Craig, Stan and Karen: Shaklee comments clarification.

Hello Craig, Stan and Karen:

Let me explain and clarify my remarks about Shaklee and Mr. Roger Barnett (Mr. B.), the current owner and CEO of Shaklee. The comments section doesn’t take links, so I’m responding to you here. It’s in three parts. Sorry, no time to make it shorter.

First, know that I’ve worked with thousands of Shaklee reps (and Excel reps, Craig) over the last 10 years. I use Shaklee products, and have nothing but the greatest respect for the company Dr. Shaklee began.

Karen – I have not met Mr. B. I’ve seen the initial recruiting CD he did when he came on board. Plus various versions of the Shaklee corporate website since his arrival (including the original video there with former Excel rep Pat Hintze pitching Shaklee as ‘the greatest business opportunity in our lifetime’). I’ve also seen Mr. B’s silhouette on some current distributor websites aiming to get more Shaklee recruits. To entice them, they offer up ‘Mr. X’ the billionaire man. “Just WATCHING what he gets involved with,” gushes the web page, “can make you rich. Imagine how much money you could make as his PARTNER?”

And of course, I continue to work with Shaklee reps.

That said, here are the observations that provoked my comments.

1. Shaklee’s strength and bread and butter income over its 50-year history has been the loyal reps who love and use the products. Hundreds of folks have told me they order $300-$1200/products per month, and have been doing so for years, for their own use.

2. Most reps have given up actively recruiting anymore (I mean those that have not dropped out altogether), and those left are just ordering products now (that’s the case in other NM companies as well.)

3. Shaklee’s field is nearly 85% women, slightly more than the industry-wide number of 80% women (80% per the DSA).

4. 85% of those in the business across companies are part time, per the DSA. Shaklee numbers are similar, as far as I know.

5. Most of the women I’ve worked with, ESPECIALLY the part timers at Shaklee, have told me over the years that they prefer getting customers to recruiting. The full-timers do both, and of course there are a few mad woman recruiters, like my friend Kathi Minsky who came over from Excel, but she’s the exception, not the rule. That’s why almost everyone in Shaklee knows her name.

Here’s why these things, if true, matter.

Shaklee’s original mission.

Shaklee was created to manufacture and market natural food products and earth-friendly household cleaners

The founder, Dr. Forrester Shaklee, was a nutrition and save-the-planet nut. He offered individuals who wanted to share in that mission the opportunity to earn a steady income by spreading that message and getting as many people as possible to use his natural and earth friendly products, through direct sales. I’d guess he hoped to make the world a better place by doing that.

And it’s worked for 50 years. Some of the oldest and most revered Shaklee reps (in the company for 30 years+) were the best people at gathering customers in the old days – and yes, also today. They have thousands of customers and thriving businesses now that no one could destroy, like Kay Ferguson, a customer gathering queen (from whom I buy).

So the original focus and love of Dr. Shaklee was, seems to me, on creating products to get into the hands of customers who love and use them by means of individuals who would introduce them to others. Many customers liked the products so much they decided to sell them, too.

When Mr. B took over, the focus shifted to another part of the business – the recruiters, the business builders. When Excel went bankrupt in November 2004, a well known group of their top recruiters came to Shaklee. They persuaded Mr. B. that recruiting was the really big game, and within a month or two, Shaklee announced to their world that had set up a similar kind of recruiter program, with the fast start bonuses. And the old Excel recruiters could now do and promote the same thing they had done in Excel: make money fast by recruiting and selling those initial packages, and bring in others who want to do that, too.

This was promoted heavily throughout the company, with former top Excel people like Mr. Hintze on the Shaklee website promoting the Shaklee opportunity, and many of the old Excel reps doing the opportunity conference calls for the new deal. (Most of them have vanished. A notable exception is Kathi Minsky and I’d bet that she and her team made that entire episode worthwhile.)

I couldn’t help but wonder if Mr. B. knew that this particular focus, i.e. the
– continued on next post (Part II)-

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About the author

Kim Klaver

1 Comment

  • Kim,

    You have a lot of information on these different blogs that I am picking up in bits and pieces and giving quick responses to.

    It is like when I read your comments, I agree and disagree at the same time.

    As a traditional businessman, I notice that people are failing because they are looking for get rich quick.
    The problem I see is not teaching prospecting, it is teaching prospecting in the wrong manner.

    I am teaching something to my organization that is unlike anything traditionally taught in networking, but is based off sound principles and common sense.
    Take a look at it sometime at my personal web site

    From a business standpoint, the thing that intriqued me about Shaklee is the loyalty to the product by those that have been in it for years.
    That is unique. I could go on, but typing wears me out.

    I think my point is, I agree that the way people teach recruting/prospecting is wrong and unwise for the long term for anyone.
    I disagree that the correct way is to teach a primary focus on retailing and putting down recruiting/prospecting,
    My philosophy is more a focus on product first and only share the business to those that show an interest in the product.

    That creates a sound long term partner.

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