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Archive for 'Policy'

I find that I am still surprised that more direct sellers do not think of themselves as running a small business.  Yes most of them only sell on a part time basis and yes, they usually work from home, even when they build multimillion dollar businesses.  But too often even with significant financial success they still do not think of themselves as managing a business.  So, when you are running a small business as a direct seller here are some business things to think about:

  • Do you keep a mileage log for tracking the miles you drive in pursuit of your direct selling business activities?  If not, you should.  You may be able to have a tax deduction or credit for these miles.
  • Do you keep track of your purchases of office supplies?  Those costs may also be a deduction against the income you make from your business.
  • How about computers that you use for the business to place orders and communicate?  You may be able to deduct all or a portion of the cost of the computer, security software for it, repairs, upgrades, travel cases, etc.
  • What about staplers, pens, copy paper, internet service, paper clips, envelopes, postage, cost of tax preparation and other services that you use all or in part for your business?

Chances are if you had opened a store or a service business in a rented office or store front someone in the family would have pointed you in the direction of keeping your expense records and getting business tax advice.  But too often we start our direct selling business in an offhand, casual way as just something we are giving a try on a part time basis.   As such, we don’t think of it as a business or treat the activity as a business activity.  And for some, who work hard and find they have a talent for it, this part time thing becomes a significant contributor to personal or family finances and we still do not treat it as a business.

How about this:   If your UPS guy is delivering a package you need for your business and slips and falls on your porch steps will your home owners’ policy cover it? Chances are your home owner’s policy does not cover business related activities on the premises.  What if you damage a customer’s property on a sales call or worse yet injure your customer?  Are you protected?  Probably not.  When you want to take a booth at a fair or bazaar are you able to easily produce the liability insurance coverage the event organizers require or do you have to go out and buy a temporary bond to get coverage for each event?

Help is available.

We direct sellers are small business people and we should take all the steps necessary to both maximize our business profits by keeping good business expense records and taking allowed deductions.  More importantly as small business people, we should also take steps to protect our personal finances and assets from possible liability claims that can arise in the ordinary course of conducting business.  Fortunately now there is an excellent source of insurance and business services that are specifically designed to support small business direct sellers.  Go to www IDS.com to learn more about how you can take advantage of the services offered on the Independent Direct Sellers web site.  You can also access specific insurance services at www.dscoverage.com

For years direct sellers have struggled to find affordable business services and insurance that were both affordable and designed to cover the nuances of their businesses.  Now it is here at these two sites.  Take advantage and help yourself now!

Alan Luce Managing Principal Luce, Murpny, Fong and Associates

Alan Luce
Managing Principal
Luce, Murpny, Fong and Associates

Few people in the direct sales industry can match the experience, expertise and successes of Alan Luce. With over 25 years in senior management, guiding start-ups and established companies alike, Alan has met virtually every challenge a direct sales executive can face.  Learn more about how Alan can help your company at http://www.lucemurphyfong.com/Alan-Luce.html. – See more at: http://lucemurphyfong.com/blog/#sthash.At2W3qNo.dpuf

So far we’ve covered four basic steps to improve customer service.  This week I’d like to share another tip–one of the most effective, and easiest, ways to reinforce what’s cool, controversial or just plain current. 

It’s simply this: create a section of the newsletter or weekly/monthly communication entitled “Did You Know.”  The title itself arouses the curiosity of the reader.  They’ll read to find out what they do or don’t (or should) know.

This section can be as simple as:

  • Outlining the most recent promotion
  • Providing the most frequent questions with the correct answers
  • Offering step by step instructions to clarify a process
  • Reinforcing the information to include in emails (id#, name)
  • Re-emphasizing the correct process to return product

It’s important to keep the section short and simple.  Make it quick to read, simple to understand and easy to retain.

Where does the content come from for this “Did You Know” section? Your Customer Service Reps! They’re the best source because they have to answer the questions.  So ask your Customer Service Reps :

  • What are the most frequently asked questions you received this week?
  • What was the most difficult situation you had to handle this week?

Then be sure to keep the responses to these questions.  They may be useful to include in other communications.

This simple inclusion will provide immediate results with the Salesforce and the Customer Service Reps. Who knew!?

 
 

Chris Clark

Chris Clark worked her magic with our warehouse as well as our Consultant Care team. Chris had a hands-on approach and used her extensive experience to guide us towards what worked best for our particular business. Chris had great follow up, always checking back to be sure we were comfortable with any changes and to answer questions. I felt I had a true partner in the changes we made and that Chris was as excited about our success as we were. I would recommend her to anyone in the Direct Selling field! – Pat Difani, Private Quarters, Director of Sales Operations

http://luceandassociates.com

One of the biggest questions my clients often asked is related to social media policy.  After all, many companies have policies and procedures that were established years ago, before social media was even invented.  Our entire industry has approached social media with trepidation…we know that what is said can last a really long time, and is front and center for regulators to see.  How do we ensure that what is said is in compliance with our regulated industry?

We also have to face the facts as an industry…the salesforce IS using social media, whether we’re prepared for it or not.  Companies that have neglected social media policy are finding that a number of things are being done by well-meaning consultants that infringe on company trademark rights and are often in violation of the terms of service of individual social networking sites.  This all reflects upon your company.

So that brings us to the question…What needs to be added to your consultant policies and procedures to protect the company, along with the salesforce?  Here are a few things I often recommend to my clients:

  1. Create an independent consultant logo. It is sometimes hard for consumers to identify when they are dealing with a consultant or the company when online.  Help make it crystal clear…provide an independent consultant logo that clearly identifies who the consumer is dealing with.
  2. Prohibit use of the company name in domain names, social networking profiles, and email addresses. After all, it’s your trademark.  Consultants must use it in the ways you specify.  You want to reserve use of the corporate name for your own corporate profiles.  Consultants are better off using their own names anyway, since the goal for social media marketing is to build relationships with people.
  3. Media inquiries should include significant bloggers. Most policies require distributors to refer media interview requests to the company, especially if they are national media outlets.  I recommend that companies add bloggers with 1,000 or more unique monthly visitors to this policy.  After all, many reporters from major publications source their stories from blogs these days.  Make sure that the story that is getting out about your company is the one you want told.
  4. Consultant release for social media pictures and comments. Your consultants will be interacting with the company social media presences often.  Wouldn’t it be nice to use some of those spontaneous testimonials and other ideas?  I suggest that my clients add a policy giving them blanket permission to use the content that consultants volunteer on these sites.
  5. Consultants shouldn’t respond to negative comments they find online. We all know about those folks online who, justified or not, seem to exist solely to bash the company.  And your consultants, who love the company, will automatically want to jump in and defend the company vigorously.  However, every one of these comments drives the relevance of that negative post up in the search engine rankings.  Often, it’s better just to leave the negative post alone.  I often recommend a policy that suggests notifying the company of negative posts, instead of engaging.

These are just a few of the things you should add to your company’s social media policy, but hopefully they’ll get you thinking about the other ways you can help consultants interact responsibly online, in a way that benefits their businesses.  If you’d like additional guidance on creating social media policies for your business, feel free to contact us at Luce & Associates.  We’ve helped lots of companies in our industry put into place sound social media policies that protect both the company and its consultants.

What policies has your company put into place to address social media marketing?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong helps direct sales companies leverage the power of social media marketing to increase sales and recruiting, and manage online brand perception. To learn more about how Jennifer can help your company, visit http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html.  You can also check out her direct sales and social media blog at http://www.jenfongspeaks.com.

Image Credit: ifindkarma