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This page last updated on 06-15-2003.    Originated on 4-13-1997.
Copyright © 1997-2003  Doneen St.John - Owner & Creator

 

  Distributorship Program  



Candle Distributorship Program
By:  J.T. Gibson-Burnett, San Augustine, Texas

Intro:

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.

Forms:

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.

The Program:

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.

Payment:

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. 

Selling:

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:

 
“Candle Route”

Arrange candles of all sizes and fragrances in something attractive to the eye…like a basket or decorated box, etc.  Take your products to surrounding businesses and offices and approach the employees….ask them to sample your products by opening candle jars and allowing them to smell the decadent fragrances.  We also offer soap and air fresheners, and we always bring them along as well.  In most cases, you will always make a sale.  We create our “candle route” by making a note of every office that makes a purchase, and then we return to that particular office once a month.  Every month we try to add a few more offices.  Each of our distributors has done this to suit their schedule and their income needs.  Some have very large candle routes and are pounding the pavement three to four times per week.  Others desire less work and choose to only go out about once a week.  That is the wonderful part of becoming a distributor…they are able to work their own hours to suit their own needs, and we demand nothing of them.  We only ask that they stay “active” which simply means that they place an order at least once a month to keep their wholesale status.  Some offices on our lists include physician offices, attorneys, insurance agents, hospitals, schools, churches, accountants, nursing homes, restaurants, salons, etc.  Also, we have found that any office where you pay a bill or make a purchase is a great target for your sales.  If you pay bills through the mail which could be paid locally, then change your habits and the next time you need to pay that bill, go to the office to pay it and take your candles along.  No one who you just paid will turn you away….if nothing else they will purchase out of obligation….and that will bring them back as a return customer once they realize they like your products. 
 


“Candle Parties”

The Candle Cauldron already has some great ideas for candle parties.  So, I will just touch on our distributors’ involvement with the parties.  Our way of hosting candle parties is very unique.  Our distributors find a hostess who is willing to have a candle party at their home, and the distributors contact us to make sure we are available.  We will attend the party with the distributor and bring along a vast inventory for on-hand sales at the party.  The reason for our involvement is because the distributor usually cannot afford (and does not desire to do so) to purchase a large inventory to bring along to the show for sales, so we provide the inventory, and whatever is not sold at the party we just bring home with us.  Also, we present a demonstration at the party which details our products, play games, give door prizes, etc.  We present our products at retail prices, but at the end of the show we use a tally sheet to determine everything that was sold.  Then, we take the wholesale price for all products sold, and the distributor gets the retail mark up…so the distributor earns her money as well.  For instance:  if one 8 oz candle is sold at $5.00 retail price, and the wholesale price is $3.00, then we get $3.00 and the distributor gets $2.00.  Also, we provide hostess benefits to whoever hosts the party.  We also provide door prizes, free gifts, etc.  To reduce cost on these free gifts, we use smaller containers, leftover discontinued products, etc.
 

 
Summary:

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 jtg@txucom.net.  Good luck to you all!

J.T.  Gibson-Burnette
www.thewaxwagon.itgo.com


Thanks J.T. for the great article!  ~Doneen - The Candle Cauldron :)


 
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