SaladMaster Review: Stainless steel cookware with no transparency
SaladMaster was founded all the way back in 1946 by Harry Lemmons.
So the story goes,
In 1946, the Saladmaster brand began in the home of Mr. Harry Lemmons.
During that first year, Mr. Lemmons’ sales force grew from just three people to more than 100.
Regal Ware Inc. purchased SaladMaster in 1979 and continue to run it to this day.
The SaladMaster website provides no information on the company’s management structure.
Further research reveals Keith Peterson credited as President of SaladMaster. Why this information is not provided on the SaladMaster website is unclear.
Peterson’s LinkedIn profile cites his time at SaladMaster only as “current”. I wasn’t able to pin down when Peterson joined SaladMaster. Nor was I able to put together an MLM history.
As one of the oldest MLM companies in the industry, this seemed highly out of place.
Read on for a full review of the SaladMaster MLM opportunity.
The SaladMaster Product Line
SaladMaster originally launched with a “unique product” that ‘offered a new, time-saving technique for slicing fruits and vegetables for salads.‘
Today SaladMaster sell a range of cookware ‘made in the U.S.A. using carefully selected American and Swiss stainless steel‘.
Product categories for SaladMaster’s cookware include sets (personal, classic, professional, master and executive chef), as well as individual items spanning
- food processors
- electric skillets and roasters
- cutlery and kitchen tools
- racks and insets
- tea kettles and
- cookware care
All SaladMaster cookware is backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
Note that SaladMaster do not provide retail pricing for any of their products on their website.
In my own research I came across a number of consumer experiences claiming SaladMaster’s cookware sets cost upwards of $2000 USD.
The SaladMaster Compensation Plan
SaladMaster do not provide a copy of their compensation plan on their website.
I did however manage to track down an undated copy of their “Sprit of Success” plan, which the following analysis is based on.
SaladMaster Affiliate Ranks
There are seven affiliate ranks within the SaladMaster compensation plan.
Along with their respective qualification criteria, they are as follows:
- Associate – sign up as a SaladMaster affiliate
- Consultant – sell ten SaladMaster cookware sets within two consecutive months and recruit at least one affiliate who hosts a dinner
- Senior Consultant – sell at least thirty SaladMaster cookware sets and have recruited at least two affiliates
- Group Manager – sell at least forty SaladMaster cookware sets and recruit at least three affiliates
- Distributor – sell at least seventy SaladMaster cookware sets within six consecutive months (includes downline sales) and ‘meet requirements and accept management responsibilities‘
- Direct Dealer – sell at least one hundred and fifty SaladMaster cookware sets within nine consecutive months (includes downline sales) and ‘be prepared to run an
organization outside of your dealer’s office‘
- Senior Dealer – sell 5000 GV worth of SaladMaster cookware sets in twelve consecutive months or 8000 GV in twenty-four consecutive months, ‘both with equivalent supporting purchases‘
If an Associate ranked affiliate hosts six dinners within ten days, they are automatically promoted to Consultant and qualify for the Fast Track Program Bonus.
Note that specific Distributor rank qualification criteria is omitted in the SaladMaster compensation plan documentation.
In its place SaladMaster states
your specific Group Manager responsibilities will be reviewed and assigned by upper management.
At the Senior Dealer rank, the GV (Group Volume) equivalent of a SaladMaster cookware set is also not disclosed. Ditto what “supporting purchases” refers to.
MLM Commission Qualification
To qualify for MLM commissions each month, a SaladMaster affiliate must
- recruit at least one affiliate
- sell one set of SaladMaster cookware and
- cook a minimum of four dinners
Retail commissions are paid out on the sale of SaladMaster cookware sets to retail customers.
- Consultants earn a 10% retail commission
- Senior Consultants earn a 15% retail commission
- Group Managers and higher earn a 20% retail commission
SaladMaster pay a residual commission when personally recruited affiliates sell SaladMaster cookware sets.
- Consultants and Senior Consultants earn a 2% residual commission
- Group Managers earn a 3% residual commission
Fast Track Program Bonus
The Fast Track Bonus is paid to SaladMaster affiliates who rank qualify via specific Fast Track Program criteria (see “SaladMaster affiliate ranks” above).
If qualified, Fast Track Bonus qualified affiliates receive a 5% bonus on their personal cookware sales and that of personally recruited affiliates.
Special Incentive Programs
Direct Dealer and higher ranked SaladMaster affiliates qualify
for special incentive programs like Master Dealer,World Champion Dealer, High Roller Club, and more!
Unfortunately SaladMaster don’t disclose specific details for any of these incentive programs.
Area of Primary Responsibility
The Area of Primary Responsibility component of the SaladMaster compensation plan sounds an awful lot like a franchiseeship.
To maintain your APR (Area of Primary Responsibility), you must meet predetermined sales requirements and equivalent purchases.
Senior Dealers who “promote-out” new Direct Dealers will receive Master Dealer Credit and Incentive Contest Credit on their promoted dealer’s purchases for three years.
As with the rest of SaladMaster’s top-tier incentives, unfortunately that’s all the information SaladMaster provide.
SaladMaster do not provide affiliate membership costs on their website, referring only to the “investment” required as “minimal”.
The initial investment to join Saladmaster is minimal — especially when compared to the expensive up-front costs of other businesses, like franchising.
I’m sure there’s some wonky marketing strategy SaladMaster use that prohibits them from being upfront and transparent about their business opportunity, but the end result is a murky mess of an MLM opportunity.
The lack of basic information provided on the SaladMaster website does nothing to instill public confidence in the company. It comes across as unnecessarily secretive.
Whether this is the image Regal Ware intended for the company or not I can’t say, but SaladMaster definitely suffers from “faceless corporation” syndrome.
The SaladMaster cookware line itself seems decent enough, although there’s something fishy about the lack of pricing information provided.
My own research lead me to eBay, where an abundance of SaladMaster cookware is available. To some extent though you’d expect that with a company selling cookware for seventy-one years.
That there’s a booming second-hand market is testament to the quality of SaladMaster’s cookware, although it might dampen your efforts as an affiliate trying to sell it new (especially at the premium price new SaladMaster cookware seems to command).
Moving onto the compensation plan side of things, SaladMaster barely qualify as an MLM company.
Commissions extend down two levels, covering an affiliate’s own sales and that of their downlines.
My initial review of the SaladMaster compensation plan saw two immediate red flags stand out.
The first is the requirement that one new affiliate be recruited each month for MLM commissions. This isn’t directly paying an affiliate to recruit but does mean a SaladMaster affiliate has to recruit if they wish to get paid.
Recruitment should never be tied to commission qualification in MLM. It paves the way for pyramid recruitment, which has come to back to bite SaladMaster in the ass at least once.
Ana Betty Murillas, a smooth-talking huckster, lured area residents to “at-home shopping parties” in the belief they were getting free sets of expensive cookware in exchange for bringing in new customers.
In fact, investigators said, the partygoers, all non-English-speaking Latinos, unknowingly signed contracts obligating them to pay up to $3,700 each for a 24-piece Saladmaster pots-and-pans ensemble.
Murillas would tell consumers, in Spanish, that they were filling out employment applications, when in fact they were signing contracts, written in English, to buy pots and pans.
Yesterday, the county announced it had put an end to the year-long scam in a settlement agreement with Saladmaster and Nationwide Acceptance Corp., the company that provided financing for the purchases.
The companies agreed to cancel the contracts with about 300 customers in the Washington area, releasing them from an estimated $500,000 in payment obligations.
This is something SaladMaster should have taken a lesson or two away from, but instead you get this in their compensation plan:
The more you sponsor, the more you raise your earning potential!
Also not helping is SaladMaster’s own description of the Group Master affiliate rank:
At this level your focus shifts from personally sponsoring new Associates, to motivating and teaching your group of Consultants “how to” effectively sponsor new Saladmaster Associates.
Um, shouldn’t that read “shifts from selling cookware to retail customers to motivating and teaching your downline to do the same”?
One interesting tidbit the settlement revealed was that the $3700 cookware sets cost just $400 to manufacture. That’s quite a hefty markup.
On that note, I’m wondering if there’s some affiliate reselling going on within the company.
The Direct Dealer rank description states
one of the key benefits of operating your own dealership is that you can purchase products directly from Saladmaster.
Isn’t everybody purchasing cookware directly from SaladMaster?
The rank description for Group Manager states at this rank SaladMaster affiliates ‘begin to work directly with your Dealer‘.
Surely this doesn’t mean purchase product from the Dealer who has in turn purchased from SaladMaster?
If Dealer purchases are the major source of revenue on SaladMaster’s books, that’s affiliate revenue.
This needs to be balanced out with genuine retail sales (as in money from retail customers flowing directly into SaladMaster), otherwise the company has a compliance problem.
Speaking of which, what’s with the income projections in the official SaladMaster compensation plan documentation?
Depending on your personal goals and your desire to work full-time or part-time, performing at the Associate level puts you on a path to earn $25,000 or more annually.
Based upon your ability to deliver consistent production at the Consultant level, you can expect to earn at the rate of $50,000 or more annually.
Based upon your ability to deliver consistent production at the Senior Consultant level, you can expect to earn at the rate of $75,000 or more annually.
A Group Manager who consistently meets the performance requirements of this level can expect to earn at a rate of over $100,000 annually!
The earning potential at the Distributor level well exceeds $125,000 annually – or more!
Those are some very specific figures. And SaladMaster refer to signing up as an affiliate being an investment? You don’t say…
Countering all of this is SaladMaster’s marketing strategy, which sees affiliates host dinners. Either at their own house or that of potential retail customers.
This is a genuine marketing strategy to drive retail sales, by using the cookware to market itself.
Prospective SaladMaster affiliates however will need to keep in mind that this is an ongoing marketing expense you will not be reimbursed for.
And remember, SaladMaster affiliates need to hold at least four dinners a month or they don’t earn MLM commissions.
All in all SaladMaster feels very dated and is probably long-overdue for a shakeup. At least on the MLM side of things.
The cookware alone seems solid, however pricing is a part of that determination and hidden from consumers.
Approach with caution.