Stella Sharples may only snatch five hours sleep a night, but she reaps the rewards for working hard.
Not only can she take her five-year-old son Harrison to school as a result of working from home, she has more than doubled her salary as a high-street shop manager and become one of Midcounties Co-operative’s top-performing homeworkers.
In her first year alone as a Personal Travel Agent, her turnover hit £1 million.
This year, Stella’s sales from client recommendations have meant she is The Personal Travel Agents’ top ‘referral’ seller.
Almost half, 43%, of her bookings this year have been as a result of customer referrals, creating a profit of £17,000.
“I do love earning money and I will work hard for it. I am addicted to my job. I have to succeed, I don’t do failure!” says Stella. “When I was a store manager I missed my son’s first nativity play, but I don’t have to miss anything now.”
Now Stella arranges her own time, working from 9.30am until 2.30pm and evenings – often until 2am. “If I went to bed and hadn’t looked after my customers I wouldn’t be able to sleep,” she says.
Keeping hold of existing clients and asking them to recommend her to their friends and family is key to growing Stella’s customer base. With every booking, she sends a thank you card plus five business cards, which she asks customers to pass on to others.
And adding the extra, personal touches is what she believes keeps customers coming back to her.
When one client told her how distraught her daughter was after leaving her caterpillar soft toy in Lanzarote, and the family’s fruitless calls to the hotel to find it, Stella made it her mission to get it back.
“The caterpillar had been given to the little girl by her grandparents and she’d never gone to sleep without it,” recalls Stella. After a call to the hotel manager, the toy was finally found and posted to Stella, who returned it to its delighted, rightful owner.
On another occasion she arranged for a cake to be made for a client who had gone to Jersey to celebrate his 70th birthday.
As if that is not enough, Stella is also heavily involved in charity work. Every year she organises and hosts a fundraising children’s party for 250 people, last year collecting £2,600 for charity Reuben’s Retreat. “I get a real buzz out of helping others,” she adds.
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