I would like to start by giving a shout-out to all who have answered the "Over 18 and Free to Travel" ads over the years, and decided to give it a shot. Because whether they realize it or not, whether they made decent money or not, whether they had good or bad experiences; one thing they must know it takes/took heart and skill to walk up to a strangers door get them to like you and walk away with a check or cash for a product that they were not gonna see for 90-120 days. I worked for 2 magazine crews for a total of 6yrs and one chemical crew for 1.
But enough of that. I am writing this because I recently became aware of this web-site and my heart dropped after reading some of these horror stories, and I just wanted to share my experience in the hope that both sides of the coin could be seen. I answered the ad in 1981 three days after graduating High School. It was my first job. Because of my age (16) I had to have my parents sign consent for me to leave the state. At first they said no, but after convincing them that it was giving me an opportunity to travel and earn a living they both gave in and signed off.
I was hired in NY but the crew was permanently located in NJ. and we basically worked the tri-state area with occasional trips to Philly, Baltimore and DC. I guess in hindsight one of the best things about this crew was the fact that we were not going from hotel to hotel but instead had a home headquarters. The owner and his wife were two of the most incredible people that I had ever met in my life, and to this day some 30 yrs later I am thankful for having met them because in a way I grew up in the magazine business and these people helped shape my life in so many ways. The carhandlers they employed were awesome. No matter what kind of day you or the car had, everyone was treated with respect and dignity, but most of all they were always there to help you and motivate you to get better. And in the event people wanted to go home, there was always a ticket for them and they were still treated with respect.
Now yes, most of us were young and there was some drinking and smoking going on, but it was done in a way where until you were an experenced sales person that earned the respect of the "old heads" you would never know it was going on. One of the things that had fascinated me was the fact that there were couples some with children who lived together so I guess in a lot of ways by carrying theirselves so respectfully it rubbed off on all of us. But more importantly there was zero tolerance for disrespecting the ladies or any violence towards each other. You were forced to carry yourself in a professional manner at all times even when we went out to eat. We were always told you never knew whose door you would knock on any given day, and there were plenty of sales where we were seen in a mall or laundromat and it would be mentioned how well we carried ourselves. (I still carry that attitude to this day)
Now I don't want you to think that all was peaches and cream because as you know with this business you are hiring people without background checks and so at times if there were warrants on people you wouldn't find out until we applied for our permits. (I thank them for never throwing us out there without being properly licensed because I can't count how many sales I got just by letting my solicitors license be in full view, even in areas with posted "No Soliciting" signs which I was famous for conveniently not noticing :) I can recall two incidents where a crew member was incarcerated, but each time the owners made sure they made the court date and paid any fines that were due, and these weren't even super producers I had to respect that. Now granted this was a relatively small crew of around 30-40 but we produced, and training (not brainwashing) was the main focus in fact the person with the most trainees always was the most repected and usually the top earners. I still think of my trainer to this day for all he did for me.
But I guess the question is if this crew was so awesome why did I leave? Well, my girlfriend got pregnant, but instead of talking it over with me, she just left. I was so heart broken when she went home that I decided to take a leave to get over it. While I was home, I noticed another ad, but this one listed Cali, Az and Florida as destinations. I had already proven myself by working in the worst weather imaginable, I thought about how well I would do in warmer environments all the time so I went for it.
Now this crew was a whole new experience for me. I was now 17 and thought of myself as a veteran of the game. This crew was over 100 strong and yes we had the usual cast of characters, The drinkers, the smokers and the hardcore dopers. But for the most part there was no abuse of the ladies or violence among the men tolerated. But I did notice that there was a lot more partying going on. I was always able to resist a lot of the partying with both crews because I was about having money in my pocket, so I always focused on picking the brains of those who were top 5 every week. I also guess that by again being the youngest one on crew and carrying myself in a professional manner all the time gained me a lot of respect from the "old heads" plus from the time I started selling door-to-door I would always consider it a must to always have the same positive attitude and I guess this was my main asset thru the years I would never let my day get to me. (Believe it or not though each crew and each manager may have different techniques of motivation- some good some bad this is the main thing that they try to instill in you to make you tough mentally. I don't agree with people looking at it as brainwashing because this is a trait thats invaluable not just for mag sales but for life, and to this day I am still grateful for this lesson.)
I was again fortunate to be on a crew that was run by the owner which may be the main reason why it was so well run. I mean even the carhandlers for the most part were people who led by example. There were a couple of bad apples of course, but for the most part they were decent people. But being on a crew that sometimes reached 150 sales people was not without some drama.There were more incidents of people being arrested for warrants and things, but again I never saw the owner turn his back on anybody even if they had to do time, some would be given a chance to come back for a fresh start (depending on their character of course, because believe it or not, you will probably find that even today some of the best salespeople out there were not the most upstanding of citizens, but this business has also changed a lot of lives for the better, by just being given an opportunity. This I have seen with my own eyes.)
But with regards to tragedy, unfortunately I did experience that also. One of the saleswomen was struck by a truck while on her way to pick-up on a dark country road. Though I didn't wholly agree with working after dark If you didn't have decent business for the day it was an accepted part of the rules used at the discretion of the carhandler. There was also an accident in which there were some injuries but thankfully no loss of life. Lastly there was a person that I knew from crew who was arrested for murder. But please understand that these actions are not condoned by the companies that hire these people as with any other American company who has an employee do something stupid.
All in all I stuck with it till my 23rd Birthday and I still reflect on them being some of the best years of my life experience and personal growth-wise. I even went back for a year when I was 32yrs old to acomplish what I had not in all those years, which was write over $1,000 production in a week. I had high weeks of 65 sales but had never topped that grand in production, but at the age of 32 I did it and believe it or not I consider it one of my greatest personal accomplishments seeing that by then I had been out of the business for almost ten years when I did it. (Its the little things in life put together that make us what we are.)
So in closing, look. You will not get wealthy in this business, by just knocking on doors but you can make a decent living if you stick with it long term and learn the game. Remember going in, there will be salesmen who will over exxagerate what they make because they want to impress you and get you exicited about the oppotunity. But you gotta put in the time to get better. Not everybody is gonna do great out the gate, and some just won't be good at it at all and go home. I know things have changed tremendously since I was in the business, but I just refuse to believe that there are more badly managed crews than good. We live in a differnt age now. Thanks to websites like this you can do your homework on these various crews and if you decide to take a chance use the common sense your mother gave ya. Be strong by being different, cause believe me there is no better sales training out there that can teach you more about the sales game and the lesson stays with you for life. I still use most of the techniques I learned to this day, I would like to thank this web-site for for letting me tell my tale, but I would readilly love to make myself available to help if you were to decide to find out what we could do to put a stop to the corrupt companies/crews mentioned in some of these testimonials. Thanx