Monday, March 30, 2009

Open Thread

This is a thread where you can have a conversation about anything you would like in the comments. Have fun!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cleaning and sanitation

Submission via email:

"This quarter, we got a message from our DM stating that we would no longer be reimbursed for washing the blankets and large cloth backgrounds. If a child defecates on the black velvet, we are now supposed to clean it up with a wipe and move on. Are you kidding me? The large backgrounds need to be washed and dried in a super capacity washer and dryer to get them really clean, and I have honestly NEVER seen things this dirty! The blankets are getting stained with spit-up, babies routinely pee on the velvet, and they want us to clean it with a wipe?!? Aside from customers being upset that the white muslin is now stained with melted M&M's (thank you, idiot mother), this HAS to be against some kind of health code....right?"

I'm guessing yes. Why SPS has never paid someone to come and do cleaning on everything is beyond me. Especially now with the reduction of hours, it seems like there would be a cleaning service that could pick everything up and bring everything back in the morning. And it would give parents piece of mind that their child isn't sitting in pee from 5 months ago.

One of the best things about my new job away from SPS is that I'm no longer responsible for cleaning the entire place from top to bottom. Even with a magic eraser, that white vinyl would take an hour to clean in and of itself.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Let's Celebrate Those Who Escape!

The comments section of this thread is designated for people that have quit. Let's all share in the excitement, shall we? I'll get it started with this story I received via email.

"Up until February of this year I was employed with Sears Portrait Studio. After nine short months I had made it from Associate to Store Manager. Recently CPI added two new additions to its ranks. Both are formally from Radio Shack, a business that has basically gone under! They have added new systems on top of an already existed system and has every one under them scared and running in circles to try and make the new systems work! Write up are flying every where and every studio is playing the blame game with their co-workers trying to keep their own job! I knew what was about to happen after my District Manager came back from a conference in Dallas and sent out an e-mail saying we were going to go to Monday and Friday conference calls, and a lot was about to change. I pushed myself away from the studio desk and and took a deep breath, I knew what was coming down the road, just as what is happening now! I said aloud "I will not be this person!" I immediately sprung into e-mailing her back. Subj: I Quit Effective Immediately! I closed down the store and as I drove away, there was this over coming feeling over me! I could breathe again and I felt like me, happy, spirited me! I feel sorry for my fellow co-workers and friends, but they are the ones who stay with it! I asking them, "How are you working for a company that is being micro-managed by two people whose previous company went bankrupt?" I am now self employed selling cosmetics and our motto is "People and Love!" I am ME!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Death Pool

How much longer do you think Sears Portait Studio has until it goes under? Leave your guesses in the comments so that later you can link it to your friends and say "I called it!"

To make it extra fun, let's guess the specific date they declare bankruptcy or close their doors .
I'll guess the announcment comes 12/31/09. Maybe that's too pessimistic a guess, but it seems like they would do it after their most profitable period and before things got really slow.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fix CPI: Turnover

Sears Portrait Studio has a huge problem with turnover. It seems that my situation was not unique in that many newly hired people don't last more than 2-3 weeks.

What I really don't understand is that, from what your comments have recently said, is that now that times have gotten increasingly tough, the response seems to be "fire people that aren't making PRS numbers and hire new ones" as if this will magically make people spend more money and be more satisfied

It won't even help you save on labor when you fire that 3 year person (who got one raise and is now making .50 cents more an hour once she finally got it fixed in payroll) and hire a new person. Yeah, the new person will make less, but you'll have to spend your time to train the person and also have to pay someone to cover the studio while you train them*.

I'm not sure if I even dare ask this question, but readers, how would you prevent people from quitting? I can't think of a good answer other than fix everything else we've talked about in previous posts. In other words, make it so this blog doesn't need to exist. I would love to change this blog to "Sears Portrait Studio Is Not That Bad" but get the feeling that Sears is more likely to go under than it is to be "not that bad"

*note: not taking the time to train the person also costs you money since they won't get photos that people want to buy.


The word on the street is you guys are doing a lot more paperwork these days? Give me a summary and I'll post about it.

I find it hard to believe they're adding even more paperwork. When I was working they switched from 15 minutes of closing paperwork to 30 minutes: most of it duplicate information or information that could always be printed in the future if need be.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fix CPI: CDs

CD's as low as 9.99!
...if you have already spent $100
...and the 9.99 CD only has one pose.
...otherwise it's around $70-$119.99
...[but shh, we'll sell it during the reorder sale for 19.99]

Everyone wants their images on disc. But in order to get that, they need to spend about $120 (either to buy the CD by itself or to buy a collection that has a CD). It's one thing when they've seen the pictures and can say "I want all of these" but how in the world can you convince someone "Digital images important to you? Hey, come on down to have your photos taken by someone you've never met. I hope your kid doesn't act up, because the CD is $120 no matter how good the photos are."

People want their images on CD. It seems to me that these days, it's actually preferred that you get your images on disc. What would you do to change CD's if anything. The main problem I see is that if you make them cheaper, your people that normally do collections, might only do the $60 CD. But would more 9.99 people do the CD instead? I think the CD sets the max price that you will likely get from your customers. Sell it for $60 and no one will buy anything that costs $80 (they can print it themselves. This is likely why the CD is $120 and the target PRS is (or used to be) 120.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Fyi, writing "I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT!" on the memos you use to communicate with staff is not sufficiently motivating or encouraging, and I don't believe that you believe it especially when everything else you say says otherwise. It probably looks good when the DM comes to visit though.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fix CPI: Motivation

I don't think I'm being too reductionary when I say that the motivation to do well at Sears Portrait Studio is that you get to keep your job.

If you do poorly then you're out the door. That goes without saying at any job, but the problem is how doing poorly is defined. Have a bad week due to some 9.99 coupons dragging your average down? That's a write up.

Really if you ask me, the main problem is at SPS, there's no such thing as a good week. There are weeks when you do ok and therefore made your numbers and then there are bad weeks where you didn't make one of your numbers (be they sales numbers, five star photo numbers, labor numbers, telemarketing numbers). I didn't see much of any positive recognition (not counting the very forced "let's talk about what you did well" before the "let's talk about where you are doing horrible" potion of meetings) while I was at SPS. And, numbers aside, staff often sees their schedules change the day before they're supposed to work: days added, days lost, frantic calls asking someone to work. People switch their life around for the job because they feel they have to or they won't be a "team player" aka "someone with a job"

What's the best way to make staff feel motivated to do their best without putting their jobs on the line? How can you make the staff feel appreciated and valued?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

How do they do it?

I want to interrupt the Fix CPI posts to ask a question. We've already discussed how at SPS, there's plenty of opportunities to move up in position since people quit so often and we discussed how my DM was someone who went from seasonal help to district manager in about 2 years.

But on the other hand, I don't know if you've looked at the company newsletter ever, but every once in a while, there would be someone in the newsletter where it would be something like this: "Congratulations to Ms. Person who, after nine years with the company, has been promoted to Studio Manager."

How do people last that long? Is it related to what some posters have said: how things used to be enjoyable at CPI and now are not (making those first nine years a breeze relative to the stuff they're about to have to endure)? I know that for some, working with the cute babies is enough to help them endure all the bad stuff, but nothing could make me endure for nine years.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Clothing choices

Image from deleteyourself. Looks like a Sears Portrait Studio collage if you ask me. If you can't read the shirt it says "Waterhole B.I.T.C.H. Beautiful Intelligent Talented Charming and Horny.

What are your worse clothing choice stories? While I had my share of people coming in wearing ridiculous shirts and getting the 9.99 package, the thing that surprised me the most were those that came in wearing horribly wrinkled graduation robes, take photos only in those, and then spend $250 on a package.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Fix CPI: Coupons

Coupons. They bring people in, but then people can end up spending 4.99. With people looking to save money [I feel like that is the phrase I'm going to use in every post], what are your custom conversions at? SPS can have a very busy day that requires two associates to be there, but if that second associate just ends up selling 4.99 packages, those extra sits have actually lost you money since you had to pay an extra person to be there.

What, in your opinion, is hurting you the most? Is it not having enough sits, or is it having too many coupons? If you're running single coverage, it's of course best to have as many sits as possible; there's no need to have an associate sitting doing nothing. But we also all know how having a day where two coupon-users kills your PRS and your job security.

Now, I don't know a lot about marketing and I venture that a lot of our readers don't either, but if you put yourself in the shoes of marketing, what would you do? More coupons? Fewer coupons? Different coupons? Better targeted coupons?