With the proliferation of traveling sales crews in recent years, I have run across some towns that are putting more strict rules in place for door-to-door sales.
As I’ve touched on before with this blog… is this really fixing the issue or is this simply a band-aid to make the public feel like city leaders have done something to address the issue?
Sometimes limits have to have limits. When it comes to restricting door-to-door sales, towns run the risk of restricting an individual’s First Amendment right to Commercial Free Speech.
This recently came up in St. Peters, Missouri. In this case, additional limits on door-to-door was reviewed and dropped after City Attorney Randy Weber was heard from. Weber specifically cited courts who have deemed limiting door-to-door times for only specified times as unconstitutional. Weber further added there has to be a nexus between criminal activity and solicitation – which in this case there was not.
One idea that came form the city meetings was to put the enforcement part in the hands of the citizens by having those who wished not to be solicited to on their properties to post a sign.
For those with a good sense of humor - both home-owner and solicitor - this sign would work well.
By posting their property, the solicitor has a clear indication of the wishes of the homeowner – unless of course, if the original homeowner who posted it moved. But by far and away, in my experience with homeowner associations, local law enforcement and elected city officials, I think this is the best option.
On a side note: Southwestern Advantage has long worked with local officials and citizens to make communities safer for both the residents and the solicitors. We appreciate all the people over the years who have assisted in this endeavor – from the thousands of Southwestern Advantage alumni to town administrators and clerks.
Due to the nature of Southwestern Advantage’s business model, I am aware of local ordinances many towns enforce when it comes to door-to-door sales.
While they vary from town to town, they often have some of the same elements: a registration process which may include a background check, a moderate fee, and enforceable hours of operation are a few of the norms.
Another thing that is becoming more and more common is towns that are updating their ordinances. Recently, the town of Bath, Ohio updated their peddler regulations to be stricter than the current ordinance that had been enacted during the 1980s.
Why? Because of the infiltration of traveling sales crews. While town officials, specifically Bath Police Chief Michael McNeely, said this would not stop the van crews from visiting the town, they do think it will assist in letting them know who is legitimate.
An excerpt from the Fairlawn-Bath Patch (Dec. 29, 2011) said the following:
McNeely said no regulations will prevent national magazine sales companies from dropping vanloads of young adults off in the township to conduct their door-to-door sales, so township officers will continue issuing misdemeanor citations for vending without a license.“This won’t stop them. They’ll still come in, bring these kids in from all across the country. We’ve cited people from the deep south and other parts of the Midwest,” McNeely said. “Some of the young kids are okay, but we find others have a past history that residents should be concerned about.”
Southwestern Advantage has always guided the young people who run their business selling our products to do the right thing. If it is the law to register for a solicitor’s permit, they need to do it in order to sell in that particular jurisdiction… or they are breaking the law. I think it’s a real shame how the burden of additional regulation affects those who go through the process rather than those who choose to ignore it. This is not an issue unto Bath alone… no, it stretches far and wide throughout the country.
Guest blogger to Southwestern Difference: Christine Martin, Corporate Recruiter for Southwestern Advantage
Coppell, Texas’ Kyler Henderson made a goal to be the top popcorn salesperson in Cub Scout Pack 841. Henderson set his eyes on the prize of winning a Cowboy’s football or Dallas Maverick party for his friends. He realized what he would have to sell was about $5,000 in sales in order to win. It’s natural for kids to be motivated by cool toys & gadgets, but very few go through the hard work of earning the prize. However, in this case, Henderson had a plan. He would knock on doors at night and on the weekends when people were home. His dad, Brad, went along with him for safety purposes. After all the knocks were tallied, they estimated about 1,000 doors had been visited.
In comparing Henderson’s work ethic to that of other door-to-door sales programs who sell the right way, there are many similarities in the lessons learned. I share this example – of this 9-year-old boy – to illustrate a point.
He no doubt heard “no” lots of times. I’m sure he had to pick himself up from the rejection and go to the next door. In sales you often have to hear a series of “no’s” before you hear a “yes.” But one thing is sure, Henderson will no doubt experience a lifetime of success if he keeps up his hard work. How valuable of a lesson has this young man learned at an early age about hard work, results and goals? If only all children could learn such lessons. If only all adults could learn such lessons…
Top Row: Dr. Carl Roberts, Henry Bedford, Tabitha Taylor, Courtney Kylman, Lee McCroskey, Rita Streator, Mahendra Chowbay, Greg Boucher. Bottom Row: Dustin Hillis, Trey Campbell
The Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year.
In 1961, Southwestern, along with 509 other Middle Tennessee businesses pledged $50,200 for the first year’s operating budget for the new charter of incorporation for a Better Business Bureau as approved by the Tennessee Secretary of State.
Southwestern’s name came up several additional times during the ceremony in addition to the recognition. Earlier in the year, Southwestern presented the BBB of Middle Tennessee with the original framed charter from 1961. The replica made for Southwestern was printed on the commemorative program. It also turns out the keynote speaker, Clifton Lambreth, was a three-summer alumni of the Southwestern summer sales program. Lambreth is a long-time Ford Motor Company employee who has written two books, Ford and the American Dream and Return to Greatness, Driving the American Dream.
Southwestern is an accredited member of the BBB of Middle Tennessee and maintains an A+ rating. We appreciate the work the Better Business Bureau does for businesses and consumers in our community.
The session was titled “The ROI of Ethical Business Practices” and focused on the distinct marketplace advantages companies experience when in compliance with DSA’s ethical standards.
I was honored to represent Southwestern Company. My fellow panelists were:
Laura Beitler, Chief Counsel, U.S. – Mary Kay, Inc. (panel moderator)
Kevin McMurray, Deputy General Counsel, International – USANA Health Sciences, Inc.
Spencer Reese, Partner, Grimes & Reese
Ethical topics for the panel included how to develop a culture of ethics, specific tools used to promote ethical behavior, values & returns because of ethical behavior, and proselyting.
The conference had three tracts of emphasis attendees could choose to attend. They included topics on global operations, legal and government relations and tax & finance. Having the different tracts was great because it allowed the direct selling executives the flexibility to attend varying topics and blend the tracts for their company’s needs.
The next DSA conference will be in December in Lake Las Vegas, NV. It has four tracts including communications & marketing, sales force development, public relations and direct selling 101 courses. I look forward to contributing to this conference, as Southwestern Company has been asked to present many times in the past.
In a newsletter from the Direct Selling Association (DSA), newly appointed President Joe Mariano wrote of the importance of the government relations function to the members of the organization and the industry as a whole. While doing so, he called attention to the small group of direct selling executives that make up what is called the “Road Warriors.”
The importance of this engaged group can not ever be underestimated. They are a critically important factor to a near $30 billion industry in the U.S. alone. The general public and many DSA members do not even know of their existence, and yet they work to save the industry time and time again, only to go back home unsung heroes.
Lawmakers know who they are though. Many have either worked with them to come up with laws that protect consumers and law-abiding companies or they have wrangled with them when differing opinions reach a point of industry concern. As Joe put it, “With one stroke of a pen, a lawmaker can cost you millions, take opportunities from your sales force, or even put you out of business – in one state, nationally or across the globe.” Many times, I have found it to be the law of unintended consequences. In order to meet the desires of a small number of constituents, a great number of constituents are adversely affected.
Something else Joe pointed out is how these skillful “Road Warriors” put the interest of the industry on a pedestal rather than simply just the interests of their own companies. Over the years, the DSA has coordinated efforts with these individuals and member companies to protect the independent contractor status, legitimize multilevel compensation, define pyramids and relieve burdens on individuals who choose to participate in a direct selling opportunity.
Over the years, during my 12+ year tenure with Southwestern Company, I have been fortunate enough to be recognized as a direct selling “Road Warrior.” My travels have taken me to big states and small states, from coast to coast. I’ve met some of the most amazing people who were elected to safeguard our rights as U.S. citizens. Even more amazing than the government officials I’ve had the pleasure (and occasional displeasure) to work with are the folks who work tirelessly for millions and millions of Americans so they may have the opportunity to sell quality products and benefit financially and personally.
The DSA member companies, their employees, each individual independent contractor who sell their products and all those who make up their customer base owe a debt of gratitude for the pursuit of justice the “Road Warriors” are fighting for each time they get on the plane to their next destination. They are a specialized, elite team of highly communicative ambassadors for the industry – think Seal Team 6 without the helicopters and night vision goggles.
I have blogged before about the alarming ways magazine traveling sales crews purposefully dupe homeowners into buying their subscriptions or taking their money with no intention of signing them up for magazines.
This time, I want to focus in on one way in particular that makes my stomach turn – they associate themselves with a local children’s charity. This preys on people’s hearts when it comes to kids in need.
I rank this type of scam right below how magazine crews have been known to also say the subscription will go to a serviceman overseas (they typically will not – just another emotional ploy to get you to buy).
It’s lies like this that hinder legitimate companies. Door-to-door sales has a bad reputation because of groups like this that wreck it by being liars and scam artists. I’ll leave you with this… DO NOT LOSE FAITH SO QUICKLY, THERE ARE LEGITIMATE COMPANIES OUT THERE WHO WORK HARD TO TRAIN IT’S INDEPENDENT SALESFORCE TO DO THE RIGHT THING.
In training over 2,700 college and university students each year in “Sales School” as they embark on running their own business, we focus not just on subjects pertinent to that business, but also value-added content that will carry with them throughout life. Part of the life-skills training Southwestern Company offers includes a session on ethics and integrity.
I have two tracts I use for training. The first is my go-to presentation for first-year dealers who are new to our summer sales program. I based it on an article I found on the Internet while compiling research. It was originally published in Business Horizons magazine, July August 1993, titled “The ethics of sales: finding an appropriate balance” by Ralph W. Clark and Alice Darnell Lattal. While the article is dated, the content is as fresh as ever. I feel the students need to have a baseline of what to expect from the people they will have direct contact with through their sales business. A particular quote from the article I think the students in the Southwestern Company’s 143-year-old sales program need to understand is this:
“When it comes to sales practices, people are fascinated, repulsed, envious, grateful, embarrassed, annoyed, indifferent. These attitudes should not be wholly unexpected: ‘selling,’ in a broad sense, permeates life…”
It’s not only the students who need to understand this – it’s all audiences who have a door-to-door experience. This quote resonates with me, because what the student dealers experience in selling door-to-door is real life. I always tell them – they will see the best in people, and unfortunately, the worst in people. They, however, have the choice of deciding what type of attitude they will have.
I get all kinds of calls during the summer selling season – from upset moms who had their baby’s nap interrupted to the mom who declined to order the educational products and has since changed her mind after more thought. People on the other side of the phone have the same wide range of emotions, just as the people behind the door the students will meet – and sometimes they are one in the same! From anger to excitement, from interest to disenchantment… you never know what lies behind the next door.
No matter what the emotions are, I know this… “‘Selling,’ in a broad sense, permeates life…”
Southwestern Company was one of the 31 companies and has been recocognized since the inception of the specific recognition. DSA member companies must fulfill at least five of 14 qualifications in order to meet the satisfaction of the Code’s independent administrator. This is criteria that must be fulfilled on an annual basis and does not roll over from year to year. For 2011, there were 10 more companies that the previous year.
The following companies, in addition to Southwestern Company, were also recognized:
ACN, Advocare, Arbonne, Avon, Conklin, CUTCO, Gold Canyon, Hy Cite, Initials, Kitchen Fair (Regal Ware), lia sophia, LifeVantage, Maddy Moo, Mary Kay, Nu Skin, The Pampered Chef, Paperly, Premier Designs, Regal Ware, Rodan + Fields, Saladmaster (Regal Ware), Shaklee, Silpada, Simplexity Health, Simply Said, SimplyFun, Tahitian Noni, Team National, and USANA.
In a joint effort from the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) and Better Business Bureau, a video was put together about consumer protection for direct sellers. In this video, they have five principles that can protect both the direct seller and the consumer. This is something Southwestern Company supports… check it out!