Archive for March, 2010
The local agricultural college wants evidence of public liabillity insurance.
One of my teams is staging an event there and mine had lapsed – actually I let it lapse, reasoning that I could always renew it if I needed to. Well, that day has come and so I ended up talking to Andrew, a nice young man in the insurance call centre.
The quote was good but for form’s sake, I just wanted to check against another company. He was fine about this and gave me a reference number in case I wanted to come back.
As I always do, I complimented him on his telephone manner, hoped his company appreciated him and added: “Actually I’m always looking out for people with good communication skills. Tell me, would you be open to looking at ways of making extra money alongside your current occupation?”
As they always do, he said he would – and he’s going to look at the website tonight.
Then I phoned his competitor and spoke to Janine. Their quote was £10 a year more. But Janine was also open to looking at new ways of making money so she got the website address too.
Then I rang the original company back again, accepted their quote – but of course, now I was talking to Ben… and so he’s looking as well.
So tell me, how much extra time did that take out of my day?
Now I know why they give us Minis. This is because they’re made by BMW and the BMW garage is quite an experience. Not only do they wash your car every time but they send you home in a taxi – and then send another one to pick you up. Also, the taxi drivers rightly assume that anyone with their car in a BMW main dealership is doing pretty well.
This is why I have been writing about taxi drivers so much – that and the fact that the garage can’t figure out why the engine warning light keeps coming on.
Anyway there I was with the latest taxi driver and this is how the conversation went:
Me: “Is this full time for you – driving?”
Driver: “Yup, I used to be a brickie but I had a heart attack.”
“I expect this is less stressful – that’s good isn’t it?”
“Less stressful but it’s 80 hours a week.”
… this went on for some time until eventually I said: “I ought to tell you about what I do.”
“What’s that then?”
“Well I’ve got my own business. I work with this discount club. They’re listed on the London Stock Exchange but they don’t advertise. It’s all done by word of mouth. What they do is shrink the bills for all their members. New members joining now find their bills shrink by around 30% after the second month and then go on shrinking to about half their usual size within a year.
“Also it’s very easy to recommend this club by word of mouth because they come topl in the reviews in Which? Magazine. Would you like to know how they do it?”
“Well the thing about the club is that it’s rather exclusive – you can only join it if you’re invited by someone who’s in it – and we only invite people who we think are going to pay the bills. Now, do you think that makes our members rather special? Do you think that big shops like Mothercare and Boots and Debenhams and Sainsburys would like to see those sorts of people coming through their doors – the sort who see something on a shelf and say: ‘I like that. I’m going to buy it. I can afford it.’
“Too right they would – and the shops are prepared to pay for to get them in. They pay 5% of what the member spends and they send that to the discount club – who knock it off the member’s bill.”
I had his attention by this time. I went on: “Now the arithmetic is rather clever. Let’s take the average family. For their shopping and petrol, their clothes, their sports goods, their DIY, what do you suppose they spend: £!,000 a month? Yes, at least. And the same family paying their utility bills – what, £150 a month?
“Well 5% of £1,000 is £50, right? And £50 deducted from a £150 utility bill is 30%, right? So that’s how their bill shrinks by 30% every month. That’s 30% off their electricity, 30% off their gas – 30% off their phones and so on. For some people, the discount is bigger than their bill so they don’t pay anthing at all!”
The driver was nodding by this time. He was saying quietly:”Amazing!”
I continued, matter-of-factly: “Now the really clever thing is this: What would happen if British Gas or BT or Vodafone reduced their prices by 30%? How long do you think they could stay in business? But our 30% doesn’t come out of the company coffers. It comes from Debenhams and Argos and Mothercare and Sainsburys and the rest.
“And do you think that if our members are getting that much off their bills every month they’re going to0 tell anyone – that’s right, of course they are! In fact they’re encouraged to tell their friends. Typically, if they tell ten friends they get another 20% off – now they’ve got 50% off! So they pay only half their electricity bill every month – half their gas bill…”
As always seems to happen, he was driving more and more slowly. By the time we reached the garage, I’d told him a bit about the money and now he’s got a DVD and we’ll talk again on Monday.
The only bad news is that I think they’ve fixed the car…
The taxi was going slower and slower. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought the driver was trying to boost his earnings – well he was, in a way…
I’ve no idea whether it was the same driver I wrote about some while ago in “A tale of two taxis” but this driver said that yes, I had told him what I do. I took it as a cue to change the subject but after a moment or two he returned to it: “Is about saving money, yes?” He was Turkish and the conversation was somewhat stilted.
So all the way home we talked about saving the average new member 20% – 30% on their household bills to begin with and then pushing this up to 40% – 50% and how we did it – and how he could get paid a percentage of those people’s bills every month forever. When we reached my front door he just sat there. “Is possible for me – get money every month?”
“Yes, is possible,” I told him. “Tell you what. Have you got 20 minutes? If you’d like to come in I’ll show you.”
So he did. I’d like to be able to say he joined there and then. But he insists he wants to run it by a friend of his – a very successful entrepreneur who owns several businesses. At this point my ears pricked up: Taxi drivers might make good distributors but they’re nothing compared with successful entrepreneurs.
And since the last thing you want is an untrained wannabe presenting the business to someone like that, the plan is that he’s going to get me together with this friend. We’ll see – and I’ll keep you posted.
Did I want to spend an evening of corporate go-karting, the voice on the phone wanted to know.
This was a cold call forwarded to a traffic jam on the A14 and with nothing better to do, I gave it some serious consideration. Actually it might be quite fun – I could get some of the team together, we could do some networking . It would tax-deductable…
And as always on these occasions, I said: “Thanks very much for ringing me. I appreciate a professional call – may I say how good you are on the phone. It’s a rare quality…. come to think of it, I’m always on the lookout of people who are good on the phone. I don’t suppose you’d be open to looking of new ways to make money?
Half an hour later, the following text arrived: “Thank you very much for your details. I am so glad that you feel I have qualities to be an asset for a company. I am currently looking for another company where my services are more appreciated as I have various skills with the general public. I am very interested in what you have to offer.”
I’m meeting him for lunch tomorrow.
Which all goes to prove that all you have to do is ask…
I seem to collect old ladies. They tend to fret a lot – particularly Mrs K: Her husband used to deal with all the paperwork and it flummoxes her.
But the funny thing is that every time I go round there, grumbling to myself but feeling altogether terribly noble, something good happens.
Look at today: There was an electrician’s van in the drive opposite – with an electrician in the driving seat. He seemed to have called at an empty house and had nothing to do but wait – and listen to what I had to tell him, of course.
And then, as I started down Mrs K’s garden path, her neighbour came home. So I had to say: “Ah, you must be Mrs K’s neighbour. I need to come and talk to you. She’d a member of our discount club. You could save a lot of money too, you know.”
So we arranged that I would pop in and see him after I’d seen her. The only trouble was that I was in there for a full half an hour drinking tea and getting her payments reduced and then of course I had to show her how she could shrink her bills even more with our Cashback card … and then I had to give her a stack of cards to give to her friends and explain how she would get an extra discount when they joined. She became quite excited about it all.
And then, when I left I made to cross over to the neighbour’s front door. She pointed firmly down the path. “Oh no,” I explained. I was calling on the neighbour because he wanted to shrink his bills as well.
“You can’t do that!” she said. “He’s mine.”
And then – I can’t really believe this but I retorted: “I saw him first!”
Oh dear, oh dear. This could get very ugly.
But the neighbour is a builder and a property developer so I think he’ll become a distributor anyway – at least I hope so. I have a nasty feeling that Mrs K would be vicious in hand-to-hand combat.
Everyone had gone to the Italian Market in the car park.
Well, everyone except Number One son who had gone round to his friend Sam to see about the end of the world (they play Warhammer) and Number Two son who was sailing at Waldringfield.
So that left just me and the dog – and we went for a long walk in the mud.
We took the piggies, of course – the little pig-shaped business cards which get given to everyone we pass. And on a bright sunny Sunday afternoon everyone took them and said “thanks”.
It was only towards the end of the walk when the people without wellies had been stopped by the incoming tide and we emerged alone onto the creek path that I fell into what Victorian novellists would have called “a reverie”.
I had attended an all-day training session on Friday during which someone had come up with the idea of getting car wash companies to offer their customers our “Win-a-Mini” forms and then paying the Car Wash boss for everyone who signs up. I thought of taking it a stage further and making up little starter packs to hand out to every small trader I could find.
It was while I was thinking this and the word “Eureka” was forming on my lips that someone said: “Good afternoon.”
There was someone on the path after all – and this is where five years in Network Marketing pays off. Without even thinking about it, I said: “Anyone who says ‘Good Afternoon’ to strangers on a path gets a pink pig…. It’s about money…. Are you interested in money?”
“Well I’m always interested in money.”
“Making it or saving it?”
“Well making it.”
“Right then,” I said, settling to my task. “What I suggest is I send you an email with some information. Would you like that?”
He paused. “Well I don’t have much time.”
“How long does it take to tell me your email address?”
“Well not long at all really.”
And guess what, it didn’t – and now he has an invitation to our open evening at the Holiday Inn, London Road, Ipswich, IP2 0AU on Tuesday at 7.30p.m.
And so do you!
“Here you are. I always give one of these to the person behind me in the petrol queue…”
The man behind me took the Piggy card. He looked at it.
“It’s about money,” I said brightly. “Are you interested in money?”
Nobody had ever said that before. Usually they say: “Always interested in money.”
But “A bit”?
I was so non-plussed, I didn’t pursue it. It was only when we returned to our cars that I saw his point. His was a Reliant Robin.
Thankfully I climbed into my shiny Mini and set off for the training in St Albans. I had left far too much time for the journey and had an hour to kill in the Novotel so I went up to the bar, bought myself a Mineral Water and said to the man next to me: “I always give one of these to the person next to me at the bar…”
He looked at it. “It’s about money,” I said brightly. “Are you interested in money?”
“Always interested in money.”
So I am pleased to report that the laws of nature are still functioning. In fact it turned out that they were functioning particularly well. My new friend was staying at the hotel on a three day course for trainee double glazing salesmen. Very soon I was giving my presentation to seven of them.
She walked into the hotel bar as if someone else owned the place.
In fact it appeared that nobody owned it – I had been waiting for ten minutes to order a drink but the place was deserted.
Part of this had something to do with the hotel chain having gone bust – which explained why they’d changed the name … which in turn explained why my prospect was still driving round and round looking for it.
So I tried to be hospitable: “I don’t think there’s anyone around…”
She jumped slightly, as if being spoken to by a stranger in a hotel bar was embarrassingly un-British. Then she thawed: “I was looking for my friend.”
“I haven’t seen anyone,” I said. “In fact it’s a bit like the Marie Celeste.”
And then she caught sight of my badge: “Save Money, Make Money,” she read aloud. “What’s all that about.”
“Well that’s what I do – save people money or help people make money. Which would you prefer.”
“Well I certainly need some money. I’ve just been made redundant.”
And, as invariablly happens, that was the beginning of the conversation. It turned out that she worked in a school and I just kept telling her about what I had for as long as she was prepared to listen – and she kept listening for a good ten minutes during which time I gave her a DVD and she gave me her phone number.
She might have signed up there and then had it not been for her friend and my prospect both arriving at the same time – which suddenly made the Marie Celeste seem like Piccadilly Circus.
The prospect joined of course. But I wonder whether the nameless hotel will yield two new distributors instead of one.