28 May 2014

Sales Calls!! Arrgh

Cold calls, sales calls, unsolicited calls, nuisance calls, marketing calls, what ever you call them I'm sure you will agree they are irritating! So I thought I would write a little piece on how to avoid those interrupting sales calls or lying scum that make you pay for something that is actually nothing, but also I want to help you understand and identify if they are a genuine Market Researcher gathering data and opinions and NOT a sales call!

To begin with I suggest you become both of the following:

Ex Directory, which mean your number is not available through the directory enquiry services or published in a phone book. This is a topic of confusion mainly with the older generations as it only reduces those calls that have used a phone book to gather their potential customers. But it is one step closer to having a bit more peace. This has to be done with your telephone network provider, so contact them and find out how.

The second is becoming TPS registered, the Telephone Preference Service, regulated by Ofcom, is an option available to those who want to opt out of Sales or Marketing calls. Let me stress here that those are not the same thing as genuine MARKET RESEARCH calls, I will discuss this more later on. So if you want to stop those sales calls, go to http://www.tpsonline.org.uk. This does take 28 days to take effect but after that you should only receive the genuine market research calls. Be aware that the TPS is free, there is no charge, but there are a number of bogus companies who will try and offer you extra assurance of call prevention for a fee - rubbish! You can find a list of some of those here http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/news1.html


Just FYI - Most Market research companies use an Auto Dialer which automatically dials a number, these numbers have been randomly generated by a Random Digit Dialer generating numbers at random as it implies, and this is why they still get through to ex-directory as they are not selected from a phone book.

Having done the above, if you find your phone does ring and you hear that background chatter, the first indication its coming from a call center, just hear them out, all you have to do at the end is say 'Thanks but I'm not interested'. But what if the person on the end happens to be researching and your opinion could have an effect on something in your area that you actually feel passionate about. That is what genuine Market Research is all about, giving you an opportunity to have your say! I have worked in the Market Research industry, I have been on the end of the telephone, and no I wasnt selling anything, I hate the sales calls as much as the next person. I was doing genuine Market Research asking your opinions so that the information could be used to better our world, REALLY, there are some genuine companies out there doing this. But the problem is the others who pretend to be what their not and are really just SALES at the end of it all.

So having heard the Market researcher out, and you think you might be willing to take part, my suggestions are:
  • Ask them if they can give you the Market research society's verification service number (0500 39 69 99) which by law if they are genuine they have to offer you this number at the end, but ask for it first, they should be able to give it to you - if not they are not genuine. If you want to, tell them to call you back so you can verify with the MRS service that this company is genuine - just remember to take the name of the company so you can actually check. 
  • Whilst you are chatting, Google their company name, make sure their website reinforces what they have said they do and what they're about.
  • Only give the information you are happy to give, most surveys only need a few demographics to be able to use it, like your age, sex, and possibly nationality. The rest is usually optional so if you don't feel comfortable giving it, don't.
 However if you find you're still not interested then whatever you do, DON'T make up an excuse, 'I'm busy cooking dinner', 'I'm waiting for a taxi', 'I was literally walking out the door and I came back in for the call', they've hear it all before and it basically means its OK to call you again because you haven't actually said NO - 'I'm not interested'! Just say 'No thanks' and hang up.

Hope this helps
With smiles

10 May 2014

A day in the life of a Knitter at Kenana Knitters

Wildly Woolly Ltd is offering you handmade, ethical and natural (organic cotton and pure wool) toys for your children and for some the gorgeous product is all they need to see, but for others who want to know more, this blog will be the 'behind the scenes'.

My first blog is the story of HOW these beautiful creature are made, the daily lives of the Knitters themselves that work at Kenana Knitters.

It all happens on a farm in the rural area of Njoro, Kenya (East Africa). A place called Kenana Knitters, with 200+ women, and this is how the magic happens.

So the key ingredient, the wool is bought, handspun by spinners from near and far, who come on wool buying days (another group of people supported by Kenana Knitters). This wool is then dyed, a process lead by Monica who runs the Kitchen department. In the picture here is Susan - her right-hand woman cooking up a storm! Depending on what orders and therefore colours required, the wool is dyed using natural plant parts grown on the farm, like petals and leaves. A process I wont reveal the secrets of!

As the wholesale requests come in from around the world, order sheets are written up. Each day these order sheets are handed out to the women with the details of the products and how many are required for the sales, as well as an order date they are due by. At the end of each day the corresponding pattern, wool or organic cotton they will need for that order are also given out, along with the needles. The women are free to come in as and when they choose, they arrive in groups, on their own or with a child on the hip and one on the hand. Children are welcome and there's even a children's corner with donated books and toys. Its a beautiful beginning to the day to watch the women walking up the road knitting needles clicking as they walk with the intermittent cackle of laughter.

Firsts things first, and most women go down to the washing area where they can wash the items they have already knitted. Once washed these are then laid out to dry in the African sun. Whilst they wait the ladies sit and catch up with friends and neighbours, more laughter and clicking of needles. 

There is a radio on in the background with the latest catchy Kenyan songs, but for most this is their source of national news as well as a newspaper which also arrives daily to be shared among those able to read and spread the word.

Usually by lunchtime if they are lucky (on overcast days sometimes longer) their items might be dry and they collect them up, ready for stuffing and finishing off. Eyes and mouths sewn on, attaching arms and legs, its an inspiring process to watch these creatures come together.

Once completed they are taken up to the main table where they are checked, collected and noted down for payment. They are then sent over to the labeling table. A group of usually three or four women headed by the ever smiling Anna Akai sit at the labeling table and as the items come in they attach the Kenana labels with the Knitters name on. The products are checked again, and then put away in the store ready for the day of packing and shipping off around the globe.

As the day draws to a close the women pack up their things, there is a small store for things that didn't quite get finished in time and other bits and bobs to be pulled out again tomorrow. Lastly the various Knitters who completed their items are paid, and everyone heads home smiling, laughing some with needles still clicking.

It's a marvelous business, helping wonderful women and if you ever get to Kenya you must pop in for a visit, the campsite next door does farm tours and part of that involves a wonder around Kenana Knitters so visit Kembu Campsite and meet these women for real.