Saturday, September 23, 2006
A man alone
My customers think it is interesting and fun that their Tupperware Lady is a man. My fellow consultants also love it that I am on board, and everyone was very sweet and encouraging to me at the Tupperware Jubilee a few weeks ago. But I am starting to think that my gender is a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting new consultants.
Once a week or so, Head Office will forward to me an enquiry from someone in my area who is interested in working for Tupperware, always a woman, and I give them a ring. It nearly always goes to voice mail, so I leave a bright and breezy message introducing myself and leaving my number. Not one single person has ever rung me back in six months. I thought it was men who are supposed to never ring you back?
Now I know that people are busy, especially if you are running a home and family and maybe doing a "real" job too. I also know from other consultants that recruiting new people is tough for everyone. But these are not cold calls, they are people who have specifically contacted Tupperware and asked for information on becoming a consultant.
So here is my theory. They do not expect a man to ring them, so when one does, it puts them off. For the most part, Tupperware is proudly a community of women, and it is a very attractive and supportive environment for women to work in, especially if you have not been part of the male-oriented working world for a while, or ever. I think that when the prospective consultant hears my message, they think (or perhaps it's subconscious) "Hang on, yet another male manager, even at Tupperware. Forget it."
I sympathise, because part of the reason this is such an interesting venture for me is negotiating and fitting in to the congenial and overwhelming female world of Tupperware. I find there are some advantages to being a male consultant, but I think this may be the key disadvantage. If my fears are true, and potential recruits are put off the moment they hear my voice, I will not be getting very far in Tupperware.
Londoners are a tough crowd in general, never mind in recruiting. No parties this week again, and even the offer of coffee, muffins, new catalogues and free gifts has not tempted any of my previous customers and hosts to come to my Open House afternoon today. I sit here alone with, as my photo above shows, a pot of coffee, a tray of Parmesan muffins and the Coronation Street omnibus on ITV2.
So it's been a slightly downbeat week for your Tupperware man. But next week I have two big parties and the Homo Homemakers autumn fayre, which will be opened by Sir Ian McKellen. The following weekend, I have a stall at an Autumn Fayre at the Notre Dame Catholic Girls High School down the road. You can't say I am not creating a diverse customer base!