Saturday, May 30, 2009

Just putting this out there

I submit--for your comparison and discussion pleasure--that I was at a McDonalds this weekend that had posted all the wages for their different jobs. Their full time managers bring in $11/hr (no word as to if full time actually gives you 40 rather than 30 hours).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Also, after you hit a button on the phone, make sure you have DM approval to hit the next button

Quote from an email fwd'd my way:

"Hey all,

All of your studios will need to call/text/email you daily with the number of outreach appointments they've booked for that day at close of business.

You will then call/text/email me.

I will then have to call/email Kellee first thing each morning with the number of outreach appointments booked for the entire territory the previous day.

ALL studios will have a VERY high level of accountability for booking ATLEAST 3 outreach appointments a day. This is what the conference call will be about this afternoon, just to give you a heads up. And home office will have a team dedicated to investigating whether FAKE appointments are being please inform your people that if found, there will serious repercussions. We will execute this legitimately using all call lists and referrals and acquisition.

If you...or one of your managers are on vacation, someone MUST be in charge of doing begin immediately. You may want to host a conference call or you can communicate with each one on one. But again...this will begin immediately, beginning tonight for appointments booked today.

Just wanted to give you a heads up...and even though this is additional tracking, and will continue indefinitely, I know it will help our business. And there will be 100% accountability for this "Operation Get Sits" program.

Thank all."


Another one on the way out

This recently got sent to me. I take it I wasn't the only recipient:

"Sears Portrait Studio,
I wanted to let you know why you are losing another talented manager....
I understand the MPC, I understand controlling labor, I actually enjoy setting goals that we can achieve... I understand customer service... That IS our advertising.....I get the call lists... our customers and a reminder.... I am good at the 8 poses per session... very good in fact. I have been in the top ten for 3 years in a row. I met you in St Louis. I have moved from a low volume to a high. But, you as a company have taken away from me as an employee..I didn't even get a year end review this year let alone a raise.No company recognition, even on a district level. I have been through four District Managers, my lunch was always at the customer's discretion. Now I am damned if I take a lunch break.. ie customer service, damned if I don' I have to e-mail why.
I have to achieve three outreach appointments every day, and you won't advertise in the yellow pages. How can I "we" call the same people over and over.
I have had enough of trying to hire underpaid employees and asking them to be "on call' , I am willing to be responsible for my numbers, for my business and my employees as a studio manager, I am willing to be a salesperson PRS , photography specialist 5 star...I just wish that you as a company would appreciate what we in the field have and continue to accomplish as representatives of your company.We are the people that make your company profitable.... I am why the customers continue to come back... not the 4.99 coupons. It's because I have taken more than 15 min in the camera room, because I care enough to give them the best service in every aspect... but because you as a corporation have chosen not to appreciate your employees as we are expected to value our customers, you are losing the talent that has made you a leader in the industry.. It takes quality people to make a quality experience..and a quality product.
I am and can train quality people, but I have neither the hours or the incentive to do so..only threats and company procedure to follow. I am leaving your company, I have had enough, I have seen the "who you know" get promoted to DM and I have seen good people bypassed. I just wanted you to know that sometimes the corporations bottom dollar policies can be detrimental to your business."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sent in untrained and unprepared

An employee who's thinking of quitting after a few weeks on the job sent me an email. Here's an excerpt.
The second day I go in, the district manager is there with 3 other managers,(NOTE:there are a total of 5 employees, 4 of which are managers at my studio). Well I am sitting at the table getting ready to do my e-learning,and I overhear the district manager and the (I guess) assistant manger, whispering (talking) about the store manager after she left to go print out flyers. I thought that was so unprofessional and rude, I just sat there acting as though I wasn't paying attention, because they were whispering LOUD. As my day progressed I noticed that every time my manager was in the camera room showing me something, the DM would come in and cut her off, basically telling her that what she was showing me was the wrong way to do it, belittling the manager in front of me.
And that's of course bad enough, but what I really want to talk about this is the following:
Moving on to the next couple days of work, I did a couple of my e-learning skill assessments, and then she immediately started teaching me how to use Express, SAS, how to make sales at the sales tables, and so on. She has been teaching these things so fast, its hard for me to remember. (NOTE: What happened to training me through the training book/guide???). But anyway she had me posing the teddy bear as an infant and using the posing guide online. Posing infants was the only subject I had learned to pose up to my 3rd day of work.

On my fourth day of work which happened to fall on a Friday she threw me in the camera room cold turkey and I was completely LOST. She was OFF that day as well. To top it off every session I had was GROUPS!!! I had NO idea about posing groups, so that meant every 5 minutes I was running outside the camera room asking for help. I was terrified and so unsure of everything except making a catalog on express LOL. I haven't even been trained on keeping my sessions to a minimum of 15 minutes,so all of my sessions were at least 20-45 minutes long, due to my lack of knowledge. The whole time the ass.manager was running in the room telling me to "speed it up" there are other customers waiting.
This seems to be the norm still unfortunately and a self defeating cycle for SPS. People are going to come to Sears, feel like they're getting photos that aren't up to par because they're done by new [untrained] employees, they're going to spend what the photos are worth [$9.99], and Sears is going to do poorly financially and therefore put more pressure on its people to save more money on labor, encouraging them to spend less time on labor.

This was always a ridiculous cycle in my studio. Yeah, I get that you're trying to save on labor by getting people going as soon as possible, but you can't send them in unprepared (especially with groups: sheesh). They're going to quit and when they quit, you're going to have to pay for the labor all over again when you hire the next person. I know in my studio they hired in twos since once would always stop showing up. after a few days.

Clearly it's not working when you can't keep anyone around. Something has to change: why not train people correctly and give them the time? I know it's a huge labor investment, but so is having to have the coverage to train a new person every week. I'm not trying to say that this is the studio manager's fault: I think that a lot of the decisions they make are based on the environment that's created by those higher up.

Of course, how in the world can any managers give adequate training when there's only two employees at many studios these days? (And not only that, how can they convince new people that they're going to like working there if they're overworked and run ragged themselves?)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How dare you go to the emergency room!

From the comments of the previous entry:

"So now my studio and 3 others around us only have 2 employees. 2 employees to work 7 days. We were TOLD to get rid of everyone else.

So on mothers day I volunteered for a nearby studio since I am not a mother and was visiting mine for dinner. We gotta help our own since the company won't, right? Only 5 appointments were booked in this studio. NONE show up. but as I get there I get a phone call that another studio mgr who I worked with before calls me. she asks me to call some of her appointments because her employee schedule to work was in the emergency room and she was a few hours away doing her mothers day thing with her child.

I start calling these customers who begin SCREAMING that I ruined their mother's day. I'm trying to explain that the poor girl is in the ER and that the other employee is on the way. They don't care of course because I ruined their precious plans. Well pardon me A) I was just helping out another studio so THEY could enjoy mothers day and B) doing a second favor by making these calls. maybe i should have just let them get dressed drive all the way their to find the studio not open and waste MORE of their precious day.

Some of these people demanded I leave the studio I was in to go cover that one. I was an hour away! not to mention already an hour away from my OWN studio. WTF? The mgr of the store that wasn't open kept calling me asking me what to do. At the time I had taken 2 walk ins and was answering the phones from the angry appointments in the other store. I said look lady the manager of THAT studio is on her way there are NO OTHER PEOPLE, not working, close enough to get there and cover those people. now can I go finish the customers that are here in THIS studio so at least one store is making money today?

I can't wait to quit this job. I'd rather be a cashier at a grocery store at this point rather than waste my talent here anymore. Might as well have a talentless job rather than waste myself for nothing. No incentive, impossible bonuses, and no raise."

Edit: also from the comments:

"We have a Studio right now in our district that only has 1 employee...the manager. Because the other girl was working at 2 diff studios and got in a car wreck. This happened the SAME week all our studios were made to get rid of "Extra" employees.

This is already biting everyone in the ass it seems."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Either way you lose

You're at work and you've been given a list of tasks that need to get done. When the list was given to you, there weren't many appointments booked, but with walk in appointments your day has been very full and you have made good sales numbers. Closing time is a half hour away.

Do you:
a) Check in the order packets that came in today, something not on your to-do list.
b) Do the telemarketing that is on your list for the full remaining half hour in attempts to make your weekly goal.
c) Start what closing procedures you can so that you are able to save as many labor hours as possible by leaving as close to 8:00 as possible.

Hint: Either way you're getting yelled at even if you were able to complete two of these. Make sure you have a pen at work tomorrow because you'll need to sign the summary of conversation for poor time management.