It started when the ad on craigslist showed up as "customer service rep with starting pay at 15.50" showed up. within a half hour i get this phone call saying that i was a qualified candidate to come in for an interview. "...be 15 minutes early" failed to mention that it ran from 6-8:45, nearly 3 hours while my boyfriend waited in the car (had i known it would have taken that long i would have gone by myself). In the group interview, there was 2 older women, 3 guys (ages 17-21), a younger girl that was probably still in high school, and me. The office manager went through about 1/3 of the Cutco line as well as some of the actual presentation that he inevitably sold all of us on.
After the group interview was completed, the office manager told us that he would only be hiring 3 people from that particular group interview. Now that I think of it, i think that only two of us ended up being "sales reps" from that interview. When it was my turn, the office manager (no older than 25) told me that i was one of the people he wanted to hire. No surprise, i was one of the few people that was professionally dressed for an interview. He gave me my training schedule (which you do not get paid for- 3 days for 4-6 hours) and let me loose.
I will cut in now (no pun intended) and say that I do like the product line. With a forever guarantee on all their products, free sharpening & polishing; you can't go wrong. This job was NOT for me. There are individuals out there that can do this and excel at it because 1. they already know people with money, or 2. are really good at playing off of people's sympathies, or 3. they are naturally good at selling a product that sells itself and have the drive to do so. I am not any of these people.
The three days of training consisted of 6 hired people sitting down and gaining confidence with the "training manual", product line (they push the Homemaker), and other sales techniques in order to get people to purchase their product. What you learn in training is how to sell, and the district manager gave us all printouts of the positive things that the company does- what an individual can win in their fast start (first ten days), awards that other reps have won in the past, scholarships available to reps that are/will be attending college, recruitment bonuses (2% on all sales they make), opportunities to be a branch manager, opportunities galore if you work really super hard, etc. He also pushed that the Cutco training method is used in level 300 business classes. I checked the syllabus, it said Spring 2001. There is some possibility that they may not using this training method 10 years later.
So, i turn into the "cutco selling machine" that they want me to be. My first week I had 7- 10 demos and closed about 60% of them ( the average is 60% closing for the product). Was this good? No! In fact, i was told i had to get my CPO up (CPO is what you base your commission off of. Example-and not fact but for purpose of this report - I sell a set for $300 and the customer gets $50 in free merchandise, My CPO would be 225. There is more to it but that is the best I can give you) because I sold under $300 worth of merchandise my first two days. On that first Monday, I was told to come in for advanced training, which was all of 15 minutes and there was nothing advanced about it. The manager there just went over my orders i could hand in and went over what i liked and didn't like. Really worth the 40 drive there with gas at $3.58/gallon. I was asked if I was going to be there Wed night for a phone jam and the weekly office meeting. I told him if it was a phone jam then the RSVP was no. He said,"No problem, you don't have to be here."
That Wednesday, after my demo, I called (like I was supposed to) and was told by a different manager that I had to be there for the meeting because" it was really important and there was someone coming in from out of town to speak." Later to find out that the out of town speaker is there almost every other week and travels between the Syracuse and Buffalo office, sets up all the home shows for New York, and has $250,000 in career sales. Like I said, opportunity for those that work hard.
The weekly meetings are kind of... interesting. You get positive recognition for achievements and everyone claps for you over the silliest things. It is a good environment to be in if you are used to getting constant praise. The district manager would go through all the reps in the office and tell them how far until they hit their next promotion. There is usually two speakers, a rep and a manager. The topics of discussion usually consist in how to sell the product better by handling objections, getting more recommendations (the only way one can build their own "business"), how to upsell, etc. Of course, they want you to take lots and lots of notes. That is something that they want you to do from the time of the interview on, take notes on everything that is noteworthy. I did that when i was in college, never looked at them afterwords, and still got a 3.23 GPA. Imagine if I actually reviewed them!
Another great benefit is the quarterly Division Meetings. They are by invite only, and the one that occurred while i was there was about a two hour drive from where I live. It was a nice gesture because it seemed so exclusive, but after being there for under two weeks I doubted that there was a chance that I would be eligible to make it. Sure enough, one of the office managers (the night before i might add), "Are you excited for the Division meeting tomorrow? you got the invite, right? oh, well District manager must have forgotten but i know he said that you were invited. It'll really help build your business. Oh well, if you can get out of work early, we leave the office at this time if you want to carpool there." If you are invited to one, do not get excited. It is because as an individual, you have some sort of reservations about the method of how they operate their business. I am sure that is the only reason I was invited.
Like i said before, there are people that are able to succeed at doing this. The one kid (senior in high school) was pulling in $1000+ a week. I might add that he is from a higher class town in comparison to other parts of Western New York and probably had excellent connections for where he lived. But if it is my supplemental income, shouldn't it be making me money now rather than allowing me to break even weekly?
I think of it like this: For every appointment you get the base pay (15.50) so for the hours you are not getting paid (travel time, phone time, office time) you are working for free. If you do 6 demos, and end up with $850 in sales, you end up with the commission check which varies ( but at my current level, it is in the realm of $130. The base pay for that is $93. A $40 difference. Either way, you get paid. Break that up again, say $850 in sales you get $130, 6 appointments (you only get paid for one hour per appointment), but you include hours that you don't get paid in the office (2 hours), travel time to office (4 hours a week), and phone time (2 hours because you are not in the office Sunday or Monday night) So $130/12=$10.83/hour. Figure in gas, purchasing items to cut, mileage, travel time, and the lack of personal time as well as space; it seems to feel like a lot less.
My decision to leave was prompted when on a week that I was unable to get in more than 6 demos because they wanted me to go field training, and made not enough in commission. As I was waiting for the weekly meeting to start, the Branch manager asked me what was going on and why I was unable to put every living moment into quality cutco time. I then flashed back to what i was told from the get-go. You make your own schedule and they are a laid back business. So, if i wanted to do two, or even 1 demo that week; isn't that my business? The push for the branch is 1.3 million in sales. I get it that it is the bigger picture, but if my supplemental income is more a pain in the butt than my regular, normal job; why should I bother keeping up with it? Also, you are considered an independent sales rep, they do not take taxes out so it gets taxed at the end of the year, and you get paid for mileage at the end of the year. Its silly, and annoying. But you can also think of it as the company is paying you 15.50 (twice minimum wage) so it can cover the hours and travel time.
The last week I showed up at the office, the office manager had me fill out my schedule for the week. He saw that I was able to do 5+ appointments the one day and then wanted me to have all of my slots filled and then work on some more for the weekend. I would like to say that he was pushing me because he probably is making a recruitment bonus on any sale that the people he hired made. Perhaps it is a pyramid scheme,it seems to work like one. He did not care that I had someone waiting for me, or that my pet was in the car (its the equivalent of my kid); he wanted me to sell! The tunnel vision of the office is completely product driven. Having a life outside of their workplace is permitted, but if you have too much of one then you are a poor salesperson.
The workshop I went to consisted of was the office manager talking about how to close sales, then wrapped up by watching a 15 minute video of one of the nations top selling reps (there are alot of these annoying videos) talking to a younger sales rep about how to do small talk. The vet said something along the lines of "enjoy yourself, make a connection with the person, you don't have to rush the appointment, just have fun." But let me refer to the paragraph above, THE OFFICE IS PRODUCT DRIVEN! So, how can you expect the rep to have a fun time while at the same time getting in 5+ appointments on a day that is already crammed. So pick a school of camp and stick with it please!
What they also want you to do is demos for people in your community, family, your friends parents, and church groups. You do cold calls to set up appointments with people (despite the fact they tell you that you don't do cold calling), and what they also do is ask you to write down all of the names and numbers you know so they can interview and "build their team." Newsflash: the average Cutco sales rep lasts about two weeks. I encourage anyone that i even remotely thinking about this to go to youtube and type in Vector or Cutco. They will have videos up of what I have already told you here. Oh, and if you don't call for your daily PDI, they will call you and want to know what is going on, Cutco related of course- how many demos you are doing, what is the client like, etc.
So in conclusion (sorry,i know i had a LOT to say), if you feel that this is a challenge that you could conquer, by all means. However, be aware that you will have a serious loss of free time, pushed to your limits of patience, and you will probably be there for about two weeks. You are replaceable there as you are anywhere else, but you are seriously better of going to the closest strip mall and applying for a job as a cashier or stock person. If you enjoy spending $60+ in gas and expenses per week, meeting random people you'll probably never meet again, get told no (and it will happen a lot), playing off of people's sympathies, getting told that you are not selling enough, then this is the job for you. All others apply at a real place.