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Sharpshooter Imaging Photos
- Comp & Benefits
- Work/Life Balance
- Senior Management
- Culture & Values
- Career Opportunities
I worked at Sharpshooter Imaging full-time (more than 5 years)Pros
I have waited to write this review, as I wanted time to really digest what happened to me with the company. As a former hiring manager for the company I feel I can really offer a helpful insight to what it is like to work at SharpShooter. I started in 2007 as a PT sales associate. At the time I was looking to ski a few months on someone else’s dime. I had a very good job running a successful portrait studio in a major city. I had a great paying job that allowed me three to four months off in the winter. I really felt that I had the perfect job. My off months were a bit boring so on a friends suggestion I looked into working at a ski resort. Being that I already had photography experience I decided to apply at SSI. I ended up getting hired at the Canyons in Park City, and by seasons end I was the venue’s leading sales person. And frankly, I loved the experience. It was fun, challenging and compensated folks for their efforts.
Flash forward some years to 2013. After five years I took the major risk in closing my studio, leaving my much greater than SSI could offer me salary, and rented my home for a monthly loss to make SSI my new career. I moved to the Aspen area where I assumed an Area Manager position, helping to supervise three shop locations. I can tell you, in my time at SharpShooter to that point I had already experienced some challenges, with the main one being a difficult staffing environment. And yes the concerns you hear thru job board reviews are somewhat true. The company is lacking in technology, pay type, and leadership. But I took the risk because I believed it was the rare opportunity to contribute daily to a company’s growth, coworker’s progressions, and the customer experience. In the end my wife and I blew through our savings and never found a permanent place to live in Aspen to raise a family. The gamble did not completely pay off for me. My wife and I literally lost everything in our attempt to make it work.
It has been about six months since I had to leave SSI and I have thought about the experience everyday since. I would like to answer the typical employment concerns. Technology wise one of the hardest things to accomplish in the cyber realm is high volume data management. Right now I work at an International Ad Agency, and about twice a day the production team in my office has to wait through freezing workstations for the servers to catch up. It is less a sign of a company’s inability to acquire the latest technology, but more a testament to how much more of a priority it has been in this technology age to advance production tools then it is to advance system management tools. A lot of companies deal with the same issues daily.
In regards to the pay type, let me say that the challenge isn’t with commission versus guaranteed pay, but the millennial worker versus the gen Xer and boomer. This past summer in order to get back on my feet I took a second job at a retailer on the weekends. The pay at my second job is commission. I have been since the moment I stepped onto their sales floor the company’s highest average earning sales person. I mention that because like SharpShooter, the company I work for has a broad range of worker age. I am over 35, as are the second and third highest sales associates at my part time company. This same trend extends to SharpShooter. The top five sales people in our division were all over the age of 35 during my years with the company. So the question was whether the pay scale should change with the changing work force mentality of the immediate now generation, knowing the now of what they would be paid. With SharpShooter the product is one that does not sell itself, so in no way would a less salesmanship driven approach work. The other variable should take precedence. Instead of trying to appeal to the younger masses, selling the job as the coolest job at the resort and as a way to become a photographer, they should sale it for what it is, an opportunity to learn an age old craft – salesmanship. I believe that is why so many young people leave SharpShooter angry. They are misled into taking a job with a guise of a hip, artsy, fun–first environment. That is so not the case. It is a sales job. And one you have to work at with unrelenting focus and motivation to be good at. The pay off is that once you learn to sell the product, there is essentially noting you can’t sell. In fact, one of my leading salespeople at SSI in Steamboat went on to become a very successful mountain town real estate agent right after leaving SSI. And I could use my own experience as an example. I would have never described myself as an experienced sales person before, now, I am leading a retail chain with over 1400 employees as their number one salesperson – and I feel I have my experience at SSI to thank for that.
Now, for that leadership concern. It is a mixed bag. I have to say that I have never really worked closely with the ownership fellows so I can’t form too great of an opinion. I have, however, grown my own company to one that was incredibly competitive within a large market. With that experience and accomplishment I can attest that the hardest job is the one that keeps the rest of the group employed. And it is obvious they are doing well in that regard. Their industry is the most competitive one. Every person on vacation, literally every person, has a means of taking pictures. We are as Americans taking more pictures in this day of age than ever before. This makes the SSI competition every person they come into contact with. Yet, they are still growing and expanding. And from my experience they are doing it with great people. The HR team is the best I have ever worked with. They are incredibly savvy and way ahead of most large retail employers. The two National Directors I have worked with and interacted with are simply the best leaders I have so far experienced. They both take a pride and place an importance in getting to know all of the employees in their area. I have worked in advertising with some of the industries brightest minds and most decorated industry achievers. I worked with the people who made Target, Target’, and the folks who brought the US Winter Olympics to Utah. I can firmly say that none of them possessed the passion for the job at hand then the National Director whom I worked closest with at SSI.
The question of why I left my secure job and home for the “if” of living in a mountain town and working for SSI has everything to do with the National Director I worked for. A good leader inspires people to take leaps outside of their comfort levels.
The negative part of the management picture has to do with the company’s retention of people who have only ever worked professionally at SSI. There is, in my opinion, complacency at key operations for the status quo. And more dangerous to their ever–changing industry are managers who only have the experience and know–how to engage and confront trends and tribulations from one repeated direction.
All in all, even though I feel like the job did not go the way I had hoped, I am really grateful for the experience.Cons
My one complaint is this. In most industries where employees are asked to relocate for positions, there typically is the existence of relocation stipends. In fact, a coworker at SSI, with less seniority, fewer years on the job, and who happens to be single, was paid a substantial amount to relocate to another business. I never received any relocation assistance to move my family 1200 miles across the country. It cost my family $5000. Any help, however minimal, really would have been the difference between my leaving the company, and remaining in a position to help elevate it to its next level of growth.Advice to ManagementAdvice
Replenish your crop of true sales pros before they are gone. Make relocation stipends a matter of employment fact, not a situation of arbitrary reward. It should be a standard scale based on place of relocation, years on the job, and position within the company.RecommendsPositive OutlookApproves of CEO