Introduction to Pampered Chef MLM Compensation Plan
My youngest brother Bryce is one of the best cooks I know. He is happiest when he is turning steaks on the grill, squishing a mixture of ground beef, onions, and herbs until it turns into meatballs, or sitting on the couch playing video games while the flavors meld in the jambalaya just a few feet away. When the other Brad (my partner in Notebook Crazy) and I go fishing, we always take the fish straight to Bryce, because we know we can count on him to turn them into something awesome like grilled fish, fish stew, or fish and chips (no chips for the other Brad, who has not ingested a non-beer carbohydrate since 1998, so more chips for Bryce and me). The high point of every relationship he has ever had was always cooking for his girlfriend’s parents for the first time. Every time you take Bryce to a restaurant, you can trust him to recreate the meal in his own kitchen the next time he invites you over. He will read about the ingredients on Wikipedia and drive as far as Chicago or Detroit to buy them if he has to. If I had been thinking more clearly when I made my fitness bet with the other Brad, I would have wagered that, if I won, he would have to take Bryce and me to an Indian lunch buffet in Cleveland on a Sunday, the day when the buffet has the greatest number of items, because it would mean that, for the rest of the spring, Bryce would be figuring out how to cook all the foods at the buffet. Unfortunately, when I made that bet, all I could think about was pizza and garlic knots, so if I win (and that is still a big “if” at this point), it is garlic knots at Oley’s Pizza in Fort Wayne for me.
For Bryce, cooking started out as a path to financial freedom. After he graduated from college, he moved into a house in Muncie with a few of his fraternity brothers. When the weather was warm enough, they would have parties in their backyard every weekend and invite everyone they knew in Muncie (mostly their co-workers and the family members and childhood friends of one of the housemates). Of course, they quickly realized that they no longer had the fraternity funding their beer and food budget. They had to rely on their own income in order to entertain their guests. They could no longer afford both food and beer, so they either had to learn to brew beer or learn to cook food. Of course, it takes a lot less time to cook a burger to medium than it does to ferment hops, and Bryce quickly made a name for himself among his housemates as the resident grill master. It started with just burgers and hot dogs, but Bryce quickly expanded his grilling repertoire. By the end of the summer of 2009, Bryce was adding all kinds of interesting spice blends to the burger mix and grilling bone-in chicken breasts, steaks, jumbo shrimp, corn on the cob, and various types of Wurst. Cooking for himself and other people was Bryce’s first taste of financial freedom.
He has never said so directly, but I think that cooking is what makes it possible for Bryce to stay employed in the corporate world without burning out. For almost his whole adult life, he has spent 40 hours a week at jobs where there is both a dress code and a boss, but it doesn’t seem to bother him, because he can always look forward to the weekend, when he can outdo his own reputation as the guy who makes the best mashed potatoes in the Midwest. It goes without saying that people always give him kitchen gadgets and food ingredients. He has never paid for a cooking utensil in his life. Our family, his friends, and his girlfriend’s family all know that the best Christmas gifts for him are serving dishes, cast iron griddles, and types of cheese that are only available for sale at certain road trip destinations.
Everyone in the multilevel marketing (MLM) industry knows that money can’t buy happiness. We stick with MLM in the hopes that it will give us a big enough income that we can spend time doing the things that do make us happy. Like my brother Bryce, and like everyone in our family, really, I have never been bored. I just can’t stand the idea of being an office drone. For Bryce, having the creative outlet of experimenting with cooking and hosting his friends for meals is enough to make the drudgery of the 9 to 5 scene bearable. I always tell him he should get out of the rat race, spend the summer cooking at a bed and breakfast on the shores of Lake Michigan and the winters sitting on his keister with me in my basement, and maybe someday he will, but that is a story for another day. As for me, I have found my freedom from the soul-sucking corporate world through an assortment of work from home projects, including MLM, in which I eventually found success. Another difference between Bryce and me is, while some interesting discussions take place at his dinner parties and barbecues, he is willing to agree to disagree with most people about most things. I, on the other hand, cannot stand to see people wasting their time and money, and I feel compelled to say something. That is one of the things that led me to my current quest, which is to review as many MLM business opportunities as I can. Today, you have arrived just in time for my Pampered Chef review.
Pampered Chef: The Company and Its Products
Pampered Chef is a multilevel marketing company specializing in merchandise designed for people for whom cooking is a hobby. It sells the kinds of things that my brother would probably welcome as Christmas presents, like grill pans, casserole dishes, steak knives, and cutting boards. One thing I can say in defense of the Pampered Chef products is that they do come in a variety of price ranges. The Pampered Chef catalog currently has 108 items for 10 dollars or less, although most of the Pampered Chef products in this price range are things like potato peelers, stiff-bristled brushes for washing drinking glasses, ice cream scoops, measuring spoons, and pizza servers. These are things that most of us buy at the dollar store and the most pampered among us add to our wedding registry in order to find out who the true cheapskates on our guest list are. I do have to give the Pampered Chef products credit, however, for not being vitamin supplements, meal replacement shakes, or any other type of nutraceutical. Whereas other MLM companies attempt to shout each other down as to whether the secret to health and happiness lies in ingesting pomegranates, goji berries, or (I kid you not) plankton, Pampered Chef lets you decide which superfoods you want to place your bets on and which better tasting ingredients you want to mix them with.
That is the good news. If you have tangled with MLM before, you can probably guess what the bad news is. If you’re just now dipping your toe into the world of MLM, I’ll give you a hint. Pampered Chef was founded in 1980, and the founder’s name was Doris. That’s right. Pampered Chef was designed as a way for housewives to make money off of other housewives. (Lest you head to the comments section to call me a misogynist, this is according to Wikipedia. Don’t shoot the messenger.) That means home parties. If you have ever read Notebook Crazy before, you know that my opinion of home parties is as follows: quadruple crown diamond barf. In fact, if you Google the phrase “quadruple crown diamond barf”, you will find numerous manifestoes of mine about how much I hate MLM home parties.
With the possible exception of the body shaping garments of Ardyss, I cannot imagine any MLM merchandise more embarrassing to market at a home party than Pampered Chef products. Pampered Chef representatives are expected to demonstrate how well the Pampered Chef cookware and serving trays work. If you are a reasonably good cook, then your friends probably wouldn’t mind giving up their time to come to your house and eat, and they might even bring a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates to show their appreciation. No matter how good you are, your friends probably don’t want to spend hours at your house watching you cook for the price of a three-course meal. If you are really that entertaining and fearless when it comes to cooking for other people, I can assure you that you would make more money working as a chef at Benihana than you ever would with the Pampered Chef business opportunity.
The Pampered Chef Compensation Plan
The Pampered Chef website does not go into a lot of detail about the Pampered Chef compensation plan. It gives the names of the levels as Director, Advanced Director, Senior Director, Executive Director, Senior Executive Director, and National Executive Director. Those are boring names if you ask me. Why not Dishwasher, Busboy, Barback, Sous Chef, Head Chef, and Celebrity Chef? As if the home parties weren’t bad enough, the Pampered Chef compensation plan requires you to recruit other sellers. The flaw in this logic is even more egregious than with other MLM companies. The last time you got invited to an MLM home party, you probably went away wondering how many vitamin supplements one community could possibly need, and the friend trying to recruit you probably reminded you that lots of people take one or more vitamin pills every day. They can’t make that argument with Pampered Chef products. If they try, you can tell them that my parents still have some serving dishes that they received as wedding presents well over 30 years ago. Of course, there is the option of selling Pampered Chef products online, which is was any sane person who felt compelled to get involved with Pampered Chef would do.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- The Pampered Chef starter kit does involve a lot of cooking supplies for $200. It might be worthwhile to order the starter kit and then cancel your membership immediately.
- Pampered Chef has its headquarters in Addison, Illinois, which is not too far from here.
- If you end up with a basement full of Pampered Chef products, at least you can give them as gradation presents to your younger cousins for years to come. That is more than you can say for meal replacement shakes.
- The mere mention of home parties should be enough to make you lose your appetite. If that weren’t bad enough, the quadruple crown diamond barfiest part of this whole deal is that, according to the Pampered Chef website, you don’t even need to be a very good cook to host a Pampered Chef home party. I guess Pampered Chef wants you to believe that your friends will just shower you with money for the privilege of watching you fumble with pots and pans and going home with a case of salmonella and some cooking utensils they could buy much more cheaply at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
- People who want lots of cooking gadgets already have them. The old ones they have are still good. I promise.
The fact that Pampered Chef does not promise to make you thin counts for a lot in my book. It is refreshing to see an MLM company that makes no excuses for its attempts to make you chubbier. Any goodwill that I may feel toward Pampered Chef, however, goes out the window because of the home party model. I think that MLM home parties are an insult to housewives everywhere. If you must sell Pampered Chef products, sell them online.
If you would like to brag to me about your culinary prowess and also hear some advice about making money through MLM, give me a call.