Paula Dukes: Executive Unit Leader~LABC (Licensed Avon Beauty Center) Owner
Tell me a bit about your background and why you got into Avon?
I started selling Avon because I loved the product and I was not happy with the last few reps I had. I knew for $10 bucks I could have my own account and get a discount. I figured that would be great and that’s all I was after at that time.
I was a hair designer from the time I was 17, I quickly moved into management. When I had my first child and my babysitter was making more than me I started my own in home day care and stayed home with my child. Shortly after my second child was born I quit that and my husband and I opened our own Auto repair shop and I managed that.
I loved MLM (Multi Level Marketing) businesses and tried 3 and looked at many more. I wasn’t very successful but always love the concept. When I found out that there was the leadership side to Avon and I could have residual income by helping others I was hooked. I had learned some skills from my time in the other businesses and I continue my education still to this day.
Avon was so different, first of all it is a household name. I didn’t have to introduce the product and company. It is affordable so it’s not a hard sell. It’s consumable so people need it repeatedly and above all the opportunity is so easy to get started in, just $10 and your time. Sometimes that is a downfall as people don’t take the opportunity serious since there isn’t such a financial commitment.
I home-schooled my children and I just love teaching and helping others so I think that’s why I love and am so successful with AVON!
If you can give women-owned business owners five sales tips, what would it be?
1. Be consistent and honest. People want to buy from someone they know and can trust.
2. Listen to your customers, ask questions, learn what they like/want/need. Then you never have to sell them anything you show them the solution to what they are telling you. If they have a need and you have the solution you will always get the sale.
3. Never quit learning. I am always reading and listening to training’s. I use every available moment to learn and keep my head filled with positive, uplifting info. I suggest the book “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson for starters for EVERYONE!
4. Seek help from professionals and delegate authority over things you are not so good at. Focus on what you are good at, learn from and let others help you do the rest. You can’t do it all and when you are in business for yourself you are also usually by yourself. Surround yourself with people who are smarter and better than you. Learn from them and use them in your business. I also highly recommend using the small business administration.
5. Give premier customer service. I prefer 5 star dining to fast food any day and that’s the kind of service I give my customers even if they are shopping off the dollar menu.
I’m seeing a lot of local women stores close down or struggle to break even, what advice would you offer to owners to be profitable?
Join a networking group, there are so many around and it’s like having 20+ (depends on the size of the group) employees advertising for you and you just pay one annual fee and you make some pretty great friends too! I host one at my store weekly called Our Referral Group (ORG) but there are many out there. I have not only gained business and great friendships through this but I am a better professional because of my association with the members.
How do you balance being a mother, store-owner, leadership/sales trainer?
That’s one of the hardest things because networking is inter woven into my life so much that I never stop working. I love what I do and I don’t mind talking about it all the time. As long as I have my phone/computer I can work anywhere I am at. That’s the glory of this business you can work wherever you go so I can be on vacation, out eating with friends, helping my mother, etc and still be able to work. I don’t have to ask for time off or be a certain place. As a matter of fact the more places that I am at the more people I am introduced to and the more customers/representatives I find.
I do however set aside time to just take off and ride the motorcycle with my husband or have family events and such and not work or answer the phone, email, text etc. My kids are grown so they can fend for themselves these days but my husband likes my attention so I unplug every once in a while and relax and enjoy. I can always return the call/email/text etc.
It seems like everyone knows you here in the Tri-Cities, are you using your social skills online to sale as well?
I think people in the Tri-Cities know me because I am all over the place. I am in my ORG group but I go to a couple of different groups that meet frequently in Kingsport too and I am trying to get my team members to join some of the other groups so I go visit those groups with them. I belong to the Kingsport Chamber and try to go to as much as I can with them. I volunteer with a few charity’s and attend their events too. Then I back that up with the social media to get a bigger response.
I have a few different social media’s but I focus mostly on Facebook as it’s the most popular. Avon has great technology for us with widgets that have their advertising and directs followers to my website.
I have had a couple of video’s made by a great friend and professional video-grapher Tim Flannagan The Video Guy. He embeds them with a QR code and he pushes the video’s all over the internet for me.
I spend a good bit of my idle time on Facebook and the internet posting and such instead of playing games. (Slight Edge in action)
In the hour I spent in your store, I saw several people come in and buy, what do you think it is? Keeping in mind, you’ve in been at this location for about a year. You or your products?
It’s definitely a combination of many things, it is not me by a long shot. Avon is a great product, very affordable, household name that has 125 year reputation so that is key.
God has blessed me with some wonderful people that make all this happen. First of all my right and left hand woman the store manager Tanya Sproles. I rely on her heavily and she is a huge part of the success we have. She knows the product and is great with the customers. Actually there are people that only want to deal with her and not me! LOL
My daughter Hallie Dukes works at the store too and she does a lot of the displays and stocking which is a big part. If you don’t have attractive displays, signage and everything isn’t priced it doesn’t sell.
The Dream Achiever team (my down-line of Avon representatives) pitches in and helps too in many ways. While Tanya was out having surgery many came to help me run the store. Also if someone wants a representative to come to them and take care of them I hook them up with a team member that I know is in their area and will take good care of them.
Deborah Carr is a professional make up artist that does free make overs for our customers. She makes people feel beautiful and look great! It’s all fun with no pressure.
I can’t forget my husband too. Even though in the beginning he had his doubts he has supported me and helped me to be able to do all of this. It has taken reinvesting in my business to get to where I am and if he didn’t financially, physically and spiritually stand behind me I wouldn’t be where I am today.