Fantasia Home Parties, Rina Valen InterviewPosted by Deb Bixler
Founder of Fantasia Home Parties, Rina Valen shared on the CashFlowShow – Direct Sales Radio the success tips that her company uses to train their team. Sales is farming not hunting!
This is the 1st in the series of articles transcribed into text for the hearing impaired.
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Rina Valen, Fantasia Home Parties On Direct Sales Radio
This is Cash Flow Show Radio. Direct Sales Video broadcasting worldwide and we’re glad you’re here tonight.
My name is Deb Bixler and we have a special guest with us tonight that we are going to introduce in just a minute. Tonight we’re talking with Rina Valen, who is the founder and president of Fantasia Home Parties.
Rina is going to share with us the switch from hunter to farmer for finding business, and I’m just going to let Rina tell you a little bit about her company right now.
Could you share more about Fantasia Home Parties?
RINA VALEN: Hi Deb! Hello everyone.
DEB BIXLER: Welcome.
RINA VALEN: I started Fantasia Home Parties in 1984.
DEB BIXLER: Oh my goodness that’s a long time ago. That’s a solid track record isn’t it?
RINA VALEN: Yes. I actually started it after the birth of my only child, and at that time I didn’t have a lot of options open to me as far as babysitting or daycare. I really wanted to stay home with her. I really felt that I needed to do that and I wanted to do that. My choices were really limited at the time. I had some experience in the direct selling world and the corporate world, in a completely unrelated field, and I said to myself, “Maybe I should try this work from home and start doing parties on my own.” And I did do that.
In the early ‘80s that whole concept of romance parties was just starting to be born. It was all new: there was no Internet and there were no resources. With a loan from my mom, with only $10,000 and drawing on my credit cards, I was able to start the company from scratch.
DEB BIXLER: Wow, that’s really cool. That’s almost like the classic direct sales startup story right?
RINA VALEN: Yes, it is. Isn’t it? [Laughter]
DEB BIXLER: So many companies have started in the basement of somebody’s home for that exact reason, because they want to spend time with the kids. But why did you pick the romance industry, Rina?
RINA VALEN: Because I was terrible at everything else. [Laughter] I absolutely loved the idea, but I always felt that women were underdogs when it came to our relationships or choices. If we wanted to enhance our love life, our romance life, we didn’t have a lot of choices, especially at the time, with all those nasty adult bookstores. I didn’t think that was fair. I felt like we all needed that opportunity also to enhance our life, and this was the perfect way to do it, amongst our friends, amongst our lady friends, to be able to talk privately, to validate one another, and to offer these products that are personal but as a real service. I still feel that way today. It’s not so much the product, but the service that we provide to women, you know, the privacy…
RINA VALEN: The validation with one another.
DEB BIXLER: Right. At that time, was it risky for you?
RINA VALEN: Risky.
DEB BIXLER: I mean, was this new? Were you one of the first companies?
Adult Home Party Business
RINA VALEN: Yes, there was a mark. I mean adult home party business, sex and selling sexual products marital aids put you automatically in the category of the people that – you were always on the dark side. [Laughter] Newspapers wouldn’t take our ads. Even for office personnel they wouldn’t take our help wanted ads because they just made some very bad assumptions. Again, it was very new at that time, and even to this day we still have problems.
People just make some really bad assumptions. They categorize it all under adult entertainment. See, now, I never really understood that part about the business. Credit card companies. Banking. Banks don’t like to lend money to companies that sell products that are similar to ours. But it’s changed somewhat nowadays, especially with mainstream companies, but there’s still unfortunately that stigma that is attached to it.
DEB BIXLER: Right, and for everybody who’s joined in late, we’re here with Rina Valen who is the founder and president of Fantasia Home Parties. You’ve been in business since – is it close to 30 years?
RINA VALEN: Yes, 28 years.
DEB BIXLER: How did you maintain that kind of steady growth and stick with it so long and be successful?
Party Business = Relationship Building
RINA VALEN: You know, it’s something – I never looked at it as a business. It’s a business of relationship-building. It’s something that I love. One thing that really attracted me to this is that this is a business of connection.
Anybody who thinks that direct selling home party plan companies are about products is completely misguided, because it’s all about building relationships. Back then we always talked about the business of referrals and how important it was to really grow your business, to give a good party, to have a good personal self-image, because the referrals part of it was absolutely critical in growing a business. That is still true today. Very, very much so, but even on a grander scale, because unlike the old days advertising does not work the same as it did back then.
DEB BIXLER: Right. Right.
RINA VALEN: If you wanted to increase your business, you either had to go out and do expos, which again today is very, very – it’s still part of the formula, but it was the only way. The way to maintain relationships was a little bit different. You had a telephone. Basically, that was it. You wrote a letter, or you had to be there in front of them either doing the party or making your sales presentation or giving your pitch. Nowadays, it’s completely changed. We have so many more tools now to enhance that relationship that you can keep growing. There are many people now, unfortunately, that many people are just afraid to embrace that change. Most of my day actually is really spent on helping our consultants embrace that change.
DEB BIXLER: You mean the change in technology?
RINA VALEN: Well, it’s really in the ways people are behaving and the way they buy, the way we interact with one another, and who we listen to. Back in the day we bought something because we saw an ad on TV, a commercial. The more that you saw that ad, the more likely we may have bought it. That still may be true today. More than likely, the first place we go to get an opinion on something or the people that we trust now are our friends. It’s just amazing, I’ve seen this change. At first it started small but now it’s kind of getting exponential, is that we are influenced mostly by the people around us and the people that we trust are those around us, hence, our friends.
DEB BIXLER: Right. Some of them are not necessarily like personal friends. They might be personal friends on the Internet. The definition of friends has changed quite a bit. You mentioned connections – the whole direct selling industry is all about connections, but I think that the whole thing now, is that people crave the service that the direct sales industry can provide.
Party Plan And Customer Service
DEB BIXLER: You talked about empowering women and connecting, don’t you think that time is more urgent now? That people are craving that kind of customer service level that they can get from the party plan model?
RINA VALEN: You know, you hit the nail on the head because there is some sort of, what’s the word? Wall, or people out there, you buy online. People do crave personal service. They crave attention. We want to be significant. If you believe in helping people, and making them feel good about what they need and what you can provide for them, then this is for you and why it is so important and we fill a great need. If you can understand that and not so much concentrate on the product, but basically on the service that you do provide people, which is knowledge and education. And let’s not forget the social factor in this, especially in the party plan world, in the home party industry. The whole part about that is offering to connect people with one another and to provide that fun, social atmosphere. It’s the way, especially with women; women love to buy collectively and why it works so well for us. We like to buy with our friends. It feels good. It’s that whole validation thing. Direct selling is like the thing to do now, if you can understand that concept and provide that service to people.
DEB BIXLER: Right, right. Excellent point. We’re a few minutes out from break. Sometimes the first set seems to take so long and the last set seems to go so quickly. [Laughter] But they always tell me when we’re winding down. You talk about the critical switch from hunter to farmer. I always said this is more about fishing than it is hunting, so I have a feeling it’s kind of a similar concept.
RINA VALEN: It is. Except, again, the old way of looking at things, not just in our business, or in direct selling, but in business in general – we used to look at someone, it was kind of a hard fact, you’re a customer, you’re a hostess, or you’re a potential new recruit, as we call, it or someone interested in the opportunity.
Nowadays we have to look at things differently because it’s not that cut and dried. If we look at it that way, that’s the way a hunter looks at it. He looks at something, “Yes, I can eat it. Yes, I’m going to take it out.” If we look at it that way, you’re going to have very little business and you’re going to be throwing away so much that’s all around you. If we look at everything, all the people and all the networks that we have around us and see everything is a little seed, all right. It may not be something today, but with a little care, and something that I called the connection that you make with seeds, that seed will someday sprout.
Okay, the more seeds that you gather – I call it farming. The more that you gather, the more you are exposed to them every day through social networking like Facebook. A little bit, a little trip at a time, one of these days, that seed will sprout. That seed will sprout in either some sort of an interest, maybe a friend, something. But that’s the whole nurturing type of thing here. If you’re looking at it from a hunter’s mentality, which is “Hmm, they didn’t buy,” or “She didn’t express any interest,” or “They said no to a party,” or “They said nothing.” Okay. That’s the hunter’s mentality. It’s so worth it because you have these great tools all around you with the social networking, which my favorite is Facebook. I wanted to spend a little bit time on that as using that as a customer relationship management tool.
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