Monday, 19 December 2011

Lies, Bias and the Regional Press

It's not often that I'm pushed to anger by a regional newspaper, especially one that I rarely read. But I'll make an exception in the case of the Northampton Chronicle. In fact, based on their moderation of one particular article, I am actively advising that people think very carefully before wasting their money on this particular blot on the journalist's escutcheon.

I keep track of Kleeneze's news appearances; it's an old habit made easier by the advent of Google Alerts. So, when I discovered a nice little story about Peter and Jillian Griffiths and their fund-raising efforts, I was delighted.

That is, until I read the vitriolic and incoherent comment posted by an individual calling themselves "CitizenNorthampton". Amongst other bile, he accused them of profiteering, greed, dishonesty and scamming their customers. He also claimed that Kleeneze is seen as a scam by others.

Intrigued, I went through the weird signup process and posted a response. I'd love to cut and paste that response here, but I can't. The reason I can't is that it was removed by a moderator. A moderator who is happy to have the Northampton Chronicle's website peppered with potentially libellous comments from a disgruntled obsessive.

My deleted comment pointed out that Kleeneze distributors are self-employed and that Kleeneze is a legitimate business. I pointed out that, after overheads, petrol, carrier bags, replacement catalogues and postage are taken away from the retail profit figures that he quoted, an extra 10% cash donation to charity is a very nice gesture and not something deserving of vilification. I questioned the original post's figures. I also congratulated Peter and Gillian for their efforts. No reason to delete that, you would think. I wasn't promoting Kleeneze per se, I didn't link to a business website; I merely tried to redress the balance. Unfortunately, that wasn't good enough for the moderator, or the anonymous CitizenNorthampton.

Because CitizenNorthampton responded to me, not once, but twice. I had suggested he might be bitter about Kleeneze (a reasonable point given the nastiness of his original post) and that he might be an ex-distributor. He claims to be an ex-customer of "one of the unnamed people in the picture" and denies having been a distributor. He claims to have a new distributor who "explain[ed] ... in great detail how this business works".

Let's stop there for a minute. How many of us distributors have explained "in great detail" how the Kleeneze bonus structure works to a customer? How many customers have asked us to explain? Am I the only one who doesn't believe this guy's explanation and justification for his vitriolic comments?

Because they are vitriolic; yet again he claims Kleeneze is a scam, that Peter and Jillian are profiteering and he threatens them with reporting them to the charities commission. His final comment, posted at 15:39 on Saturday (at a time when my original comment was still there) still claims that Kleeneze is a scam.

And the moderator, and presumably the Northampton Chronicle management, are happy to let their bias show and let those lies stand. I think Peter and Jillian have enough grounds for a letter before action, asking for those comments to be removed.

I certainly won't be advertising in that paper and I wouldn't advise my team to do so either.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

90-Day Plan: D-1 - Plan Review Time

So, it's D-day minus 1 and I'm trying to do my initial review.

Looking at yesterday's figures, I've got some serious work to do with this plan, to set me up for the end of 2012.

On Monday, I put 180 catalogues out to an area that had been blanket dropped by three other distributors within the previous 2 days. Needless to say, I only found that out yesterday when a couple of very nice people let me know their opinion of the three other distributors. (I'm still receiving calls complaining about catalogue spam today; Betterware and Avon also hit this area over the weekend).

180 catalogues gave me £55 of sales and that's only because I was smart enough to put the New Year's Sale brochure in with everything else. Normally I'd get at least £100 - £150 in for the same number of blanket-dropped catalogues.

Now, I fully support and appreciate the freedom that Kleeneze's business model gives me; I'm not tied to a specific area like Avon representatives are. The inevitable downside is the seasonal catalogue spam caused by distributors converging on a likely area to blanket drop. Catalogue spam is always worse around Christmas. It puts potential customers off and those of us who stick with trying to build a solid retail base spend the following few months calming our regulars down, who often don't realise the realities of building a Kleeneze distributor customer base.

Anyway, back to the review:

1. Do I know EXACTLY what I'm doing for each of the next 90 days?

I did. Until I got the third lousy retail result in a row. Yes, I'm annoyed. I'm also focused on getting £1600 of sales every period from now on. I have a list of roads to start dropping and presenting to; I may need to amend that on a weekly basis during this plan to build a solid retail base.

If I don't get the retail sales, I can't invest in recruitment. It's that simple. So I need to come up with FREE ways of getting leads. I'll need to amend my recruitment plan on a weekly basis as well.

2. Does my family know and understand what I'm doing?

Yes, and they don't believe I can do it. Welcome to the real world.

3. How am I tracking my activity?


Catalogues out, in, order quantity, order value, average value per order, average value per catalogue, number presented, number blanket dropped, which roads, when, who looks, who doesn't look but hands back, who 'loses', who refuses, who orders, which other distributor.


Type of lead generation, quantity of leads in, quantity of information packs out, results of calls and follow-up calls, who's not interested, who are tyre-kickers, who want a PAYE job, who want supplementary income, who want to be active, number of signups, which type of signup.

4. What are my back-up plans when/if Life! gets in the way?

Life! has already got in the way. I'm used to it. This is more down to being self-disciplined, something I need to continue working to improve. So, a list of incentives to stick to the plan, and a big fat chart of the money I owe are on my study wall right now. I have built in a little slack to my plan so that, should I need to deal with Life! for a few days in any period, I can do so and still achieve my targets.

5. How exactly will I get back on track if I drift away from my planned activity?

I cannot afford to drift away from my planned activity. If I do that even once, I won't achieve my targets. Self-discipline is key, yet again.

6. How will I reward myself for goals I have achieved, and when?
I have a few incentives planned, but I also have a big incentive, which I can only pay for if I achieve every goal I've set for myself: - being taught to sing in a masterclass by one of my heroes. For me, that's a major goal.

90-day plan, here I come!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Congratulations, Stanley!

Well done to Stanley Stewart for being a finalist in the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Awards this year. And congratulations on getting his story in his local paper as well.

Stanley went full-time with his Kleeneze business in 1997 after starting part-time in 1995. He obviously puts a lot of work into inspiring and supporting his team and has been rightly rewarded for doing so.

Monday, 5 December 2011

90-Day Plan: D-2 - The Plan Takes Over My Life!

Oh, heck, this was NOT what I expected.

When I decided in one of my more insane moments to dual-blog on 90 day plans for 90+ days, I completely forgot to factor in my son's activities.

Now, he's doing his GCSEs this year, so he should be able to look after himself? To a point, but not when it involves me slotting in school and extra-curricular taxi duties, not to mention having to waste most of Saturday waiting in for a parcel because he slept over at his sister's house on Friday night.

Seems I'm NOWHERE near organised enough yet. Hopefully, I'll have improved on that at the end of the next 90 days.

Anyway, let's look at creating this plan, as per my instructions on my other blog:

1. Get the year planner up on the wall and draw a border around the 90 days you'll be working your plan.

Nice and easy - the wallplanner was bought a couple of weeks ago and is already up. Mind you, thanks to using a cheap generic version of BluTack, it's now sellotaped to the wall and I need to repaint bits. The border is drawn. I'm adding the last 2 weeks of Period 13 to a full 3 periods next year, to make sure I start my next 90 day plan at the beginning of Period 4 2012.

2. If your business 'weeks', 'months' or 'periods' don't line up with the standard Sunday - Saturday or Monday - Sunday options, mark those out on your planner as well.

Done. Kleeneze weeks run from Fridays to Thursdays. Go figure. Presumably a historical reason regarding staff payments.

3. Mark out ALL commitments for the 90 day plan duration on your wall planner.

Luckily, that's fairly easy this year. Chipping Norton Folk Club once a month, a choral workshop in Chippy and (gulp) my second attempt at singing in front of a Music Festival Adjudicator. Plus, of course, Christmas and birthdays. If you want to know why a Rugby woman does a two-hour round trip to Chipping Norton once a month when there are closer folk clubs.... well, it's a long story.

4. Take your 90-day plan template, which should be marked out in 30 minute blocks from 6am to midnight.

Unsurprisingly, got one of those.

5. Block out periods of time for all normal activity - bathing, exercise, meals, housework, gardening, travel to/from work/higher education studies and, of course, the day job/lectures.

Done that. Blocking out the basics is surprisingly easy and leaves some sizeable chunks of time free in the evening.

6. Block out periods of time for all other commitments - family events, club meetings, holiday away from home.

That was nice and quick, too. You might find you've got more events, meetings and holiday than I have.

7. Block out your business activity for the next 90 days. You will be sticking to this plan; make sure it's sustainable.

Now, this is where it gets interesting. My tendency would be to block out what suits me, but for every block I allocate, I have to consider the youngest son and my partner's needs as well. That turned a simple exercise into a juggling nightmare. There's no point doing this if I'm building up resentment about my focus being elsewhere and, like many women, I'm used to experiencing resentment when I focus on "my" (aka my business) needs rather than theirs.

7a. Take a 7 day plan template and block out your business activity for each day. This time, be more specific. If you plan to hand out leaflets, deliver catalogues or do surveys on a particular day, write down the streets or area now. If you don't use a template, this information needs to go in your diary for those days.

Oh dear lord, THIS is a killer. I've never been this organised before in my life, and I'm not sure I like it! Mind you, I'm sure I'll get used to it, not to mention sidestep it when necessary.

7b. Repeat 7a for all 13 weeks.

I thought 7a was a killer? This is worse - not only do I have to work out my standard activity, but I have to try to preplan extra blocks of streets to make sure I'm always able to hit my targets. This is probably one of the key reasons I've never stuck with a 90-day plan before now.

8. Block out your business activity on the year planner; one simple way to do this is to use stickers of different colours, shapes and sizes depending on available time and type of activity. Remember to create a key to those stickers and display that on your wall, too.

Fell down at this hurdle. I'm shopping tonight and will have to get some stickers and then revisit this step.

9. Create activity tracking sheets for each type of activity you intend to undertake and ensure you have enough copies to cover 90 days of activity. You will be using these every day, in conjunction with to-do lists, to maximise your time and effort.

I had the templates already, but creating 13 copies of each, complete with dates etc., took several hours and had to be done around other activities, such as housework, taxi service for the youngest and Kleeneze catalogue rebagging. It's times like these when I need to do this business full-time.

10. Make sure that you have a central store for all your planning and tracking paperwork, be it in a computer folder or in a filing cabinet or lever arch file. Don't give yourself opportunities to fail.

Now this one was simple, and the filing cabinet is ready and waiting, as is my Kleeneze tracking folder.

Better late than never. I've readjusted my plan to start on Friday 9 December, to give me time to complete the review stage comfortably around my business activity this week.

Fingers crossed!