Superstockjock- it seems as if you have a good idea about things inside the stores. But as for as the outside source running the utilities, all that has done is made higher utilitie bills and customers complain that it is either too hot or too cold depending on outside weather. Yes there is more than 12 people who reads this board
Very good points... I didn't realize ORLY was about a 50/50 split on DIY and DIFM (commercial) sales until azcougarman pointed it out. That would explain some of their sales increases. Advance still has some work to do on the commercial side though. I always argued for completely separate budgets for DIY and DIFM. Separating DIY and DIFM sales and then grouping the budgeted payroll together never made sense to me. Unfortunately, the store manager usually ends up sacrificing one for the other when it comes to allocating the payroll between those segments.
I was paid well at Advance, probably better than many DM's. I never complained about manager's pay with Advance. I would even argue that you can negotiate a better salary with Advance than with the competition, but you always have to stay below your stores allocated payroll percent. If you're a highly paid manager, then you have less payroll dollars to hire good help... if you're a lower paid manager, you can afford to hire higher quality people. It's an unfortunate trade-off.
The competition (Autozone) allocates a set number of hours each week based on what the store needs to run (theoretically), regardless of percentages. AZ probably has the better payroll system in that regard. If the store needs 350 hours to run properly, then you schedule for 350 hours (or slightly less).... very simple. I remember many times with Advance the schedule (based on planograms, cycle counts, sales projection, etc) would allocate 350 or 360 hours, but payroll percent would only allow 310 or so.... then the DM would call and ask to cut another $100 or $200 at the end of the week. When the phone calls started coming in every day asking me to cut payroll (even when I was about 1/2 percent under payroll for the year, and personally working 65-70 hours per week to help out the division)... that was enough for me. Just like you said, this job is for some and not for others.
I agree that they are all facing the same challenges, but that still does not explain why AAP's stock is underperforming its competitors. This is a very competitive market, and I feel that AAP has lost some of its edge on the competitors. If I were the CEO of Advance, I would want to know why CSK and Pepboys stocks are outperforming my company when there's been very negative news in both of those camps.... and the only bad news out of my camp is that sales are stagnant.
Ok... I have to dig in on this one.... BP, you say that AAP would never have become the powerhouse it is today if not for what???? It was a powerhouse already! It was the number 2 company in this sector before going public... and is now not any closer to number 1 than before. Sales were growing at staggering numbers before going public and into the first 2 or 3 years after going public... now they aren't so staggering. We could argue all day as to why that is.. but there is a strong correlation between previous upper management and sales growth... to current upper management and sales growth.... which brings me to my next point....
I've seen articles lately saying that some private equity firms are looking into purchasing Advance. That would be the best thing that could ever happen to this company. If those rumors hold true, there might be some nice price movement potential in store for this stock (assuming those firms would pay a premium to the current stock price), along with some needed upper management changes. When private equity firms are considering buying out a corporation, the reasoning is very simple. They feel that they can profit more by purchasing the company entirely (and running it themselves or with a handpicked team) rather than simply buying shares of the stock at market prices or taking a controlling stake in the company. How's that for confidence in upper managerment?
Same store sales have been stagnant at most of the retailers in the last year. O'Reilly is an exception however they are a different business mix.
AAPs commercial has been doing well....very well in fact despite a challenging retail environment.
As for slowing down store openings I don't think that will happen...if anything they might slow down remodelling some of the older markets as it costs out the wazoo and may or may not produce an increase to pay for it depending on the market.....I don't know.
I know one thing from having done this stuff my entire life...every store manager thinks they are overworked and underpaid. This is consistent across the board with nearly any retailer so using them as a guide is hit or miss.
Getting a job as a retail manager in the world today is about as hard as breathing so if they are truly unhappy then they would leave. If they do leave then more power to them...this job is for some and not for others.
I can also tell you this.....AZO, ORLY and Pep ALL face the exact same challenges...so trying to frame this as an AAP problem is not accurate. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE always remembers the good ol days. The good ol days are never as good as people think but somehow the myth persists.
AAP was a different company 15 years ago...because it could be. It was privately held and not accountable for its results to anyone. If Garnett wanted to spend money he did...no board of directors, no shareholders etc. Anyone with a grasp of the business world will understand that the way AAP was run 15 years ago....would never have allowed it to become the powerhouse that it is today.
Wouldn't have happened.
BP... we agree!!... on some things! I agree that the commercial parts pro is considered a dead end job with upper management... but I think has more to do with the people not wanting to leave that position, not because the company overlooks them for promotions. My old commercial parts pro was offered assistant manager and store manager position several times, but his comment was "Why would I take a demotion?"...
Change can be bad and good. Yes, I am open to new ideas and change... that's what this country is all about!! But the mindset that we have to change just for the sake of it... and then make that change work for better or worse is flawed. Some business models work and some don't. Those who try to stick with business models that are failing usually do so to the detriment of their shareholders. That's why I started the "one year comparison" thread (that very few people responded to).
BP, take a look at my "oreilly question" thread and let me know what you honestly think. We can all have an honest debate. I am not an old school person (I'm barely 30), but I do believe the past ideas is what made this company the number 2 company in this industry... and moving away from those ideas has lead to the decline in stock price. Change can be good (and necessary), but don't abandon the fundamentals. Also, store managers and employees input are vital when new ideas are created and implemented. They should NEVER be the last ones to find out a possible change.
As I look at the recent earnings announcement and see that "fewer stores built/remodeled/relocated" and reducing "cost structure" are the plans for upper management to address the concerns of the shareholders, I can tell that they are still not addressing why the same store sales are stagnant. As a matter of fact, they are completely avoiding that question entirely. If you are doing something better than your competition, your sales will show it! If you are sticking with ideas that aren't working, your competition will eat you alive in this competitive industry.
BP, I was honest with you about my former position in the company. I'd love to know what position or former positions you hold/held in this company. I would guess either a regional position, risk, corporate trainer, etc... but it has to be DM or higher. I don't want you to disclose your position if you feel the disclosure would risk your job.
Overall, thanks for the lively debate and I'm sure we'll continue these discussions in the future. I'll keep a cold beer in the fridge for ya!
VERY well said... I have to say that I learned a lot as well. The customer relation experience was very rewarding. I also know to ask a lot of good questions whenever someone presents me with a job opportunity.
We all know these boards are monitored well. I've personally been reading this particular board for several years but never felt the need to post... especially while I was still managing the store. I was always afraid I'd accidentally post something that wasn't appropriate on a public message board or post info that could be deemed insider information. Let's not forget that the company tried to track down the one poster - aapmanager was his ID I believe??... so we know the execs are at least looking.
Overall, let's assume for a sec that everyone on this board is a grumpy former manager and has nothing better to do with their time than complain. Fine... read all of the info in this thread and move on to the next step with the knowledge we have provided. If you are considering becoming a store manager, then go speak to the current managers of at least 4 or 5 stores in your area (try to ask some of the hourly folks as well). Ask them what they would recommend doing in your situation... ask them how their DM treats them... ask them how many hours per week they are working... ask them how their significant other feels about them working at Advance... ask them about average manager pay in that area.... ask them about turnover... you get the idea. If they are a good managers, they won't reveal specifics, but you can certainly get a good idea of how the managers feel about the stores in your area. Also, don't be afraid to go to the competition and ask their managers the same questions. Tell the competiting managers that you've been approached by Advance with a job offer. You just might end up with multiple job offers from different companies.
The electronically (outsourced) controlled thermostats... wow... that is a topic for another thread... I'm sure we all have a story on that. I understood the thinking behind it, but the inital expenses that went into this idea were unbelievable (not to mention the continued expense of having an outside company monitor the temperature 24-7 and having a person on standby to answer your questions about the sytem). Someone made one heck of a good sales pitch on that idea. Advance.. if you're listening... find that guy who made that sales pitch and make him a DCSM!!! He can sell anything! :-)
CJ - everything you have posted is fair and accurate. I was a store manager for 5 years and can relate to everything you have said. It is always good to get many impressions on a company's performance and reputation and not just the pie in the sky reviews and defense tactics. I was fortunate enough to have a great assit manager and good DM's. I feel it is the RVP's that are a big negative return on investment. They contribute little to the store level. I wasn't thrilled with the DCSM's either. Now the store's utilities are controlled from an outside source, how's that for confidence in your store manager? I know someone is going to reply back waxing poetic what a great idea and cost saving innovative measure that was but it still smells.
Checker has been doing that for years by the way. Just because something comes down from the top doesn't mean it is always right or the best idea - it just means you have to go along with it if you value you job. Once you stop questioning other people's reasoning and policies, good or bad, you put yourself in a diffulcult position. I'm no longer with Advance , I have gone on to other things. I learned alot good things and lessons with Advance, and made a lot of friends. I really enjoyed my time with Advance. My best piece of advice is, be loyal to yourself and family first, the company second. Some people lose sight of that. Always keep your options open. There are no guarantees in employment anymore and your company isn't losing any sleep over you at night, so don't lose any sleep over them. And contrary to what some "informed" people report - I can assure you that more than 12 people read this board.
Their are probably only like 12 people that read this board at all so I don't expect many to come out in droves to argue with you.
Of those 12 I think 10 of them are disgruntled former team members who really don't know much about the company in this day and age.
Has it changed...sure...so has the entire planet. The sooner some of you realize that and quit doing the "good ol days" crap the better for us all.
Love it, hate it...it's up to you. You can be quite successful at any position in the company and if you are comfortable with a lack of advancement opportunity then a Commercial Pro position can be a great job...if you want to grow and manage and strive to move up to bigger and better things then the SM position is the ticket.
It's not for everybody....but because it's not for you doesn't mean it's not for some.