Von Maur - Von Maur, The Lowest Rated Retail Chain | Glassdoor
  1. Helpful (35)

    "Von Maur, The Lowest Rated Retail Chain"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Sales Associate in Coralville, IA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Von Maur full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    PROS. As long as you are employed at Von Maur, they will continue to provide you with a paycheck. Von Maur still has one of the most comprehensive retail sales training programs in the business. -You are taught how to use registers, POS programs; -Professionalism and conduct regarding how to treat customers; -Business models for management; -Monthly and annual reviews for all employees, some... supervised Colleagues and customers generally treat you well. -Pianists, sales associates, and stock & housekeeping are comprised of some of the nicest, most hardworking people I've met Federal holiDAYs (capitalized 'day' for a reason) are off. See Cons section for specifics. Time-and-a-half given on Sundays. Relatively clean stores. Employee discount is 20%; 30% for pacesetters and all-stars. Live piano music some of the time (about 40% of business hours).

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    Cons

    CONS. Read any accurate review about this place and you will know why Von Maur, a supposedly upscale retail chain, rates lower than Wal-Mart, Target, and McDonalds, among many others. Dear reader, you must understand that I have written at least 50 pages in a book designed to underscore the reality of working at this company, and in retail sales in general. I could literally copy what is already in my book, and... you STILL won't have a comprehensive idea about the retailer. Let's begin with the sales associate role itself. At Von Maur, sales associates are at the bottom of the latter, and reminded constantly about it. We manage the day-to-day store operations while dealing directly with the general public. We unpack new merchandise, stock our own departments, and open registers during a typical Monday or Friday morning. On Wednesdays, we have the dubious honor of doing not only that, but also second and further markdowns; i.e., marking items already on sale further down in price. Thursdays are first markdowns, meaning we find full-priced items, mark them to the correct price, and place them in the sale area. We do not receive well-planned, managed, and executed price adjustments; we are instead given long reams of paper printed from a dot-matrix printer (you read correctly) with a short description of the item, sometimes with its color, and either a combination of identifying numbers (SKU and/or UPC, or both may be missing) or the manufacturer's item number. On lucky occasions, the Von Maur website has a picture of the item we are supposed to mark down if we can't find it based on a string of characters printed on thin paper. On many occasions, items printed and marked as on sale do not exist in our store, and we spend hours searching for nothing. At Von Maur, associates are taught the "Two Rule" policy: 1. The customer is always right, and 2. If you believe otherwise, refer back to Rule 1. In the 21st century, we know this to be in error; many customers are ignorant about the products themselves, and more will try to abuse store policies. This policy places associates in a conundrum. Customers who complain enough to management about the rules are those trying to abuse store policies (returns, price adjustments, etc.), usually going over the associate's head to get their way. Management would rather kowtow to an angry customer than support their subordinates. Other customers are simply ignorant, and management will not hesitate to override the associates' authority, sending mixed messages to customers. So what if the item they wish to return was never sold by any Von Maur store at any time in the past? They still want to return their $1,200, 6 year-old Burberry handbag. What kind of store places no trust in its employees? If a manager will simply kick an associate by the wayside because the customer disagrees with store policy, why should they listen to anything an associate has to say? Because of the Two Rules, any customer can get their way if they threaten to complain about the situation publicly. Adding to the merchandising bit, it is worthwhile to know that there is NO COMMUNICATION between corporate, store management, associates, and the company's buyers. Buyers will come into the store and tell us to re-merchandise our departments a certain way, which we KNOW from experience, following their directions over and over again, will result in disaster. Management will come by, notice the travesty, then proceed to order you to change the department their way, wasting more time and wearing on nerves. Corporate will then follow-up and find the management/buyer mess terrible and against company policy, and order the department changed once more. Management tells you to be open, honest, and to make suggestions about changes and improvements; yet the above statements show you will have almost no say in how your department looks or operates. You are to be obedient, always following directions without question. -An example: costume jewelry, the cheapest, poorest quality jewelry you would expect to find for 75% less at Claire's, is supposed to be entirely represented on the floor. That means 6 duplicates of the same necklace, pair of earrings, or bracelet are all to be displayed next to each other with every other piece of jewelry like them. Keeping them crammed together on the floor in a cluttered, careless fashion instead of storing them neatly in back stock with one of each represented on the floor looks unprofessional, sloppy, and takes up a tremendous amount of real estate in terms of fixtures and floor space. Any suggestion to buyers, management, or corporate to change the policy is immediately tossed out the window, with the "offending associate" frowned upon. That is to say, even minor risk-taking is not only discouraged, it is punishable. Every associate will be asked, at least once per week, to close their department. Von Maur does not believe in maintaining adequate coverage at night or in the morning. At least 60% of the time the store will be so short-staffed at night (and management will NEVER close early unless there is an emergency situation) that you will be forced to close your department and several others. Men, who are never allowed to cover any department with women's clothes at any time, are suddenly asked to put away merchandise customers in such departments have tried on in fitting rooms. Locational knowledge of brands and styles on the sales floor is paramount to job success, so throwing people into the fray with no prior knowledge does no good for the store or for the regular associates who run the aforementioned areas. Closing is also typically the most boring and least profitable time for any associate. Stores are open until 9:00PM local time with few exceptions (closed early on Sunday), but most customers have left by 7:30PM. That is to say, sales goals are harder to meet for those of us who close regularly. Those who do not meet their monthly sales goal three times in any annual period are fired. There is systematic discrimination against men at Von Maur. Men are denied promotions to department manager positions, floor manager positions, HR assistant positions, and buyer positions, to name a few. Out of the 15 department managers at my store, only one man holds that title, and he is the weakest, most spineless, selfish, and sorriest excuse for a "manager" I have ever seen. The men's department, where one would EXPECT men to dominate, is run by two female department managers and only two male associates. In the last year, there have been 3 changes in store management, all of whom are women. The HR rep quit and was replaced by a DM from another store. The previous store manager transferred to a different Von Maur and was replaced from within by a promoted floor manager. Last, a new floor manager from yet another store was promoted to our store. Every store-level manager (HR, floor, and store managers) at each of the 29 stores, EXCEPT FOR ONE, is a female under the age of 60. Narrowing that further, every store manager at every Von Maur is a blonde woman under the age of 35, except for a handful of brunettes and one black male, whom the company unabashedly displays as "diversity in the workplace." Other reviewers will corroborate the fact that managers are promoted not on qualifications, experience, diplomacy, or customer service skills, but on whether they resemble the Stepford wives. With that out of the way, we need to talk about customer service, management, and benefits, including commission. Customer service is expected to be very high at Von Maur. The training program tries to instill the SERVICE acronym in new associates, and to make its processes second-nature. However, Von Maur is still a mid-range department store with products on par with JC Penney, Macy's, Dillards, and Younkers, to name a few. Jim Von Maur must have forgotten that fact a long time ago. Customers enter department stores to be served on their own terms, so they have time to peruse the various departments and goods available to them and compare them to competing stores. Most customers don't care about an associates' explanation of product benefits when upselling or suggestively selling. While many people fall prey to such tactics, most do not, and you will be hard-pressed to upsell a $650 Jack Victor suit jacket to someone with a budget of $200. The customer can't afford something like that? That's when we are trained to push the Von Maur charge card, an interest-free credit card which can only be used at Von Maur and with no other real benefits beyond a 10-month contract for purchases over $500. No rewards points, additional percent off merchandise during sales, or patronage gift cards are offered. Von Maur is truly stuck in the past. Von Maur may try to be like Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales, but fails in almost all respects. Those companies do not rate well compared to Costco or Google, but they all rate much higher than Von Maur. Von Maur has price matching, but has refused to match online prices. Von Maur does not have monthly sales, nor does it reward customers for their renewed patronage with coupons or gift cards. These tactics have made Von Maur a dinosaur, soon to be extinct, in an ever-changing retail landscape, in which brick-and-mortar stores compete with the Internet. Employee return policies are wholly unreasonable. You cannot return cosmetics or fragrances if they have been opened, nor can you return clothing or shoes if they have been worn. Product turns out to be defective? Oh well, you took that chance when you bought it. A coworker bought a Fossil leather banded watch whose band broke after only 3 days of wear. The store manager explained to her that she would NOT be allowed to return or exchange it; only send it in for repairs AT THE EMPLOYEES' EXPENSE. The company bends over backwards, disregarding all established policies, for customers; and yet, it outright refuses to extend even the strictest interpretation of its policies to its employees. The dress code is, as many reviewers have stated, conservative to the extreme, and reminiscent of the 1950's. There are no tattoos allowed; no gauges; no earrings on men; men's hair must be trimmed above shirt collar; no piercings aside from earrings. Women must wear black stockings without patterns, dresses that extend past the knee, have long sleeves, and cannot show any amount of cleavage. It's like women are forced to wear traditional Mennonite clothing, minus a bonnet. Of course, management is not subject to this rule, and they routinely wear short skirts and nude stockings. Men have an even worse go of it. Men are required to wear a full suit or tuxedo at all times, including jacket, dress shirt, suit pants, dress socks, dress shoes, and a tie. NO COMPENSATION IS PROVIDED FOR UNIFORM REQUIREMENTS. I spent about $900 on the suits, shoes, shirts, and ties necessary to even show up for work every day. I never made that investment back. Associates are expected to have a follow-up book after their third month with the company, the most useless tool I have ever encountered in modern times. Jim Von Maur must believe this to be the year 1954 to keep this policy on life-support. Associates are required to call or write at least one contact in their contact book (or for merchandise request purposes) per 8 hours worked. Since there is mostly not enough business to have a steady influx of customers craving items carried at other Von Maur locations but not at the one closest to them, and most contacts don't want to be badgered by overeager salespeople on a regular basis, the contact requirements are almost always made-up. Punitive action may be taken against associates who regularly do not meet or exceed their contact requirements. As a result, the company encourages dishonesty between associates and management through the follow-up book. Why face formal reprimands for your honesty when you can lie without consequence? Only 3 departments out of the 14 at every store have any need for a comprehensive follow-up book: shoes, cosmetics, and better sportswear, due to the nature of their products and customers. Another employee summed this up quite well: "the average customer is not as dedicated as [Von Maur] thinks." At least 75% of my customers just want to browse, compare prices, check the sales table, or have already picked something out and simply need a cashier. Only about 1% of my sales are from brands with very high price points, requiring customer satisfaction follow-up. I can keep track of all of these purchases with sticky notes and merchandise request forms. Associates receive 1% commission, unless they are in shoes or cosmetics. Shoes are 9% unless sales goals (quotas) are not met, and cosmetics are 3% plus their base pay, which is substantially higher than the average associate due to their sponsorship by the company for which they work, like Lancome or Estee Lauder. Return rates are extraordinarily high, with returns being deducted from the selling associate's commission pay in the pay period in which the return was made. That is, if a customer bought a scarf in December and returned it the first week of January, your pay period for that week in January will reflect the return. I find the company's commission policies shady at best; only 1% earned, no profit sharing, and returns are deducted from that 1%, making commission pocket change when compared to the meager base pay most associates are offered. I wrote a comprehensive review on benefits information, so please look through the benefits review section for all the details. As mentioned in the "pros" section above, holidays are off; however, there is no such thing as a *paid* holiday. The company will schedule you for 6-10 days in a row prior to Christmas and before Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. You will only ever receive the holiday proper off; i.e., Christmas Eve will never be off, and the 26th will never be off. Management is loaded with young women with little to no experience and usually no formal education in management techniques. Obedience, physical attractiveness, blonde hair, and inexperience are the hiring qualifications for most managers at all levels. There are associates with master's degrees, bachelor's degrees, and associates pursuing their Ph.Ds who are denied promotions due to their "threatening intelligence." Management spies on employees from the Loss Prevention camera room, sometimes calling from the camera room to catch an employee eating candy, chewing gum, drinking water, or checking their cell phones while on the floor. The building Von Maur rents at my location is actually owned by the city, so I'm curious as to the legality of such an act. Managers relish opportunities to micromanage sales, sometimes interjecting themselves in a situation of which they don't know the details. Managers are taught to talk down to employees, using 5th grade English while speaking in a condescending tone of voice. Managers are also taught to fake laughter so as to appease customers, which they use on employees, adding to their condescension. Due to their Von Maur training and lack of experience and education, managers tend to have poor diplomatic skills in defusing volatile situations with customers, between employees, and amongst themselves. One manager received a complaint about me from another associate, called me into her office, and proceeded to accuse me of being "a know-it-all." The last time I heard that phrase was in middle school from another 11 year-old. Now to wrap things up, we have scheduling, turnover, and the C.E.O. Scheduling is ridiculous at Von Maur, with the electronic TESS system, short for The Employee Scheduling System (creative, right?), seemingly dominating employee schedules with robotic precision. Management will not take credit for scheduling errors, even though all store-level and HR managers have complete control over employee scheduling. Some old-timers shared a nice little nugget about scheduling and department managers, namely that dept. managers once had the power to reconcile departmental schedules to best match the needs of each associate. That has been taken away by TESS, which will schedule people for 9-day stretches without break and/or stretches where the associate will be asked to close, open at 7:00 or 8:00, then close, then open again the following day. This burns out workers fast. Von Maur executives believe employees do not exist outside the walls of their company; work-life balance for all but seasonal and part-timers is nonexistent. Long stretches of work interrupted by one day off sends the message to employees that the company does not care about them. As an associate, YOU ARE REPLACEABLE, like the oil in your car. Turnover at Von Maur is the highest in the industry. Management and corporate brush off the turnover rate, stating, "it's retail." Meanwhile, managers fire hardworking, high-earning employees during severe staffing shortages due to their unbelievable clock-in system. Clocking in 60 seconds past your appointed shift is considered late, which is treated the same as clocking in 60 minutes past your shift. Four tardies, or clocking in late four times regardless of time past shift, in any monthly review period (called a CSIP) gets you written up. First is a verbal warning, then a written warning. Receive three written warnings in an annum and you will be terminated on the spot. On a related note, employees live in perpetual fear of being terminated over customer complaints, tardies, or over a variety of manufactured garbage managers use to fire people they don't like. Favoritism is high, with brown-nosers and proteges taking center stage and receiving immunity from termination, even if an entire department (or several) of people formally seek redress from one DM or associate in specific. This job involves a lot of drama, with employees talking behind each other's backs, complaining about one another but never addressing the problem with each other, stealing sales, ad nauseum ad infinitum. Now for the CEO, and an heir to the Von Maur fortune, James Von Maur. Jim visits stores occasionally to show he's alive. He has a 28% approval rating, far lower than the Walton heirs and heiresses who own the Wal-Mart fortune. If the CEO of Johnson & Johnson had a 28% approval rating, his contract would be annulled immediately. His visits typically consist of him strolling directly from an entrance to store management, stopping for a bit to talk to the Stepford Wife store managers about the bottom line, then exiting. He doesn't associate with the average salesperson, since we are replaceable and beneath his notice. A friend of mine, who happens to be a department manager, was approached by Jim about a month ago. He greeted her, shook her hand, then proceed to ask, "how are your numbers?" Upon being referred to the PAPER BOOKS we keep of daily sales, he terminated the conversation and walked away. He has no time to concern himself with the well-being of his associates, who constitute the backbone of his private enterprise; no, he only cares if every department is making its bottom-line to maintain profitability. BOTTOM LINE If you are desperate for money, can't find another employer, or don't care about company values, culture, or how you're treated, work at Von Maur. Otherwise, steer clear.

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    Advice to Management

    Read my review. Read the other reviews. Take what is presented to heart. Make necessary changes, especially in how employees are treated, if you want your company to survive.

    Von Maur2014-10-08
  1. Helpful (1)

    "Many opportunities"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Department Manager in Indianapolis, IN
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Von Maur for less than a year

    Pros

    Many opportunities to be promoted.

    Cons

    The dress code for women

    Von Maur2019-01-29
  2. "Unlike other companies, in a good way"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
     in Columbus, OH
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Von Maur

    Pros

    Best hours, job appreciation, great coworkers

    Cons

    No complaints, grass isn’t greener

    Von Maur2019-10-08

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