Written by Pinkpeace
How many times have we heard it or read it? “No one put a gun to your head to make you go into debt.” Well, technically Ms. Kaybot, that is a true statement. Years ago when I was given the inventory talk, I don’t recall my sales director pulling out her .45, placing it at my temple, and removing the safety.
But I do recall her insistence that the very best way to run a Mary Kay business was with a “full store.” That was a $3,600 wholesale order, and with tax and shipping, it was around $4,000.
Now, I had studied all the materials my director had given me about Mary Kay, and there was a lot. I started with the new consultant’s guide and perused dozens of back issues of Applause. I read the equivalent of today’s Advance brochure and I read ad slicks of testimonials by top MKers such as Gloria Mayfield (no “Banks” back then).
I really thought I was doing due diligence before I made a decision to start selling Mary Kay part-time. Back then, I had no Internet access (also there were no sites like Pink Truth back then to help women discover the other side.), and as far as I knew, Mary Kay was just another cosmetics business, not a multi-level company.
I also respected my sales director and truly believed she had my best interests at heart. She told me that the most successful consultants in Mary Kay start off with a $3,600 order or more. She directed women at her sales meeting to tell me that they all wished they had started with the $3,600 order. She told me that I would sell through that in probably a month, since I already had about 8 skin care classes lined up.
She told me that she personally started with a $3,600 order and never regretted it. I was a smart woman, wasn’t I? Wouldn’t I take advice from someone who has been in the business a long time, was driving a Cadillac and was wearing Queen’s Court rings? Obviously she was doing something right, and I would be foolish not to listen to her.
So I went into debt for $4,000 to start my business. Yay! But I was sure I would sell it, and my director told me I would get a free lipstick from her for getting my order postmarked before the end of the month. What a deal!
I was all set to start selling these boxes and boxes of products, then realized that I didn’t have any business cards. I didn’t have any product labels. I only had 25 Styrofoam trays and sales tickets. It would not be good to run out of business supplies in the middle of my first month! So I ordered business cards, labels, a stamper, a beauty coat, trays, profiles, sales tickets, etc.
Oh, and look at all the cute things on Section 2! I should definitely have a Mary Kay money bag – that’s great. All my hostesses will want the brush set – better get 5 or 6 of those. Oh, and acrylic nail caddies! I love them! I’ll get a couple for me and a couple for my hostesses who will have follow-up manicure classes. And what if my customers want to try colors? I need at least two packs each of all the lipsticks, eye shadows, cheek colors, eye liners, lip liners, and eyebrow pencils. Whoops – almost forgot the fragrances. There, that should do it.
So those purchases added another $400 or so to my credit card, and I couldn’t turn around and sell them to recoup any of that money. I could only write them off as business expenses, but as my director kept saying, “You have to spend money to make money.”
I was selling products and replenishing my inventory, but it was never as simple as always having 6 cleansers on-hand or 3 of each color. Invariably there would be a week when 4 people wanted a Dusty Rose lipstick, and I’d have to place an order for them. Or I would book a skin care class for African-American women (I’m Caucasian) and would want one of each foundation in darker shades, so I would have whatever they would need.
This was back before the days of the Earned Discount Privilege. You had to make a minimum $200 wholesale order to get a 50% discount EACH TIME you placed an order, no matter how many times you ordered in the month or what size your previous order was. So I ended up ordering products I didn’t need, just to get the ones I did. And I ended up adding to my credit card bill to make that happen.
But the real credit crunch began when I went into car production, then into DIQ. Any time there is a contest or a commission involved in your business, there is a potential to run up your credit card bill. Read the following scenarios that I experienced and see if any apply to you:
- In a given month, 5 of my team members ordered, and I personally ordered $400. In order to get the maximum 13% commission check, I would have to order another $200. According to my director, if the difference between a 9% commission check and a 13% commission check is more than the $200, it would be foolish NOT to place the $200 order. Of products I don’t need or want.
- I am only $400 away from the Queen’s Court of Sales at my very first Seminar!! Oh my gosh, can I picture the ring on my finger, the walk across Seminar stage, the envious looks from everyone who sees my Queen’s Court sash? Obviously, I’m good at selling the product, or I wouldn’t have gotten this close in the first place. What’s another $400, especially when I can sell those products later on? When I get to Seminar, if I didn’t dig deep and go for that Queen’s Court, I would just kick myself the entire time I was there. Hey – I can have a 50% off sale and make sure I go across that stage with that ring.
- Yowza!! The company has just started a new program where you can earn the first car in 3 months instead of 4! And I’ve already broken unit records in months 1 and 2! I can go across stage at Career Conference and have that car all wrapped up if I only put in $300 more this month. For Pete’s sake, I’m going to have a free car and insurance. What’s $300 when I’ll recoup that and more when I sell my non-Mary Kay car.
- It’s. The. Last. Month. Of. DIQ……….. This has been harder than childbirth, and I never want to go through it again! I need two more bodies and $800 in production and I’LL BE DONE. I’m sure my sister-in-law and my cousin will let me use their names and I’ll just keep their $200 minimum orders. So that’s $400 in production, $200 in starter kits, and I just need to kick in another $400 in orders myself. What’s $1000, when I will be making those big director commissions starting next month?
There was no gun to my head. But there was the expectation that I would recoup money spent through future sales and big director checks. I also was expected to be “the speed of the leader” so that my team, and eventually my unit, would have a role model in this business. It’s so easy to think that a couple of hundred here and there don’t mean much, but they add up quickly for trouble down the road.