Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Is the party plan business model "dead"?

I frequent a lot of WAHM boards (translation - I have no life. LOL), and there seem to be two very different groups of people. They are the following:

  • The party plan model is dead. No one wants to go to a party so they can buy stuff. You will never find hostesses and people always cancel. No one has time for it and no one likes pretending to have fun at one of these stupid parties. After paying for hostess gifts, samples and gas, you don't make any money, anyway. You are better off getting a regular J-O-B.

OR

  • Ladies love coming to a home party because they are fun. There are prizes and food and people enjoy getting away from the kids for a while - especially when makeup and other "fun" stuff is involved! Hostesses love to get the free or reduced price products and guests are motivated to book when they see the hostess' gifts. They are profitable and worthwhile because I can write off the mileage and make a nice profit, even after paying for samples and hostess gifts. It sure is better than a regular J-O-B. Jobs suck.

So, what do you think? Share your experiences!

25 comments:

  1. I will start.

    From my experience, ladies enjoy home parties. They have a good time and they like the chance to "try before you buy" and to have some fun.

    I have found that my hourly commission was a lot higher than what the average job pays, with much more flexibility.

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  2. This will differ from person to person. I LOVE tupperware. I am a tupperware fanatic. But I will not book a party. I don't want the hassle. I will go to someone else's party, I will shop online, but I will not host. With everything else going on with the husband and kids and house and pets, etc. it just isn't worth it to me.

    When I was selling MK I found a lot of people like me. But I also did book some SCC so not everyone feels that way. I do think that since so many women work outside of the home it could be hard for them to find the time and those women who are SAHMs usually don't have a lot of spare cash to buy high end skin care. But, like I said, I did manage to book a few SCC so it IS done. I dont' think it is done as frequently as it was when MKC first opened, though.

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  3. eversleigh -

    I do have friends that will go to any party under the sun, but may not want to be a hostess (usually because their house is the reason - too small, etc.).

    I also think you are right about the SAHM dilemma - lots of time but maybe not as much money. Moms working outside the home may have more money, but not as much time.

    Maybe the Open Houses/Mystery Hostess are a good solution? The party is held at your home, but one guest is the surprise mystery hostess.

    Whaddaya think? :o)

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  4. I had seen a statement like that "somewhere" [cough, cough] on the internet some time ago and I gave it some thought. My conclusion was "Sure, there are some women who would rather die than go to a 'home party', but there are many that do enjoy them. I think its a bit hasty to say that the home party is 'dead'."

    A few months after reading that I received a postcard from "White House/Black Market" (a cute clothing store for sophisticated adult ladies, hehe) and guess what it was advertising? You guessed it - Home parties! They started a new (and exclusive) service where you book a night for a "rep" to go to your house, you invite a bunch of girlfriends and try on the new season's line of clothes. As a reward you would get clothes at a discount (don't remember the details...probably based on purchases though).

    I never did call to set it up because I had just gained about 20 lbs while at college and trying on clothing with my friends would have depressed me....but makeup doesn't make you look fat!! hehe. Plus being in the privacy in your own home is so much more comfortable...if I found a company that had "jean home parties" I'd SO do it! I hate shopping for jeans at the mall!! I don't know what style fits me best, finding the right SIZE is terrifying, and I wish I could just have someone hold my hand through the process and help me!!

    Now, I'm SURE there are women out there that feel that way about makeup and skin care, and I feel that its my job to help them out!

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  5. Sabrina -

    LMAO

    I have actually seen this argument several places online, although many of the ones saying it are in some type of Network Marketing company that doesn't "do" home parties and so, therefore, they are soooooooooooo much better. LOL (NOT!)

    I was re-introduced to MK after being out of it for many years through a SCC. I had fun! All of the ladies there had fun! I bought a lot of stuff (at retail, BTW - even though "somewhere [*cough, cough*] they say no one buys retail - they sure did at the SCC I was at!) and decided I wanted to be in MK again.

    I think it depends on the person. I enjoy going to parties!

    Not only that, but MK is different. You aren't getting 20+ people to come - just 4 or 5.

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  6. I think some of you are limiting your market. I was going to post this on my blog, but since you brought it up, I will do it here first.

    A couple of months ago, I scheduled a vacation day from my day gig and went to a well-to-do suburb of the city I live in to shop. You would think the stores would all be empty with everyone working and all, OR they would be full of distressed SAHMs, dragging their toddlers behind them. Nope--they were full of 30-somethings and up (mostly up) who were shopping and sales people who were helping them. The shoppers were wives of corporate CEOs and the like--money, no work, charity work.

    I hate to warm chatter. Hate it. I didn't do that, but I DID talk to people in the stores that I was either standing in line with, or the clerks who were helping me. I booked six parties that day (four with wives of well-to-do people and two with clerks) and not only did they all hold, but I am still working off the bookings that have resulted from those six.

    The home party is not dead and I did not set out to book anything. I worked it into my life and have made some great money just like Mary Kay Ash said!

    Me
    www.mypinktruth.wordpress.com

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  7. I will agree that it may not be as popular as it once was, but it is not dead. We do have to work harder for them to hold.
    For this reason I hold most of my gatherings in my home, so the hostess wont feel like she has to do all the work of putting on a party, but she can still get the credit. It works for me

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  8. funny thing is I was recently invited to two home parties, one for jewlery and one for romantic items. So people do still like to have them on some level

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  9. Okay foreverpink, let's be honest. Exactly what kind of "romantic items" were being sold. (You may have to answer over on Duh's blog, since they're a little more liberal with their specifics over there.)

    That aside, the "get a real job" struck a chord with me. I seem to remember "Gorgeous George" Thorogood has something to say about that and a haircut:
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIAZOvogI08

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  10. Or try this one if you want to see it live:
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbAoXw_DqvM&NR=1

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  11. How topical. CBS Evening News tonight is going to have an item on Tupperware, and their tag was "Tupperware parties are back." I haven't seen it yet, because they ususally put the soft news at the end of the broadcast.

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  12. Curious, along with Missy the CatMarch 12, 2008 at 4:51 PM

    Hi pinknight! *waving*

    In my experience as a consultant who moved my business to several locations during my tenure with MK, I believe that to some degree where you are located is a major factor with the home party question. Presently, I live in a major metropolitan area and most of the women here, after a long commute home from work, want to spend their evening and weekend time with their families or with pursuing personal interests, not at a home party where they know in advance that they will be pressured to buy or hostess their own party to "support" the hostess. If they even consent to attend one at all, it's because they feel "obligated" to for one reason or another. And because of the added workload involved with being a hostess, it was rare that you could interest anyone in becoming a hostess, even if you offered to do most of the work for them AND offered them the entire product line; time is a precious commodity around these parts. And I certainly was able to sympathize; you couldn't offer me enough of ANY product line to make it worth my time to be a hostess either. No matter how much I liked the consultant as a person...

    So this obviously was always a challenge when I was a working consultant. But you have to work when those potential clients are somewhat available and willing to consider giving you an hour and a half of their precious time. So even though I spent my last 7 years in MK as a full-time consultant and I devoted the entire week to warm chattering, most weeks my actual work DAY was Saturday. My ultimate work-around to that elusive skin care class that no one seemed to be interested in hostessing was to hold the classes in my home studio on Saturdays(and thus eliminating the hostess altogether), triple and quadruple booking each time slot (I had four time slots available on Saturdays) and then asking each person if they could bring ONE friend. Just one.

    This worked a lot better for both me and my guests. I didn't have to play games with people; we just got down to business. One benefit was that holding several concurrent facials runs MUCH faster than a party; you eliminate a lot of the chit-chat since these folks generally didn't know one another and I could keep them focused on trying, buying and scheduling a follow-on appointment for color if they so chose, and then leaving to get on with their day. However, my Saturdays - week in and week out- were totally shot. And even though I did reasonably well, overall it was entirely too much work and associated stress for too little money, comparatively speaking. So last year I decided that my quality of life was worth a lot more to me than this, boxed up some product and formally severed my association with MK.

    So now I can enjoy time with my family on Saturdays instead of stressing about who was and wasn't going to show up at the last minute. And overall, I'd rather be spending my free time with MY family!

    I've also made a decision not to attend home parties. In as far as just the shopping aspects, pretty much anything that I could buy at a home party I can find an equivalent item in one of our local malls. I am guaranteed to go home with the product that day, will usually spend less money obtaining it and additionally will have no strings attached to it, made from someone else's expectations of reciprocity. I find that it's a much more pleasant life this way...

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  13. Curious, I like what you said about no strings attached. I guess that is the main reason why I don't hostess. You know it won't end there. There will be phone calls to reorder, to host, to get names and numbers. When you buy at a store, it ends there.

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  14. Sorry eversleigh, but fear of people calling on the phone is easy to solve. Just say, "don't call me again" or "Call me every xx days or months" or "Call me when something new comes out" or "I don't want to be a hostess". That's why there are check boxes for that on the customer profile and on InTouch. No consultant likes wasting her time calling a customer who doesn't want to be called. (Although if you use the "don't call me again" line, you probably won't be getting any more catalogs either.) And as the customer you are completely free to change consultants anytime you want, for whatever reason. No matter how a consultant feels, she doesn't "own" you or your business. She has to earn it, and then maintain it.

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  15. Exactly, MKHonesty. That is why I prefer buying from a store. You don't have to explain anything.

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  16. Some people love home parties. Some people hate them. Some enjoy hosting one from time to time. Some enjoy attending someone else's, but have no desire to host their own. Some prefer one home party plan to others (my cousin hosts Longaberger parties all the time, but rarely hosts MK parties for me). I think it depends on the individual, what products she likes best, and what kinds of incentives get her excited about hosting.

    My point is, we have to ask people. If we don't ask, we will never know who wants to host and who doesn't. I have found that I am often surprised by my customers. People that I would never expect to be into hosting a class are happy to be hostesses once in awhile; while others that I might think would love hosting classes have no interest. I have customers who have told me "no" to hosting classes, but they are still loyal customers. ;)

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  17. As eversleigh pointed out, some people don't like to be called on the phone about reorders, but some people really like that personal touch.

    I am sure everyone has customers that fall into both categories.

    Care to share about them?

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  18. I will start with my mom. She has been a loyal Mary Kay customer for probably 30 years. I can remember her using Mary Kay back when I was very young. She had some concoction that had two different containers - one with yellow and one with brown - for her foundation and the liquid, paited-on eyeliner. Groovy! LOL It was in the distinctive pink containers, so I am sure it was MK.

    My Mom the personal service that comes with Mary Kay. She has gone through quite a few consultants over the past 30 years! But she loves Mary Kay cosmetics. If she has been without a consultant (which has happened from time to time), she will use Clinique, but she fusses the whole time about it because she doesn't like it nearly as much as MK.

    My stepm other, on the other hand, doesn't want to be called and doesn't want reminders. LOL She will order when she is getting low and is pretty good about not running out. :o)

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  19. mkhonesty you are too funny :)

    you are right, the items being sold probably should not be mentioned here! But the point is that people still go to them and have a blast!

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  20. FYI, I posted a (very long) comment about the CBS News piece on Tupperware over on ME's blog, mypinktruth.wordpress.com, under the "useful idiots" thread.

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  21. The problem with running from a salesman, which is what eversleigh is describing, is that a true salesman will know more about his/hers products and their application than you do.

    I didn't really think about this until I found myself marketing my father's invention. The people that I was approaching were very experienced, and respect my father as one of their "elders" in their profession. Yet, the vast majority of them had never thought of doing anything different than the way they had been doing it for over a hundred years. Several of them have made the comment that my father's idea is so simple. There was no huge technical innovation or scientific breakthrough, just my father looking a problem for years and telling himself that there has to be a more efficient way.

    Because using my father's idea requires changing the way things have been done for over a century (maybe even 150 years), I have to be extremely knowledgable in how the entire system or process works. For all these other peoples' experience, I regularly have people tell me that they haven't thought of one aspect or another.

    In taking the invention from the design stage to the buildable stage, I had to investigate certain types of plastic. Well, I started with the internet, but rather quickly ended up calling a plastics distributor. He helped a little, then referred me to another company. There I learned that while the plastic I was looking at could physically be manufactured the way I wanted it to be, there was no one who was doing that. That meant I would have to pay for the tooling and start-up costs. The gentlemen suggested a different material that was already being made in the size and shape I wanted, and also met all of my technical requirements.

    (Sorry for dancing around the subject, but identifying the invention and/or the filed would identify me in a hearbeat.)

    Yes, the converse argument is that a lot of MK consultants have either very little experience or only "book knowledge". Fine. Let the salesperson show you her wares, described the advantages, and then make your own decision on your own time.

    My wife and I just had a Cutco demo, and no, we did not end up with one or two thousand dollars in knives. We didn't buy a single thing. (BTW, the Cutco demo is very "hard sell", with significant "bonuses" if you buy at the first meeting that "can only be offered now.") But I learned some things and it wasn't painful. We could have ended the demo at any time, not like a 2 hr Timeshare presentation where you have to stay the whole time to get the free TV.

    So you may not want to talk to the car salesman or the girl in the Coach outlet, but odds are that he or she knows more about the product than you do, and definitely knows if there is something on the back lot or in the back storeroom that meets you needs exactly. Yes, maybe they're supposed to sell what's up front first, but what's better in the long run? Selling the customer something that doesn't meet her needs when you know you've got something in back that does, and risk leaving her with a festering, nagging feeling of buyer's remorse, or she may even return the purchase, or bring the item out from the back that she will love. I'll choose option number 2. The customer will think that the salesman bent over backwards for her, will probably return to purchase more, and will recommend the salesman's services to her friends.

    Returning to my original example of my father's invention, there have been several times where I have told a potential customer that our product is more than they need and outside of their budget. But I took the time to discuss their situation with them, and then made suggestions on what they can do with their limited space or budget. The call ended on a positive note, with the person thanking me for my insight. I may not have made a sale, but I definitely planted a seed for the future. Sometimes I get a lead from the person, something like, "Have you talked to XX? I think that they are planning an expansion or a new building."

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  22. I dont think the home party is dead in rural areas but in metro areas the FACIAL is alive and well
    if you know how to book it.

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  23. I feel that, in my area, the party plan business model if it is not already "dead" is at best, in critical condition.

    I have found it difficult to book SCC's. I don't have a problem holding the few I have booked and I agree that most people enjoy them, it's just that noone wants to host one! Also, with the economy in its current state, there just isn't much extra $ to spend for skincare.

    The "make more $ working a part time job" comment makes sense to me if you look at the big picture -by the time you get a class booked, do the pre-profile calls, prep for class, class time and (as my name implies) drive to/from class, place, receive, pack orders, followup drive with deliveries, less expenses - gas, samples, supplies, expense of carrying inventory, taxes, etc.,.. I can understand this comment! Plus a part time job normally GUARANTEES a set # of hours at a set hourly rate.

    I like having my own business but the bottom line is I have to watch MY bottom line.

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  24. This isn't about the "party plan" model as much as it is about the personal service we offer.

    I have several ladies I know that are elderly (but have money), and they have a difficult time getting out to shop.

    They pay a premium to have someone come to them for things such as hairstyling and the like. They enjoy having a MK consultant (not me - someone else) come and deliver their things with a smile. They enjoy the phone calls to see if they need products, and they are delighted by samples and such that come with it.

    Does anyone else have customers like this, that like the personal touch because they are limited physically?

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    ReplyDelete

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