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Friday, March 29, 2013

AVON CEO Vows To Turn Company Around

The Forbes Article on February 27, 2013, focused on an interview with Avon's new CEO Sheri McCoy.  Within that article Ms. McCoy states that she does have a plan to restore the 126 year old beauty company to its former glory.  However, she doesn't really go into specifics on how she's going to do it.

To give her credit she did state that she needs to turn the focus on the representatives and ensure that they are successful.  I say great!  However, this entire new year in 2013 seems to be focused on recruiting new representatives and advertising for that instead of making the brand of Avon "hot" again.

When is Avon going to figure out that in order to make a profit the representatives have to have customers willing to buy the product? Creating more competition for the sale isn't going to help that.  Yes, the traditional way representatives and the company have been successful is by door-to-door sales.  However, since the 1970's that door-to-door market has been declining and ever to hard for a representative.  Besides, who has time for it?  Certainly not most potential customers.   This is an instant and I want it now society....They also want what works and with the economy they need it at a good price.  Our culture in the United States has changed.  We're either too busy to be bothered with door to door sales persons or we find it an intrusion of our private households.  Most Americans that I know don't like sales people at their doors anymore and see it as a bother and an intrusion.

Avon would actually benefit and so would the current representatives if they focused their advertising actually on the product and the economical side of choosing that product. Why pay so much on products when Avon actually has the equivalent or even a better product for so much less?

When Avon starts promoting their products as a great product with economical benefits the representatives will have more customers which will lead to more sales.  Those sales will benefit the representatives and the company.  Avon will become more popular and more people will want to become representatives.  It will create a domino or snowball effect.  It's not rocket science people.

Avon execs need to get out of their bubble and actually see the world for what it is.  It's changing faster than most companies can keep up and Avon just may be left behind. 

Avon would actually learn a lot from the company called Costco in regards to many things.  One issue in particular is their lines that are external products or as products known to reps as fixed-earnings products.  A few of those Avon products are just plain cheap and crappy.  As a representative I have been embarrassed sometimes because something falls apart after just a few uses. Even worse is when I get it and it's so tacky and made so poorly I don't even want to give it too my customers. I have no issue in taking those items back at all and actually recommend that they return it.  I have a reputation to uphold and my customers certainly appreciate it. 

Anyways, back on point...Costco has a great system in place to ensure that their customers get good quality products as an economical price.  The products have to meet their standards or they don't make the cut.  The process that Costco uses just to choose their toys that they sell is amazing and very stringent in itself.  CNBC had a report on The Costco Craze that is amazing to watch.  I learned a lot about customer service just by watching those reports.  Great ethics and customer service basics that my parents always talked about.  Customer Service has to go beyond lip service and just taking returns.  Customer service has to be about the quality of the product and what the customers expect out of it at a reasonable price. Avon could learn a lot from the Costco model.

The same issues are true for the quality of products that Avon provides to it representatives as sales tools. One example of Avon lowering it's standards recently was in my last order.  I ordered 1 packet of call-back forms.  These are basically order forms I can give to my customers to write down their orders on.  Many reps just tear out the forms out of the free and traditional order form books.  I went a step beyond in regards to good quality to purchase these nicer looking forms with that extra personal touch.  Well, Avon changed them without notifying us and they went to crap.  Good thing I only ordered one pad of them and had several in my inventory. The photo of the lipstick on them look cheesy and the form on the back was changed.  They made the lines smaller which is really inconveinent to my older customers to write on.  My traditional local customers are mostly older and are not comfortable with internet ordering.  Avon didn't even line the form up correctly so there is no room to write in the customer's information on them.  Avon basically changed them to the free order booklet forms.  Well, I won't be buying them again until they tell me that they changed them back!  At least on the free order booklet forms there is a little room for the customer's information.

What is up with Avon only having customer service for their representatives now Monday through Friday during business hours also?  Avon promotes their earning opportunity to work your own hours when you want and yet they do away with the Avon support lines for the reps when most reps are working?  Ugh!?!  Really?  Then Avon turns around and outsources the reps customer service line to another country where they have no clue how our culture and society works?  BOO!  AVON, BOO!  That was a bad decision and unpatriotic as you can get.  Not only that but its hard to understand them!  That was a decision purely to benefit the bottom line and NOT the representatives.  That was a bad customer service decision to enact towards their reps.  If the reps aren't happy then the company isn't going to do well.

Yes, Avon has a long road ahead as CEO McCoy indicated in her Forbes interview.  However, the road would be less bumpy and easier to traverse if they actually asked their representatives what they think would make them more successful instead of assuming that they know best.  Evidently, they don't or they wouldn't be in the situation that they're in.

*The author of this post is an actual Avon Independent Sales Representative.  I love Avon and have been very successful at it.  I have been with Avon for only six months but my sales exceeded $2300 during the last campaign and have been increasing every campaign.  Most of my sales are from direct delivery through my Avon provided internet store (Personalized Page). I plan on retiring from federal service in 7 years and conducting my Avon business full-time with my husband until we are no longer able to do so.*

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