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!

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Anyone know how the big fat annual March meeting in St. Louis went? I'm no longer with the company, but I've heard some pretty wild stories about what goes on. Everything from EVERYONE getting totally plastered (on CPI's dime, of course) to the new head of HR receiving a slap on the ass from a male studio manager. I just figured with all the cost cutting going on, they might check all the DM's and TM's into the cheapest flea bag motel they could find.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say thanks for putting together this blog. This is my first comment here, but not the first time I've come here for a little solace. It's strangely comforting to know you're part of a community of abused individuals and that others are seeing and experiencing pretty much the same dysfunctionality. The home-office insights are particularly helpful for understanding why things have gotten so rotten. I've been with the company for 3 years, and I have to say things have gotten much worse, at least where I am, in this last quarter. Our studio has been decimated by "runoff". We've lost 4 experienced associates in just two months, and that is from a staff of 7 people total. Two left for better positions, primarily because they felt they were not welcome. Two have left without securing another job, fearing an employment record besmirched by a firing. Everyone has been written up multiple times, and most, myself included, have been having a hard time keeping their blasted PRS in the acceptable to good range. Tomorrow I'll go in to appointments on the half hour, some double booked with one other person working: the manager. I'm sure we'll have plenty of happy customers!

My takeaway from this blog and my personal experiences is that SPS has been fully hijacked by a bunch of bean counting, metrics loving folks (used loosely) seeking accountability through numbers, fear, and intimidation. They think you can just go out and hire some new (inexperienced)photographers, and these new folks will fix all the PRS problems. Well, my TM is clueless about photography, and I suspect his superiors are too. I don't think they even understand the burden and loss of productivity all this retraining brings. They certainly don't have the customer--or the stuio manager--in mind with this strategy, and most distressing, they don't understand the value of experienced staff in delivering a good customer experience and repeat business. I don't know how many times I've told a customer that they can use their Super Saver Card at other SPS studios, only to be told, "I'll only come here in the future." I'm sure other experienced photographers have similar stories. It takes time to learn how to control children and elicit great expressions, but what do I know.

These are sad times for the company. The company has seemingly lost its heart and soul, filling the void with paperwork and fear. And although there are days that I too would like to see all of this folly end in the collapse of the company, I suspect SPS will persist. For as long as stupid people like me are willing to work for the company, and dopey, coupon-toting customers are lured back, SPS will survive.

Thanks again for this forum.

Anonymous said...

They didn't have an annual meeting.

Anonymous said...

So there was no "Awards Banquet"? No Studio Manager of the Year? Will there be district meetings?

Anonymous said...

There is nothing anymore. just our higher-up getting yelled by their higher-ups and then hollering at us. They dont care about anything but money. If wed all go on strike, maybe then wed get a response!

Anonymous said...

Nope, no communication meeting. I think this is smart. I always leave thinking that it was a waste of time anyways.......

Anonymous said...

What no communication meeting?! But the free finger food is the highlight of the year at CPI....its basically the only bonus anyone gets!

Anonymous said...

Well that, and the occasional slap on the ass.

Anonymous said...

I learned today......
That after Easter we will be closing at 6pm, 2 days a week. Fine, whatever.... we knew that. But then, the DM said that if we go to lunch at 2 and come back at 3to NO appts, then we have to close down the studio for the day?!

I just want to know how the crap that is supposed to work when the 1-800 # is always scheduling surprise appts. and ppl come late for walk-ins or to pick-up pictures.

They are totally phasing us out!

Anonymous said...

How do you like the fact that some of the lower volume studios go to lunch from 2-3, Then have to come back to check and see if any customers might have come by before closing the studio at 3:00. We have to hang around the mall for an hour lunch break, and then come back to close down the studio! What a bunch of crap!

Anonymous said...

yup, im the one who just learned about this. Im not clocking out for an hour, just to have to come back and leave. Those hours will add up quick and i cant afford to waste my time like that. Screw them. Im an asst. Manager who only gets 20ish hours a week anyways. So, if i clock out from 2-3... im clocking in from 3-4 to make up for that hour. Then, i will leave.

BTW, we arent a low volume studio and they are going to make us do this!

Anonymous said...

Geez, that's a great idea. Build the business by making yourself unavailable to your customers. Brilliant. Only at CPI...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, one of the worst things you can do in business is have unpredictable hours. Customers give up on you.

My question is how the heck is this a full time job for managers anymore? Are you in the studio every day now to make 40 hours?

Anonymous said...

Please post a thread about SAS...what a nightmare of a program!

SPS said...

SAS post? You got it! Check back in a few days.

Anonymous said...

The good news about SAS is that it's so jacked up that after working with it, you can handle just about any other system.

Anonymous said...

atleast all your codes are updated! None of ours work, and tech support keeps neglecting to update sas for us and we get crap from our DM for modifying all the codes.

Anonymous said...

ive heard this somewhere else, and would like to ask.......

Doesnt Flex = 'On Call'

and when you are on call, you are supposed to get paid for those hours, seeing as how you have to plan your whole day around it, reguardless if you actually go in or not.

SPS said...

Nope, flex means that you have to call in an hour before you're scheduled. If you're needed, you come in and get paid. If you aren't needed, then you don't come in and don't get paid.

(Though sometimes you get a call that suddenly is "guess what we need you drop everything despite what we already said earlier"

Anonymous said...

I know what flex means to CPI... what i meant was, for OTHER companies. Sorry, im bad at explanations.

I thought i seen it was a LAW that if you are on call/ Flex.... then you have to be paid for those hours.

Anonymous said...

I was confused by the SPS flex thing the first time round. I had worked in the financial world where flex time added flexibility primarily for the employee, allowing them to work some extra hours one day and leave early on another, for instance. Sometimes it was also used to the employer's advantage, as when weekend or evening hours were required for a special project. Even then, the employee would generally get to choose the time to take their conpensatory hours off. At SPS, it is always in the favor of the employer. You have to block out your schedule, and are never guaranteed anything. It should be illegal at some limit. My manager assigned one associate four flex days in a week. If that is not illegal, it's unconscionable. Hell, day laborers have it better than that.

Feeling pissed on said...

my first time here and let me tell you I agree with everything I have read so far...
We had a conference call last week where the DM was bitching about how dirty the studios are so I spent 3 hours cleaning, then got bitched at for not going out and finding sittings....
I work in a very little studio and Sears doesn't have a mall so getting sittings is very difficult...
Our economy is the worst in my State but yet it is my fault I can't get the sittings in the door...
As you might have noticed I am the manager and of course its my job to bring the people in the door.....Hellooooo.....No one is working...."Yes please come in a buy portraits and spend the money you would be buying groceries with".....
I have to have events which I love and I think they are a lot of fun but I personally can't afford them anymore. I have never been reimbursed for any of it.....
When I started with this company I transfered away from where I live which I don't regret but I was promised a raise due to the cost of living here, that was years ago. I ask but I am told that I need to be certified, ok, come certify me, but of course they won't.....
Cleaning the muslins? We can't take them home and clean them its not allowed but when I order them it takes 6-9 months to get them in? How gross is that......

Anonymous said...

I've had to take the muslins home to clean them as I didn't want to sit on them myself.. let alone put an infant on them! I've broken the belt on my washer and now the timer on spin seems to get stuck on any load. Yeah, my husband is thrilled... NOT!
And as for flex... coming back to close the studio @ 3:oo pm.... hmmm, I know when someone came in to work and we didn't stay open due to bad weather etc., we had to pay them for a minimum of 2 hours..... and that was in Calif.
This single coverage is making everyone's survey scores go down.. DUH!!!! hey, what's a hour behind your appt. time? So what... CPI thinks there will always be another customer to take that customer's place and yeah, there probably is as long as they keep those one pose pkg. coupons going out to EVERYONE & ANYONE.
One studio in our district has a customer who comes in twice a week with the same child, wears the same clothes and ends up w/ free 10x13, 1pose pkg each time, so she gets 20 sheets & 4 -10x13 each month for $40.00. AND CUSTOMER SERVICE told her that she could use a coupon every day if she wanted, as long as she had a coupon, Well, HELLO.... they are ALWAYS on the website... well worth her time to sit and print out 4 for the month! (Customer Service also called mgr. of studio & told her she had to take them ALONG with letting customer use the military discount with it!)
Word of mouth is the best form af advertisement and customers there sure do pass the word to friends how to work the system!
And the D.M. is having a fit that her studio prs. has been running $78.00

Anonymous said...

They want the PRS at PMPS to be at least 80.00. A lot of them can't do that because most of the clients are just happy to have a minimum wage job. The employees at Wal-Mart get a discount on pictures but we can't get discounts at Walmart.

Now the DM's and Regionals are not worried about the PRS they are worried about keeping the studios in the green and worrying about keeping the stores sales up from last year. Kind of hard to do that with people in dire straights with uncertain job futures.