As always, it was a great pleasure to attend the USDSA Annual Conference in Miami, meeting old friends and learning of all the exciting new initiatives that are happening in the United States.
Here in the UK great things are also happening as we have been undertaking major changes within the DSA over the last few months, with the emphasis on adding value to membership for all our companies.
Upon the retirement of Richard Berry I took over the position of Director General of the UKDSA in October of last year, and since then the following actions have been taken to continue the great work of Richard over the years and ensure we maintain building the profile of our industry amongst all the opinion formers, continue lobbying against any legislation that adversely affects us and continue improving the level of communication, help and protection for all our member companies.
Our first action was the decision to relocate our head office from London to Northampton in the centre of the country in order to be closer to many of our member companies. This in itself created financial benefits that have allowed us to invest in other new initiatives.
Next we created a whole new head office support team with an Administration Manager, Membership Services Manager, Support Services Manager and Treasurer—all with vast direct sales experience to ensure the highest level of understanding and support for members.
We have completely changed our website, which will be ongoing over the coming months, making it more appealing to both internal and external users. This includes more up-to-date information and user-friendly applications and linkages.
A complete change of the DSA logo transferred to all communications and used on updated literature and marketing materials sends a strong message of change, modernity and revitalised image.
We have now commenced our first Education Programme, linking in to universities and the graduates preparing to leave, in order to highlight the opportunities that exist in direct sales.
Internally, our new Sales Academy project is designed to provide training to direct sellers, which leads to a nationally approved Sales Qualification Certificate.
Also, we have worked on forging partnerships with like-minded organisations such as Job Centres Plus, Working Mums, Working from Home and Supermum TV, which will all enhance the recruitment opportunities for our members.
Another major initiative has been a significant investment in contracting a professional PR company to help us become the recognised voice of our industry among the national media and magazines, and to ensure we input our quotes into any relevant articles.
Finally, our annual conference this year was revamped from the normal format and used to signal change and exciting times ahead. The new format was well received by all the attendees, and we shall add to this during the coming year with a series of seminars with topics based on the requests and needs of our members.
I am delighted to report that all the above changes and new initiatives have received positive approval of members and already our membership is growing.
We believe we have made a good start, but there is still much to do in the battle to improve the image of direct selling. The times ahead, however, fill me with confidence and excitement for the long-term future of our industry, and if any of our friends across the water are contemplating entering the European arena, I would say the time has never been better—and, of course, I and my great team here will do everything in our power to help make that entry as smooth as possible for you.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time.
From all your friends in the UK, have a fun and successful summer.
Paul Southworth is Director General of the UK Direct Selling Association.