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Avon calling; If you're looking for a way to boost your bank balance then, ding, dong..

Byline: SHEILA PROPHET

DIRECT sales firms say recessionhit Brits are turning to them as they seek ways to earn some much-needed extra cash.

For example Avon - the door-to-door sellers famed for that ding-dong ad - says thousands of people have contacted them in the past few months.

If you're looking for a way to boost your income or even start a new highflying career then these companies could ring your bell. Read on to find out about the facts and figures behind some of the top companies in this field.

THINKING OF TAKING THE PLUNGE? TAKE THESE THREE STEPS FIRST:

1 Check the company you are interested in belongs to the Direct Selling Association which means it has to follow a code of conduct.

You will find a list of members at www. dsa. org. uk/ full_ members. asp 2 Consider how much time you can give to a business and who your customers will be. Look closely at the products and consider whether you feel confident and enthusiastic about selling them.

3 Ask to speak to others who have already become consultants to find out if this role really is right for you.

AVON

BIGGEST and best-known firm with five million representatives in 100 countries.

How it works: It costs pounds 15 to sign up which is deducted over the first two orders. This includes brochures, a selling guide and calling book.

Customers' orders are supplied on credit, you get 13 days to deliver them, collect the money and pay Avon. Most people do this online.

Earnings: For every pounds 100 of products you sell, you earn 20%, rising to 25% on orders over pounds 140. You set your own sales targets.

Potential: You can work up to a sales leader, running teams of up to 500, earning commission on their sales. Top performers enjoy perks such as luxury trips abroad.

Pros and cons: World-famous brand but right now customers may not be treating themselves.

Contact: www.avon.uk.com/0845 601 4040..

BETTERWARE

BEGAN in East London 81 years ago selling polish and brushes. Now deals in items for home and garden plus gifts, cards and wrapping.

How it works: Free to start up. You become a distributor delivering catalogues, and return one to two days later to collect any orders.

Earnings: A minimum of 20% of sales, plus prizes and bonuses.

Potential: You can move up to a territory sales agent, taking delivery of goods and earning at least 30% of sales, or a coordinator recruiting distributors and earning 12.2% of their sales (pounds 15,000 to pounds 40,000 a year).

Pros and cons: A big name - but no parties or socialising.

Contact: www.betterware.co.uk

PHOENIX TRADING

ONE of the top 10 greetings card companies in the UK, with 78 artists producing its own range of cards, wrapping, posters and accessories.

How it works: It costs pounds 45 to register, which includes an annual registration fee of pounds 25 and a kit with 50 brochures. Starter packs with samples cost pounds 50 to pounds 150.

You sell by dropping postcards through doors or at events such as coffee mornings and fetes.

Earnings: 30% on all sales plus bonuses available of 5% to 15%.

Potential: To sponsor new traders and earn a 5% bonus.

Pros and cons: Popular, with a thriving online community, but a seasonal business.

Contact: www.phoenix-trading.co.uk

VIRGIN VIE AT HOME

SET up by Richard Branson as a cosmetics company in 1997, it sells homeware and jewellery through 8,500 consultants.

How it works: Starter kit costs pounds 60 and contains products worth pounds 400.

You must purchase public liability insurance for a one-off pounds 25. Sales are made through parties.

Earnings: Basic commission of 25% on sales. Virgin Vie say the average party sale is pounds 250. You must meet your first goal of pounds 500 in the opening two months.

Potential: Incentives include cars and trips.

Pros and cons: Virgin has a good reputation but clients may now be saving not spending.

Contact: www.virginvieathome.co.uk or call 0845 300 8022..

MIGLIO

DESIGNER jewellery firm with 1,100 consultants in the UK selling three collections a year priced from pounds 12.95 to over pounds 300.

How it works: The initial outlay is pounds 125 for which you receive pounds 250 of initial stock. Jewellery is sold through parties where the hostess receives perks for hosting.

Earnings: Consultants make an initial 25% commission which can rise to 40% with bonuses for recruiting new consultants.

Potential: You earn bonuses on sales made by consultants you've recruited and incentives have included trips to South Africa.

Pros and cons: Desirable luxury products, but this means a limited market.

Contact: www.miglio.co.uk

USBORNE BOOKS AT HOME

PUBLISHER with over 1,500 titles for children of all ages, sold through a team of organisers.

How it works: Initial outlay is pounds 38 for a starter pack worth over pounds 100, a welcome brochure and access to the website. Popular with young mums who sell at home parties and at school events.

Earnings: 24% commission on all sales with no targets and flexible working.

Potential: Commission can rise to 41% plus bonuses. Incentives include luxury travel.

Pros and cons: A ready market for kids' books but this won't suit everyone.

Contact: www.usbornebooksathome.co.uk
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 7, 2009
Words:894
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