It takes a village doesn’t it? When we first started out in the Health Food industry about 10 years ago, we didn’t have much network, we didn’t have much of a community.I had only been in business for a couple years, in which I had NO idea what I was doing. However we managed to grow our distributor base across Canada in the retail industry.
No easy task, I woke up day after day, cold calling, following up with calls, sending samples, being hung up on and rude store managers that would say, ‘not interested‘ without much thought. Seems as though in most cases they wanted you to have a large distributor or they wouldn’t even talk to you.
Having a large distributor was nearly impossible without having a deep pocket backed with a large supply of product and marketing ability. In that case I thought, why would we need a distributor, we could just do it ourselves if that was the case?
At any rate, without the cash flow it was hard to sustain our growth of retail stores across Canada. They wanted free samples, staff training, demo’s, and more.
And I didn’t realized they wouldn’t just ‘pay’ like in most cases. Most of them wanted 30 days to pay, and I’d have to call repeatedly just to get a pay check.In fact they would place your products in ‘high value’ areas of the store, like a giant display in the middle of the store or right next to the resister – dependant on how many bonuses you would give them, how much free product, etc.I once heard that large companies take an entire retail store staff out for a fancy dinner.
They would give them all t-shirts to wear and offer them gift card to restaurants. Picture our little business with 2 single products trying to compete with companies that literally have millions in marketing dollars.
We couldn’t afford to feed ourselves let alone an entire staff! It was basically Dorothy and I running ourselves into the ground as we tried to grow the business and the product going to markets on the weekends – in the evenings.
Dorothy would get off school as a grade 1 teacher, on her feet and working all day, drive an hour for a demo, stand there for 3 hrs, pack up – drive an hour back and then work on marking or her school homework late into the evenings – only to get up early and do it all over again.
I would drive 4 hrs to Med Hat – do a demo for 3 hrs in the afternoon, drive 4 hrs back, then teach a fitness class and personal train in the evenings.Obviously this wasn’t sustainable – and eventually I had to put my tail between my legs and make the very difficult decision to take all our products off the retail stores shelves – erasing endless hours and years of our work.
I curled up in the fetal position for exactly 3 days trying to figure out how I was going to proceed in business and in life feeling like a GIANT failure. It’s been a number of years now since we changed our business model – to independent distributors and have been able to sustainably grow over the years.
But it takes a village, as we very well know. It takes a supportive community, it takes people that actually want you to succeed. It takes those who will go out of their way to help out. So when we say, we’re in this together and that we couldn’t do this without you, we mean it. We know first hand how difficult it is to do it alone.
More recently Shauna brought us some boxes, shipping material and bottles from her people. Niki went out of her way on the weekend no less to help us with labels and Brenda has offered us numerous ‘tools’ that have saved us endless hours in time.
The comments, ‘shares’, purchases, word of mouth and every day support from so many of you make this happen.You make it possible for us to succeed and grow, find new distributors and continue to bring a good quality products to market that works.
For that we’ll be forever grateful – and every day the words that go through our minds, knowing full well: it takes a village to make this happen.