I have the freedom to do what I want, when I want, with catalogue
Wednesday, march 5th, 2009, 21:00
MY wife Rosie and I joined Kleeneze about 12 years ago because we saw it as a good way of earning some spare cash.
I was a prison officer and Rosie was a nurse and we worked a lot of awkward hours, so it appealed to us as something that was totally flexible.
Kleeneze is in its 86th year and its sales increased by 13 per cent in 2008.
The business sells a variety of home, garden, health, beauty and gift products via independent distributors who deliver catalogues to people's doors.
Every five weeks, we drop a catalogue through a letterbox, leave it for two or three days with a polite note asking the people to leave it outside on a certain day, whether or not they want to order anything, and collect it again without disturbing them.
Nobody works directly for the company — it's basically a franchise that you buy by paying for the catalogues.
The reason most people don't join is they pre-judge it. But I don't know of any other business that you can start up with the knowledge that in your first 14 days if it doesn't suit you or you don't like it, the company will give you a full refund.
A conventional franchise will cost tens of thousands of pounds and an awful lot of businesses go bust in their first year. The reason why people don't want to start their own business is because they don't want to lose their savings or risk losing their homes, but for an investment of £75 you can start up your own business with Kleeneze.
My involvement with the firm ballooned after I was medically retired from the Prison Service about 10 years ago, partly out of necessity but also because I enjoy it.
As well as distributing catalogues in Sidmouth, where I have at least 120 very loyal customers, I introduce people to Kleeneze and help them to be successful.
They are then classed as part of my team and I get paid a commission depending on the success of my team.
Most of my network is in the UK, although we did have a few team members in Holland and Germany.
There are hundreds of people in it but I have no idea exactly how many, because if I sponsor Jo and Jim and they each sponsor 10 people they are all in my team, but I won't necessarily know who they are.
I love the fact that somebody could join my team today and with the knowledge I have I could help those people achieve whatever they want.
I built up a network partly by accident, because I never had any prior experience or knowledge of this business.
We started making money from day one, partly through word of mouth and telling people what we were doing. Within a couple of months we had signed up our two best friends, who assumed that if I could do it they could do it.
I thought if it's that easy to do the network side of the business perhaps I should give it a go, but I soon discovered that it isn't that easy because not everybody wants to do any work.
I used to sponsor anybody with a pulse but I soon realised that was wasting my time and theirs.
The hardest thing about being self-employed has been and always will be discipline, and the trouble is a lot of people aren't willing to put any time or effort into it.
It's not a get-rich-quick scheme. I tell people what it will take to achieve the amount of money they want to earn. There's no point lying to people.
Anybody can do this business, it doesn't matter what your background or current circumstances are. Over the years I have sponsored unemployed people and company directors and businessmen.
I always say to people, if you succeed in this business it will be down to you, but if you fail it will also be down to you. There are too many successful people in Kleeneze for people to say it doesn't work.
The top earner in the country is a gentleman called Bob Webb, who currently takes home on a regular basis income of about £30,000 every four weeks. My brother, who introduced me, takes home an income of £10,000 every four weeks.
The money side of the business never really interested me. What's more important is that it's given me the freedom of being able to do what I want, when I want, and spend time with my two children.
I never sit down and work out how many hours a week I do Kleeneze. If you ask anybody who runs their own business who actually enjoys it, time is not a factor. It's almost like my favourite pastime.
My advice to someone starting out would be: give it time.
The second thing is, whatever you do, do it consistently. Even if you have a limited amount of time, use that time wisely. You have to be reliable and provide people with the service that you would want yourself.
Thirdly, be teachable. Go to people more experienced than you and learn from the people who are better than you at what you are doing.