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Helpful (1)

Come for the coffee and friends, leave for the books. And everything else.

  • Work/Life Balance
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
  • Comp & Benefits
  • Senior Management
Current Employee - Bookseller/Barista in East Birmingham, AL
Current Employee - Bookseller/Barista in East Birmingham, AL

I have been working at Books-A-Million part-time (Less than a year)

Doesn't Recommend
Neutral Outlook
Disapproves of CEO
Doesn't Recommend
Neutral Outlook
Disapproves of CEO

Pros

The book checkout program.

Most of my co-workers and store-level managers are great people; I've made a lot of friends working for BAM.

My regular customers in the cafe.

Willing to work with student schedules.

Generally, a lot of hours are available, if you want to work... but not full time.

Cons

Books a Million is a failing business model, and I think everyone involved can smell the smelly smell of it's impending doom.

The management, (district management and up) is clueless and egotistical. It's almost as if they bought a copy of How to Run a Business for Dummies, and decided that every page was holy gospel written by a combination of Jesus and Sam Walton.

The employee discount is insulting. Even on paydays where we get 30% off, it's STILL cheaper to order off Amazon AND pay for shipping.

Instead of focusing on offering a pleasant customer experience, a nicely decorated store, warm coffee atmosphere, etc, all they care about is selling the discount cards and the complete and utter scam that is the magazine subscriptions.

Customers are seriously expected to throw down $20 ( ! ) to get a 10% discount, online shipping, and wi-fi.... you read that right, PAYING for wi-fi. You can go to McDonald's, Starbucks, even Krystal and get it for free; how is that a BENEFIT of membership? Shipping on Amazon is FREE if you have patience and the least bit of planning skills.

We also sell Nooks, which is money in the bank of Barnes and Noble. Why? God only knows. I have no words for this. None.

Almost no one gets to work full time, and there are no raises. Small bonuses are given for every card and magazine sold AFTER the store makes it's goals. I prefer to focus on being nice to customers, making quality coffee, and getting my extra money through tips (an extra $10 a day, easily. Making $10 a day selling cards is a *complete* impossibility, especially in the cafe).

If sales are down, the DM starts hanging store gift cards in our faces, like little carrots to hungry horses. Unappetizing, moldy carrots. It's hard to complain about free gift cards, but let me try... if they want to increase sales, try offering something of actual value, like, real money. For someone making $7.25 an hour and BARELY scraping out the rent and utilities for each month, I need cash. My landlord does not accept the latest James Patterson novel, cupcakes, or Angry Birds frou frou, As long as they let us check out books for free, gift cards are completely unnecessary. I personally feel my intelligence being insulted as if management thinks they're pulling one over on me and the other employees.

Also, the cafe is treated like an unwanted stepchild. In the era of online shopping, the cafe should be one of the top 3 priorities of each store, because that's the one thing we can offer that Amazon or eBay can't. However, very few people in leadership seem to understand this. The decor looks like it was purchased wholesale from a store that specializes in unwanted garbage from the 1990's.

 Instead of offering locally made baked goods, we truck them in frozen and months old from somewhere near Atlanta. The label says Cheesecake Factory. The taste says otherwise. Waste is rampant.

Advice to Management

STREAMLINE! CUT WASTE! Cut out about half of the book selection, the unpopular baked goods, etc. There has to be over a million dollars of inventory in each store that will NEVER sell. Start offering better sale prices; Amazon has us WHIPPED on both price and selection... severely.

FORGET ABOUT MAGAZINES. I handle about a call a week from a severely exasperated customer who has been completely unable to cancel their subscription, forcing me to personally call the scam company, provide them with evidence that I work for BAM, and only then is there a chance that the customer's subscription will in fact be cancelled.

The cafe, as is, is not enough to serve as a reason to visit the store, and it certainly doesn't make up for ripoff prices and a high pressure sales atmosphere that neither employee nor customer enjoy in the least.

Have smaller, more efficient stores. So much electricity and lighting goes to waste keeping the unsold and overpriced inventory warm and dry until we ship it off to destinations unknown.

Focus on hiring people that genuinely like the cafe AND books.

My final advice to management is to start viewing your employees as human beings and decent, functional, intelligent, and rational members of society. And do the same for customers.

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  1. It's a job.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Assistant Manager in New Bern, NC
    Former Employee - Assistant Manager in New Bern, NC

    I worked at Books-A-Million full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Lending Library, contact with customers and coworkers, learning to make coffee beverages, learning little bits of the publishing companies

    Cons

    selling membership cards, contact with customers, reorganizing the chaos of the shelves.


  2. Helpful (2)

    Great job for young college student or someone who has a second job.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Book Seller in McDonough, GA
    Current Employee - Book Seller in McDonough, GA

    I have been working at Books-A-Million part-time (Less than a year)

    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    The best thing about this company that I have seen so far is the employee discount, employee book check out, free cafe foods, small bonuses if sales are met & scheduling. When interviewing the manager put emphasis on being ok with me having a second job because I was only trying to work there part time. So she was eager to work with my odd schedule of hours.

    Cons

    The worst thing I have seen so far, is that this location only hires as part time. They promote that they have an awesome line up of benefits for full time employees but no one is hired as full time & only those who have been there for some time & exceed the percentage of expected sales consistently are offered to move up to fulltime or offered more hours. There have been shifts where they would take someone off the register because the amount of money they have brought in doesn't compute for their amount in membership card/magazine sales. Then that person is put on the floor to straigthen the books. Its a relief and curse because with each card/magazine you sale you have the potential to earn small bonuses, only after you have met percentage.
     Also the haggling of the Membership cards & magazines trials are awful! There is a running joke that if you don't hit your percentage for the day, you'll be fired....not too funny in my eyes. I was told by another associate that they watch the cameras to make sure that all associates are offering the magazines to the customers (apparently they can see as you hand the brochure to them & keep up with that..)

    Some managers will stand over you at each transaction to ensure that you :
    1. greet the customer
    2. ask for their membership card
    3. if no card, discuss all the benefits of the card
    4. if customer says no, continue to convince them again why its a great buy
    5. if no again (sometimes manager steps in to convince again), check them out
    6. ask for donation (during holiday seasons)
    7. discuss the magazine trials
    8.if no, try again ( sometimes try again)
    9. finish transaction
    10. highlight customer survey on the receipt

    All of this must be done all in a sufficient amount of time that you do not back up the line or let the phone ring more than 3 times & thats if the other associate is there to help (might be away from the front helping a customer look for a book). These steps must be followed with every customer, no matter how young or old. Luckily some offers aren't offered depending on type of payment, so its some what of a relief to see a cash paying customer. Those paying with cards beware to be annoyed with alot of gabber.

    I truly believed I was hired based on my experience working as a insurance agent (hardcore sales position) & not for my enjoyment of books or great customer service skills. The manager asked alot of questions about the position....

    Advice to Management

    To management, i understand the benefits of the membership card but esstentially its only promoted so you can make an extra dime from the customer at that time. I have seen only a handfull of great deals that come from the membership & thats only if you continue to purchase large amounts. You all need to be more lax on the associates about selling the memerbships because we are the ones who recieve the brunt of annoyance from the customers. We are teh ones who get snapped at, yelled at, books thrown at (i've seen it happen), etc.... When cards can be sold they are but sometimes we are forced to sell to people who could barely buy what they had then. No one should be fired over this program either considering the econmoy is not the best & people kind of like barnes & noble better (i hear more people ask if their B&N membership can work there too).


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