Monday, June 8, 2009

What it means to be a "photographer" in a "fun work environment"

Someone known as CPI Hostage emailed us the following well-put submission. Never before have I seen a better summary of what it means to work at SPS.

"I am a salesperson. I can make the sale count 99% of the time. Even if you bring in the 9.99 coupon, I can get you to add-on something extra. I start at the 379.99 collection, and if you don’t ask, that is the only collection I will speak about. I will cheat you out of your money. I know you don’t need 25 sheets of your 3 month old, but I make you feel guilty for not getting them. I feel sick after every big sale, and depressed after every small sale. This is what I’m trained to do.

I am a telemarketer. I call you every day, leave you messages, and harass you until you give me an answer. I might have even purchased your phone number from one of your family or friends. I call you in the morning, afternoon, evening, on holidays, on the weekends. But I’m not a telemarketer; I’m giving you a courtesy call. I hate feeling that I’m driving you away from my studio, instead of drawing you in. I hate making you feel obligated to come in. But I need to make 3 appointments a day. This is what I’m trained to do.

I am a multi-tasker. I can take deliver photos, make appointments, answer questions, clean the studio, check the studio mail, read the browser, grade photography, check order accuracy, call other studios for my DM (because she is too busy to do so), make sales, ring sales up, and calibrate the camera, all while trying to get a wiggly, screaming 2 year old to stand next to the #2 and smile. I feel drained by the end of the day, my feet hurt, my eyes hurt, my head hurts. This is what Im trained to do.

I am a venting board. I listen to everyone's problems, yours, my associates, my DM. I listen and try to make you feel better. I can’t help that your 10x13 is the same pose as your 9.99 package. Some of you treat me like crap. Curse at me, belittle me, complain about our prices, and worst of all, criticize my photography. I have no self-esteem at work, I will stand there while you take your frustrations out on me, I can’t tell you off, I can’t stand up for myself. This is what I’m trained to do.

I am a secretary. I have more paperwork to do than the President's Aid. Summary of Conversations, Site Sales, Sales by Product, Open Orders, Daily Media, Daily Closing, Timecard, Schedules. That just the beginning. I print out 3 different reports, which give the same information every Monday for conference call. I don’t ever look at these again, but when my DM comes on a studio visit, I better have these printed out. I hate the waste of time and paper. But I do it anyway, day after day. This is what I’m trained to do.

I am a teacher. I teach photography, sales, time management, and customer service. I grade my associates with a happy face or sad face on their site sales. I try to motivate them, I try to encourage. But my DM is telling me to be harder, to watch closer. Instead of taking my associates aside and talk to them as a human, explaining what I need them to fix, I have to do a summary of conversation. If my associate had a bad week, instead of saying ‘Let’s put this behind us’ I have to document it, make my employee feel like a failure. It makes me feel like a monster. This is what I’m trained to do.

I am a janitor. I vacuum, wash windows, wash backgrounds, dust, and organize. I don’t have the proper supplies, so I purchase it myself. I put hand sanitizer on the counter where you pay for your pictures. My DM forced me to remove it because we don’t sell hand sanitizer. I put fresh tissues on the sales table, but we don’t sell those either. I put your child on a dirty background, and lie and tell you we dry clean them. I feel dirty, but there’s nothing I can do. This is what I’m trained to do.

I am a technician. I have taken apart a server and restored it on my own. I have installed motorized backgrounds, printers, computers, and cameras. I can calibrate the camera in 60 seconds flat. My hands get cut and dirty. I can easily be electrocuted, but I can’t complain, because this is what needs to be done. This is what I’m trained to do.

I am an artist. I make a so-so photograph beautiful with our enhancements. Now it would have fine in the raw, but I don’t have control over the lighting and my camera is on a tripod. I can’t take beautiful pictures; I have to take company approved pictures. I get the poses I need before I consider your wants. I know you got a tummy pose last month, but I did it in sepia this time. I feel shunted. This is what I’m trained to do.

I am a mother. I have no children, but I am cleaning up your child's drool, pee, poop, and vomit. After you leave the studio, I clean up the mess you child made. I tie your husband’s tie, fix your daughters hair, make sure your necklace is straight, and tell you how beautiful you look. I sing to your child, play games, and entertain them. I’ve been thrown up on, but I couldn’t complain. This is what I’m trained to do.

I am a machine. I do what I’m told. I hate my job, and dream of quitting, but don’t have the courage to do it. I have no confidence in my skills. I don’t have a passion for what I do anymore. Everything I do for you, I’ve done for the last customer, and for the next. I do everything like a robot. I hate the way I feel when I’m at work. I’ll never let you know though. Ill smile, and make conversation, and make you feel like you are one of the most amazing person I’ve met. This is what I’m trained to do.

I am a workaholic. I work 40 hours a week, but I am in on call 24/7. I have 2 scheduled days off, but I usually work 6 days a week. I answer my phone every time I get a call from one of my associates. I come in and work off the clock, because I have to watch our labor, but we are double booked at 12pm. I make sure that everyone in my studio gets their requested days off. I work on my birthday, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Christmas Eve, New Years Eve, New Years Day…the list can go on. I clock out for lunch, but work through it. If I get a walk-in at 2pm, and refuse them to take my lunch, I can be terminated for refusing a customer. If I don’t take a lunch and take them in, I can be terminated for not following company policy. I know this is against the law, and that it makes me crabby to my loved ones, but I have to do it. This is that I'm trained to do.

I am not a photographer.

I am a Sears Portrait Studio Manager."

63 comments:

SPS said...

*applause*

I just wanted to add a comments of my own
When you do have a new job, the one benefit of being a SPS survivor is that you'll find you're able to handle anything (and once you realize that it's ok to have a second to take a break, you'll enjoy a feeling called "relaxation"

I'm so glad not to have to try and bug and cajole people out of their money any more.

Anonymous said...

Its sad that this is PERFECTLY true about each and every one of us.

It should be printed and hung in every studio. My manager would kill me tho.

Anonymous said...

Well put! Sadly, that pretty much paints the picture.

There are a few posters to this blog, presumably managers, who are apparently comfortable with the company's methods and goals, and who would view this as yet another whining screed. The rest, and I'd bet the majority, will have an "OMG that's me" moment after reading it.

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully written.. and so fricken true!

Anonymous said...

thank you for that! Its how I feel every moment of every day and I couldn't have worded it better myself. I'm actually sitting here crying!

Anonymous said...

OMG!!! TRUER WORDS WERE NEVER SPOKEN! I APPLAUD YOU AND SAY "AMEN TO THAT" AS YOU PUT IT ALL OUT THERE SO WELL! I AM PRINTING THIS TO SHOW MY FRIENDS WHAT IT IS I AM TALKING ABOUT.. I AM STILL A STUDIO MANAGER, BUT YOU HAVE MADE ME SMILE AND LIGHTEN MY LOAD ALITTLE. THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

A-MEN

Anonymous said...

This used to be my life. Thank God I'm out of there. This was beautifully written and a ton of companies would love your compassion and communication skills. Please stop wasting your talent at that POS company!!!

Anonymous said...

I am Free!
I put in my notice and quit with dignity and grace!
I have been offered a position with another company as a supervisor.. yes at a higher starting rate than SPS...2 weeks vaca and no telemarketing! It is sales goals and selling photography, but there is life after CPI. When a haunted house tells you to "Get Out" you should heed the advice!

Anonymous said...

I've been in management for fifteen years...my thoughts after reading this is: grow up!! That's what it means to be a manager. No matter where you work, the bottom line is the "bottom line". The survival of a company and YOUR job is making money and keeping the customer happy and coming back. If you feel so terrible about being a studio manager, hate your job so much...then quit! Obviously management is not the job for you. I'm new to CPI, but it is one of the better companies that I have worked for.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous with fifteen years of management experience, please tell us where you've had your earlier management experiences. I'd like to avoid applying to these firms.

I too have done time in management, though I'm just a part-timer with SPS. I have never worked for a company that treated its employees with less respect and expected so much for so little compensation. Perhaps I've been lucky in the past, or perhaps I'm working in one of the tougher SPS districts.

With 15 years of management experience, it's hard to imagine you'd accept a studio management position that, in general, pays so little. Maybe you work at a higher level in the organization where you're insulated from the front lines. Or, maybe you work in a district where expectations are within the realm of reason. I don't know, but I'd sure like to.

Anonymous said...

ive managed in several other companies and NEVER have i been treated with such disregard and disrespect than i have than at CPI. never have i been bombarded with orders but when i ask a question such as what can we do to keep the studio under 85 degrees have that question simply ignored like "oops i didnt get your email". this is the smallest pay without real chance of bonus that i have ever seen. ive never had to "earn" my sick time as i go along. most places especially when your in management give you an allotted sick time for the year. never have i NOT been reimbursed for using my own personal time and money on my business. (ie cleaning backgrounds and props)to the anonymous with 15 years of management...good luck from what ive seen most employees are dropping like flies hope your not all alone in your night.

Anonymous said...

to the anonymous with 15 years experience...please don't even bother to post here untill you have survived a christmas season.You basic lack of experience with this company shows in your optimism...try back after you've managed a christmas...then maybe you will be qualified to post here....

Anonymous said...

To the person with 15 years of management experience...you said yourself you're fairly new....give it time. We all came into this thinking it would be something that in actuality it is not. I personally, along with many other I know, thought it would be so much fun and so fulfilling to take pictures all day long....
Give it time. Get to know the company. You will be singing a new tune in no time!

CPI said...

To the manager who told me to grow up:

I dont know how high up you are, so maybe you dont go through what myself, and 99% of managers of the studios go through. I would love to know how far up this crumbling ladder of a company you are.

I ask myself why I dont quit almost daily. And its because 1. Our econmy is crap right now. It would be unwise to take away my only source of income. and 2. Because I have families who come in, and treat me with respect. They thank me for creating memories for them. They know we get treated like crap, and will defend us to our DMs. If I left, they might end up getting a manager like yourself. Someone who obviously doesnt mind being used as a tool. I might let them use me, but never would I say that Im happy in this horrible company. Im saving money as we speak, to build my own studio up. If you trully believe that this is a great company, you either work in the home office, and dont deal with the things we go through daily, or you are blind and just as bad as the rotten, corrupted people who are running this company into the ground.

And just so you know, writing my little 'I am' post was a huge help. I felt like I had vocalized everything, and went to work the next day with a lighter step. I encourage each of you to write and post how you feel. Its not the same as telling you DM, and nothing is going to get fixed, but you still will get some feedback from everyone here, and the support you need. You might get a couple of people that are plain rude (15 years in management experience and she came to CPI? wow...), but the end result will make you feel more human.

Anonymous said...

I started as a MIT on June 1st, less than two weeks ago. I ALSO HAVE MANY YEARS OF MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE. In my 1st week I over heard the manager who is training me talking to her Asst. Mgr. about two mgrs. who are being let go because their PRS wasn't where it needed to be for one month, ONE MONTH! In this economy, I think the lack of reaching the goal for one month should not be grounds for dismsal. This made me start to think... then on my 3rd day I was thrown into Studio 1 to shoot a paying customer with no previous examples of positioning. Afterwards, I was chastised for not getting the FULL LENGTH, FULL LENGTH SITTING, 3/4, CLOSE-UP, EXTREME CLOSE-UP, MULTIPLE TILTS, and EXTRA shots such as BIRDS EYE and BODY PARTS. I said I would go and buy a book of poses (which I did, for $35) and was told by my trainer, that I was being rediculous. By my 4th day I was closing sales from earlier sits at $470 to a min. of $139... these sales were taken from me and given to the Asst. Mgr. after closing to boost her "just under" PRS scores.
I am in day 12 of my employment and can already see this company's ethics and practices are not what I signed up for. After reading this page, I know what I need to do. I wish I had know before I quit a good job to take this position.

Burntoutmgr said...

To the newbie. You don't know what you signed up for whatsoever. I work for the other side at PMPS and they are practicing the same things over here. They are threatening managers to step down and be regular associates and the like for small little things like not crossing a T. Just wait til Christmas, you will get the picture.

Anonymous said...

To the new MIT. I feel sorry for you. You came in to this company with high hopes like many of us also did, and for the most part, we enjoyed the actual job. Welcome to the "NEW" CPI that started to take over about 2 yrs ago. I hold my integrity in high regard and expect others to act accordingly. I can't tell you how many times I was told to lie, fudge the numbers, get creative with averages. I was told "they will never know" how many outreach calls I made or who really had the big sales. I was actually told "CPI would never ask you to work off the clock or not take a break, but call me when you don't get one so I'll know it wasn't your fault". And could I please call all my employees at home from my home to save labor hours to discuss the points of conference calls. Bottom line, I had great numbers and did EVERYTHING honestly and by the book. I never made waves but refused to fabricate results for the company. When I had the second highest sales increase in the company for the year AFTER they considered labor, I was told by the TM that it was too bad we couldn't celebrate my achievement because my pay was too high and labor not in range. WHAT???? Do yourself a favor and take lots of notes about all the shady crap you are asked to do, and the lunches you miss or work through. Believe me, if CPI is still standing after all the lawsuits settle, it will be a miracle!

Anonymous said...

To Burntoutmgr and the next poster: Thanks for your responses and advice. I just went ahead and cut my losses and quit effective immediately. I don't want my good employment record tarnished by being fired and I will not do unethical things to keep my job.I just think it is best to step down so that the paying customer can get pictures not taken by a newbie with no clue, I'll spend my weekend finding another job. UGH... I will research companies from now on BEFORE applying.

Anonymous said...

congrats to you hope you find something better. when i do interviews i tell the truth straight off. it saves me wasting my time training to have someone quit a week or so later and have to start all over again. im looking and praying myself.

Anonymous said...

I knew the type of company I was coming to work for when the DM refused to tell the associates in my future store that one of them didn't get promoted. I was trained and "hidden" in another district. Needless to say, everyone there quit and I am working 7 days a week. I hope they realize that my overtime is going to cost them greatly. I've been in "my" studio for 3 weeks, I'm already burnt out, worn out, and fed up! I know I should care about my PRS, outreach appts (gotta get those 3 per day, yeah right!!) sits, etc., but I really can't anymore. If they decide to fire me..let my DM go run my studio. At least then I'll get a day off.

Anonymous said...

To the above commenter...The same thing happened to me. Everyone quit my studio and I was alone working open to close for several months and never got a day off. My DM refused to send someone in from another store to give me even one day off in those hell months. I was told to "hang in there"

Anonymous said...

My DM don't even say hang in there, she just wants to point out some stupid idiotic number that don't really matter. I think if I just sold the cheapest package to every customer and as long I sell a stupid card to every customer they would be happy. We gotta go green. LOL.

Anonymous said...

i say each district pick one day and no one in the district show up to work. let the DM freak out. they can fire everyone if they want to. a point will be made that we wont take it. theres only 1 to 4 ppl left per studio anyway. (more than 2 only if your lucky) mass allergic reaction to SPS. good luck

Anonymous said...

After the day I just had I needed that. I booked 0 outreach and had 3 no shows. I almost left crying. I would almost rather manage a waffle house.

Anonymous said...

I found out the call lists are being monitered to see if the employees are really calling them or not. You can say you called them but you had better called them because they have a dept. checking into it. Every phone call that you make with the company phone and every time you pick up the phone when someone calls there is a record of it. That is a dirty little secret they don't want out.

They actually know how many times your studio phone recorder picks up the phone and you don't answer it because your busy. They are counting those as well. They say if you don't answer the phone that the customer will go to the competition.

My suggestion is to use your personal cell phone for any phone calls that are not customer related for sure. Especially if your not in the good graces with your DM or RM.

Anonymous said...

I love the new rule that we now have to do. Low volume studios are now responsible for booking outreach appoinments for high volume studios....freaking awesome! As if I didn't have enough trouble getting my own outreach...I now have to do someone elses! Super glad I'm a fulltime telemarketer now!

Anonymous said...

today on a conference call we were told we have to speak to 10 customers a day during outreach or we get written up. 1st time corrective action 2nd time termination. that means if im alone and booked and only have one hour to outreach 10 people have to pick up the phone and speak to me or im fired? because i control the people at home now too? where is this magical wand im supposed to have to do my job? did it get sent through UPS on my day off? one person asked what if no one answers the phone do we still get written up? the reply was i highly doubt you can call ALL the call lists and not one person answers. i think im gonna go get a job telemarketing. ill make more money and when my schedule says off at 6 ill be actually going home not calling home and saying sorry honey we cant make the movie/dinner/boat ride/5 minutes alone/anniversary/birthday party/BBQ/birth of child/wedding/graduation/too tired to procreate... OH EXCUSE ME LIFE!!! because im chained to my studio. even though i spent all day with no appointments telemarketing myself into depression and someone decides to walk in at 5 effing 55!!!

Burntoutmgr said...

At Wal-Mart we gotta call 10 /day for the IVR cards. And have to sell at least 5 per week. We have the poorest of the poor customers to call. Face it Wal-Mart is for the poorest people and Sears is for the high class anymore. I am running a 110.00 dollar avg. and the minimum goal is 80.00 and try to get that out of all WIC customers buying baby formula with gov't card.

Anonymous said...

I asked what happens if we book 100 appoinments but none of them are for the next week...yup still a write up!

Burntoutmgr said...

The company can't see the forest for the trees can they?

Anonymous said...

At the Wal-Mart studios we are calling customers multiple times begging them to come in. Are we breaking the Federal Do Not Call List law?

Anonymous said...

most of the list filters out the do not call list. also you can check the laws in your state but most of them say that as long as the customer has done business with your company in the last 18 months you are allowed to call them. but typically our outreach scripts read like your calling an old friend so its not telemarketing. its like those people who sell stuff in a parking lot and say "can i ask you a question?" by agreeing to hear their question your agreeing to the sales process and its not harrassment or illegal. just skirting the laws as usual

Anonymous said...

Let me just say this was my life for 5 years!!!!!! why did I put up with this for so long.....i know out of my own pocket in the 5 years spent 1000.00 on the studio and my staff!!!!! I was in love with taking photos and my customer and did not see the stress that studio did and things I gave up for it!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Writing a post really helps me to see that I am not alone and therefore, not being picked on... it is a fact of the way things are at CPI and have been for the last year or so. Are we going to be able to change things by having this post? No. Do we expect to be able to change things? No. Does it help to have validation to what you are feeling? Absolutely!! Getting my husband to read these has helped him to understand my frustration with my job, yet also to see why I continue to do it...the love of my job being able to capture memories for customers that I've grown to love. And to know that I am not the only one who sees it this way is a big weight off my shoulders and helps me face another day! Maybe not everyone gets a sense of relief and feeling of commadrae, but I know I do! So I thank everyone who posts on here!

Anonymous said...

I'll second that!

Rebecca said...

I have been with CPI for 10 years seasonally and the past 2 I have been a studio manager. I don't know about your studios but mine is still fun. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into when I became manager. I know the long hours. I know the hard work. I know the "hardships" you speak of but hey, it is what I signed up to do. If you are unhappy and don't enjoy your job, CPI is an "at will" employer. It is your choice to stay there. Quit bitchin or get out.

boothis said...

The main reason I stay with SPS IS my manager.
Rebecca,
You said that if you don't like it - then quit. Well, in my location there's not that great of a job market. My manager is also a single mom with no family in the area. There's nothing for her that's hiring right now!
I'm doing my best to keep that studio in shape for her and I will try to stay just as long as she does.
But... "quit bitchin or get out"? it's not that easy for some.

Burntoutmgr said...

If your studio is making a good profit they should not ride you every dang day about outreach and the such. I should not be threatened to be fired because the rest of the district can't carry the water and they want my store to carry for them. Sorry my Regioinal and DM at Picture Me are not making their bonuses because of the rest of the district.

Anonymous said...

well rebecca if the hardships are what you signed up to do then by all means your welcome to it. but the rest of us signed up to be photographers.they never told me double bookings on single coverage or telemarketing more than photography or force people to make big sales or your fired or ridiculous list of things to do before you get your bonus and barely any raises or looked over for promotion every year in the interview. it was explained to me that it was a fun work environment with advancement opportunities and a terrific bonus program and yearly raises of $.50 because each year we complete WGTP and get a raise. as soon as i have another job in place yes i will leave but sadly that leaves on person working in my studio and one person working in the nearest studio that i help cover. they cant hire and train people fast enough to kep up with the people leaving. it must be nice to work in such a wonderful studio i wish i did so i could actually enjoy my work again unfortunately id rather work in convenience store hell than continue on with CPI. and since they pay more than CPI for a LOT less work i suppose its the smart thing to do. what a shame

Anonymous said...

I am reading some of these comments and some of you are complaining that ur customers only want to buy the cheap stuff or try getting money from a poor mom using wic checks... sears is higher class than walmart.....COME ON You know instead of being on this site you could be OUTREACHING!!!! Its not a matter of who is better or who has money and who dont its how you look at what you were hired to do! Make and capture memories! I know of a studio who is on the top but barely outreaches or gets refferrels ect... Its proof that they r only putting certian studios on the line and if you aren't making money then they are trying to find something to hold against you!

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of people looking for a job the last time I heard. You people should feel lucky you even have a job.

The company is barely above water and your throwing the company's chance to make it down the drain when they are trying to give you the tools to do the job.

Just suck it up and do what your DM is telling you to do. Their job and yours is on the line.

Anonymous said...

ill tell you what ill do my job when they return my job to its original status. PHOTOGRAPHER. i began years ago and i was NOT a telemarketer. i didnt sign on for it and it was NOT part of the job description. since the job description changed but the pay rate did not im not going to do anything other than what i was paid to do to begin with. ive reached my PRS goals and try to further my business with events and word of mouth. (as i have since the beginning) if CPI cant afford to advertise than they shouldnt be in business. (and shouldnt have bothered with acquring picture me if they were so hard up) most people can now do what we do at home. we need to have more supplies better backgrounds and more formal training. maybe hire some people who can take a picture because the starting pay is laughable to those with experience. the only people who take the jobs are moms who can work till one pm or silly high school girls. neither want to learn or follow policies. out of the last 15 people my manager hired over the last couple of years only ONE took decent pictures. magic eraser and baby wipes DO NOT keep our camera rooms in order. sales and business start at the heart. PHOTOGRAPHY. if we cant to that than we cannot call ourselves a portrait studio. so those who post we shouldnt be whining should check themselves and their studios first. the teddy bears are over 10 years old. the last new flower bouquets we saw were at least 4 years ago. the white motorized background needs changing every so often. not EVERY portrait needs to be enahanced it overwhelms the customer. my prs was well over $150 before 12 poses all enhanced plus specialties and the removal of props without replacements. if i had a penny for every customer that shook their head in disbelief at our policies (and decided to go with jc penneys) id be rich.
suck it up my (expletive here) oh and instead of being on this site we could be outreaching? do you work unpaid from home? cause last time i checked we dont have internet access at work. you must be dedicated. bravo you lifeless pile of CPI zombie.

Anonymous said...

You go girl. LOL. There are a bunch of us from Picture Me that read this as well. They are just afraid to post.

Anonymous said...

no ive seen plenty from picture me and im sorry you got dragged into our sad boat when we had no business buying it to begin with. we should have pumped the money back into our own studios. getting better quality photographers advertisements better props training and formally certifying employees, keeping double coverage to accomodate customers as well as have a more relaxed staff who will perform better (plus smile searching is SO much easier when you dont have angry customers waiting when you return) advertisements.....instead of to sying businesses we could have had a big success. nothing against picture me i just think it was a stupid move for CPI. so worried about sears foot traffic and now we drive people away with our desperate attmempt to get them in the door. lose/lose

Anonymous said...

*two dying businesses

Anonymous said...

I've been written up for not getting the "required" outreach appts, as well as quite a few of the other managers in the district. My question is: what are they going to do, fire us all!? There are studios in my area that only have the manager working, some lucky ones that have one additional employee. So, who does that leave to run these studios if they fire all of us? Not me.. I am a photographer, I do the best I can do, treat my customers the way I would want to be treated, and love the kids I work with. It's CPI that I HATE! So, if they fire me over something as trivial as outreach (which doesn't get done because I am foused on the customers who are actually IN my studio), then more power to them!! I'll always be a photographer, now I have the confidence to do it on my own.

Anonymous said...

So I work for CPI but in the Wal-mart end of things. And man can I tell you how completely amazing and delighted I am to see this blog... you have NO idea.

roni said...

Hey Everyone....Yes, it is a stressfull job! I'm going through the same feelings as posted, but I have to remember why I came to this field. I started as a part timer going on 15yrs ago, then moved to key associate, to assistant manager, to studio manager which I am now. I enjoy photography, love how a child's eyes light up when I act goofy to get that smile. Love the pride I feel when the customer says I did great with there children and they request me again,and again. I'm proud that my work is being displayed in thier home. Knowing that they will tell thier family and friends to go to my studio!
You have to know that alot of companies are in the same boat...money is the bottom line!
Except the things you cant change, and focus on how you can impact in a positive. If all you can truly see is the negative, then I'm sorry, you should not be where your at. And yes,theres always something else, maybe not what your looking for as far as pay ect. But hey, your not happy where your at, and you should be!
It effects everyone your in contact with, including your own family....so truly you have to make a choice. Do I want to try and make it work...because you can control whats in your own 4 walls and have a fun environment in the studio. This is just the way it is, and negative engery, can really just bog you down!
I work 6 days a week....CRAZY. I don't feel that I have a life out side of the studio, but I chose this path, and I intend to make the best of it for me and my staff.

Anonymous said...

You have just described my life for the past 13 years as a studio manager to a 'T'. However, some of these comments are naive at best. Take a good look into ANY other corporation over the past few years. They are all running scared and making crazy demands on their employes. Cutting labor, increasing responsibilities, freezing wages. That is the atmosphere in workplaces all over the country right now. If you think you will find something different somewhere else, good luck.
I am happy to have my job and choose to enjoy my customers, have fun with the kids and take pride in the fact that I am a part in their family's history.
I pass the fun to my associates, therefore I have a great staff. We focus on the fun, the customers feel it and I'm proud to say that my sales and sitts are up over LY.

Anonymous said...

it must be lovely that you have the freedom to pass the fun. can i come work for you because all i got passed was an impossible goal that even when i met the goal it was not enough. economy my backside this place was treating us like crap 4 years ago too. NO EXCUSE! i watched 4 mgrs bail at critical xmas season time because they wanted to slap cpi in the face and slap they did. if cpi spent more time making employees feel secure and appreciated then when crunch time came theyd have more loyal associates rather than desperate people who are afraid to leave because there arent other jobs in this economy.

Anonymous said...

I applaud you. I went from being a manager working 60 plus hours a week, to working 49 at a SPS. I burnt out faster at SPS in 4 weeks than I did in the marathon job of 100 hours a week. I've been here a few months and made it through the holidays but I've learned a few things.

1) I am underpaid as a manager.

2) Even when the DM makes the schedule for me...I will still be in trouble for being over SCR.

3) I have yet to pass a studio visit, and I'm positive we never will regardless of who is the manager.

4) My DM tries to weasel my associates into saying I am a bad manager EVERY single time they visit.!!! My associates tell the DM I am doing a great job, and the DM doesn't believe them or me.

5) A homeless person could walk off the street and say I was mean and the DM would believe them in 2 point 2 seconds with no hesitation.

6) The Lab does screw up orders, and when I called the DM with problems from the lab, like ruined pictures and spec sheets, I was told the LAB NEVER screw up!

7) The Sears Studio Manager is a tool, and thinks they can lord over me like I'm a part time worker....it really makes me upset.

And finally, I am really sick of the stupid 7.99 coupon. Some time it is a win just to get them to spend 13 dollars instead of 8.55, and I'm yelled at for not selling them on a silver....The reason they didn't get a silver is because they did not want one! Because trust me I tried.

I talked to a lady who used to be a manager for 9 years. She said, "you're never going to pass visits, you will always be yelled at for PRS, and you will never make SCR."

It's a pretty messed up company. I've worked for better.

So now I head into day 2 of the week, really behind in PRS, SCR, and sales, and guess what I have a studio visit really really soon...which means I will be yelled at and told that I don't know how to do my job. Just like I hear 2 times a week on conference calls, and usually 3 times a week on a personal , you suck, call from the DM. Lucky Me.

Anonymous said...

Thank god I'm not the only one. I love this. I dont work for Sears, I work for PictureMe! but it's all CPI and it's all the same. My favorite is printing all those reports you will never look at again but by god you better have then shoved in that binder when your DM comes.

I love taking pictures of children. I hate working so hard and then stuffing all the money i make into a pink envelope every saturday and mailing it away to pay salaries for people who will NEVER appreciate the robots that kil themselves to pay for fat cats to sit around and think of ONE MORE THING for us to do on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

I cried when I read your post, because that used to be my life. I did everything you wrote about for almost 8 years, the only thing was I was only an assistant and kept being told that my 225 loyal customers that were requesting me, would not leave if I did, I beg to differ. I was told I was not good enough for managment many times as I was passed over for the promotion I deserved so they could bring in someone new. I gained weight from always working, never eating, and the stress. Now, that I am our of that dreaded company I feel as if I can handle anything. My marriage was saved by my quitting. It was the best thing I ever did. It is unfortant that I miss my customers who many of thems I watched their kids grow up and can still tell you their name, birthday, likes and dislikes. I keep in touch with a few of them to this date. I tell everyone I know not to go to sears now because they are money hungry and don't care about the customers.

Anonymous said...

I WORKED AT KIDDIE KANDIDS UNTIL IT CLOSES SO I WORKED AT SEARS AND I HATED IT!!! EVERYTHING WAS DIFFICULT MY MANAGER WAS A B**** LIKE SHE NEVER GAVE ANY ASSOICIATES HRS SHE TOOK OUR SALES FROM OUR PHOTOGRAPHY THAN COMPLAIN OUR PRS'S WERE LOW SO ONCE I CAUGHT MY MANAGER STEALING MY IDENTITY (BTW SHE DIDNT GET IN TROUBLE) CPI BOUGHT KIDDIE KANDIDS AND I GOT A TRANSFER! SEARS SUCKS AND EVERYTHING SHE SAID IS TRUE. PARENTS COMPLAIN ABOUT THE 7.99 COUPON BECAUSE SHEETS ARE ADDITIONAL 19.99 AFTER YOU HAVE THE 7.99 COUPON AND NOT 9.99 LIKE ALL THE SHEETS. ITS ALREADY A DISCOUNTED COUPON WHAT DO YOU EXPECT! BUT YEA RIGHT ON!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow...and I thought it was just me. I survived two Christmas seasons and although I was just an underpaid associate I actually trained a manager at one point. I still could never do anything right and not once in almost two years got a raise. Everytime I refinished the requirements for a raise I ended up with a new studio manager and had to start all over. I feel for every one who has been through this and I am very happy my store closed down and I was not transferred. Now I can take my own pictures without feeling like I did something wrong because I didn't give a wedding to GoPortraits.

Anonymous said...

I have been with CPI for over 3 years now. I'm coming up on my fourth Christmas season, and this is my absolute last one. I have been officially employed in three different studios, and actually worked in about 10 different studios. I will say, without doubt, that this post explains what I've encountered in EVERY SINGLE SPS STUDIO I've EVER had the displeasure of working in.


Just an added note- relatively recently CPI decided to send an employee survey out for the sake of making the workplace better. All of the questions were worded similarly to "As a CPI employee, you are fully aware of what your job expectations are?"... funny, they didn't mention how MANY responsibilities there are?

Anonymous said...

I work for the portrait studio at walmart and i know exactly how you feel. :(

Anonymous said...

As a former SPS Manager....this is soooooo true....every ounce. It was, by far, the most horrible job ever...I am so glad to see someone put it in print! Long live those of us who were lucky enough to get out alive!!!

Anonymous said...

All I can Say is WOW I was not even a manager @ SPS & I did all the work of one and THAN some!! This is perfectly said! =( its sad too. I love photography & this killed it...

Anonymous said...

Being with this company for almost 6yrs, this is the honest truth spoken and put together well for all of us who are stuck in something we love to do but hate going to work. The only reward we get is a good discount on sheets only and a certificate for xmas that some of us get screwed over for all because on maternity leave for the season. And the sad truth is, even if the president of CPI or owner whatever saw this, at the end of the day, we would still continue to be underappreciated and mistreated not only by everyone above a studio manager but also by the customers, who continue to use the excuse for being rude "the customer is always right. As i've told my associates and coworkers, yes with all you go through at this job, it well prepares you for anything out there, outside the CPI world. Thank you for putting this together on behalf of all of us.
-dw

Anonymous said...

Wow.. this is well said and this goes for associates as well, not just managers. This company is the worst company to work for, especially if you have a "not so nice" boss. I am soooo glad to say I work for this company no longer...I love photography, but this experience made me think twice. Maybe in the future I will re-consider it. To all those working their butts off with no sympathy for higher ups, try your best to get out because it will destroy your life!

Nikkie S. said...

This is amazing. It's so sad that it's so true to reality. I couldn't stand the treatment Sears Portrait Studio put me though, so I didn't last very long. It made me feel sick to be pressured to lie and manipulate people to make a sale. I hated making those "courtesy calls", especially when one of our "Birthday reminders" went out to a mother whose child had passed away... I had to look the other way when another associate deleted a $150 package a customer had prepaid for just because she had forgotten it was there. I refused to charge a mentally disabled customer and his mother the full session fee when my manager only took 3 pictures, rather than the required 7, and dealt with the repercussions silently.. I wasn't allowed to defend myself when customers treated me like dirt and took advantage of me. Smile Savers were to be treated like royalty, and knew they could get away with anything. When I wasn't able to lie, cheat or manipulate someone into the sale, my DM made me feel like a failure. But that's what we were trained to do...