The New York Times ran a fascinating article on Sunday about Apple’s store employees. I pasted the link below.
The article focused on a rather interesting situation: Apple manages to hire highly skilled and motivated people despite paying them about $11 per hour and providing no real career path. These people could likely make far more working for Verizon or AT&T but they stick with Apple.
This is really a story about branding, of course. Apple is such a cool brand that people want to work there despite the high pressure and low pay. So Apple is able to pick exceptional people who deliver terrific service. This reinforces the brand while generating huge profits.
So is it silly to work for Apple?
On the surface it certainly seems so. Why work at a company that generates huge profits from your efforts and in return pays you very little? Apple is just taking advantage of the situation, right?
But working for Apple isn’t a mistake because anyone who works there gets to own a bit of the Apple brand. And this branding never goes away; they will always be part of Apple. Years from now they can confidently say, “Well, when I worked at Apple…” and “I was at Apple while Steve Jobs was CEO, and let me tell you what it was like….”
Of course, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to stick around very long. Once you’ve been there for two years or so, long enough that it proves you did a respectable job and weren’t fired, it is probably time to move on to a company that rewards you for your efforts and for your Apple branding.
I think Apple risk diminishing their brand by taking this approach to renumeration. I’m not very impressed with the services at the Apple stores I visit and I usually end up buying my products at local electrical stores rather then specific Apple outlets, maybe the Apple staff are more interested in hanging out than working? For $11 I wouldn’t be too interested in the work either.
I did however have a great experience with their customer services phone centre recently and it would make me sad if I found out the guy helping me got paid so poorly. Not so long ago it was Microsoft who were the bad guys but now Apple seem to be doing a great job at taking that role.
Even though I had limited exposure to Apple stores in the US beyond the one in Chicago and the Fifth Avenue store in NYC, I would claim that service in the US is better – maybe because of the staff.
The stores I have visited in Europe are even more crowded and deliver lousy service given that they are even more crowded (the times I visited) than the US stores mentioned before, which makes me believe that the stores will run into another problem – bad service because the easy, geeky approach to service cannot handle that many customers as good as something more structured could.
So once the skilled and capable employees are gone, store experience will really suffer. And who wants to wait for an hour to talk to someone who has no clue. Or do you always plan your shopping trips and make appointments at stores? Defeats the purpose of a nice shopping trip in my eyes
Thanks for this news. Now Stev Job that is gone, I think Apple will not stay long…