Saturday, January 28 – Sunday, January 29

It’s going to take some getting used to

I’m still in that mindset in which I think of Saturdays and Sundays as weekend days.  That will have to change, now that I’m on a Wednesday to Sunday workweek with Mondays and Tuesdays off.  Having been on a conventional Monday to Friday workweek for so long, it might take a while for the change to fully sink in.

On Saturday I participated in a “vendor fair” at a MHIC store not too far from me.  I was one of  six vendors with tables and displays; the others were for kitchen cabinets, solar power, Silestone countertops, roofing and siding, and bathroom renovation.  The store lead generator, a MHIC employee rather than a vendor, was running a raffle and making announcements to help steer people our way.  Being new at the game, I was hoping to listen to other vendors speak to potential customers and maybe pick up on some tips.  That wasn’t really possible, as the only vendor within earshot was the solar power vendor, and solar is pretty much a breed apart what with the huge utility rebates and tax credits being offered.  Even so, the event worked out well for me, and I’m looking forward to doing more.

I went to a slightly more distant store on Sunday, no events today.  While this store generally does only about half the business of the one I’d been at on Saturday, it was a busy day and quite productive for me.  My listening to the solar power vendor on the previous day actually may have worked out well.  A customer asked me about solar power, and because the store lead generator was at lunch at the time I had to explain it as best I could. Apparently I did a good job, because he signed up for a consultation.  When the lead generator returned from lunch she was happy with what I’d done.  Should she get a lead for the service I’m providing she will call me with it so I can get possible commissions, rather than submit it under her own account.  Nothing wrong with a bit of quid pro quo, right?

Published in: on January 31, 2012 at 5:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, January 26 – Friday, January 27

So far so good.

Still no complaints or reservations about the new job.  On Thursday I worked at a MHIC store not far from home, as during the middle of the day I had some business to attend to at the DMV.  I sensed that I was getting more into the swing of things, refining my approach to customers.  It’s a very quick approach, I say “May I interest you in a free estimate for ______ or _______?”  As most people invariably will say no, a quick approach helps me avoid wasting time and allows me to speak to as many people as possible.  These considerations didn’t matter too much on Thursday, as in part because of the gloomy drizzly weather the store was pretty empty for most of the day.  At least the DMV business went much more quickly than I had expected.  I had forgotten to bring something to read while I waited – my plans had been to bring War and Peace or perhaps the unabridged version of Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but such measures proved unnecessary.

Friday I returned to the same store where I had been on Wednesday. It was quite busy today, which from what I’ve gathered is the usual pattern with MHIC.  Stores are quiet on Monday and Tuesday, which in fact are my days off, get steadily busier on Wednesday through Friday, and peak on the weekends.  This is in terms of “civilian” traffic; there’s a more or less steady flow of contractors during the week, but they’re not our target market.  I actually like the idea of having my days off during the normal workweek.  It’s a change of pace, and in some cases will make it easier to do errands.  Oh, and the good news, no traffic delays getting home after work.

Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 3:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, January 25

First day on the new job …

… and it wasn’t scary at all.  At 10 I went to the office, coincidentally not too far from my former employer ABC Insurance’s office.  It’s only about a 10-minute drive, at least outside of rush hour, though that doesn’t matter too much because I’ll most likely be going into the office just once a week, and briefly at that.  JKL Sales was very big on mainly pointless meetings and utterly redundant training sessions.  Thankfully the yet-to-be-acronymed new place is nothing like that.

After doing the usual new-employee paperwork and getting supplies, I headed out to the day’s work location, the store of a Major Home Improvement Chain (hereafter MHIC) about five Expressway exits further to the east.  This particular location, in the midst of a very busy commercial and industrial area, is quite familiar to me because – coincidence again – it’s not far from JKL Sales’ office, though for my last few months with that employer I worked mainly out of the Nassau County office.

I spent the next four hours attempting to sign up MHIC customers for the services which my employer offers.  My employer acts as a contractor for MHIC and I offer the services under that company’s name.  Everyone knows MHIC for selling just about every type of building and home improvement supplies, but in addition it offers a vast array of home improvement services through authorized contractors.  The services I offer are just one component – granted, among the biggest components – of this vast array.  Each store has an employee known as a “lead generator” who is in charge of marketing these services, in fact this employee will act as my supervisor while I’m in the store, and usually there will be another vendor representative like me who is on premises.  I spent a few minutes today talking with the solar power representative and very briefly with a millwork vendor.

For most of my shift I worked from a display that my employer has near the front of the store.  At first I talked just to people who came over to look at the display, but as the day wore on I walked around a bit and asked customers if they would be interested in the types of services I had to offer.  Most said no, as I expected, but now that I’m getting a salary rather than just commissions it’s not so bad to hear that word.  As I was told at the office, this time of year is slow for what I’m offering, but it will pick up considerably when the weather gets warmer.  Besides, given the high cost of what I’m offering, my employer’s profit from just a few completed jobs per month will probably be enough to cover my salary!

All in all, the day went well, doing this sort of work seems fine to me.  Not to mention that the security of getting a regular salary is so much preferable to being dependent on commissions.  The only down side is that the drive home took almost an hour, thanks to a crash near Exit 61 on the Expressway.  Delays stretched back almost ten miles.


Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, January 23 – Tuesday, January 24

And the changes keep right on coming

For reasons too complicated to mention, the occupational changes I mentioned last week have not come to pass.  Which does not mean that the status quo will keep on quo-ing.  Instead, I have decided to pull the plug on my work with JKL Sales once and for all.  There are many reasons behind this decision.  My commission income had been declining, the product line was too limited, and most of all it was an unpleasant place to work with utterly clueless management.   Staying there just wasn’t an option.

On Wednesday, I will be starting a new job with a mechanical contracting company in central Suffolk County.  I will be working as a lead generator/vendor, stationed in stores of a Major Home Improvement Chain – I won’t name names, but the chain is not Lowe’s, I presume you can figure out what it is.  My job is to sign up customers of this Major Home Improvement Chain for free estimates for projects to be performed by my employer.  This particular Major Home Improvement Chain uses vendors employed by other companies for other types of projects. I will be working a Wednesday – Sunday workweek, with Mondays and Tuesdays off.

This type of work is not entirely dissimilar to what I did for JKL Sales, the big difference being that I am now earning a base salary rather than being on straight commission.  My base salary will not be lavish, I’ll need to make some commissions in order to earn a living, but it adds a sense of security that had been lacking.  Moreover, by paying a base salary, my employer shows that I am a worthy person and not just a commodity.  This might be better expressed in the negative: employers that keep people on straight commission are in effect saying that the workers are not valuable.

I’m very much looking forward to the new opportunity.  While I will be rotating among six or seven Major Home Improvement Chain stores, I will be at one particular store three days each week.  It’s about 20 miles away from me, in central Suffolk County, coincidentally just a few blocks away from JKL Sales’ offices.  I will not be stopping by to say Hi to my former managers.

Gym: a decent session on Tuesday.  One arm dumbbell rows: 5 x 8 x 90/90.  Seated barbell shoulder presses: 8 x 95, 8  x 105, 2 x 8 x 115.  Neutral-grip pull ups: 2 x 3.  Wow, has my pull-up ability really deteriorated.  I finished the session with some light bench presses: 6 x 135, 6 x 165, 2 x 6 x 185.

Published in: on January 28, 2012 at 4:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, January 21 – Sunday, January 22

Not much doing this weekend.  Work-wise, I won’t be doing much at all until the middle of next week, tied in with the changes I’ve mentioned.  On Saturday I had a nice bench press session, call it a flat-topped pyramid with a shelf: 6 x 135, 6 x 165, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 2 x 4 x 225, 2 x 2 x 225, 4 x 205, 6 x 185, 6 x 165, 6 x 135.

Published in: on January 26, 2012 at 1:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, January 19 – Friday, January 20


It took a long time, but some major changes in my workday activities are finally coming to pass.  Starting next week I will be at one permanent sales location rather than going to a different location each day.  While this location is not as close to home as some of the other ones where I now work, it’s not as far as some others, and in many ways the predictability will be nice.  Getting there will involve mainly Expressway driving, which would not be a good thing if I were to go during rush hour, but given my approximate noon-to-7 work hours traffic shouldn’t be an issue.

Another change involves an expansion of the types of products and/or services I sell.  It won’t be quite as big an expansion as I had hoped, still leaving me with a fairly limited portfolio, but it definitely will help.  The biggest and best change, however, is that after having worked on straight commission I now will be making a base salary.  It’s nothing that will make me rich, if I made no sales and got just the base I wouldn’t really be able to make a living, but it will provide a sense of security and stability that I’ve been lacking.  All in all, I’m quite pleased with the changes.

What with the transition process needed to effectuate the changes I didn’t work in the field either day.  That of course means no earnings for either day, the base doesn’t take effect until Monday, but it should be made up to me (exactly how, I’m not sure).

On Thursday I did a quick gym session, just some one-arm dumbbell rows, 5 x 8 x 85/85.

Published in: on January 23, 2012 at 3:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, January 16 – Wednesday, Janaury 18

This. Is. Not. A. Good. Thing.

I really wish I knew what was going wrong this week. With the holidays in the rearview mirror I figured that sales should be picking up at a decent pace.  Indeed, when I went into Nassau on Monday morning for the weekly meeting I found out that the most of the people had done very well last week.  Friday and Saturday in fact were record-setting days.  What I figured, in my all-too-trusting manner, was that I was overdue for a big week and therefore would be putting up some terrific numbers.  Bound to happen, right?

Wrong.  Monday was sort-of-semi-somewhat decent, which was not good enough considering that many people had the day off for the Martin Luther King Day holiday.  I was in one of the busier sales locations, moreover, so there was a steady parade of potential customers.  My numbers should have been outstanding, but they weren’t.  As for Tuesday, well, let’s just say that it is a bad memory best forgotten.  I spent it in my Old Reliable nearby location, a location were I can always count on doing okay.  Not today, despite my very best efforts it was a disaster.  People were quite rude, too, which is completely uncharacteristic for that location.  Wednesday was slightly better, not that it could have been any worse.  Because I have to attend to some outside business matters on Thursday this will be a shorter than usual week for me.  For that reason I really had been counting on three good days to start the week.  Reality had other plans.

Published in: on January 21, 2012 at 5:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, January 14 – Sunday, January 15

I worked for a couple of hours on Saturday, with reasonably decent results.  Nothing spectacular, but nothing to complain about either.  I went to the gym on Sunday and did some bench pressing, better than I would have dared expect: 6 x 135, 6 x 165, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 2 x 4 x 225, 4 x 205, 6 x 185, 6 x 165, 6 x 135.  A classic pyramid progression, more specifically a flat-topped pyramid.

Published in: on January 19, 2012 at 11:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, January 12 – Friday, January 13

Friday the 13th lived up (down?) to expectations

Thursday wasn’t a bad day as these things go.  I spent the day in a nearby sales location that always seems to work out decently enough.  When I’m in this location I seldom if ever have a good day, but I hardly ever have a bad day.  It’s sort of like an old pair of shoes that fit really well and feel fine but aren’t very stylish.  Actually, that was a lame analogy, but I’m not in an analogy-finding sort of mood and just took the first one that came to mind.  In any event, Thursday lived up to expectations, with a good if not spectacular day.  One thing I do like about this location is the convenience of working close to home.  In fact it’s close enough that I can take a mid-day break and head back home for a while.

Friday the 13th?  Suffice to say that I’m not superstitious, and in fact consider most superstitions pure bunk, but without going into unhappy details I’ll just say that it was a wretched day.  I was in a rather upscale location that one would think would be a prime territory.  It was not.  In fact, it was about as bad as it could be.

Published in: on January 16, 2012 at 1:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, January 9 – Wednesday, January 11

Regression to the mean … literally?

I may have spoken too soon in last week’s postings.  In them, I had noted how potential customers had become more pleasant now that the holidays and all their accompanying stresses and pressures were over.  Most people were actually being pleasant.  While I didn’t come right out and predict that this improved demeanor would continue, that certainly was the implication.

My experiences these three days make it clear that I was dead wrong.  On Monday and Tuesday especially, I encountered way more than my share of nasty and rude people.  I have not changed the way in which I approach potential customers, at least in no way that I am aware, so I have to attribute this to something in peoples’ attitudes.  It may be that the sense of relief at the end of the holidays was short-lived, and now people are regressing to their (unpleasant) normal states.  On second thought, that probably isn’t the case, as the people I’ve encountered have been among the worst I’ve dealt with in the several months I’ve been doing this work.  In other words, they haven’t regressed to normal, but rather to some sub-normal state.

Published in: on January 12, 2012 at 3:04 pm  Leave a Comment