WARNING: Rebecca D. shows flagrant disregard for the rules of punctuation... She uses ellipsis with wild abandon... Punctuation interventions have been done to no avail... If you are offended by such irreverence to the rules of grammar... The very glue that holds our society together... STOP READING NOW... Move on... There is a little button at the top that says "next blog"... You would be well advised to use it... You were warned...

Business Trouble... Part One... The Cause

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Warning... This will be a wordy post and it is the first of three I will be posting. It is all written from my perspective so keep that in mind. It is the first part of what led me to no longer being part of Mary & Martha... {Spoiler alert: I did not choose to leave.}

Back in the late summer my husband and I were taking a long hard look at my Mary & Martha business. His summary was I was spending a lot more then I had in the past and that more then once I spent almost as much as I made. We both agreed this is not sustainable so we took a long hard look at what was working in the past and how it was performing now and made some plans to move forward in a more economically feasible way. Sounds like good business right? Yes, on paper, but without my constant influx of cash my company numbers plummeted. In direct sales you live or die on two things PV (personal volume = your personal sales numbers) and GV (group volume = the total of your sales and everyone in your immediate downline) and when your number go down you stand to lose your title and with your title your status in the company. These new numbers were more accurate for the current state of my business but not a good sign overall. I tried redoubling my efforts but it seemed like no matter how much I poured not it, and how creative I got my number stayed at a lower level. I could see everything I worked so hard for slipping away and if I started to feel that sense of panic you can sometimes get when you don't understand why something you worked so hard for was no longer working.

Of course we spent quite a bit of time discussing what may have caused the decline and like all things it wasn't just one thing but many factors. Maine has had some tough economic hits in the past year or two and people here are more hesitant to spend on non-esstential items then in the recent past is one reason. People seemed to be unwilling to book parties because they were having a harder and harder time getting their friends to commit to coming to one is another. The recent boom in the direct sales industry means more people then ever are "selling" something and there is a bit of a direct sales fatigue forming, especially on FaceBook and other social media. This is exasperated but excited entrepreneurs with little or no marketing savvy basically spamming the world with their business made gaining new customers difficult. Mix all of that with some product decisions made by the Mary & Martha home office that did not create an excitement in my existing customer base to host parties nor inspiring repeat sales business. And to add to my issues there had been some major changes in the home office and their policies... One of which was a major overhaul to the compensation plan that basically meant a significant cut in income for me. In short my business was in trouble. I spent a lot of time chatting with other people in direct sales in my area who operate in the DS field full time and I started to see a trend. Almost all of them were consultants for more then one company. Diversification seemed to be the answer.

I was hesitant to jump right into another business... I wanted one that was complementary to my Mary & Martha business (so I could use them to build each other) but I wanted to be sure it didn't compete with M&M either. I wanted a business that the market is not flooded so I had room to grow. I also wanted one that was something people could find a need for because M&M has such specialized,  boutique style items I didn't want another line that fell into that same niche' market. I wanted one that was not faith based so it would appeal to a broader market in my very liberal part of the country. I also did not want one that required I buy and/or maintain an expensive inventory. I explored a lot of companies but it was when I reached out to my former mentor with M&M and heard about what she was working on that I felt I found the answer. She was working for a company (who I will tell you all about in a later post) that specializes in specialized and high end cookware and culinary tools. The business was still in the "soft launch" phase so it was brand new (in this country) and with the emphasis in M&M on entertaining, cooking seemed like the perfect complimentary business.

I signed on with the understanding I would be finishing out the year solely focused on M&M then launch my new business after my Christmas break. I continued to work my M&M business like a mad woman, continually frustrated by my slipping numbers and trying to keep my team (who were having the same issues) encouraged. In November they made an offer for people to join M&M that was almost too good to be true and a lot of new people took the offer so I was momentarily encouraged but it turns out most of them just wanted the offer and only about 10% of them actually decided to sell/buy anything. It was frustrating to go from breaking records one year to barely keeping my head above water one short year later.

To add insult to injury due to my declining numbers I was receiving less and less support from the home office. M&M hired a new National Sales Director in the spring of 2014 who rolled out many major changes just before the National Conference in July. (The new compensation plan was one) She and I did not see eye to eye on these changes and I stood my ground. I could see how these changes might be better for the company but knew they would be bad for us in the field and wondered if there was any room for compromise. In the end after a very long unfruitful conversation where we both held our ground I suggested we agree to disagree but that as a leader I would publicly support the home offices' final decisions. At the National Conference I received an overly chilly reception from her and it became clear that she and I could be cordial but would have an awkward working relationship. What I did not take into account is that she is the type of person who views the world in a very black & white way. You are either with her or against her, either a "team player" or an enemy not to be trusted and in her mind it seemed I had become the later in both areas. I was still a top leader in the company so she had to deal with me but she would make it clear where I stood in the pecking order and as the "newest" director she got plenty of opportunities to put me in my place. {I have come to see a lot of what she did was bullying and I intend to write a future post about workplace bullying.}

As the fall took hold and my numbers dropped she found many more opportunities to act against me. I had less and less access to corporate support and my mentor there (when I needed it the most) and my waining numbers seems to give her a lot of fuel to add to the fire. I went from having frequent contact to little or no contact... In fact most times my mentor would call me on her own time, or during her drive home etc. I could tell she felt bad about the constantly rescheduled calls but it was clear she was not allowed a lot of leeway. There were lots of other things that happened... Small things that as individual things seem small but add up to something else when viewed as a whole. Little things that would hurt my feelings and would seem petty to complain about so I just tried to keep my mouth shut and accept that either she would get over it eventually or she wouldn't but that I would just continue to be kind to her, pray for her and hope for the best. (I had tried twice to approach her and seek to restore things and she always smiled and said the right things but nothing ever changed.)

At the end of December, after several months of lower numbers I officially lost my title of "Director" and went back to being a "Senior Team Leader" but honestly felt it was temporary. I started the new year with a lot of hope. I would be starting my new business part time and the would relieve some of the burden of pressure I was feeling, income wise and we had the M&M leadership conference coming up so I was looking forward to gathering with my friends & colleagues and getting my batteries recharged. There was about to be a new product launch with M&M and that usually helps business a lot. I was also getting to travel to the home office of my new business about a week before the conference so I had so much to look forward to. I started the month so full of hope and if you would have told me how I would end the month I would never have believed you.
I will share the rest of the story tomorrow...

Thanks for listening,

1 comment :

  1. just now catching up on your blog ... and here it is: the long awaited analysis of what all occurred. I hope the writing of this will be very therapeutic for me. LOVE YOU, Friend!! <3


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