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Ex-Guitar Center Manager Shares What He Thinks is Wrong with the Company

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Guitar Center has come under quite a bit of fire recently pretty much always for its shitty service and lackadaisical, unknowledgeable employees. How could one company operate under such disfunction for such a long time? That’s a rhetorical question, of course: the answer, in most cases, is that it comes from the top. So who better to comment on the problems within Guitar Center than a former store manager, someone who interacts with both store employees and upper management?

In a recent AMA on Reddit, a former Guitar Center employee who ran “both the guitar floor and the lessons program in one of the larger Guitar Centers in the chain” and describes himself as “pretty intimately knowledgeable about how the place works and why things are the way they are” shed some light on the dysfunction within the workplace and where it stems from.

Here are some highlights of the chat pulled together by Ultimate Guitar:

Would you say you enjoyed your job? What was your reason(s) for quitting?

“In theory, I really liked it. However, the amount of misguided micromanagement by middle and corporate management is staggering. Also my store was huge, busy, and profoundly understaffed.”

What’s the state of the company, in your opinion?

“The company is doing better, the employees are doing worse. You worked at GC during the golden years when it was fun [the user who asked worked at GC between 2008 and 2010], but that’s when all the loss started.”

If you were still working there, and you got approval from corporate to make one change to your store and/or how you did things, what would you change?

“The biggest would be sincere investment in knowledgeable employees.

“They need to have employees who want to be there and who really know their stuff. These would be expensive employees. That’s what the musical instrument retail industry needs though. Otherwise brick and mortars will fail.

“The second would be to get rid of all the metrics. Trying to judge an employees value off of quantifiable metrics is shortsighted and has undervalued many of the best people I’ve managed. It breaks my heart.”

Why’d you quit?

“A hyperfocus buy middle management on submetrics that don’t serve the customer or the staff. Micromanagement, understaffing, lack of investment in good employees and good training.”

Before you quit did you send a novel’s worth of complains and recommendations to every single person in the chain? If not, why not?

“I’m not one to burn bridges. I’ve expressed my frustrations with my store manager and he’s well aware. It’s the district manager and his superiors that are the problem for the store I worked at, and any ‘complaints’ would fall on deaf ears. I sent some metered feedback to one VP and to a general email group for feedback.”

What is your craziest ‘customer broke x’ story?

“This is a hard one, honestly. I’d say the craziest was the when someone reached up to put a bass away and missed the hook. The bass fell back down on another customer’s head. We had to bring the guy upstairs to the break room and let him hang out until the store manager was confident he was OK and we were confident he wasn’t going to sue…”

Articles about dysfunction at Guitar Center are always fascinating to me, and this one is no exception; there’s just something about the chain that everyone loves to hate, myself included.

Have you ever worked at Guitar Center or know someone who has? Were you treated poorly as a customer? Sound off in the comments below.

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