Southwestern Advantage

FAQ

    Each person who participates takes away something unique to them. You’ve heard ‘you get back what you put in?’ Well, this program holds true to that saying. Your success is often dependent on your effort. A few of the benefits are as follow:

    • This is a paid program: Yes, running a successful business generates money!
    • Personal growth: Many students are interested at first because of the money, but end up staying for the personal growth.
    • Professional growth: Students can build a resume with content and not filler.
    • Soft skills: Build skills not learned in the classroom such as communication, problem-solving, attitude, work ethic, goal-setting, confidence, emotional intelligence, etc.
    • Travel: See different parts of the country and have the opportunity to attend meetings in other states and win international incentive trips.
    • Giving back: Help families with their educational needs and donate the Southwestern Advantage websites and apps to organizations, children who are help at-risk kids and families in need. Students can even participate in the Service Project on the annual incentive trip through donating and in-person sweat equity.
    • Many students can earn college credit hours.

    Success is all about schedule. The most successful students work long hours, often 13 hours a day, six days a week in order to maximize the short time they have to run their business. The day often begins waking up at 6 am, getting ready for the day and eating at a local breakfast spot with roommates. The first interactions with families often begins at 8 am with pre-set appointments or cold calls starting where you left off the night before. The day is broken into six three-hour goal periods to help each student manage their time, keep track of goals and be most efficient. In between the time working with families, students take a quick break for lunch and dinner. Many calls during the day can result in demonstrations, but the time is also used to set up for the times when more families are home: 6 pm – 9 pm. After the last call is made for the day, the student heads back to their host family to finish any paperwork for the day, check in with the organizational leader and prepare for the next day. Sundays are reserved for time to rest or worship, and meet up with other students for weekly recognition, to build friendships and learn advanced sales techniques and gain greater product knowledge. Sometimes these meetings will include fun activities in the area such as water parks, skydiving or swimming at a lake.

    College/University Students: If you are wanting to learn more about being a student dealer with the Southwestern Advantage sales and leadership program, fill out the online form to have a sales leader contact you: (include link to apply now form)

    Customers: 888-551-5901 (M-F 8 am – 5 pm CST) or custoemercare@southwesternadvantage.com 

    Parents: Trey Campbell, Director of Communications, tcampbell@southwestern.com or 888-602-7867

    Media: Trey Campbell, Director of Communications, tcampbell@southwestern.com or 888-602-7867

    Campus Officials: Dr. Ralph Brigham, rbrigham@southwestern.com 

    Host Families: Sarah Bunning, sbunning@southwestern.com

    Safety is our #1 priority. In training, students learn how to safely run their business. Things include what to do in the rare event of an emergency, how to know what homes to visit and which ones to skip, how and why to check in with local authorities, how to obtain proper business licensing, and how to avoid low income and other areas that may be a safety risk.

    Most of the suburban and rural areas sold in have lower crime stats than even the college campuses the students attend. The students can work from referrals and are not following a set pattern from day to day. This helps with safety. Students are asked to constantly be aware of their surroundings and to set appointments if they choose to work after dark. Each night the students check in with a local sales leader and map out their scheduled sales area with a leader in the morning. An app used for their business can also track their path using GPS technology.

    Female students have additional safety training that includes topics such as how to set appointments, host family relations and awareness training. 

    If anyone ever feels uncomfortable or threatened in any way, they are to remove themselves from the situation/place and call the proper authorities of the home office immediately.

    Students relocate to another state and typically live with a host family. This has been a part of the program since 1868 when it was established. Students who travel to another locality build independence and must learn to problem-solve in the face of adversity. These are two of the many benefits students receive from the experience. In addition, it looks great on a resume to show relocation as part of the business model utilized in running a business at a young age. Relocation also helps the students see another part of the country and allows them to focus on their business with fewer distractions.

    While the students are independent and can live where they choose, we have found the most successful housing situations are with host families. This is because it is most economical, safer and the local hosts know the area. Most often, students live with other students also participating in the sales and leadership program, one or two of which have participated in past years. Host families serve the basic needs of having a safe place to sleep and shower, keep food and belongings and point students in the right direction with questions since they know the community.

    Students typically pay $25-$35 per week each for housing. This comes out of their profits as a business expense and can be written off on taxes. 

    If you would like information about housing students or have questions about housing, Southwestern Advantage has a Host Family coordinator, Sarah Bunning, who can be reached at sbunning@southwestern.com. 

    The initial sales and leadership program begins with training in Tennessee after spring finals and last until fall semester starts (typically 10-12 weeks). Students who are successful may be asked back to join the leadership team to gain management and team-building skills. Many students participate for multiple years and some even find a career with Southwestern Advantage.

    Stated simply: students who participate generate their own customer base through cold calls and referral selling. They purchase at wholesale and sell at retail to their customers (students use the deposits collected to pay the wholesale cost of the books, therefore they do not typically need any money upfront). The student makes a profit on each sale made. Business expenses throughout the summer come with being an entrepreneur. So expenses such as food, gas, rent, and personal items come out of the amount the student makes. However, all students are taught how to keep expenses low so as to maximize their profit. Also, keep in mind all of the tax write-offs an entrepreneur is able to claim such as mileage, rent, and food. 

    Click on the Disclosure statement (add link) to see the latest year’s average profit per student by year running their business.

    Students will sell education learning tools for school-age children from Pre-K through high school. The products consist primarily of websites, apps and books that work together to complement and enhance the learning process.

     For a full look at the product line, click here.

    The students generate their own customer base made of families in the communities they will live and work in during the summer. These are families that have school-age children who are in public or private schools or homeschooled. The sales are made in person with the demonstration taking place with the parents and (optionally) the children. Demonstrations can be made in the home if the students feel comfortable, on the porch, or in the yard. Occasionally, some demonstrations may be done from referrals via Zoom.

    Yes! Students undergo approximately 100 hours of training between training received on campus and for five full days in Sales School prior to starting their business. The training includes everything from business management and product knowledge to safety, ethics, and even inventory management. The students also spend lots of time learning the “Cycle of Selling” and practicing their sales talk and product demonstration. Training continues into the summer and beyond that covers advanced sales techniques, additional product attributes, leadership, and team building. Value-added courses are taught at almost every meeting that are applicable in both personal and professional settings.

    While students are independent and can set their own hours, the most successful students work 12 to 13 hours a day, six days a week. This is a challenging schedule but makes sense knowing the business is short term, and students are trying to maximize their time. All executives of the company and those in sales leadership have worked the same recommended schedule and will not ask anyone to do something they have not done themselves.

    The future is bright with Southwestern Advantage. Students have the opportunity to grow with the program and enter sales leadership. Or, with their sales leader’s recommendation, they can join any of the 25 other companies in the Southwestern Family of Companies that include exciting and diverse industries such as real estate, investment services, insurance, fundraising, publishing, executive search and placement, travel, or coaching and consulting to name a few. Or, students can even start your own company with Southwestern one day!

    Juniors and seniors have access to a career counselor with our Family of Companies member, ThinkingAhead. A team of experienced Southwestern Advantage alumni can help with grad school applications, building resumes, effective interview techniques, and gathering recommendation letters. In addition, they place within the southwestern family of Companies. Alumni of Southwestern Advantage have free access to the Career Service division of ThinkingAhead for life.

    Students attending schools in the U.S. can earn college credit hours through Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, TN. The credit hours, pending academic advisor approval, can be transferred to the students school.

    Three upper level courses offered:

    First summer: SALES FUNDAMENTALS - MKT OR COM 3150 - 3 SEMESTER HOURS

    Introduces basic principles of sales success, sales theory, sales techniques and sales role playing. This course applies communication theory and principles to the sales situation.. The history and philosophy of Southwestern Advantage as an example of a successful sales organization will be presented.

    Second summer: SALES MANAGEMENT - MKT OR COM 3200 - 3 SEMESTER HOURS

    This course concentrates on the leadership of the sales force. Major concerns are planning and organizing the sales process, motivation and goal setting, and analysis and evaluation. This course attempts to build on the student’s experience in personal selling by adding leadership understanding and skill,

    Third summer: SEMINAR: SALES TRAINING - MKT OR COM 3210 - 3 SEMESTER HOURS

    A study is made of the most effective ways of training salespersons. The student is taught the responsibilities of a sales trainer and fulfills this role through interaction with a sales training program. This advanced course in sales training is intended for students with a relatively strong background in sales training and leadership. The focus of the course is an inquiry into the most effective ways in training and guiding salespersons and increasing their performance. 

    Grade Criteria: 

    Sales School - 25%

    Essay - 35%

    Sales Leader Eval. - 5%

    Sales Production - 25%

    Personal Statement - 10%

    Click here for a PDf of the most recent syllabus and course requirements and guidelines: PDF link to College Credit manual

    Contact: Trey Campbell, Director of Communications, tcampbell@sotuhwestern.com or 888-602-7867.

    No, they work for themselves and are their own boss. The students have been participating in a gig economy long before this was a term. Each student is an independent contractor running their own business. They purchase products at wholesale and sell them at a suggested retail price along with local taxes and shipping & handling. The students keep detailed business records and receive a 1099 tax form for them to file taxes on their business. This is the typical model used in direct sales.

    No, it is not. Southwestern Advantage is the nation’s oldest direct selling company. It is common for people who do not know anything about direct selling or are under various misconceptions to associate direct selling with being an illegal pyramid scheme - though this is certainly not the case. Southwestern Advantage student dealers make a profit on the personal sales they make while running their own business, NOT through recruiting others into the business. The business model has been in effect since 1868 and has been found to be a successful launching point for many very successful careers.

    Definitions

    Direct Selling: marketing goods and services directly to consumers outside of a physical retail establishment or at the consumer’s home. 

    Multi-Level Marketing: a legal business model in which a representative’s income includes both their personal sales and a percentage of their personal team’s sales.

    Pyramid Scheme: participants are compensated primarily for recruiting new participants, rather than selling products.

    For more information: (link to Direct Selling info sheet)

    'Share The Advantage' is an outreach program made possible by Southwestern Advantage student dealers and their customers. For every online membership that a customer purchases, product donations are provided to organizations that help serve the needs of children and families who are considered at-risk. As customers, you make this possible. On behalf of our company and the organizations we've visited, THANK YOU!   

    Click to learn more about our 'Share The Advantage' donation program.