ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST | CHELSEA RODRIGUEZ
Q&A WITH CHELSEA RODRIGUEZ
Q: Tell us a little bit of your background. I want to know a little bit about you before Cutco. Some of the things that have shaped you and who you are.
- I have an identical twin sister. So, there is actually 2 of me. she did try selling knives for a short stint. She lasted for 2 weeks. She said, you took on the easy customers because I’d started 4 months before her. She was a personal recruit of my own.She’s my best friend.
- I got 2 parents back in Alabama. Good old country folk, I call them. They are very simple, hardworking people, fun people. Our house was a lot of fun to grow up in.
- I have an older brother who is a leader of all of us kids. He was the one that showed us what not to do. That brother has bought lots of Cutco from me.
- I have a baby sister. She was a surprise. We say she keeps my mom and dad young. I was 10 years old when she was born. She’s the sweetest of all of us. Maybe because she’s the most spoilt of all of us.
Q: Tell us how you got started with Cutco.
- I probably have one of the craziest start stories of Cutco.
- I dated a guy. His name was Nick. We knew each other from mutual friends in Alabama. We went for like 4 dates. It didn’t really last long. We talked for about 3-4 months.
- 6 months later, I got a random phone call the day after Christmas. The girl signed me up for an interview to show kitchen stuff faster than I knew what was happening.
- I went in for the interview on 28th December 2008. A day that changed my life.
- I remember looking at the walls and I thought what is this? I’d never seen a business like that before. It was so unique. It looked so positive. The manager was really fun and upbeat. There was music playing.
- It was a group interview. They started cutting rope, leather and a penny. I thought whoa! This product is really cool. They interviewed everyone before me. The manager takes me last and I was sweating bullets. He gives me the job. This is going to be awesome! I know so many people in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I need to pay for school.
- He says come to training tomorrow, Friday and Saturday. I said, no can’t do it.He says then come next week. I said no I can’t do it. He then asked, what do you have going on?
- I said, well I don’t know if Nick told you or not, but I have 3 jobs. I’m fulltime in school. This will be my 4thparttime job. I’m also working out twice a day because I am training for the University of Alabama beauty pageant.
- I scheduled myself for training, 4 weeks out.
- I’ve being in the company more than 10 years and my schedule is king.
- I ended up asking for off on another job that paid me7.50/hour. I asked off 2 days for that job which lost me an extra $150 on my college student pocket.
- I went into training for the weekend, 4 weeks later I hadn’t talked to them. I knocked on the door for Vector Marketing and Cutco. The door is locked, lights are off, no one is there.
- I actually pulled out my notes from my interview. During the interview, I took notes of everything including the Assistant Manager’s name and phone number. I called Mike Arrieta, David Plummer and my guy that recommended me, Nick. I called Ryan Huggins who was my original manager.
- None of them answered because they were all at Year-End Banquet celebrating the previous year in Dallas, Texas.
- I had every excuse in the book to not show up for training, to not do this job and show up. For me, how I started Cutco is how I’ve done my entire life. I’m a fan of showing up. If you keep showing up, success happens.
Q: What do you feel like were some of the lessons from your early days with the company?
- A lot of it started with hard work and having fun. I’d never had a job that truly rewarded me for what I was worth. Vector and selling Cutco was the first opportunity I had in my life where I felt respected for what I brought to the table. That would have probably been the first lesson I learned with Cutco.
- As for the fun part, I’d never had a job where there was so much fun. I created many friendships. Even when you went home at night, you still wanted to talk about Cutco with your colleagues. You just love what you do so much, there’s a joy in it.
- I would say the biggest lesson is that Vector and selling Cutco teaches people ownership. It teaches skills for life you don’t get from just going to college.
Q: Is it accurate that Jennifer Bullard was the Assistant Manager in your office that helped you in the early stages of working with us?
- Yes, Jennifer was training to become a manager, to run her office that summer. When I went through training on the first weekend of February, Jennifer did the first 2 days of my training with the assistance of the lead manager Ryan Huggins.
- What’s so funny is I had no idea we were the same age. She was so professional and taught me a lot.
Q: I know you had management experience working with Mark Bullard. How do you feel that helped you to become better as a salesperson? As a sales leader?
- I have younger up and comers that ask me, what my thoughts are about the branch opportunity and going DM.
- I believe I’m the CSP and salesperson I am today because I had a 2-year process in management. I was thinking that might be my future and Mark was instrumental in that. He was someone who recognized my input, my leadership, the style of how I do things.
- Mark continued to rub on me and created a relationship that was solid even when I was in Alabama as a senior selling Cutco part-time. When I was a senior and had one foot out of the door, I thought I was going to work with ESPN.
- I actually couldn’t leave Cutco. One of the reasons I wasn’t ready to leave Cutco was Mark was reaching out. He convinced me to move to Memphis and essentially wanted me to be his right-hand woman. He had me come up to be his main Sales Manager for almost a year and a half. I worked with him and helped him, at the point, have his best summer and year in his career. Mark and I go way back and have a lot of memories together.
Q: Over the years, you became a top rep in the company. You sold $225,00 in 2014, $310,000 in 2015 and then $423,000, $424,000, $585,000 and $722,000 in 2019. That’s an epic run. You’re approaching $4 million in career sales. You are literally one of the top Cutco sales professionals in the organization. Now 2020 rolls around, and much of what we were planning was turned upside down in early March. According to John Kane and Loretta Diciano, no one in the company has shown up stronger, better or faster as you did among our CSP reps. You’re part of a small group that has really stepped up in 2020. What was your mindset as this year began unfolding and the pandemic came our way?
- I never expected 2020 to happen and go the way it did. From being in a pandemic to a lot of things we’ve lost and the success I’ve had. Success is always something I crave and want and go after.
- I’m actually not experiencing the year I set out to have. I sat down with all my managers and leaders and told them, listen $722,000 last year was my best year ever. To get those results, I had to work really, really hard.
- But right now, I’ve got different priorities in 2020. My family and my marriage and some trips I want to take while I am young before I start having children. Everyone was pretty supportive of it and that my goal was to sell $550,000 so I could qualify to go to the national company trip.
- It’s not normal for a salesperson’s goal to sell less, but I was very intentional. I’m going to travel less, work less, but I’m going to find a way to profit more. That was the goal on January 1st
- My mom told me, honey, sometimes God wants you to be still and if you don’t know how to be still, he’ll still you. When the pandemic hit, it was really hard for a time.
- For March, April and May, I’d say more than 90% of the events I sell at were completely gone. I was able to dive deeper into my relationships and travel a little bit with the time off.
- While I was doing that, I still showed up to work. I spent more time re-connecting with people, just checking in. When events came back a little bit in June, July and August, people showed up differently. Part of that was the deeper connection that was made when we had to do things differently.
Q: The goal was $550,000. You’ve exceeded the goal, you’re well over $600,000. What else do you think has helped you have a great year?
- This would be an incomplete discussion if I didn’t give a shoutout to 2 of the most important people in my life. I’m a Christian. In my life, I believe blessings flow from one place. God has blessed me and I’m grateful for that. This year, I have gotten more in tune with my faith. There’s been a lot of meaning, more communication. That’s where some of my inspiration comes from.
- Also, I got married a couple of years ago. Roger (my husband) was an instrumental part of why I had the goal I had at the beginning of 2020. He calibrates me. When I’m about to go off kilter, he has a way of picking me up off my pedestal, humbling me and making me see it in a different perspective.
Q: Tell us about the philosophy you have around customer service?
- The first philosophy is in the name; customer service, the customer’s first. We serve by helping them get more Cutco and sharpening the knives that have dulled on them.
- I think it goes deeper than that. Customers don’t want to hear excuses. They don’t want to hear an explanation of what happened or went wrong. You can’t promise a customer that things will go 100% right all the time. But given a chance, you will make it right 100% of the time.
- If you mess up, take full ownership of it and apologize. What people want to see when it comes to service is if you do make a mistake, you’re willing to make it right.
Q: I assume you do a tremendous job of bringing your philosophies, skills and positive examples to other CSPs in your division and throughout the Southwest Region, right?
- Yeah, we talk about standards a lot. What are those standards? There’s no such thing as a minimum standard. You either have a standard or you don’t. (from Gary Keller)
Q: As you look towards next year and beyond, what are you most excited about?
- My husband and I have a contract on a house right now. We are very excited about moving into a new home, more space and a home office.
- I look forward to 2021, regardless of what the world hands us, continuing to be creative, find other ways of serving our customers, to sell Cutco, but do it in a fun and joyful way that attracts more people to us.
- She described this idea of taking ownership in life, showing up, her schedule is king.
- These are certainly a major key in been successful at anything.
- You actually get a better opportunity to build a long-term relationship with a customer when something goes wrong. Your character is revealed by the way you handle it. That revelation of your character is one of the most important reasons why someone stays with you long-term as a customer or as a supporter.
Show Notes for this episode provided by Brian Njenga.
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