out there, is out to make money for Avon. If it really cared about its reps, it would remove processing fees and provide at least a few books for free. And they would do something about everybody and their brother being able to bypass the Avon ladies and buy online.

DISCLAIMER: I AM NO EXPERT AND THIS IS MY EXPERIENCE AND MY EXPERIENCE ONLY. OTHER PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENCE EXPERIENCES AND SOME MUST BE MAKING MONEY BECAUSE SO MANY DO IT.

baby disappointment

Disappointed

More on this subject:

http://voices.yahoo.com/surprising-things-consider-becoming-215669.html?cat=31

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The Mathematics of Staying Home
Sometimes I feel pressure to return to the professional workforce, especially from the hubby. From time to time he likes mentioning he is the only breadwinner and wouldn’t if be great if I got a “job”. As the hackles raise on the back of my neck, it takes work and sometime a biting of the tongue to keep from responding in a decidedly unchristian manner. I know he is concerned about finances so I try to understand. What would be effective is showing him how counter productive it would be for me to work outside the home at a typical 9 – 5.

Lets do some math – just for fun.

Pay: $14/hr x 2080 (hours in a year)=29,120
Then deduct standard expenses .
About a 15% tax rate -4368
Transportation / wear and tear/ vehicle costs -8840
Office jobs require business casual or formal- not cheap so at least -1200
Day care going rate 200 – 250/wk (twins- and that is on the low side – formal preschools run closer to 300+. -13,000
Extra food costs because no one wants to cook every night after working all day plus the cost of convenience, pre-made food, plus lunches and snacks is at least $100/wk -5,200
Here it is listed for us visual type folks:

29,120
-4368
-8840
-1200
-13,000
-5200
_________
-3,488. (that’s right, a negative number)

Bottom line, it would cost us $3,488 or more for me to get off my lazy duff and get a “job”.
(cuz you know all I do is sit on the couch, eat bon bons and watch reality tv. Isn’t that what all stay at home Moms do?) (now don’t throw things, i am just kidding)

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Imagine yourself on your deathbed, say, ten years from now. What do you think you would say, or think, or wish? Would you wish you had paid more attention to your family? Would you wonder whether or not that job that you took was worth it? Would you weep bitter tears over time lost or experiences not lived? Would you wish you could go back in time to give yourself a good smack to wake up and see the beauty in life?

If you didn’t change a thing and had to leave this earth in ten years, would you go out with celebration or regret?

You don’t have to leave in tears, or wracked with guilt, filed with regret over all you have lost. You can make the decision today to assure your dying thoughts include the words, “Wow, what an amazing and wonderful life I lived.” It is your decisions that create your future, not the luck of the draw.

Decide today to live life to the fullest, to the best of your ability. I am not talking about being productive, I am talking about being present. Be present in the present. Enjoy every bit of life like a wanderer on the desert would enjoy water. Drink it up, savor it, love it, be grateful for it. Because you don’t know when it will be over and you will be gone.

The only things that are truly yours that you get to keep forever, regardless of calamity, are your memories. What kind of memories will you create today? Memories with our children are more precious and more beautiful than any precious gem. Your children will forget what you buy for them but they will not forget the feelings of knowing you valued and treasured them.

My best memory of my teenage years was one Christmas my Mom and I spent together. On a whim, we got in the car after opening presents. A local radio station was giving away batteries across the bay and my presents were all batteries not included. It was 1984, my stuff needed lots of batteries and nobody included batteries back then. It was just me and my Mom, singing along to the car radio, getting lost, finding our way – just the two of us. I get happy tears when I think of that day. We laughed and joked and enjoyed ice cream on the way home. The following year teenhood took over and I became a raging jerk, and didn’t reconcile until 1988 and then it was mostly over the phone. February 1989 I got the call. She was gone, a freak accident that no one could have predicted. I am grateful beyond words for the good memories I have and the time we spent together.

Homemaking Moms, thank you for making the choice to stay home. You are richer than any billionaire. In your last moments I hope you say, “How I treasure those years at home with my miracles. I wouldn’t trade them for all the money in the world.”