Friday, February 18, 2011

Thoughts from a former employee

I know that by this point, the news about Borders is well-known. I refrained from speaking on the matter until now because (to be honest) I've been working crazy hours at work. Today, though, I want to write a few words about the bankruptcy filings by one of the largest book-store chains in the country.

To start, I'm not at all surprised. Even when I was hired in 2004 the company was struggling with money, marketing, and figuring out how to increase their customer-base. To fix that problem, they eventually put together an incentive-program that encouraged booksellers to sell a minimum amount of their promoted title each month. What was the incentive? You get to keep your job. As a result, customer-service slipped. Okay, it plummeted. This came after an intrusive rewards program got introduced to customers, re-branding campaigns, and all training personnel were cut from the staff (due to budget constraints).

The fact that it took seven years for the bankruptcy filing to occur really shocked me. And the fact that anyone was surprised by the eventual filing truly does amaze me. I don't want to see any bookstores get closed, but if a company refuses to build a business-model that takes care of customers and employees, they should be prepared for the consequences. I've heard B&N isn't a great company to work for, but they have an internationally established market. Borders just didn't do what it needed to to compete.

And this has NOTHING to do with e-books. They offered the Sony e-reader to their customers two years before the Nook came out. And each Sony-reader came with 200 free books. At the end of the day, it's simply bad business. I really want to see them come through this bankruptcy because I prefer shopping there (mostly because I don't have any indie-stores nearby). I did enjoy working for the store that employed me, but our staff was exceptional (and company numbers proved that consistently). They just went down-hill when the great staff got shafted by corporate. Those employees moved on to better positions, and the store fell apart.


  1. Though I never worked there, I do feel pretty connected to the stores because of how many of my friends did work there, so the news did kind of bum me out.

    I do have to say though, that I've consistently found Borders to have better customer service than Barnes and Nobel, and usually a better selection and layout. Even when I was able to get discounts at Barnes and Nobel I preferred to shop at Borders because I just like the feel of their stores better. I wish more people had felt the same way.

  2. Hmmm.... sounds like upper-level management should have been READING some of those books in their business section about how to have a successful business model.

    It does sadden me though to see any business going under, but you are right that a poorly-treated employee especially in retail is not going to charm customers to return to the store.