How much money can you earn with MLM Forever Living?

How much money can you make with MLM Forever Living? We investigate the earning potential – and whether FBOs are making unethical health and income claims.

Forever Living are an Arizona-based MLM who manufacture and market aloe vera-based drinks and bee-derived cosmetics, dietary supplements, and personal care products.

We’ve been watching Forever Living in the UK for a while, and were curious about how much the reps (called Forever Business Owners, or FBOs) really earn with the company. So we decided to investigate.

During our investigation we looked at how much FBOs are earning, what the potential is for retail sales, whether Forever Living and their FBOs are making health and income claims that violate the DSA Code of Business Practice and the CAP Code.

We also looked into claims the company is on the decline, and find out why the Chairman’s Bonus cheques this year were apparently weighted more in favour of some FBOs.

And finally we explored whether Forever Living is a legitimate direct sales company, or a pyramid scheme.

What is the Forever Living marketing plan?

Before we explore how much you can earn with Forever Living, let’s have a look at their marketing plan.

Your first step on the way to earning money with Forever Living is to become an Assistant Supervisor. To become an Assistant Supervisor you need to have “purchased 2 Case Credits within two consecutive months”.

Case Credits (known as ccs) are a volume used by Forever Living to measure sales. In the UK, 1cc is worth around £159 wholesale and £227 retail. In the US it is around $214, and in Canada it’s $283. This means that, in order to get 1cc you need to order £159 (or $214 in the US and $283 in Canada) worth of products from Forever Living.

In order to reach Supervisor level, you and your team collectively need to buy yourself or sell to customers 25ccs over two consecutive months, Assistant Managers need 75ccs over two consecutive months, and at Manager level you need 120ccs over two consecutive months.

This means that, to reach each level of the Forever Living marketing plan, you and your team must sell or buy the following:

  • Supervisors need £3,975 over two consecutive months.
  • Assistant Managers need £11,925 over two consecutive months.
  • Managers need £19,080 over two consecutive months.

Sales Leaders need to qualify to remain ‘active’ every month

If you are a Supervisor or above, you are termed a Sales Leader within Forever Living. And in order to be considered an ‘active’ Sales Leader, and therefore qualify for bonuses and incentives, you need to meet the requirements of the marketing plan.

You also need to have a total of four “Active Case Credits… during that month, at least one of which is a Personal Case Credit.”

If you do not achieve ‘active status’, you won’t be paid a Volume Bonus that month, and won’t be considered an Active Sales Leader. And any unearned Volume Bonus will be paid to the next Active Sales Leader in your upline.

So every month, you need to ensure you and your team buy or sell a minimum of £636 worth of Forever Living products, £159 of which must be bought or sold by you.

How much can you earn with Forever Living?

So how much money are people actually earning with Forever Living? Here’s what Forever Living say about the earning potential as an FBO:

According to these figures, 88.6% of people who joined Forever Living didn’t earn anything from the company in 2018.

The remaining 11.4% of monthly purchasers earned bonuses based on their downline’s sales (or purchases). 69% of these earned an average of $105 a month (or $1,263 a year). 30% earned an average of $1,493 a month (or $17,916 a year) and less than 1% earned an average of $28,512 a month (or $342,149 a year).

So this means that, of all the people signed up to Forever Living:

  • 88.6% earned nothing.
  • 7.86% earned an average of $105 a month.
  • 3.42% earned an average of $1,493 a month.
  • 0.2% earned an average of $28,512 a month.

And remember, these amounts include “multi-level bonuses, travel incentives and Chairman’s Bonus”. (We look at the Chairman’s Bonus later on.)

These earnings also don’t take into account your business expenses. Least of all the cost of your own personal purchases and buying to remain active or retain your rank, as we know reps frequently do in MLMs.

How much do FBOs make selling products retail?

These sums don’t include any retail profits FBOs make from selling products they bought wholesale. So how much more money can FBOs make retail?

We know from FBOs themselves that their main focus isn’t selling retail. Even FBOs who achieve Chairman’s Bonus level don’t appear to be making much money from retail sales.

Here’s what the UK’s number three FBO said in a training video: “I have nine regular customers but each one of those customers spends over £120 a month.” Assuming this is true (some Forever Living reps have been shown to lie, and others have admitted being told to ‘fake until you make it’), this means that her retail sales total around £1,080 a month.

The maximum commission you earn on your own sales with Forever Living is 43%. This means that this FBO earns a maximum of just £464.40 a month in commission. And remember, she’s the number three FBO in the UK.

If a top, well established FBO only earns £464.40 a month on retail sales (and remember, this isn’t profit as businesses expenses will need to be deducted), how can a lowly ranking FBO expect to earn much more?

Indeed, we wouldn’t be surprised if, as happens with other MLMs, some FBOs purchase much of the ccs they need to remain active or achieve a promotion or bonus or maintain their rank themselves.

How much does it COST to be a Forever Business Owner?

So how much does it cost to be a Forever Business Owner? According to Forever Living:

“A Successful FBO gains current knowledge of the market by attending training meetings, maintaining personal retail customers, and sponsoring other FBOs to sell to retail customers.”

And, as you might expect, attending these training meetings isn’t free. Indeed, Forever Living clearly makes a healthy income from its FBO events (as well as marketing literature sold to FBOs, and delivery of products):

There’s also the kudos of attending the annual Global Rally. But the qualification requirements for this are not insignificant:

“An FBO can qualify for a trip for two to the FLP Global Rally, including airfare, lodging, meal and activity allowances, and spending cash, by accumulating 1,500 or more Total Case Credits from January 1st thru December 31st of each year.”

1,500ccs is worth £238,500. That means, in order to attend your company’s annual sales gala, you need to build a team who collectively sell over £238,500 worth of aloe vera products in a year – which averages out at an eye-watering £19,875 a month.

If you don’t qualify, you’re left funding your own ticket, travel and accommodation, as many FBOs do each year.

And of course you have your other, usual business expenses, including:

  • Samples for demonstration.
  • Personal use (you’re encouraged to use the products yourself).
  • Travel to meet potential customers and recruits.
  • Refreshments when meeting potential customers and recruits.
  • Forever Living marketing literature.
  • Packaging such as bags.
  • Sales and marketing props, such as banners for fairs
  • General business costs such as website, WiFi etc.
  • Tax.

‘You’re told you’re a loser if you don’t pay to attend training events’

When you join an MLM like Forever Living, you’re not just expected to attend company events – you’re often pressurised to spend money on mindset and other training. (Training is a big moneymaker for MLMs and senior MLM reps.)

So what’s this training like, and how much pressure are FBOs under to attend? One former FBO told Timeless Vie about her experience:

“The leader told me if I really wanted to succeed I’d be at the next official training event, which was too expensive for me and I didn’t have transport to get there.

“I was already paying out for things I hadn’t expected, having four monthly payments to access training and so on (QLS group, Forever Knowledge, Forever 360 and Smart Pod). I was told to ‘buy the ticket now and figure out how to get there later’, which turned out to be a common phrase I heard a lot.

“To try to get in everyone’s good graces again I borrowed money for this training event (taking four train journeys on my own at the weekend), hoping it would be enough to get some more help.

“In my Facebook group women were told if they didn’t have a sick day off work or leave the kids with a babysitter in order to attend training events they were losers who made excuses and wouldn’t succeed.

“Mums often got stressed out with the lack of time they now had with their kids but where told to ‘make your kids the reason to succeed, not your excuse’ and to find them a babysitter as it would all be worth it when they were living life like a millionaire.

“At the training event the leader came on stage to loads of applause and cheers, like a celebrity. She told us we need to brand ourselves and take lots of pictures and make our profiles public so everyone can see how great our life is and want to join.

“She said yesterday she posted about going out somewhere, but she actually didn’t go anywhere – she took the picture of herself in the car a few days earlier and posted in when we was still in bed feeling tired and ill, but no one outside Forever needed to know that.

“She told us it doesn’t matter how we feel, we need to make people want our lives, that’s what our job is now.”

This last piece of advice confirms what we’ve already been told by many former reps of various MLMs – that you need to fake a lifestyle to pretend you’re successful and attract recruits. You can see many examples of the lies MLM reps (including Forever Living) have apparently been caught telling here.

FBOs are not allowed to make any health claims

According to Forever Living’s company policy, FBOs are not supposed to make health claims:

“FBOs may not make any representation, expressly or by implication, that Forever products can prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition… Forever does not produce or distribute any products that are to be considered or described as a medicine, treatment or cure.”

And yet, in their first steps to manager brochure, Forever Living seemingly encourage FBOs to do just that. Here’s a script they suggest FBOs use:

Not only do Forever Living appear to be ignoring their own rule, but we wonder what the DSA would have to say about this, considering Forever Living is a member and, according to the the DSA Code of Business Conduct:

“Members must be able to satisfy the Association that they comply with the British Codes of Advertising Practice and Sales Promotion where relevant and any other recognised self- regulatory codes.”

And here’s what the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) say about health claims:

“Medicinal or medical claims and indications may be made for a medicinal product that is licensed by the MHRA, VMD or under the auspices of the EMA, or for a CE-marked medical device. A medicinal claim is a claim that a product or its constituent(s) can be used with a view to making a medical diagnosis or can treat or prevent disease, including an injury, ailment or adverse condition, whether of body or mind, in human beings.”

From our understanding, unless Forever Living’s products are specifically licensed by the appropriate authority, then they should not be encouraging their FBOs to make vague claims that a product will ‘help’ with a health problem.

To make it even easier for FBOs to recommend products to people with health problems, Forever Living even list the ways they allegedly help in their first steps to manager brochure. One product is their Forever Royal Jelly. Here’s what they say about it:

“Enhances metabolism, eliminates fatigue, has great benefits for the skin and reduces the effects of ageing. Essential for general wellbeing.”

We can find no scientific study or other proof to back this claim up. Indeed, there is “very little scientific information available about the effects of royal jelly in people.”

The suggestion to recommend Forever Living products for health problems is also repeated in this planning with your new FBO checklist: “Ask them if their family or friends have any health problems – point out the products that they can recommend straight away to people.”

So it’s no surprise to us to learn that The Sunday Times uncovered “cases of NHS staff claiming that Forever products can help treat a range of disorders including diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome and child hyperactivity.”

In our opinion it’s irresponsible, unethical and potentially dangerous to suggest that FBOs offer their wares as ‘amazing products’ that may help people with health problems.

FBOs are not allowed to make any income claims

It’s not just health claims that are supposed to be avoided. Here’s what the Forever Living company policy says of making earnings claims:

“FBOs may not make any representation, expressly or by implication, regarding the amount or level of income, including full- time or part-time income, that a prospective FBO can reasonably expect to earn. Implied representations of income that an FBO reasonably can expect to earn include, but are not limited to, representations and/or images used to show a dramatically improved, luxurious or lavish lifestyle.”

However, this doesn’t stop FBOs seemingly doing just that. Here’s a flyer one UK-based FBO delivered to her neighbours:

Not only does this look like a “representation… that a prospective FBO can reasonably expect to earn” to us, but it’s also wildly inaccurate. Because we know from Forever Living’s own figures that less than 3.42% of all Forever Living members earn over $1,493 (around £1,167) a month – almost half what this manager is telling people they can earn a month working part time.

Worryingly, this same Manager is training her downline to share similar information. Here’s a slide allegedly from her training, shared by one of her recruits:

This same Manager also apparently tells her downline that she earns £18,000 a month from Forever Living. If this was the case, it would put her in the top 1% of the company globally. And yet, she has received no Chairman’s Bonus cheques in the last two years, making us doubt that this is true.

This manager isn’t the only FBO using suggestions of income and wealth to recruit. The UK’s number two FBO also shared this video on Facebook:

We don’t know about you, but suggesting that you may be able to “work hard for 5 years and then have the choice to never have to work again and enjoy the fruits of your labour” looks very much like an implied representation of income that an FBO reasonably can expect to earn.

We also know, again from Forever Living’s own figures, that this is out of reach of anyone but the top 0.2% of FBOs. Which makes it, in our opinion, an irresponsible recruitment message.

Forever Living themselves seemingly make incorrect earnings claims

But you can’t really blame FBOs for breaking the rules when Forever Living themselves are apparently happy to do so too. Here’s what looks very much like an income claim from their first steps to manager brochure:

And here’s their income claim for a Senior Manager:

The brochure cheerfully presents these figures as if they’re achievable to anyone who signs up to Forever Living. As long as they’re ‘prepared to work for’ them.

And yet, again, we know from Forever Living’s own figures that these are out of reach of the vast majority of Forever Living members. Only 3.42% will earn an average of $17,916 (around £14,000) a year according to Forever Living.

So how can they conceivably suggest that these earnings are a realistic expectation of the average FBO? Again, we’re curious as to what the DSA would say about these income claims, given they apparently contravene the DSA Code of Business Conduct:

“Advertisements placed by members or direct sellers shall not make unrepresentative or exaggerated earnings claims.”

And:

“Any earnings claims must relate to actual earnings from the opportunity by an identifiable person and be capable of verification.”

Is Forever Living “absolutely life changing” if you treat it right?

Forever Living also seem to break their own rule that you cannot promote the opportunity by showing images that “show a dramatically improved, luxurious or lavish lifestyle.”

Here’s a still from a Forever Living marketing video with the UK’s number three FBO in which she describes how “I lived in a tiny, three bedroom house on a housing estate… and now I live in this amazing house in Wales… it speaks for itself doesn’t it?”

So how did she achieve this enormous success (the castle was apparently rented, by the way)? Here’s what she says:

“It’s really worthwhile taking it seriously, building that rapport, getting better at holding conversations with people, and just building relationships and that will pay off in the long run… It’s absolutely life changing if you treat it right.”

To us this certainly implies representations of an income that an FBO can reasonably can expect to earn by showing images that “show a dramatically improved, luxurious or lavish lifestyle”.

Is Forever Living a pyramid scheme?

According to the DSA, the difference between a legitimate direct selling business and an illegal pyramid scheme comes down to retail sales:

“In a legitimate direct selling organisation income is generated by the sale or consumption of the product either by the salesperson or those is that person’s downline… Legitimate companies rely on solid sales over time. A strong base of customers who love and use the products is important to continuing success… In a legitimate direct selling opportunity the rewards come from sales of products and services to consumers by salespersons and their recruits, called down lines.”

And yet, when we look at the first steps to manager brochure, the emphasis seems to heavily weighted towards recruitment, not retail sales:

Indeed, the brochure seems to focus almost entirely on building a team – there’s far fewer information in it to help you grow retail sales. For example, here’s their business building cycle:

As you can see, its focus is on recruitment (showing the DVD, product launch and business presentation) rather than building a customer base for retail sales.

Even their example scripts only add retail sales as a tiny afterthought:

And, like every MLM we have investigated so far, the only way you can progress through the ranks at Forever Living, and qualify for bonuses and rewards is to build a team. Even if you were their best ever seller, selling millions of products a year, if you don’t recruit you won’t get promoted.

How can MLMs like Forever Living reconcile this push to build a team, and reward for doing so in the form of bonuses and incentive trips, with this statement by the DSA:

“Pyramid schemes seek to generate income to those who participate, from the recruitment of others.”

Forever Living’s approach also appears to contravene the the DSA Code of Business Conduct:

“Members and direct sellers shall not promote any business based solely on recruiting other direct sellers… All presentations must promote the business as one where direct sellers sell products to consumers.”

In our opinion, based on this, the line between MLMs like Forever Living and pyramid schemes is extremely fine.

Are FBOs the real customers?

One of the big complaints about MLMs (and a sign that a business may be a pyramid scheme) is that the reps are often the real customers. Why? Because the products are usually overpriced, and the emphasis often seems to be more on recruitment than retail sales.

Indeed, as The Dream podcast discovered, sometimes the ‘wholesale’ price that reps are able to purchase products for is actually the retail price.

Combine this with a requirement for reps to sell (or buy) a minimum quantity of products every month in order to remain active, and you frequently find many reps buying products themselves. (The requirement for an ‘active’ Sales Leader in Forever Living is 4ccs a month – one of which has to go through the FBO’s personal account.)

Many MLMs even encourage their reps to be their own best customers, as Forever Living does in their first steps to manager brochure:

They’re also told to do the famous MLM ‘bin-bag exercise’, in which they “put away all their normal products from the bathroom as soon as their starter box arrives”, with the intention of replacing them with Forever Living products.

In Forever Living training videos we’ve seen, FBOs are strongly encouraged to use only Forever Living products too. Here’s a quote from one:

“If you’ve got a product that you’re using that Forever Living Products has then you’re not using the products properly. Every single product you use… needs to be Forever Living if we do that. It’s that simple. How many people can redirect their spending?”

And another:

“As a distributor it’s vital you use our flagship product. Each of us is going to need at least two pots of gel, any of our aloe drinks, a month, and I’m going to suggest that a minimum of three or four supplements, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, deodorant, tooth gel, shower gel, just these basic personal healthcare products will give you over 1cc.”

So, Forever Living expects their FBOs to buy and use £159 of products themselves every month. But are these products good value for money? And importantly, are they reasonably competitive in a retail market – making them a viable sell to real retail customers?

From our research it appears not. As an example, here’s Forever Living’s Aloe Very Gelly:

As you can see this is a topical aloe vera gel that soothes the skin. The cost of this gel is £13.13 for 118ml (£11.11 per 100ml). And here’s the list of ingredients:

To compare, here’s an organic aloe vera gel available from Superdrug:

This gel also “moisturises, softens and helps restore dry and damaged skin”, but costs £3.05 per 100ml – making it more than three times cheaper than Forever Living’s gel. It’s also organic, unlike Forever Living. Their list of ingredients is a lot shorter too:

Other Forever Living products are also much more expensive than similar (or seemingly superior) high street alternatives:

  • Vitamin C tablets – Forever Living’s gradual absorption vitamin C tablets cost £18.67 for 100. You can buy 90 sustained release vitamin C tablets from Boots for £5.19.
  • Vitamin B12 tablets – 60 vitamin B12 tablets cost £13.54 from Forever Living. 60 vitamin B12 tablets from Boots cost £3.09.
  • Sunscreen – 118ml of SPF 30 aloe vera sunscreen from Forever Living costs £18.20 – making it £15.42 for 100ml. 150g of SPF30 aloe vera sunscreen from Holland & Barrett currently costs £8 – making it £5.33 for 100g.
  • Hand soap – A 473ml bottle of non-organic aloe vera hand soap costs £14.83 from Forever Living – making it £3.13 for 100ml. A 250ml bottle of organic aloe vera hand wash costs £5.99 from Holland & Barrett – making it £2.40 for 100ml.
  • Eyeliner – Black liquid eyeliner costs £19.42 from Forever Living. Black liquid eyeliners cost between £3 and £8.99 from Superdrug.
  • Soap – A 142g bar of non-organic aloe vera hand and face soap from Forever Living costs £5.78 – making it £4.07 for 100g. A 100g bar of organic aloe vera soap costs £2.25 from Boots – making it £2.25 for 100g.
  • Shampoo – Forever Living’s aloe jojoba shampoo costs £19.69 for 296ml – making it £6.65 for 100ml. You can buy a 265ml bottle of organic aloe vera shampoo from Holland & Barrett for £6.49 – making it £2.45 for 100ml.

With similar products easily available on the high street for so much less, why would anyone buy from a Forever Living rep?

Indeed, as we know, even the top three FBO in the UK admits that she only has nine regular customers. (We’d happily bet that she has more people recruited into her downline than she has retail customers.)

Which leaves us asking – who buys the majority of Forever Living products? Is is genuine retail customers (who could easily get many similar products to their range for less elsewhere)? Or is it FBOs who are buying to gain a promotion, bonus, or just to stay active – as they’re apparently instructed?

How FBOs use charities to meet their monthly quotas and qualify for incentives

As we’ve already mentioned, FBOs need to meet a minimum monthly quota of sales (or purchases) to remain active, or to gain a promotion or qualify for an incentive. And some have come up with creative ways to achieve this – and make themselves look good in the process.

How? By getting other people to pay for the purchases under the guise of raising money for charity – as revealed by Timeless Vie.

Here’s how it works. The FBO launches a campaign for a local good cause – a hospice, cancer charity, special care baby unit or women’s refuge, for example. Often they’ll share their own personal story in order to give the ask authenticity and added emotion.

People and businesses can ‘sponsor’ care packages for the charity’s recipients. And funnily enough, these packages are made up of Forever Living’s products (which, as we’ve already discovered are overpriced when compared to similar high street alternatives).

It’s a win-win for the FBO. They get someone else to buy products so they get the resulting ccs (and the financial benefits that come with them), and they look generous to all concerned.

In one of these campaigns for a special care baby unit, the FBO sold bags for £20 apiece. Her target was 500 bags, but she hoped to sell 1,000 in total. 500 bags would give her £10,000 of sales – equalling 62ccs. 1,000 bags would give her £20,000 of sales – equalling 125ccs.

Our issue with this is two-fold. Firstly, she claims that “The whole venture is non-profit making.” And yet she fails to mention that she will benefit financially from the ccs – they help her to qualify for Forever Living incentives and bonuses. So there is clear self-interest here.

Secondly, and most importantly, the charity is deprived of any money received directly from donors (which they could have spent freely on what they considered the most important priority), and instead just receives products they could have bought for much less elsewhere.

And it gets worse. According to Timeless Vie, one FBO “set up a Just Giving account for people to donate their money. Then when they realised that this meant the money went straight to the charity, they had to change it and ask for people to send money via PayPal, so the money went to her instead.”

So next time you see someone launching a charity campaign like this, don’t donate your money to help the FBO’s business. Instead, give it directly to the charity.

Is it safe to consume aloe vera?

As well as healthcare products and supplements, Forever Living manufactures aloe vera gel drinks, and reps enthusiastically tell their social media followers how much they love and rely on their daily aloe vera gel drink – and even encourage children to drink it. Here’s one example:

But, while the topical benefits of aloe vera are well known, can consuming it help you stay healthy? Is it even safe to drink?

The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center says this of drinking aloe vera gel: “Aloe taken for internal use should be discouraged due to possible adverse effects and inconclusive clinical data.”

Here are the adverse reactions they list from ingesting aloe:

The carcinogenic potential of orally administered aloe vera leaf was supported in this study on rats.

So it’s not surprising to us that Jeff Gladd M.D., an advisory board member of Care/of says: “I do not see the advantages or benefits of aloe juice, and given some of the concerns I’d advise steering clear.”

And we agree. With no scientific evidence proving any benefits to consuming aloe vera (including the ones made by the Forever Living Supervisor above), we wouldn’t risk drinking it.

(As an aside, if an adult customer were to consume Forever Living’s aloe vera gel drink at the minimum suggested dosage above, it would cost them more than a staggering £66 a month…)

Is Forever Living dying out?

Despite its name, there are signs that Forever Living isn’t quite as healthy as it used to be. Since reading Botwatch’s blog on the apparent decline of the company, we’ve been watching the aloe vera MLM with interest.

And things don’t look good to us. Both the turnover and profit for Forever Living Products (U.K. Ltd) almost halved between 2016 and 2017.

Another clue as to how successful Forever Living currently is in any given country is their annual Global Rally. Because it’s at this yearly bonanza that their Chairman’s Bonus cheques are given out to their top FBOs around the world.

And as these cheques are calculated based on a final pot, they’re a good indication of the success both of the FBOs themselves, and the company as a whole.

As you can imagine, they make interesting decoding. But what is particularly interesting of late is a change to Forever Living’s official company policy at the start of 2018 – and what this means to the bonuses FBOs receive.

Forever Living’s annual Chairman’s Bonus cheques are getting smaller

Before we look at the policy change, let’s follow the annual bonuses received over the past five years of the UK’s top three FBOs.

What bonuses has the UK’s number one Forever Living FBO earned?

Here’s what the UK’s number one has received over the past five years, and the level she qualified at:

  • 2015 – level 3: $1,043,649
  • 2016 – level 3:$1,032,931
  • 2017 – level 3: $891,271
  • 2018 – level 3: $756,687
  • 2019 – level 3: $831,122

What bonuses has the UK’s number two Forever Living FBO earned?

Here’s what the UK’s number two has received over the past five years, and the level she qualified at:

  • 2015 – level 3: $682,012 
  • 2016 – level 3: $1,007,066
  • 2017 – level 3: $677,108
  • 2018 – level 3: $430,108
  • 2019 – level 3: $457,593

What bonuses has the UK’s number three Forever Living FBO earned?

And here’s what the UK’s number three has received over the past five years, and the level she qualified at:

  • 2015 – level 1: $33,142 
  • 2016 – level 3: $490,897 
  • 2017 – level 3: $416,467 
  • 2018 – level 2: $120,781 
  • 2019 – level 1: $43,028 

As you can see from the top two FBOs, who qualified at level 3 every year, there has been a gradual decline in their annual bonus since 2016. However, this decline appears to have been halted this year.

And there’s a very good reason for this. This reason also explains why the third top FBO, who only qualified at level 1 this year had such a sharp reduction in bonus, despite having been building her business for several years. And the answer is in the revised company policy as of 1 January 2018.

How the Chairman’s Bonus is calculated – and how it changed

Here’s what how the previous company policy calculates the Chairman’s Bonus:

A global bonus pool will be determined and then allocated as follows: 

  • One half of the pool will be paid to those who qualify in Level 1. 
  • One third of the pool will be paid to those who qualify in Level 2. 
  • One sixth of the pool will be paid to those who qualify in Level 3. 

So, as you can see, each level gets a percentage of their share of the pool. But all this changes in January 2018. Here’s what the new calculation looks like:

  • One half of the pool will be paid to those who qualify in Levels 1, 2 and 3. 
  • One third of the pool will be paid to those who qualify in Levels 2 and 3. 
  • One sixth of the pool will be paid to those who qualify in Level 3. 

Under the new, revised rules, Level 3 qualifiers don’t just get a percentage of their share of the pool – they get to dip their fingers into the pool of Level 1 and Level 2 too, significantly decreasing the amount available for qualifiers in those levels as a result.

Why did Forever Living change their company policy?

This seems a rather unfair change, and one that’s certain to have outraged the now poorer Level 1 and 2 qualifiers when they found out. So why do it?

One reason could be the realisation that the business is shrinking. The market, as Botwatch suggested, is saturated. And there’s an increasing awareness of and movement against MLMs.

So it’s getting harder to recruit people to MLMs. And if the real customers of MLMs (thanks to the amount you need to sell or buy yourself every month to stay active) are the reps themselves, that means there’s less money coming into their businesses.

For a company like Forever Living, whose reps use the annual galas and lottery sized cheques to lure in new recruits, this could be disastrous. Not only do they lose a valuable sales tool (the top cheques are shared liberally on lowlier FBOs profiles as a carrot for hopeful sign ups), but they themselves can become disillusioned.

These enormous cheques are big motivators for the FBOs themselves, too. And, once they see even the biggest cheques shrinking so dramatically, they could finally twig that there’s no hope of them making the the money they hoped for, and desert the business.

So it’s not in Forever Living’s interest to allow the large Level 3 bonus cheques to start getting noticeably smaller (nor the middle-sized Level 2s).

This could be the reason for the change. By including Level 3 in the sharing out of Levels 1 and 2’s pots, and Level 2 in Level 1’s, they hide the reduction in overall pot size, and maintain the impressive bonus amounts.

Which is good news for the Level 3 qualifiers. But as we saw at the 2019 Global Rally in Stockholm, it was devastating for the lowlier qualifiers, who saw their own cheques drastically shrink in size as a result.

Our five pieces of advice for Forever Living FBOs

We’ve written many investigations into MLMs now and, sadly, they all conclude with the same opinion: joining an MLM is not a wise decision.

But we know that some people reading this may be Forever Living FBOs. And if you’re one, we have some advice for you (it’s the same advice we’d give a rep in any MLM).

1) Calculate your profit

Keep a spreadsheet of your incomings and expenses (and include ALL business expenses – including travel, training, coffees you buy in meetings, training and product samples and for display), and check your spreadsheet weekly to see how much you’re actually earning in profit.

It’s also important to include any Forever Living products you are personally buying (especially those you buy to gain a promotion or bonus, or just to stay active) as a cost. As we’ve already learned, you can easily buy cheaper equivalent products elsewhere, so ‘being your own best customer’ is a business expense for the purposes of this exercise.

If you’re not making a profit every month, ask yourself whether it’s really worth the effort. And decide how many months you’re prepared to work for free (or at a cost to you) before you decide it’s not working.

2) Calculate your time

We’d also advise you to keep track of any time you spend on your business, and calculate your weekly hours. Now divide any profit you make by the hours you have worked to get your hourly earnings from Forever Living.

If you’re not earning more than minimum wage in PROFIT, then consider whether you could earn more by getting a job. A job that comes with regular, guaranteed pay, holiday and sick pay and employment rights.

3) Listen to your family and friends

If your family and friends are concerned about your Forever business, or complain that you’ve changed, or comment negatively on your social media use (or stop interacting with you on social media), listen to them. Don’t just dismiss them out of hand.

MLMs like Forever Living will tell you to “shake off the criticism” of those who do not share your vision. But anyone you speak to at your MLM, including (and especially) your upline, financially benefits from you staying with the company.

These people may tell you they have your best interests at heart, but in reality they just care about making their own monthly quotas – and they need you and your ccs to help them do it.

Your family and friends usually care about you, and your happiness and wellbeing – not what you are financially worth to them. So if they express concerns about your choices since joining an MLM, we’d recommend not simply dismissing them – listen to their concerns and ask yourself honestly if there may be any truth in them.

4) Read this article properly!

If you’ve been advised by anyone connected to your MLM not to read this article, please ask yourself why that is. And now you’ve got to the end of it, please re-read it again and make sure you take in all the information properly.

The facts in this article are publicly available. Why would your upline or company – the people who make money out of you – not want you to read them?

And don’t listen to the explanation that this was written by a failed and bitter former rep – as we know other MLM managers have told their downlines when we’ve published an article on their business.

We’ve never been members of any MLM – and we’ve never lost money to one of these companies. We just felt compelled to investigate the industry, to warn and protect others, after watching the Betting on Zero documentary three years ago.

And the more we look into the industry as a whole, and individual companies in particular, the more we’re convinced that it’s a business model that rewards only the tiny top percentage of people right at the very top. And the more we understand how an average of 99.6% of participants in MLMs apparently lose money when business expenses are deducted.

If nothing else, consider this. We have no financial incentive for writing these articles. We don’t earn money by telling you not to join an MLM. But anyone you speak to at an MLM will earn money, or benefit otherwise, from you joining, remaining with or buying from them.

So who is more likely to be the most objective?

5) If you love aloe vera – buy it elsewhere for less

And finally, if you convince yourself you’re remaining with Forever Living because you love their products, remember that you can easily buy aloe vera products online and on the high street for much less.

So you can still get all the benefits of aloe vera without needing to get involved with an MLM.

You can read more about Forever Living on the ‘MLM’ The American Dream Made Nightmare blog.

Read more about MLMs

We’ve published a number of articles on MLMs. If you’d like to learn more about the industry, here are some income investigations:

And here:

And you can learn more about how the MLM industry works here:

Photo by BRUNO CERVERA

This article is based on research using publicly available documents from Forever Living and other sources. If there is anything factually incorrect in this article, Forever Living are welcome to contact us and we will revise accordingly.