Inventory: Are you getting fast food or cooking at home?

Having no inventory is like having no groceries at home. So when hubby and the kiddos get hungry, you run to McDonald’s for fast food. A great fix for now, but too costly in the long run. When you have to order little by little, it costs less at the time, but over time, it costs you much more…not only in shipping costs, but time and trouble of delivery.

Having inventory is like cooking at home, with the cabinets nicely stocked. What does “nicely stocked” mean? Well, that depends on your activity. You might just need $600 in basic items on the shelf, while ordering color and limited edition as the orders come in. You might want a “full store”…but what you don’t want is to be so overstocked that you end up with lots of left over limited edition or old colors after the switch. That is like buying too many groceries and having to throw them out with the garbage!

It is quite a balance to have the correct amount of inventory. The only person in charge of that is YOU! ๐Ÿ™‚ You wouldn’t want your director to decide how much you need in your fridge, so while advice is always welcome, that is exactly what it is when it comes to inventory… advice. The final decision is ours. Take your time when placing orders to ensure you have made a decision you feel good with. Because when your MK fridge of inventory is at the correct level for you, you will have no resentment or stress over the amount you have purchased…or in some cases haven’t purchased! It can be just as stressful to have to run to get that fast food MK order every other week and deliver it!

Is your inventory at a good level for you? Why or why not?



Filed under Day to Day MK, Direct Sales, FAQ's, Is Mary Kay for me?, Products, Real life answers, Time Management

20 responses to “Inventory: Are you getting fast food or cooking at home?

  1. anonymous

    I do keep a full store. I keep skin care (TW, Classic Basic, Velocity and all the supplements), color, men’s skin care, sun care, fragrance (men’s and women’s), body care, and limited edition. I think that’s all the categories.

    BUT I keep more skin care than anything else. I have far more combo/oily TW (10-12) than normal/dry (8-9). I have 4-5 of each supplement although more eye make-up remover. I have 1 Velocity Set and 1 of each Classic Basic item.

    I have probably 5 Sunny Spice Cheek Colors and 2 of each of the rest. Same breakdown for my lipsticks. I have 2 of each color – 5 or so of my most popular. Lip Gloss I sell a ton of, so I have a minimum of 3-4 in each color, but 7-8 Sweet Raisin. Ultimate Mascara in black/brown flies off my shelf and I have 8 of them, but only 4 of the black. 2 each of the other mascaras.

    Based on how I’m selling the new Mineral Foundations, I’ll keep 2 Beige 2, 2 Beige 1, 4 Ivory 2, and 7-8 Ivory 1. I have 1-3 of each of the medium and full coverage foundations, depending on the shade. That said, I don’t have any women who use the bronze foundations, so I don’t stock them. Depending on how well the Mineral Foundations sell, I may cut back my medium/full foundations.

    With body care, I keep 2 of each item, except Satin Hands. I keep 10 of them and 10 Hand Creams.

    I keep 1 of each fragrance. That said, I SOLD 27 fragrances in the fragrance challenge. Note, I said SOLD. Yes, I ordered them, but I SOLD them.

    With limited edition, things get tricky. I always order 2 of each – 1 to demo and 1 to sell. If I think I’ll use it myself or get the sense it will be super popular, I order more. I couldn’t keep the Simply Neutral Eye Quads on my shelf.

    Contrary to what gets spewed on that “other” site, I SELL product to actual customers. And I sell quite a bit of it. Enough that I need to order at least 2x per month and I rarely order less than $400.

    I don’t order less than $400 b/c that’s the minimum to get FREE product from MKC. Just like our clients get gifts with purchase, so do we! And when I turn around and sell that, it’s 100% profit. And it helps to defray my hostess credit costs. And since I keep inventory and never let anything run out, I can “hold” my orders a few days to get above $400 WS and get freebies for me!

    Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to answer the question thoroughly.

  2. Thanks, Anon! Oh yeah, I want to add that Anon is a full time consultant…so it makes sense for her to carry this much. And she is a selling machine! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I have plenty of inventory. I don’t order color unless I’m completely out. I just don’t sell much color. I am pretty sure I still have color stuff from my initial order. I sell more skin care than anything else. I sell more Combo/Oily Time Wise than Normal/Dry–and Combo/Oily is my formula so I always have plenty of that around.

    It took me awhile to figure out my inventory pattern. I used to order what was new or try to have one or two of everything, but what has worked best for me has been to pay attention to what I’m actually selling. I keep that in stock. If someone orders something I don’t typically stock, then I will begin to stock it. I used to get stuck with limited edition stuff and discontinued stuff and now I simply don’t. It has been a learning process. My goal is to order at least $200 each month. This does not always happen, however, I have managed to keep active each quarter.

    Once I hone my booking skills and consistently hold 2-3 classes/week, I’m sure I’ll be able to qualify for the freebies. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I currently don’t carry inventory–mostly because I’m a little gun-shy due to some bad choices I made w/ my MK inventory. I had the same problem Shades did. I would try to have at least 2 of everything, and that simply was too much of some things (dark foundations, eye creams, classic basic, etc) and too little of others (normal to dry TW, black Ultimate mascara, beige 100, 200, 300 foundations). As Shades said, that simply does not work!

    Now that I’ve been w/ my company for a little over 2 years, I can see what are MY best sellers and what aren’t. I know I’m not going to carry EVERYTHING in our catalog–with almost 200 items, I wouldn’t have room! But I will carry what seems to be MY most popular-selling things, and I will also carry what I demo–which is about 50-75 items. I will get a large bonus (about $200) to reimburse my cost of doing a bridal show at the beginning of the year, and I was thinking of using that to invest in some cash & carry.

    I’m just afraid if I do that, I’ll be “stuck” with the stuff! Even though I plan to start with items that I sell at EVERY party! I think it’s just something I need to get over, and if I stick with the basics to start with, I will be fine. And with a party booked every weekend in January, and two already in February, I should be fine! I think…:P

  5. Your plan sounds good to me, Romance. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I don’t get stuck anymore and I have been discounting the really discontinued items and they still move so that makes me happy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. anonymous

    One thought . . . I pulled together all the products I had that were discontinued – lipsticks, lip gloss, lip & eye liners, lip/eye color sticks, private spa stuff and it barely filled 1 MK shipping box. Mostly it was just random stuff – odds/ends. Without the PS stuff, the rest wouldn’t fill up a shoe box.

    I did not include platinum lipsticks that just received a package update (we kept the color, but changed the packaging) b/c those I will easily sell and I only had a few. I also have not included eye shadows that just went to the discontinued or the limited edition holiday products because I just have a little of it left and what doesn’t go before Christmas will easily sell before Valentine’s Day.

    I sent my clients an email last week that said that for every $50 they spend they will receive 1 free product gift worth at least $10. And that’s in addition to the regular gift with purchase. This special runs through this Friday. My clients are eating this up! I have moved so much of this stuff I can’t believe it. I didn’t tell them it would be discontinued product, but they don’t care. I can’t tell you how many people have had orders at like $40 or $90 and then I’ve been able to upsell them so they get the free product.

    Plus, when I take guests to meetings, I always give them a thank you gift and it’s always from my discontinued stuff.

    Yes, I’m giving this stuff away, but I don’t have much of it to begin with and my clients are psyched and spending more to get it. It’s win-win.

  7. Mrs. Mik

    Excellent article!!

    When I got in, my director had just stepped down. So when I did my first inventory order, it was for what I thought wanted. It took me months to place that first order. A few months later we changed our whole lipstick colors. I was thankful I hadn’t ordered a ton. When the challenge came out for the cute lipstick carrier, I passed. If I couldn’t sell enough to make the challenge in the quarter it was offered, I wasn’t going to buy my challenge prize. It is a philosophy that has made me successful in my business.

    I DO carry inventory. I have TimeWise, Velocity, and some of the classics line. I have foundation, eye and lip liners, eye makeup remover, satin hands and lips, and eye creams. I have one of each lip gloss color in stock because I sell them more than lipstick. I buy Ultimate mascara by the boatload – it’s my best selling cosmetic.

    My system works well for me, and is consistent with my business. If I get a customer who loves a particular product, I always keep at least one in stock. Because I keep records, I know what shades of foundation and powder I sell the most so I keep multiples in stock. That being said, I have one of almost every product we carry, to demo. My customers love having full sized products to try at their classes, to see what they are really getting for their money. Lip and eye liners, as well as ultimate mascara are the samples I keep on hand since there’s no sanitary way to share them.

  8. I love the way you have used the example of fast food or cooking in this post, MK Rules, excellent!

    It does take time to know what we are going to need on a regular basis. I started with a pretty full store. However I sold most of it pretty quick as I did shows, classes or parties whatever you choose to call them. I think I was in the company for six months before I did a one on one facial or makeover. Now I do more one on one.

    With that said, most of my clients expect it yesterday. They have gotten accustomed to getting their products soon rather than later from me. It just depends on your clientelle and how they have been conditioned. However, I am sure I have had a few that would not have waited. Some would.

    Again, you have to know your market and use common sense and very good money management.
    It was also a Time issue for me as I worked another J0b at the time I joined MK.

    The best thing that happened to me was believing I had to do 10 individual (not 2 hostesses at a time) shows in a week as part of my training. I did not have to, it was the same as today, I just did not know that but I seriously doubt I would be here today had I not misunderstood and thought I had to. It was excellent training indeed for me and I paid a lot of dues in learning what not to do etc: and overcoming obstacles, challenges.

    Sometimes God does work in mysterious ways.

  9. I’ve gotten stuck with products once. That was enough lesson for me to learn how to order products in my inventory. Now I order mostley skin care and products that I know my customers use and will reorder. I don’t keep all the lipsticks anymore. I buy one each of the top 10 colors that I like for testers. Once I know what my customers like then I may order 2-3 of the popular color.

    The same with the Color 101 looks. I use 2-3 different looks as testers when doing facials and classes. Most of the time they want everything they put on their face. I only buy the eye colors of the trend look. That way I’m not stuck with a bunch of colors I can’t sell.

  10. colleen

    Nobody needs to start off with 3600!!! I think the best way to start is 600-2400.00!!! If you have the money 2400.00 gets you a good store for 3-4 classes a week and 600.00 gets points for the director and free product for the consultant. I would never encourage someone to start with 3600.00 unless they had 5-6 classes on the books already…and intend to do this 10-15 hours a week

  11. Excellently written!!
    I had been a consultant twice before and this is my third time around. Inventory was always so hard for me. I always wanted to have it but financially I could never start with more than a $200 wholesale. And then I could never reinvest without profit because of my familys situation and that gave me a bad cycle of failure. This time I am wiser and thankfully (for now) working a full time job and am able to at least have $1000 wholesale to start on my shelf. Having inventory creates abundant thinking. I know its hard for many to get past that idea but it is so true! I found many times at skin care classes I would not sell as much because I knew I couldnt deliver. (having product on hand) So not having inventory creates the opposite, a feeling of lack. If you think you don’t need a full store then you have already set your mind to this type of thinking. And the chances are you will not get as far in your business as you could. I described it to my husband in mens terms- Honey if you wanted to open a sports collectible shop do you think you would have customers without autographed baseballs on the shelf?

    I believe you can’t build any consistency with this type of thinking as well. I have found this out firsthand and now being able to have inventory I feel so much more confident and I actually am working harder and getting bookings because I know I have the basics on hand. (I always focused on skin care first anyway) All the glamour is just “fluff” to me. Remember CONSISTENCY is the KEY!

  12. sunset

    My friend started with a $3600 order two years ago and I am looking at quite a bit of it. She has consistently ordered for the things she runs out of but I am looking at the whole spectrum of color for the medium coverage foundations. Her director placed her initial order for her, and the amount of Private Spa items AND other things she has is staggering.
    She discounted all of it, but we’re using the sets as Christmas presents. She sells more skin care than color items, to me especially but really, I may need a whole new Miracle Set in three months but I am not going to go thru eyeshadow that fast.
    $3600 is an awful lot of inventory to start out with, she admits that as a new consultant it was so mind boggling handing so much product. As she got her customer base and realized what people were ordering on a consistent basis and also realized that once someone orders color unless they are interested in something new they won’t be back for a whole to order another Rose Mist eyeshadow.
    Back when they had the Satin Hands promo, she ordered a ton. She is still sitting on over 9 sets.
    I think being a good business women is to not let yourselves be convinced that you have to have a $3600 to be a good consultant. I have read some directors have $4800 level of inventory as well. Whoo….that’s a lot of product.

  13. anonymous


    I think that the bottom line is how much product you need is based on how much you work your business and how many customers you have. I’m sure I have $4800 in wholesale on my shelves, BUT I have 200+ customers and as I outlined above, the vast majority of my product is skin care. I promise you I’ve got more than 9 sets of Satin Hands on my shelf.

    The thing about Satin Hands is that at the holidays (or any gift giving occassion) it’s the PERFECT gift. It’s already wrapped and $30 is a terrific price point.

    I would encourage your friend to be carrying a basket of product to sell (and deliver on the spot) to every place she goes right now. Put that Private Spa stuff in it – my active clients don’t realize it’s been discontinued, so no one else will. Put Satin Hands in it. When she’s delivering product to her clients or just running errands, she will probably be able to sell an extra $20-$50-more easily. Sometimes, no one will buy from her basket. But if she came home everyday $50 richer and 3 items lighter, she’d sell that stuff and make her money.

    I ran a special that ended yesterday and I described it a few posts up that helped me move some discontinued products I have.

    Another idea of how to move discontinued products – what if she worked with a battered women’s shelter, found out how many women are in their program and had her clients purchase $50 gifts of MK products for each of them. Fill each gift with discontinued product. It’s a tax write off for the client who sponsors the gift. It makes the recipient feel great. And it moves your girlfriend’s product and makes her money.

  14. $3600 IS a lot of product. I started MK with $1800 and I thought THAT was a lot! Especially when, a month later, about $200 of that was discontinued because it was limited edition! As a brand-new consultant, I didn’t know that LE stuff gets replaced every 3 months and are no longer featured in the Beauty or Look books, and the books are also replaced every 3 months!

    I think that anyone’s initial inventory order should be mostly skin care (Timewise, not classic basic) a few supplements, the basic color foundations (100, 200, 300, 400, not any 302, 404, etc), lots of Ultimate mascara & a few waterproof, lots of eye makeup remover, satin hands, and only a bit of color–more neutral, muted shades to start with.

    Then, as the new consultant builds her business, she can add the colors, fragrances, and supplements her customers like and need.

  15. I think that new consultants need to be reminded that the retail value is double the wholesale. I thought of it in those terms. So, $600 w/s means $1200 retail. It’s about what retail price we feel we could reasonably move on a regular basis. So $3600 w/s really means selling $7200. I think that if inventory is presented this way to a new consultant, it can give her a perspective of how much product she is really going to move.

    The next thing to think about is what will she be selling. We want to sell the Time Wise. I’m in agreement with Romance’s suggestions: Time Wise, foundations, Ultimate mascara, eye makeup remover, Satin Hands, a few supplements and a few color items. So, if someone says they want to work part time, I would ask if she wants inventory and I think the best options for her would be $600-$1200 w/s. I started in this range. That means she would be working with $1200-$2400 retail. From there, I would determine how to order the inventory using the hierarchy described by Romance. Make cuts in supplements and color.

    Hope my logic makes sense.

  16. I just gotta say it: The company definitely needs more consultants like you ladies! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I always hated those inventory talks–especially when it came to women that I knew had to pinch, scrape, and borrow to get the money for their kit! They’d always tell me how bad they felt that they couldn’t qualify for a card to get inventory. I told them to just use their Debut and classes as a way to get money for the inventory they need, then they’ll also KNOW what they need on hand based on what their customers ordered.

    From what I’m seeing on here, you ladies would agree with this: I’d rather have someone on my team selling and ordering what she needs, rather than starting out with $3600 wholesale, only to get a chargeback when she returns most of it 6 months later because she’s freaking out that she can’t get rid of all the excess color/fragrances/limited edition items that were included in her initial order!

  17. sunset

    I wish my friend has as many customers as you do, unfortunately she doesn’t. She was passionate in the beginning, but its fallen by the wayside. She sells from the whole spectrum of color, from the Ivory 100 to Bronze 507 (me) so she keeps a wide range of color product. She has more skin care than anything else, both the TimeWise and the Classic line, but she still is sitting on plenty from her initial order. She still orders on a regular basis, those of us who are her customers swear by the product but maybe her initial order didn’t need to be so big. Maybe half the original amount while she gets her bearings and she comes to realize what will move and what not in the beginning. She is much wiser in her ordering now.

    Shades what you said makes a lot of sense. I think new consultants should start with no more than $1200 and once she gets a feel of the product and the classes she books and what her customer base will be like, she should order what she is comfortable with once she gets her bearings for her business.

    Her mother-in-law purchased a bunch of stuff at a discount and made huge package and gave it to Dress for Success. I have been using her discounted stuff as presents for my co-workers, so I am glad she has it. Made my Christmas shopping, and my friends, super easy.

    Regardless, Happy Holidays, and thank you to everyone who blogs here, you have great suggestions.

  18. GHD

    That’s a very good post! I have learnt so much from this post! And I will tell my friends this website. Thanx for your sharing.

  19. i have a very busy lifestyle too, and i would always frequently eat on Fastfoods ;,~

  20. of course when you dont have time to cook, fastfoods would always be the best option ~~:

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