We started making candles in March of 1998, and along the way we have experienced many trials and errors. In 2002, we embarked on the idea of creating a distributor program in which individual representatives would sell our products, similar to the traditional “Avon” or “Mary Kay” representatives. Our target group has come to evolve into women who are stay-at-home mothers and who might not have jobs outside the home. Although this is certainly not the only group of people we approached, this group seemed to be more interested in becoming representatives, I believe because they were not financially bound to working outside the home but yet liked the idea of making extra money by selling products they themselves liked and purchased. We have only been operating our distributor program for a short while, but we rapidly grew to have many distributors, which in turn has made our business a great success. Because our business has been fruitful from the help of The Candle Cauldron and from the wonderful people on the Candlemaker’s Corner and at Bitter Creek, we are glad to share our experiences with those of you who might be interested in creating a distributor program of your own.
We provide our distributors with all of their printed materials including fragrance lists, candle care techniques and proper burning tips, order forms, product description/information sheets, invoices, fundraiser information packets, candle party invitations, flyers and handouts, etc. We use our logos and preprinted forms and just adjust them to reflect our distributor’s name, address, phone number, email, etc. We provide the original forms and the distributor makes copies as necessary. This is all provided free of charge to help the distributor get started without much investment.
We treat each distributor as a wholesale account. All distributors sign a “Distributor Contract Agreement” which details a simple agreement between the two parties. We included in the contract anything we felt needed to be explained in writing for future reference. If you need help on creating a contract, I will be glad to assist on an individual basis, so feel free to contact me if you wish. I am no legal expert, but we created our contract ourselves and it has seemed to work well thus far. We sell our products to distributors at wholesale price, and they in turn sell the products at retail price to their customers. We decided not to set minimum purchase limits simply because our main goal was to make this program easy for the distributor to get started so that they are eager to be involved. We are very careful about who we welcome as a distributor. Our distributors must be eager to share our products with their friends and family, and they must be outgoing and confident. These characteristics make good salespeople, and both our company and the distributor are successful.
Some of our distributors pay each time they place an order, and others have credit lines which we extended to them based upon criteria such as credit history, personal affiliation, sales success, etc. Both situations have worked well for us, but use your own judgment in this instance so that you are confident you will be paid for your products. We have, however, found that the distributors who do have a credit line seem to sell quite a bit more than those who do not. “Credit accounts” (as we call them) purchase products on a two week credit plan. They pay every two weeks, and they have the option to return any unsold products to us, but this does not happen very often. In most cases, if they have products which are not moving, then they just swap them for something in a different fragrance, etc. The two week plan keeps our products moving and also keeps us with a regular cash flow. This has worked quite well for us and for the distributors.
Distributors sell mostly out of their homes. Only a few of our distributors have booths in craft malls and go to trade shows or craft fairs. Most of our distributors earn their income by doing what we call a “candle route” and by hosting “candle parties.” These two sales techniques are detailed as follows:
In summary, the best advice I can offer anyone in this business is to simply stay with it. Everyone loves candles, and if you come up with new ideas and try different marketing techniques, etc. you will find your target group. Our distributor program is the sole reason our business has grown to be so successful. My husband and I both started this business with full time jobs where we worked much overtime. Now I work from home as a medical transcriptionist part time, and my husband works a regular 40 hour week so that we have more time for our candle business. We have added a few helpers to the mix since we have become busier, and we are looking forward to much success in the future. Again, we are certainly not experts, but we hope that by sharing our experiences you will find great success as well. If anyone would like more information on our distributor programs, we will be happy to assist in any way possible. Feel free to contact us through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck to you all!