College students are always looking for a way to make a few extra bucks. And if anyone needs a flexible work schedule, it’s college students. Southwestern Advantage caters to that particular demographic. In this Southwestern Advantage MLM review, I’ll take you through how it works. If you are a college student looking to make some extra cash, you might want to steer clear of this one.
What is Southwestern Advantage MLM?
This company is the oldest company I’ve ever reviewed. Southwestern Advantage was founded in January 1855 and is based in Nashville, TN. They claim that they “help young people develop the skills and character they need to reach their goals.” Southwestern Advantage help college students “build their own business” by selling books. These books are educational books, subscriptions to websites and software. They are frequently found canvassing college campuses across the U.S. recruiting students.
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Are Southwestern Advantage Products Worth Their Price?
The products that college students sell on behalf of Southwestern Advantage are school books for elementary school aged children. There’s no information on the website about what individual books will cost.
I did manage to find a math book online at Amazon. This book is priced new at $49.99 and was published in 2011. This book is already nine years old so I don’t think it’s worth the price new. It’s possible that there’s been a new edition but it’s not on Amazon and I could not find any other pricing information.
You’ll also be trying to sell subscriptions to websites. One of the websites is called Advantage4Parents this is designed to help parents with parenting problems.
The Southwestern Advantage MLM Opportunity
This opportunity is presented as a 12-week internship. As a Southwestern Advantage representative, your job is to sell school books door to door in a strange neighborhood far from home. This is deliberate. They don’t want you to be distracted by friends and family in your hometown so you are placed in an area that is unfamiliar to you yet has a lot of young children. Perfect target market.
If you are lucky, you will have a host family to stay with who has agreed to rent you a room during your internship. But that’s not always the case. If no host family is available, you will have to knock on doors and find your own place to stay. You will be expected to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. On Sundays, you will be expected to attend any meetings or training sessions all at your own expense.
How Much Does It Cost to Join Southwestern Advantage?
Once again, as with all MLMs, you will start by putting a lot of your own money upfront. Ok, wait a minute. Maybe not necessarily YOUR money because, let’s face it, if students had money they wouldn’t need this job.
Before you start, you will be required to supply the company with a letter of credit that’s been endorsed by two people, usually the student’s parents. This letter of credit ensures that the endorsers will be responsible for up to $500 each if the student fails to pay any money due to the company. That’s a total of $1,000. You have to buy your own books to get you started. The standard set will set you back about $350.
Can You Make Money with Southwestern Advantage?
University students are recruited to sell books over the summer often times in areas they have no connection to. The students live in the homes of host families that are sometimes alumni of the college who agree to rent them a room for the summer and charge a small amount of rent. Students are responsible for all their own expenses.
You will be expected to try and make 30 presentations a day. It’s a 60/40 split so 60% goes back to the company and you will receive 40% commissions. Your team leader also gets a cut of your sales.
Southwestern Advantage MLM is a member of the DSA (Direct Selling Association). In 2019, Dr. Ralph Brigham received the Charles F. Kettering Award for excellence in business or government internship education programs.
Other impressive names that you may have heard of are Rick Perry, U.S. Secretary of Energy; Marsha Blackburn, U.S. Senator from Tennessee and Ken Starr, attorney who headed the investigation into the Clintons. All are listed as alumni.
Could Be A Good Learning Experience
You have to go to Nashville, TN for one week of training before you hit the pavement. The training is designed to give you confidence as a salesperson. This training could be useful to you later on when you are interviewing for jobs after college.
It Will Change Your Life
Because you are place in a town unfamiliar to you, you have to make it work or you don’t eat. You may have a host family to stay with but you will have to learn how to hustle for sales so you can get paid so you can eat and pay for your expenses. This is where you will find out what you are really made of. Kind of like military boot camp. You fail and you’re out. But the experience alone will teach you a lot about who you are and what you can tolerate.
You Pay All Your Own Expenses
You work as an independent contractor. Whether you make a dollar or a hundred dollars, you pay all your living expenses including rent, food, gas, and products at wholesale prices, out of your own pocket. Even if you attend company meetings, you will not get reimbursements. No minimum wage and no benefits.
Grueling Work Schedule
You will be expected to make around 30 presentations per day to prospective customers outlining why they simply must have these books!
While the BBB (Better Business Bureau) gives Southwestern Advantage almost five stars, and they are accredited with the BBB, there are complaints about the company and its representatives scamming people out of money, not cancelling orders when requested, customers not receiving their complete order and inflated product prices.
There have been many reports by students of misleading and deceptive marketing practices. In some cases, Southwestern Advantage representatives misled students into believing that they were working with the career services of the college in order to gain access into classrooms for recruitment purposes.
As a result of these complaints, many reputable colleges such as University of Maryland, Harvard University and the University of Idaho have banned Southwestern Advantage from recruiting on their campuses. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop them. In some cases, they resumed recruiting despite being banned.
Let’s Do The Math
According to one student in Minnesota, the hours are 8am to 9pm Monday to Saturday. That’s six days a week, 13 hours a day. We’ll take away half an hour each for lunch and dinner. That gives us twelve hours a day times six. That’s 72 hours a week. The student says he earned $6,000 over the summer.
So now that we know all this, let’s run the numbers. The internship is supposed to last 12 weeks throughout the summer. Seventy-two hours a week times 12 weeks equals 864 hours. Divide $6,000 by 864 hours and you get $6.94 an hour. Now you’ll also have to subtract any expenses such as bus fare, etc. because students have to pay all their own expenses. So let’s say that after expenses, it’s probably closer to $5 or $6 an hour. This is probably the best case scenario. The real numbers reflect that in some cases, students average earnings of only $2.00 per hour.
Is Southwestern Advantage MLM a Scam?
If this isn’t a scam, it has to be the absolute worst way to try and make a buck. Long hours walking door to door trying to make sales has to be the most archaic way to earn money these days. According to my research, there are many who have claimed that Southwestern Advantage is a scam. It may not necessarily be a scam but it certainly has a few questionable marketing practices.
The most notable thing I found about this company is the door-to-door marketing approach that is almost unheard of with the advancement of technologies and the Internet. I also understand that the promise earning thousands of dollars in a 12-week internship can be pretty seductive as well. But this “opportunity” is not for the faint of heart. And in the end, you may not earn what you expected.
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