I have had the good fortune to work with one of the most successful Tupperware directors in the country, women who sell Arbonne, and a Discovery Toys distributor. These tend to be the challenges:
1. Product is all over the place. These business owners need to be able to have a space to store ALONG WITH a space to stage or pack their orders. They also need a separate place for materials for their parties and shows, with display materials, banners, and order forms ready to go on a moment’s notice, like in an egg crate or a rolling bag. Sounds basic, but not always obvious.
2. There are two things that every type of business owner needs to tackle, but especially those who work from home: responding to leads and keeping information for follow up. Most importantly, I’ve found that these women are usually trying to run a small biz from the space underneath their bed, or sometimes their nightstand, or even a dedicated space in their basement that they really don’t enjoy going to. By legitimizing a business, owners can give gain courage to rearrange the family’s space to support the budding business. Whether they move a desk into their room, so the kid’s can’t mess with their stuff, convert a closet into a home office, or just clear the junk out of the guest room, sometimes they haven’t made that leap. When they decide to make that separation, then they can set up systems for leads and orders that make sense. I’ve found that allowing kids and your business to occupy the same space is a custom recipe for chaos.
3. Most of these franchises offer plenty of paper to keep track of leads, orders, payments, etc, so setting up the paperwork isn’t a problem. But making all of the paperwork accessible in a quick way so that they can complete their paperwork (in the 10 minutes a day they have to work) and keep great records is the key. Again, a dedicated space is key. All of these blank forms are great in horizontal stacking trays (of the in-box style), otherwise stacking horizontally as in the inbox concept is usually a disaster. But you can usually stack the paper in trays in the order it gets used, and they can see when they are getting low on, or overloaded with, a particular type of company form.
4. Sometimes it helps to have the client think through aloud or even write down for themselves, what their “process flow” looks like. When they do that, they can usually see for themselves thing like “leads” and “paid orders” shouldn’t be anywhere near each other. Or they can see that leads are getting thrown in a drawer, never to surface again. Simple paper systems can be implemented, like an index card box or a monthly follow up file sitting in a repurposed wicker basket. Something I personally do is use a manilla folder for each client. I fill out the tab on the left side when I first talk to a client. Once they convert to a paying customer, I flip the manilla folder inside out so the tab is on the right, rewrite the client name on the right side, and file them in a different location, based on my next action. If they have access to electronic customer management systems like Outlook or ACT, great, but they need to know how to use them, or else they should just use the paper forms that come from their leads and parties. No point in trying to be electronic if their company doesn’t make it easy; it just creates double work.
5. Last but not least, most women who go in to one of these distributor-types of business have little grasp on their tax situation. I encourage them to set up the easy tried and true 12-envelope system (or 12-pocket accordian folder) to store any and all receipts related to their business, and then advise them to discuss any and all receipts with their CPA. It is a genius moment for them when they realize they don’t actually have to file things in to categories, especially when they might not have the foggiest ideas what those categories might be.
If you are getting in to one of these business, congratulations! I encourage you to take yourself seriously enough to make earning money the other fun part of your business. Many a trip, car, and solid income has been earned in these types of businesses, and I wish you much success.