Friday, June 10, 2011

Southwestern

Many of you might not know, that two summers before I met Andy, he worked for a company called Southwestern. This company enlists college kids to sell educational books door to door. They take them away from an area they know and transplant them somewhere totally different. Andy spent his first summer in Houston, TX and the second summer in Milwaukee, WI. They work 80 hour work weeks (Mon-Sat 7AM-9PM) and work only on commission. I can only imagine how tough it is, because I'm sure a lot of people just say "not interested" and close the door. When I first met Andy, it was his first summer not working for them, but he was hosting 3 of them in his house. This meant they were living with him, but they were hardly ever there conscious because they work so much, then sleep any chance they get. They were great guys and I certainly missed when they left in the fall.

Today, I was getting Brady into the car to go to Gymboree, when a young man on a scooter pulled into my driveway. I had a feeling I knew who he was working for and it didn't take long for him to identify himself as a Southwestern employee. I felt bad that I had to leave, since he probably hears that a lot when people are trying to brush him off. I told him that Andy had worked for them for two summers and if he could come back later, we would be happy to take a look at his books. He wanted to meet Andy to get some tips since it was his first summer. He came back around 7:30PM this evening and he and Andy spent a little time swapping stories. Andy offered him some encouragement and tips. His name was Brent, and he was from Jamaica, but going to school for business in Boston. We bought the series of books for the youngest age group, which contained 6 books (2 of which were word dictionaries which were really cute and incorporated humor that even adults could enjoy). We were getting ready to pay him the deposit and Buks surprised us by paying for them as an early Christmas present for Brady since he knows we'll be packing to move and never knows what to get him anyway. When the salesman left, I asked Andy how they found people with kids. He told me they look for signs of kids, like a minivan, toys in the yard, and referrals by people who they end up selling to. Andy said that the basketball hoop in our yard is what signaled that we had a kid (even though it came with the house and the kids across the street use it). Since we're new to the area, we weren't much help in telling Brent who on the street had children, so hopefully he has a good summer.

Andy's buddy, Dan Dougherty, who also worked for Southwestern at the same time, told Andy that I shouldn't have told him that I was familiar with the company and had him try to sell me and Andy so he could critique his sales pitch. Dan is a very good salesman and when telemarketers call his house, he lets them do his speech, then tells them what he thinks of it. We've all had a good laugh at his stories of critiquing people over the phone.

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