Organiser of the Month - Alison Barr
23rd April 2018
Our Organisers are able to offer so much more than selling books. The personalised service, and attention to detail that they can provide is second to none, and their recommendations are always based on an extensive knowledge of our range. April's Organiser of the Month has brought her whole community together through her passion for Usborne books, and ability to find her customers the perfect books for their family.
Alison was nominated by her mentor Clare Johnson:
"Alison joined my team at the end of October and very quickly became a really valued part of it. She's a busy and incredible Mum with five children, and at the time of joining, one of the things that appealed to her the most was having a project to build her confidence.
The first time we spoke by phone her spark and passion were evident. Not all that long later, she started to feel really nervous about the fact we were competing with other retailers, but maintained that she really wanted to make this work for her. So at that point, we worked together to understand what she had to offer to customers that they didn't. She grew in confidence, and smashed both her kit boost and kit refund.
Alison decided that consistency was really important to her and, worried about the potential drop off in orders after Christmas, decided to organise a community craft and story event, hiring the village hall to do so. She sold plenty of books but just as, if not more importantly, built foundations for new relationships as she raised awareness of her business in the local area. She was on a huge high afterwards, and inspired our whole team to think outside the box more. It was like when that first snowdrop emerges after a long winter, and then the next day there's a whole blanket of them. Her light and energy just rubs off on the people all around her. I always come off the phone to her with a big smile on my face, feeling inspired and reminded of why I love this work so much.
As if this wasn't enough, Alison then shared this message from one of her customers (with their permission):
'Just wanted to let you know that we are seeing such a positive effect in our village from Usborne books. People have been at ours this evening and discovered the politics and history books you found for us and are impressed with the quality and content. We would never have gone looking for those books or known they existed without your input, and I expect some more orders for them to come your way. We also went upstairs later last night to find our son reading the periodic table book to his little sister, so much learning going on and again, another book that we wouldn't have gone looking for particularly, but one that is amazing and such fun. Thank you.'
And that's when it really struck me. Alison is not just selling books and building her confidence, she's impacting an entire community!"
Alison shares her Usborne story with us:
"I joined Usborne towards the end of 2017, as I wanted to do something for myself after having been at home with my five young children. I needed a hobby and something for me outside of being Mum, and when an ad popped up on my newsfeed for Usborne, I felt it would be a great opportunity.
As soon as I'd held my initial launch party at my house, and my first delivery arrived for customers, I knew I had caught the Usborne bug and was so excited. Being able to deliver those books to my friends and neighbours and see how impressed they were with the quality and content of them, really inspired and excited me to do more.
I booked a stall at the local farmers' market, and it was fantastic to chat to people about what books they were looking for. There were a lot of grandparents there who liked that they could get advice on what their grandchildren might enjoy based on their interests and ages. At my first stall I sold a busy train book to a lady who was looking for something for her grandson's birthday, and she was so grateful for my help that I felt very useful and valued. That lady is now one of my regular customers and often phones me for advice and a chat. I didn't know her before Usborne and now can say she's a good friend. I now regularly have a stall at the market and it's nice to hear people say, 'oh good, Alison's here with her books!'.
I love the community spirit of the farmers' market and enjoy being part of it, so I wanted to find another way I could use my Usborne business to bring people together. I came up with the idea of organising a books and craft morning at my local village hall during half term for children and their parents. People pre-ordered magic painting and activity books to use on the day, we made origami craft using Usborne's Origami books and we used the Usborne printable book marks and posters to decorate. My own children helped run some of the craft activities and absolutely loved getting involved. It was massively outside of my comfort zone but turned out to be a fantastic leap to take and was a great success. I'm now planning another one for the next half term with singing and storytelling. It was such a lovely way to bring the community together.
By getting to know people, their interests and likes, I have found that I am able to help them find books that they wouldn't have gone looking for, or known existed, and that is where I feel my value lies. I have had some lovely feedback from my local community and love knowing that people can come to me for advice.
Usborne has given me so much more than just the hobby I started out wanting. I have grown in confidence, my children are seeing me doing a job that I enjoy and they love helping me. They also benefit greatly from our growing library. I love helping people and am now gradually building a team so that I can help and support more people in a different way to build their own Usborne journeys and the experiences that brings to them.
Through all of this, our wonderful wider team is always there for support and encouragement and are a lovely bunch of people - they are my community too. My amazing mentor Clare Johnson has been there to support and encourage me and be my sounding board for ideas. She is inspirational and I want to say a MASSIVE heartfelt THANK YOU to her."
Congratulations Alison! A copy of our April Book of the Month will be on its way to you very soon.
Nominations for Organiser of the Month...
We look forward to receiving all nominations. You may nominate yourself or any other Organiser. Please email your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org along with your name and Organiser number. Good luck!