Direct selling is an increasingly popular career choice – especially for mums. But what’s it really like as a job? And how can you work it around your family and still earn a living?
Direct selling parties, where products are sold to consumers in a friendly, social setting, have grown by over 150% since 2009. Nearly 900,000 Brits attended one of 127,000 parties last year.
Mum Caroline Buehner, a Sales Advisor for global household appliance manufacturer Vorwerk, gives us an insight into the daily routine of a direct seller by sharing an average day with us.
A day in the life of a direct seller
7.00 am – up and at it
In our house, we start making a racket by 7am! I get up first, followed by my husband who then helps me raise the kids and get them breakfast. We manage to sit and eat breakfast together for at least half an hour (which can be a rarity for most people these days!), and sometimes I can take a little longer if needed as I don’t have a defined start time for work which is great.
I always check my diary for the day to see where I need to be (and more importantly at what time I need to be there!), and I’ll then jump in the shower around 8am. My husband then leaves to get the train to work and I pile the kids into the car.
8.30am – planning ahead for the day
If we’re on time (which we try our best to be!), we leave the house at 8.30am and I drive the short journey to the kids’ school to drop them off.
It’s great to be able to have enough time to drop them off every morning and not have to rely on friends or relatives to do this for me, and somehow I feel as though it helps me to have a much more relaxed start to my day. I’m not up and at a desk checking emails at the crack of dawn – but I know what’s coming up that day and can start to plan ahead for when I meet my customers.
I’ll put a quick call in to the parties I’ve got booked that day and check that they’re still set for me to come and demo to them. However, a quick call can sometimes end up being a half an hour catch-up as a lot of my clients are people I already know through friends of friends or through networking groups that I’ve attended – but hey, I’m not complaining!
10.30am – time for networking
Every other Wednesday at 10.30am, I attend a local business networking event for small to medium size businesses across the area where I live in Solihull. It’s great because I get to catch up with people that I now consider to be friends, but also introduce new people to what I do and the products that Vorwerk sell.
It’s really important to me that I maintain a strong network of people who may end up being potential clients in the local area, as a lot of direct selling opportunities and party bookings come via word of mouth.
I also sit on the board of governors at my childrens’ school, so on the Wednesdays when I’m not networking, I use this time to work on the minutes from the previous month’s meeting and catch up on any points I need to action. Being able to manage my own time enables me take on other commitments such as this and stick to them.
12.30pm – lunch (via the branch office)
At around 12.30pm, I head back home again for lunch. I’ll nip to the supermarket at least twice a week to stock up on essentials, or if I’m processing orders and catching up on emails at home, it’s the perfect time to have my shopping delivered.
After lunch, I’ll drive over to the branch office and pick up any extra items I need for my parties that day, such as additional order forms or product leaflets. I spend quite a bit of time at the office each month as we’re always doing product training and pushing ourselves to the next level.
I think that’s the great thing about direct selling; the fact that I can progress as much or as little as I want and as quickly as I want, depending on my commitments with the children and how much time I have available.
2.00pm – the day really starts
I try to book my first party of the day for around 2pm – I suppose you could say that this is when my working day actually starts!
I always have loads of fun when I’m doing my parties, and I make sure that they’re as relaxed and informal as possible. I’m not a born sales person and hate all the ‘hard-sell’ stuff, so doing in-home demonstrations where my guests are in their comfort zones gets rid of all that.
I sometimes travel to the offices of people I’ve met at networking events too, and they’ll have asked a couple of their girlfriends to come over for a late working lunch and we’ll do a party there.
Its brilliant when I make a sale, not just for me but because I genuinely love it that my clients get so excited by what I’m selling and I really feel as though I am on their wavelength.
4.00pm – time to pick up the kids
My parties tend to last around two hours, so I’m able to get to after school club to pick the children up around 4.00pm.
I regularly have a second party booked in the evening – as lots of my friends and my wider network are out at work during the day – so I’ll nip home after I’ve picked the children up and pick up any items that I need for my evening party.
I’ll then make the children their tea (and make sure that my husband is fed and watered!) before leaving around 7pm for my evening party.
7.00pm – party in the evening
My evening parties are always great fun, and regularly involve a glass of wine (or two!) for the ladies I’m demonstrating to! I tend to find that a lot of my evening parties come from referrals by friends that have already seen the product, so it’s a great atmosphere as I know that they’re genuinely interested in finding out more.
My evening party can last for anything from two to four hours, depending on how many people are present and how much they want to know about the product, and I always leave having made at least two new friends!
9.00pm – me time…finally!
When I get home, I like to have an hour to relax and totally switch off. The children are in bed by this point, so my husband and I can catch up on the day’s events and put the world to rights over the latest episode of Broadchurch (currently my favourite programme!).
Knowing that I don’t have to be up at the crack of dawn the next day means I can look forward to spending the morning with the children and having enough time to get them up and ready for school without a massive rush to get everything done.
At the end of the day, I suppose you could say that being a direct seller is the perfect balance between my two alter egos – me as a business woman and me as a mum.
Find out more about becoming a direct seller with Vorwerk by visiting www.yourvorwerk.co.uk.