Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Cost of Doing Business

I think we have always heard the old saying, "It takes money to make money". I have to agree that there will be some costs when starting any business or opportunity. I like the option that we can use items that Mary Kay has provided for us if we choose and that the price is very attractive in my opinion. I have also read where others complain about the options we have available to use in MK that they are too expensive. I thought it would be a good post to go over some of the items and to get a feel for if the fees are reasonable or high.

When a consultant joins MK a starter kit which costs $100 plus tax, shipping and handling. The kit comes with a all the supplies to do your presentations with, mirrored trays, the styrofoam trays, disposable face clothes, the applicators, the color cards, the Look Books, the beauty books, sales tickets, profile cards, etc as well as over $300 worth of retail product to demonstrate and loads of training material and Company information. Imho, this is a very fair price to have the tools to begin a business opportunity. (and there is no commission earned for having someone purchase a starter kit) -

For us that want to promote what we are doing the Company has a website designed that is always updated with new products and the latest and greatest going on in the Company. A new consultant can purchase their site for $25/yr, their first time and then it is an annual fee of $50/yr after that. Now for me, not being very computer literate, I think this price is extremely fair, I know I have friends that pay way more than this to have a webdesigner do sites for their business. Once again this is an optional expense. If a consultant joins only to do personal use, there really would be no reason for her to incur the expense.

For those of us who are doing the appointments, I love being able to offer the benefits of Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express, even if it is because individuals like to use a debit card as oppossed to writing a check. Once again for personal use, this is an option probably not necessary but for a consultant actually running their MK as a business, I think it is a great feature. I have looked around and found that it would cost me much more to try to do it as an individual. We can use Propay for the cost of $29.95 a year and then there is a 2.69% +.30 transaction fee (3.19% for American Express). Now if you do a one time payment of the $29.95, you are also eligible to get a $29.95/rebate so you can actually get the ability to process credit cards for free and only end up paying the transaction fee. If you don't want to pay one lump sum they will even allow you to pay 1/3 (9.98) at sign up, 1/3 30 days after enrollment, and 1/3 60 days after enrollment. I am glad we have this option and find it very afforable. Once again it is optional and not mandatory.

Want to send your clients a catalogue? We have the PCP program available - for the cost of $.65 we can enroll the people we choose to receive a catalogue from the Company. (This program is available to us quarterly and we can add or delete anyone on a quarterly basis.) There is no minimum or maximum to enroll. I have priced the cost of mailing the Look Book and it would cost far more to mail it myself than it is to use MK to do this service. My sales always increase following a mailing because of my clients having a new book in their hands. Once again this is optional.

As for advertising, we are allowed to advertise, we simply must use Company approved advertising which the Company provides for us in the form of Legalease ad slicks. The artwork is great and all one has to do is insert their personal information and they are ready to go. These ad slicks are professional looking and provided at no charge to the consultants. The only cost associated with them would be the cost a consultant incurred running them in a publication. (of course this charge would be for anyone running advertising) but if MK did not have this artwork available I am sure it would be costly to hire someone to design an ad that would be professional looking and attractive to the consumer. Once again, this artwork is free to consultants.

When I was first offered the Mary Kay opportunity I thought it sounded too good to be true and kept looking for the catch. I finally thought I had figured it out because when I ran out of the supplies need to do the presentations with, I would have to buy more from MK and that is probably where they would get me, well, after looking at the cost of "Section 2' - I found out it wasn't there either. Examples, sponge tip applicators - 15 for $.90, mascara wands - 15 for $1.50 , Color cards 5 - $1.50, etc... I find these prices extremely reasonable and yet, if one wanted to go to a beauty supply store to find applicators (if they could find them cheaper) there is nothing saying one can't use other disposable items.

So in conclusion, yes there may be some cost to being a consultant but I feel that they are extremely reasonable and all are optional. So would love to hear some feedback, are these items priced well and are they reasonable items to support a business opportunity??


  1. I can get the applicators cheaper 50 of them for the same price MK charges for 15. I'm sure a lot of consultants do as those things all look the same anyway. The rest of the stuff, if that's the fee for a whole year, that's not bad at all.

  2. In my opinion, section 2 stuff can get pretty pricey. I have learned that if you just want the Mary Kay logo on your bags etc..then go for it, but most customers dont care about that stuff.
    You can get the disposable applicators and bags at other outlets that are cheaper. But that just comes with being in this business a while and knowing what you really need to spend money on and what you dont.
    If you go to the unitnet site there is a link that will take you to retailers that cater to beauty consultants in any business.

  3. The point is we absolutely can purchase these items from other vendors if we desire, it is not against our policy for the supplies.

    And as you pointed out foreverpink, we don't have to purchase every accessory just because it has MK on it.

  4. MK does not make that much on supplies anyway I think that they care more about selling the skin care and color cosmetics. If they didnt have the supplies someone would be barking that they didnt have those!!! Section 2 stuff is pricey at times and should only be purchased if you have a recurring customer base that would deem it necessary.

  5. You can even get pink brush sets at essentialbeautysupplies dot com.

    extendyourlashes dot com has 25 mascara wands for 4 dollars. etc, etc.

    I was looking for the site where I bought my 50 pack for so cheap, but I can't seem to find it right now. :/ I thought I had a bookmark saved. dangit.

  6. Maybe Mary Kay should be marketed as a sort of franchise operation rather than a personal business. That's really what it is.

    Franchises have rules, expenses and operational standards. You may pay a ton for a Starbuck's business, but that price won't include hiring costs, supplies such as cups, straws, ingredients... I think there are several huge problems with the marketing plan presentation that are valid to argue against. It does not really cost $100 to own and operate your own Mary Kay business; to imply that it is is a bit deceitful. I personally think it would be more honest and helpful to say up front (not after the kit has been sold under the $100 speil):

    "We have several options for starting your business. The ideal option is the $1900 option. This includes your starter kit and a full Star qualifying inventory! Now, we have higher and lower options, and you can even simply pay $100 for the starter kit and get a feel for the business. Before we select any options I want to discuss some of the finer points of this business with you. An informed consultant is a satisfied consultant, which in turn is an excellent saleswoman! As with any true business, such as Starbuck's or even McDonald's, there are rules to follow-- it's your business, but it's their name and their company, so naturally, they want to protect their name and brand recognition by implementing a set of standards for their franchise owners to follow. There are also expenses outside of the business's initial cost such as samples and applicators, catalogs and sales slips. We can work hard and design an order to fit all of these things in under one price that is ideal for you. You can easily return all of the inventory (not slips, samples, etc.)items for 90% of your cost if you regret your decision or find it is not for you."

    I know many here will tell me that this is too much information to put up front. I think that the trick of offering the starter kit and then surprising with the inventory is kind of scummy and a huge turn-off. I know, I've experienced it. Same with the lack of disclosure on samples, etc.

    I know that another response will be that people should look this stuff up on their own. This is true. However, that is ignoring that information like this should be provided by the recruiting consultants and that those who do not provide full disclosure are using a variation of bait and switch and tarnishing Mary Kay's image. If you value your Mary Kay business, you should not scold the person who did not research enough, you should scold the consultant who deceived by omission because you believe in the integrity of Mary Kay.

    My point is that I think the marketing plan presentation method needs a bit of tweaking so that Mary Kay can produce informed, satisfied and efficient consultants with longevity in the business.

    PT is such a useless website, BTW, because these articles seek only to bash the company--which isn't going away anytime soon. If they are upset, they should create solutions and send them to corporate, which might actually help consultants.

  7. I don't believe in telling someone $1800 is ideal, and many of us do a "full disclosure" interview.- I do tell any prospective that once the starter kit is purchased, inventory is the next decision - I don't want them shocked later on. However, it is possible to get the starter kit, do a couple of shows and then place the first inventory order, so once again we have the ehtical obligation to tell them about inventory but telling them it must be purchased prior to selling anything is just as misleading as not telling them about inventory at all.

    The reason different levels are offered is because different people have different needs. I get upset when a new consultant thinks a $600 is the smallest order available - I feel each prosepective should know ALL the choices and then be able to make an informed decision.

    (Personally, I started with a minimum $180 - and built to where I am today, had I been pushed to do more as a single mom, I wouldn't have done anything - now, I have a large ever moving inventory and it is paid for).

  8. That's exactly what I said. $1800 was an example and I also mentioned the various other options available. I only mentioned $1800 because it is the minimum star order. I NEVER said it was a requirement in my scenario, nor did I use "pushy" language. I even said that you could start with $100. It was a generalized scenario. You're quibbling over tiny details and missing my very valid point which is that a HUGE majority of training material offered by NATIONAL directors--supported by Mary Kay corporate--instruct their units to NOT mention inventory until AFTER the kit is purchased. All my--apparently lame--example was meant to do was to suggest that Mary Kay and training directors create a new method of recruitment that emphasized full disclosure of things such as inventory and samples BEFORE the kit is purchased. I guess I missed the mark.

  9. Your Mom give mk4me some slack. I think the reason she came out with the point about some consultants being led to believe that 600 is the smallest is because that is what so many people have been told
    You are right there are some directors not mentioning inventory to prospective consultants and that is one reason why these boards and opinions exist. Believe it or not the MAJOR complaint that I see on these boards is not the fact that they were not told about inventory but that they didnt know that you could go as low as 200.00! I know you may not believe me but about a year ago I read some consultants were ticked off because they didnt know they could start with MORE than 600.00 so I do agree with MK4me that all options should be disclosed before and after the purchase of the starter kit. Where we differ is I dont think MK should be marketed from the franchise aspect because most people dont even know how to run a franchise or the upfront costs unless they know about business.
    However other than the franchise aspect I see nothing wrong at all with the way you explained everything. Kudos to you for the idea its just that a lot of women who have come into MK dont know about business (some do and some dont) a lot of them do learn. They learn how to turn over inventory, how to sell, how to do a presentation, how to overcome objections....etc. MK is not for anyone who wants just do a catalog business unless they promote it that way heavily!

  10. My response wasn't meant to be snarky; I can be abrupt when I am trying to make a point quickly. Sorry MK4! =)

    I think that while we may disagree over the term franchise, I think that we can agree that a MK business is similar to one and should be marketed as such-- not as this magic completely autonomous business. It's not. There are advertising rules, selling rules, selling location rules... You don't have to call it a franchise, but I think that outlining the codes and rules of an MK business before an individual signs is a good idea. Some people get really mad about the dress code in MK (Do they b*tch if they have to wear a blue shirt and khaki's at Best Buy? No, but whatever)and it's a good idea to present this up front. Talk about expenses, talk about the minimum $200 and the earned discount. Talk about ordering on the first and not the last day of the month because it extends your quarter. I know I am preaching to the choir, but maybe someone else will see this and make a change for the better if they are not being sincere and open.

    I'll relate it to a franchise again. To open a business such as McDonald's, you are required to have a business plan before anyone lets you sign anything. It's in the company's best interest that you succeed. I think that MK needs to make sure their recruiters are following this method and preparing consultants before they sign. Even the catalog order girls.

    As a side note, desperation fuels this practice. You should be able to sustain your business on your own before you ever recruit so that you are not tempted to cut corners to make production.

    Anyway, I definitely believe you that some people would be upset to be uninformed about larger inventories. Imagine if you were an excellent saleswoman and you lost out on all those bonuses! That would suck!

    And another note-- this may help some of the recruiting consultants here. One thing that really cheesed me off was that they told me I got half price cosmetics. Period. So I signed on and turned down inventory because I planned to nickle and dime my orders, saving my profit to buy an inventory. Imagine my surprise when I logged in to buy myself some makeup and found out I had to place a minimum order! I was so p*ssed! I had specifically told them I had no customer base and I wanted to start slow with a lipstick here and a cover up there until I felt confident to host a party. So, make sure you tell women that the initial order has to be $200 wholesale to qualify or you will have some very bent ladies on your team.

  11. Hey all, yourmom, no worries, I just want to point out where we try so hard to show "how to do it right" when someone reads "the ideal way is $1800" ... I understand what you were tyring to explain but you would be accussed of manipulating by many if you use this language because you would be "selling" that level over the others. - understand where I was coming from?

  12. I agree with the franchise idea. When I was in MK I was married to a manager at the Burger King and that's what he compared it to. The difference came in where if you have a Burger King, hungry people come to you looking for food, and I had to go out looking for customers at which I had no success. It's not that I'm introverted but I hate to ask anyone to do anything. I even hate asking my partner to help me get into my clubbing clothes. I want to get that damn zipper myself!

    ...and I tried to buy a Lip Service dress on sale for $30 last night and then Ipso Facto phoned me up and told me they ran out of my size. :( :( :(

  13. I understand MK4ME. I thought about the amount before I put it down, but I figured I would put it as ideal since MK considers it ideal because that's the first amount that qualifies for a star and it talks it up in their approved literature. The people you are referring to that would misread that are never going to be satisfied with any method suggested, so they can kiss me arse.


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