The Return of the Party Plan

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A growing group of Australians are joining the party plan renaissance. Since its conception three years ago, The Chefs Toolbox has recruited an average of 15 new consultants per month to sell their cookware & kitchenware throughout Australia.

Believing in your product is the key to a successful party plan career. You have to really enjoy your job -- it sometimes requires trying a few businesses before finding the one that best suits you.

Michelle Beaman parties for a living. Michelle is not a movie star, nor a rock star, she's a Chefs Toolbox Cooking Consultant. Michelle, a 23-year-old mother of two, attends an average of two parties per week, teaching people to cook with the company's slick kitchenware and earning around $50 per hour for her efforts.

Michelle is part of a growing group of Australians joining the party plan renaissance. Since its conception three years ago, The Chefs Toolbox has recruited an average of 15 new consultants per month to sell their kitchenware throughout Australia.

The party plan concept started around the 1960s and became popular as a means for women to join the workforce. Today, with the many difficulties mothers face in joining the work force, the party plan concept has experienced a resurgence. According to the Direct Selling Association of Australia, there are over 70 party plan based businesses, selling everything from pet products to lingerie.

The majority of Chefs Toolbox consultants are women aged 25 - 35. Michelle joined The Chefs Toolbox 12 months ago after attending one of their cooking workshops at a friend's house. This was not her first flirtation with party plan; at the time she was involved with a scrap booking business as she needed to work flexible hours so she could care for her two young children.

Says Michelle: "I immediately signed up for The Chefs Toolbox because the products sell themselves. It's hard to find a product which you don't need to push and I hate giving the hard sell." Although she had some previous sales experience, Michelle had only ever cooked for her family. She was given full sales and cooking training and soon broadened her cooking repertoire from spaghetti bolognaise to paella and Thai curry.

With flexible hours, good commissions and generous incentive schemes, the party plan appeals to many young mothers. Cherie Mackay, a former computer analyst and mother of four, joined The Chefs Toolbox two years ago. With the high costs of childcare, Cherie decided that it was not financially worthwhile to return to her full-time job. The party plan arrangement allowed Cherie to earn a regular income without having to enrol her children into a day care centre.

Cherie saw joining The Chefs Toolbox as a serious business decision, allowing her to take on a lucrative career, which was still flexible enough to take on her duties as a full time mother.

The commission structure encourages many consultants to adopt their own entrepreneurial practice, with several consultants engaging in their own external marketing activities, such as radio and print advertisements. Added encouragement comes from the company's incentive scheme, which offers top-selling consultants bonuses in terms of free product, gifts and free overseas trips.

David Mills, founder of The Chefs Toolbox, says: "Believing in your product is the key to a successful party plan career. You have to really enjoy your job -- it sometimes requires trying a few businesses before finding the one that best suits you."

About The Chefs Toolbox:
The Chefs Toolbox brings new ideas to cooking at home by marrying great recipes with clever cookware to bring fabulous food into the home. The Chefs Toolbox offers top quality cookware through home cooking workshops and their online store. By providing free cooking workshops designed for modern lifestyles, The Chefs Toolbox aims to encourage an appreciation of great food and show that fabulous meals are easy with the right tools and a few simple techniques.

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