October 01, 2014
Gold Canyon: Turnaround Toward Growth
by Barbara Seale
Headquarters: Chandler, Arizona
Executives: Managing Directors Lynae Parrott and Gail Gioffredi
Products: Scented candles and accessories
After a season of sluggish sales, the sweet smell of success seems to be returning at Gold Canyon. The scented-candle seller and manufacturer has instituted sweeping changes that have boosted both morale and sales. Led by a new management team that streamlined everything from the product line to the sales process, Gold Canyon looks like a happier, more fun version of its former self.
Earlier this year the company appointed two new managing directors, Lynae Parrott and Gail Gioffredi, who lead Gold Canyon with a combination of company experience and new eyes. Parrott has been with Gold Canyon since its early days, starting in its field sales organization. In 2000 she was asked to join the corporate staff, where she learned the full scope of the headquarters organization by holding positions in several departments before leading its marketing efforts. Gioffredi joined Gold Canyon in January 2012 after gaining expertise in several other direct selling companies. Parrott explains that while she primarily leads the company’s internal team and Gioffredi predominantly focuses on external sales, the two work in lockstep to push the company into the future and to focus on creating the best possible opportunity for the field sales organization, which it calls Fragrance Consultants.
“One of the first exercises Gail and I did was to evaluate our vision of the company, and we quickly identified that our business was overly complicated,” Parrott explains. “It needed to be more simple, more fun. That was the premise of a lot of the changes we started to implement immediately.”
|Lynae Parrot and Gail Gioffredi|
They asked themselves what they wanted the company to represent and what its mission was. Their answer: to empower others to create their own destiny.
They also identified the four core values that drive the company—both now and into the future:
- Do the right thing.
- Continually improve.
- Give back.
- Have fun!
The leaders embedded their mission and values into three key projects that would turn the company around. They emphasize proudly that throughout the turnaround Gold Canyon has been profitable, even increasing its profitability each month. But they believe that its new branding, enhanced career plan and Simple Selling System™, along with improved technology, will re-launch the company toward the growth it previously was struggling to achieve. Parrott and Gioffredi initially hired consultants to develop the bones of the career plan, but the Gold Canyon team fleshed it out, along with the rest of the turnaround plan.
The first step—because it had to be in place to launch others—was rebranding the company. The new look, revealed in February, had to work hard. It needed to reflect the company’s mission and values, but it also had to attract a younger demographic of Fragrance Consultants and customers.
“We wanted the new brand to be happy, open, communicative, authentic, transparent, friendly, energetic—all those words resonate differently with different people,” Parrott elaborates.
Because a brand is more than a look, it had to have the backing of employees, too. So Parrott and Gioffredi worked hard to make sure that the staff was on board and understood what the brand stood for.
“They are our brand ambassadors,” Parrott says. “For us to achieve our strategic initiatives, they must be on board. We have been very open with them about what this brand stands for. Not only have we given them presentations, but then we have made a very conscious effort to walk the talk. When we talk about being happy and communicative, we are!”
Both managing directors understood that employees had heard management promise open doors and open communication in the past, but follow-through had failed. The new executives had to earn trust. To follow up on their promise, they hold management meetings every two weeks, and they also created a Culture Club aimed at breaking down barriers and opening the lines of communication throughout the headquarters organization, including manufacturing. The group has already surfaced and addressed practices that were out of alignment with the company’s vision.
The workplace, including the 250,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility, got a face-lift that reflects the new branding. The playful lettering and polka dots that adorn new marketing elements are also on company walls. Employees now enjoy a social area called the Company Lounge, complete with television, Wi-Fi, a pingpong table and a coffee bar where people gather. The objective: Create happy employees who are building relationships with each other while demolishing communication barriers among functional areas. In less than a year, the small steps have yielded big results. The formerly quiet work space now buzzes with life and laughter.
The energy filters into the field, too. Happy, more engaged employees help provide better service to the salesforce, whether they’re answering calls or fulfilling orders. Fragrance Consultants experience the energetic new brand beginning with catalogs and the starter kit, which is now dubbed the Dotty Box. The energy extends through the language of everything the company does. Parties are now called Mixers, a key printed piece in the starter kit is called the Know-It-All Guide, and the annual convention is called Palooza. The fresh, modern approach has pumped up sales leaders, who help drive home the company’s messages throughout their downlines.
Complementing the rebranding is a new compensation plan they refer to as their “enhanced career plan” that Gioffredi says simply makes more sense.
“The old career plan had unnecessary levels, complexities that didn’t serve a purpose and requirements that were too difficult,” Gioffredi says. “When the field doesn’t understand something, they freeze. Sales and sponsoring stop. A consultant’s long-term happiness is achieved by growth. We get there by rewarding the right activities and getting new people to join the business.”
Show Me the Money
Because growth comes from the bottom up, the new plan increases the income of early and mid-level leaders. First, they created an initial leadership level, simply called Leader. The new compensation plan gave that group a 40 percent increase on their Level One recruits’ results. Two levels up, team leaders received a 100 percent increase on their Level One recruits’ results, as well as an increase on Level Two. In June the plan also simplified the company’s luxury car program to make it more achievable for leaders to drive their choice of Mercedes. That month alone, the company had 79 promotions to leader and above, as well as 27 percent sales growth. July growth, especially sponsoring, was also strong. The company currently has about 200,000 Fragrance Consultants.
Parrott and Gioffredi emphasize that Gold Canyon’s internal team executed a flawless launch of the plan—the first in the company’s history.
“There were absolutely no technical hiccups,” Parrott points out. “Everything transitioned perfectly. Our inside IT department has created our own genealogy and commission structure. We now own that platform, which helps us control our own destiny. We believe that’s not only our purpose in the field, but internally as well.”
The enhanced career plan is designed to support Gold Canyon’s Simple Selling System, introduced in February. Preparing for that system required the company to reduce its unwieldy product line by 25 percent. Then with a more streamlined but harder-working collection of products, Gold Canyon introduced a three-step shopping guide to help customers choose the candles and accessories that matched their personalities and home décor. Step 1: A quiz guides customers to the scent category that fits them best, simplifying the process of navigating the 100 fragrances Gold Canyon offers. Step 2: They “shop the studio,” deciding whether they want their fragrance in traditional scented candles or wickless candles, like scent pods. Step 3: They choose their own style of candle holders and accessories to embellish their products.
The system encourages larger orders, as well as increases the net proceeds from each mixer, while it creates a fun, interactive, rewarding experience for attendees and hosts. Everybody wins.
In September, the company introduced a new scent-select candle that complements the Simple Selling System. Gold Canyon produces—to order—a jar designed with the customer’s choice of pattern and filled with a candle in the specific scent the customer chooses. The combination of scents and printed patterns generates some 250 customized options for Gold Canyon Fragrance Consultants to sell.
Giving back came early in Gold Canyon’s history. By its third year in business, Founders Curt and Karen Waisath started the Prayer Child Foundation to make a difference in the lives of children with physical and emotional challenges. Over its lifetime, Gold Canyon has donated $2.7 million. Later the company began donating to two different organizations that support U.S. and Canadian military troops, donating $30,000 to the two groups. More recently, it partnered with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, contributing $205,000.
The company is proud of its commitment to charitable donations and has sustained the financial flow through the sale of specific candles dedicated to each cause. As the company identified its core values, it also looked at every aspect of the company to ensure that they were reflected, including philanthropy—not to reduce it, but to be sure that contributions were being made to the organizations closest to the hearts of its Fragrance Consultants.
At the time Managing Directors Lynae Parrott and Gail Gioffredi spoke with Direct Selling News, they had just asked Gold Canyon’s field sales organization to provide feedback on its philanthropic projects. They posted an online survey asking consultants to tell them the organizations and causes that are most important to them.
“We’re going to realign with our field to make sure we are all in agreement about the type of organizations we’ll support in the future,” Parrott explains. They also announced that they want consultants to walk the philanthropic talk, giving back through volunteering, serving others or—one of the company’s core values—just bringing happiness to others. And Gold Canyon will reward their efforts.
“We just launched a new philanthropic award process that will recognize the give-back philosophy,” Parrott says. “Consultants will be able to nominate other consultants for the award. Honorees will be on stage at Palooza next year, and Gold Canyon will give a donation to the organization they support.”
For the first time in the company’s history, Gold Canyon also will incorporate give-back efforts on sales incentive trips.
The new philanthropic practices will be one more step toward aligning all of Gold Canyon’s programs with its mission and core values.
Investing in Growth
Offering all those new options required Gold Canyon to invest in some new manufacturing machinery, and the company made sure it could deliver customized products accurately and in the same timeframe that existing customers and consultants had come to expect.
“We have done lots of test runs that have been very successful to make sure we’re up to production,” Parrott says. “We anticipate no delays. In our research of customization, we learned that it usually demands a 60 percent surcharge, but we aren’t passing the customization fee on to customers. With the efficiencies delivered by our focus on technology, we kept our cost in line. The price point remains the same as other candles in the same look and feel.”
The improvements are intended to have long-term benefits in sales and recruiting by creating more committed consultants.
“We’re creating the BLT: Believability, Likeability, Trustability,” Gioffredi notes. “And we’d rather our consultants love us than like us! Those are successful company ingredients. That’s what we’re building on. If consultants are excited and happy, they’ll spread the word.”
Even though Gold Canyon launched major improvements in the first half of 2014, it announced even more to come at its August convention, Palooza. Some changes, such as redesigned outer shipping boxes, were minor, but other announcements will change the face of the company over time. For example, it announced a soft launch into the Hispanic market, starting with new Opportunity Brochures and product catalogs in Spanish.
The company also announced the next phase of its technology upgrades: updated personal websites. The websites will be milestones on a number of levels. They will continue the company’s new commitment to controlling its own destiny by building its technology internally.
“One of the attributes we’re building is being tech savvy,” Parrott says. “As a company, we don’t have a high-tech reputation. It’s probably our biggest weakness. When Gail and I came into this, we knew we needed to build our own platforms. The ones in place at that time had Band-Aid on top of Band-Aid. Long term, that wasn’t sustainable, and we’re improving our technology dramatically.”
The new websites will be enhanced with features consumers have become accustomed to, such as mobile platforms, wish lists, social media links and customer reviews.
At the same time it upgrades its technology, Gold Canyon also will upgrade its human touch. The company’s service department, called Partner Support, will have extended hours. And with the expansion into the Hispanic market, the company added its first bilingual field development manager to support consultants and leaders.
The numerous changes are built on the company’s strong foundation of candle manufacturing. Gold Canyon is proud to produce The World’s Finest® scented candles, using pure fragrances that waft throughout the home; cool, food-grade wax; and self-extinguishing wicks. Having its own manufacturing facility gives Gold Canyon more than a recognizable scent in its hometown. It also gives it a competitive edge.
“It allows us to respond to what consumers ask for,” Parrott says. “Our product development team and manufacturing team work together to get new ideas for products that set us apart from the competition. And that’s a great story for our field to tell. They’re not just offering a candle that is made in some unknown spot somewhere in the world. Instead, they’re proud that what they’re selling keeps people in America employed. And our Canadian consultants love it because the wax is from Canada.”
The managing directors believe Gold Canyon’s strong foundation and recent improvements are setting the company up for future success. They’ll know they are successful as they see Gold Canyon become a household name. Achieving their objective business goals—sustained double-digit growth, quadruple their sales field count, and international expansion—will make that happen.
“When Lynae and I took on this awesome responsibility of providing leadership to the company, we knew that many people were relying on us, from investment groups to vendors and the sales field,” Gioffredi says. “We have to balance them all and make sure that our Fragrance Consultants are successful. If they’re successful, we will be. We’re aligning everything to create that success.”