Getting to the Core of Apple

Apple runs a really tight ship. That’s the takeaway of a recent Wall Street Journal article that used confidential Apple store training materials and interviews with current and former store associates to provide a behind-the-scenes look at the tech-giant’s store operations. Among the interesting details: Apple’s annual retail sales per square foot stand at an astounding $4,406.

Here are some other interesting insights from the article:

  • Steve Jobs is deeply involved in the details of Apple’s retail stores, down to the kind of security cables used to hold products to the display tables.
  • The company details its “steps of service” in an acronym, APPLE, that starts with “Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome,” and concludes with “End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.”
  • It’s not easy getting a job at Apple -- it usually requires at least two rounds of interviewing.
  • Sales associates are paid anywhere from $9 to $15 per hour.  “Genius Bar” staffers receive up to around $30 per hour.
  • Apple frowns on the hard sell. Employees are trained to demonstrate products and help solve customers’ problems rather than sell products.
  • Employees don’t work on commission or have quotas to meet, but selling service plans is a must.  Those who don’t ring up enough in this regard, are either re-trained or given a different job.
  • Apple provides lots of training to sales associates. Once on the floor, new hires trail more seasoned associates and are not allowed to interact with shoppers on their own until they are given the green light.
  • Associates must stay positive. Genius Bar staffers, for example, are trained not to use negative language. When they can’t solve a technical issue, they are suppose to say, “as it turns out” instead of “unfortunately,” which sounds more negative.
  • Employees who are six minutes late three times in six months may lose their job.
  • Employees are not allowed to discuss rumors about upcoming new products or to acknowledge any product glitches, however widespread. Any employee caught writing about Apple is fired.

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