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Doesn't RecommendNegative OutlookDisapproves of CEO
- Work/Life Balance
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- Senior Management
I worked at Footsmart full-time (More than 5 years)
In my years with FootSmart, aka Benchmark Brands, I worked with some wonderful, smart, fun people and gained some great ecomm experience. The plus to continuous turnover, is meeting new people, learning new things, and networking. Compensation is better than average, however the benefits package is costlier than companies of similar size.
Let me first say, I resigned a while ago and wanted some time to process my experience with FootSmart/Benchmark Brands. This is not written in spite, or out of emotion. This is a sincere assessment. The biggest challenge to this company is the owner. I have respect for him for building a successful business, however, unlike smart entrepreneurs, he can't get out of the way, and the business will eventually fail because of him. Of course he will blame everyone but himself for this. When he does manage to find competent management (mostly recruited from out of town, as the reputation is widely know, and many local recruiters refuse to work with him), they expect to come in and make changes, as anyone with 20-30 years of experience would expect. Some know the reputation, and proudly say "I'll make some changes". Sometime in the first 30-90 days, you'll see it... the 1000 yard stare on the faces of these individuals, many of whom have left better jobs, uprooted their families, and realize that the company is run by a maniac. Some fight it, some move on. Eventually most are gone one way or another. The management that does stay beyond the typical 3-6 months, or has been promoted from within has their own flaws. Some are utterly under-qualified and know nothing of the actual role. The FootSmart environment is one of fear and intimidation, and in some cases retaliation. On a number of occasions, I have seen experienced professionals chastised, berated and treated horribly - driven to tears in meetings. The business is in trouble for a number of reasons beyond the owner's management style. 1. Customers are price shopping more than ever - Top brands like Easy Spirit, Merrell, Hush Puppies and Clarks are available everywhere - for cheaper. FootSmart is too small to compete with Zappos and Online Shoes, yet as of this year, the business strategy is to play the price war with range pricing, and markdowns. Anyone with any business sense knows this is a losing battle. 2. Horrible inventory management. Countless best selling items are often out of stock, and many won't get restocked. 3. The shipping process is horrific due to inconsistent contact with the customer, lack of tracking, terrible packaging (though drop ship items are properly packed from the manufacturer). Even as an employee, it would take up to 3 weeks to get an order, and sometimes, when I'd ask where my missing order was i'd get "oh yeah, we are out of those shoes". 4. The owner will tout the proprietary product as a business strategy which makes sense, however, some of the well thought out designs (thanks to a talented product dev group) are doomed due to terrible quality out of China, and damage due to poor shipping practices. 5. As of Nov, 2014, 77% turnover at corporate and 120% turnover in the HR (they call it Talent Asset Management). I have personally seen over 100 people resign or get fired in the last 20 months. Keep in mind this is a company of about 140 corporate staff. As for tools to effectively do my job - I had my hands tied. 1. We always had to do more with less. Not a lot of backfill happening, and adding headcount was out of the question. Our typical workload included a number of things that really should have fallen under another departments tasks. 2. My equipment was satisfactory, however, years behind on the software, requiring a learning curve when the time came to move on to another job. 3. Training. That was requested by me and the people I managed, and never were we allowed to have so much as an online resource, let alone attending more formal seminars and conventions. I stuck it out longer than I should have. I have thick skin, like many of my coworkers and had hopes we might get bought, or at least gain some positive direction from a competent board of directors. I urge anyone thinking about joining FootSmart/Benchmark Brands to read the reviews here and seriously consider other options.
Advice to Management
I wish you would have sold the company a few years ago. Under the right leadership, the possibilities would likely be a bit brighter than they are today.