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Becoming A Slimming World Consultant - How it Really Works

(2 Posts)
SmithsTim85664 Sun 09-Jun-19 01:48:38

I’ve seen a lot of people on Mumsnet ask what it’s like to be a Slimming World consultant. So I thought I’d take the time to share my experience of becoming a consultant in the hope that it might help.

Please be aware, what’s written below is my experience alone and might not be reflective of everyone. This post is a long read but I’ve tried to be as detailed as possible.

Recruitment
The first step in becoming a Consultant is to attend a recruitment event. These are generally held at hotels and are ran by an Area Manager and one or more Team Developers (as a Consultant they are basically your manager). There’ll probably be a few consultants accompanying other potential recruits too.

The events are very welcoming. After the introductions are over you will be shown a Slimming World presentation which explains about the company and how the franchising system works. It is extremely important you pay attention at this point because if you become a consultant, you’re not going to be working for Sliming World, you’re working for you.

You’ll be shown some slides about how much you can potentially earn and the costs involved with “buying in”. There will be the opportunity for some questions and answers. The consultants and Team Developers will be relatively frank and open about their Slimming World experience. They will offer answers to any questions you ask but just keep in mind they are selling you Slimming World.

If you are interested in going forward you will be invited to an interview with the Team Developer and the Area Manager. It is a real interview as Slimming World genuinely do only want to recruit consultants that they believe will work well with their members – about half the people they interview don’t get taken forward.

At the interview, you will have the opportunity to ask questions – do your homework and be ready to ask about everything.

For example, if it’s an existing group, ask how many members there are, is the outgoing consultant is still there, is it being covered, how many members have there been during peak periods, etc. If it’s a new group, ask where the venue is, how much the rent is, how long the nearby groups have been running, etc. Remember, you’re starting a business and you need to know what you’re getting into.

The last step is a sign up meeting. The Team Developers that run the meeting will make it clear at the start, the sign up is the last chance to back out.

If you have any doubts, seriously consider if it is the right thing for you, as there’s no going back. They won’t give you your sign-up fee back if you change your mind.

When I joined in 2017, the franchise fee was £1500.

Training
After you sign up, you will be required to attend 3 sets of training. The 1st and 2nd last 3 days and the final set is 2 days. You will attend the 1st set of training before your group launches and overall, the training is a blast!

It's generally held at Slimming World HQ in Alfreton. The training team are fantastic and by the end of it you will understand the food optimising plan better than you ever did as a member. There are some scary parts but the team are genuinely supportive and will easy you through the whole process. Doesn’t matter if your shy or outspoken, the trainers will make you feel great.

If you stay over hotels cost between £60-£120 depending on how early you book but you could get an AirBNB cheaper. You will also have to consider travel – Alfreton does have a train station, but you will need taxi’s between the hotel and training venues.

Training will be an emotional rollercoaster. Be prepared to laugh and cry as you realise the magnitude of the role. It will probably make you reconnect with some of the feelings you may have had before you’re journey started. You’ll also be amazed by some of the people you meet; when you look at them, you would never think they’ve had any weight issues.

The 2nd training happens after you’ve started your group and is equally as intense. You will feel a little more prepared for it and will have some stories to compare with your fellow intake. You will make friends during the first training session and odds are, you’ll see them again second time around. The final set of training happens after you’ve been in group a few months, but not everyone makes it that far.

While you’re there, you get free lunch in the SW restaurant, which is ace.

Venue
A venue should already have been found for you. However, you need to be aware that whilst Slimming World will have vetted it for suitability, the contract and expenses rest with you, not them. So check the hire agreement carefully.

Venue hire costs can vary significantly. My venue for example charged £15 per hour. I was paying for 5 hours hire - £75 a night basically. In contrast, my consultant’s venue charged her £5 per hour! It’s important that you know the costs of your venue as you’re responsible for them, not Slimming World. If you’re paying £100 a night and only make £75, its all coming out of your pocket.

Promotion!
Slimming World have a pre-set method of promoting and you are responsible for executing their plan. They will expect you to deliver 3000 leaflets, put at least 50 posters up, start up a Facebook page for your group (if one doesn’t exist), get an article about your journey in a local paper and an advert, roam an A-Board around and get a banner up outside your venue.

When I opened my group I delivered the leaflets and they did actually work. But, it is not easy. Walking up someone’s driveway and pushing something through their letter box isn’t fun. I hated every minute of it – and it was a lot of minutes. The area I promoted in was quite good as the houses were all close together. However, despite that it still took me four weeks to get all the leaflets out as Slimming World prescribe you can only leaflet on a Sunday.

Getting posters up also isn’t easy, especially if there are existing groups in the area. Where I operated the other local groups hadn't invaded initially, but it was still a hard sell getting shops to let me put my poster up. I never managed to get 50!

You also have to keep in mind is that other consultants can be unscrupulous. They have to promote too and some will think nothing of taking your poster down. This, after all is a business; there’s only so many Member’s to go around and you only make money if you have them.

Getting a Newspaper article can be hugely challenging on a personal level. It’s one thing to share your journey with a few people at a time, but another thing entirely to share it with the world. It’s also really hard to get a paper interested too; only the people that have lost staggering amounts tend to be successful. You can pay for an advertorial but that’s hugely expensive. You’re also expected to pay for an advertisement in the paper, which in general is costly. Not one Member I ever gained came from a newspaper advert.

Promotion is one of the hardest parts of getting started and despite what Slimming World say, there is no guarantee it will pay off. You also have to keep in mind that Slimming World ask you to promote four times a year. Christmas, Easter, Summer and Autumn. If you don’t like doing it, you have to. Over and over again.

Expenses
Running a Slimming World group can be really expensive and you are liable for all of it.
For example, when I setup my group, these were broadly my costs:
Franchise Fee £1500
Table cloths £70
Phone for group £200 (for the year)
Credit Card machine £50
Display Materials (acrylic holders, pegs, etc) £300
Refreshments £40
Kettles £20
Pop-up banners £180
Boxes and Containers £150
Support props £100
Equipment (e.g. printer, laminator) £150
Pens, Clipboards - £50
Newspaper advertising - £100-£200 per promotional period and that’s for quite a small ad!
Data Protection Registration £55 per year
Insurance £45 per year
Rent £75 per week

In a nut shell, it cost me a small fortune.
Some are also on-going expenses. For example, your data protection fee is once a year, line rental for a phone (definitely get a phone that’s just for group), credit card processing fees – you even have to pay for the promotional materials even though Slimming World mandate how many you have and when you have to distribute them.

Don’t forget Taxes too. You will have to complete a self-assessment every year. If you make a profit, you will be expected to pay tax.

As said, before you sign up, make sure you understand what you’re getting into because it can be a very, very expensive investment.

Risk
Your franchise fee covers all of Slimming World’s expenses and the really costly stuff like the computer, scales and tablet, they rent to you. When you run your group each week, Slimming World make money regardless of how many people turn up and proportionally the less people in your group, the greater their percentage take.

There is no sharing of risk in this endeavour at all. If you do all the promotion, work your arse off and you’re group falls flat on its face, it’s you that loses out. Your time, your money.

You also have to keep in mind that if your group is successful, Slimming World can open another one. The group can even be on the same day in the same place, as morning and evening groups are classed as separate entities. If you want to, you can buy the franchise, but thats another £700.

Income
It is very possible to make a lot of money through Slimming World. During my time with them I knew consultants that took home £200-£300 per group per week, but, this was not typical.

When considering your franchise, think about the groups that are around you. The biggest groups will be the ones that have been established the longest, in the best venues, in key locations. They will be the ones that are most recognised in the area and have the most members. When you start up, these will be your competition.

Slimming Worlds franchise payment system works on a sliding scale, which naturally is stacked in their favour. The more people who join you’re group, the more money you see and they vary throughout the year.

In the top banding you’ll see 50% of each member’s fee – so £2.50 for every £5 paid. The category below that you see 45%, 40% and so on. In the bottom categories, I think it was 20%. You also have to hit targets to reach those categories and for new consultants, you have to recruit a minimum number of new members on night one to reach particular earnings bands.

For example, to hit 40% earnings you might need 50 new members on night one. If you get 49 new members, you will be stuck on 20% earnings for 10 weeks. This is why it’s critical to understand where you’re setting up, what the potential market is and when you are launching, as January is much easier than November.

You also get commission. For the Hi-Fi bars this is 20p a box. If the bars go out of date and you ordered them, you have to pay full price for them though. With the magazines you get 30p for each one but again, you’re responsible if you don’t send back out-of-date copies. The books are about 50p each.

Mags and Hi-Fi bars are sent to you free and you pay as you sell. The books and any other Slimming World merchandise you pay for up front. So if you don’t sell them, you’re stuck with them.

Membership is very seasonal. January tends to be the best month of the year. Just after Easter is also good. Summer tends to be quieter and Christmas is always a washout. My group never made a profit. In my first January I made about £150 a night before tax. By March the same year, this was back down to about £30-£40 and I had about 50 members each week. Over the Christmas period I made just enough to break even.

When all of my expenses were taken into account, in the 18 months I was with Slimming World I lost about £1,300. As said, your group is no risk to Slimming World. When I had 50 people coming through the door and I was seeing £1.98 for each of them, Slimming World were seeing £2.97. Out of the £99 I got for that, £75 was rent, probably £2-3 in card processing fees – basically I had enough left for a take-away! If my group didn’t make enough to cover the outgoing expenses, Slimming World still took what was due to them.

Some people can (and do) make big money with Slimming World. Some of the people I trained with went on to become Team Developers and you hear lots of stories of people who gave up their jobs to run groups full time. But for every one consultant that happens for, there’s 10 or more that it doesn’t.

Other Impacts
Running a group will have a huge impact on your time. You need to setup, pack away, prep before and do the admin afterwards. Keeping your franchise account up to date can easily take up 2 hours per week per group and you have to do it or Slimming World charge you.

You also need to be ready to support your members. Posting on Facebook, sending texts, phone calls, it all takes time. It’s a full time job and your members will expect you to be available 24x7x365.

Team meetings are once a month. You’ll be expected to give up your Sunday morning to attend and you don’t get paid for this. You also have to do personal development visits where your team developer will come and assess your performance. These are lengthy meetings but again, you don’t get paid.

Slimming World eats space! All the kit, boxes and stock, can take over your house. Seriously think about where you are going to store all of the crap that comes with your group and how you’re going to move it. You’ll need a car with a decent boot and it also can weigh a lot so if you have back problems, think about how you are going to handle this.

Is it right for you?
Being a consultant can be a hugely rewarding calling. When you see a member really do well, it feels great knowing that you have helped someone transform their life. But it can also be hugely stressful.

You worry if people will turn up, whether you’re telling them the right thing, whether they will like you or not, it is a huge stress and you also have to know that in groups, little clicks inevitably form. In such cases, if one goes, they all tend to go which can be disastrous.

I felt personally responsible for each of my Member’s journeys and when they didn’t do well, I felt like I’d failed them. Looking back I know it wasn’t my fault as I can’t control what they eat, but it felt that way in the moment.

Looking back I find it frustrating because I was a bloody good consultant. I did things for my members that other consultants whose groups I’ve been a part of would never dream of doing. Everything in my venue was intended to look the best it could, but I still couldn’t get people through the doors in sufficient numbers.

Becoming a consultant is a big deal. Think very carefully about it because it has to be right for you. Slimming World are a really supportive company but if things go wrong it you that will lose out.

OP’s posts: |
bovrilsarnies Sat 03-Aug-19 13:34:14

Wow - what a fabulous in depth message. thank you for the insight. I'm going to an opportunities event tomorrow and this has been very useful. Thanks.

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