Circuit City Cuts Off Nose, Spites Face

Ian Lurie

Circuit City is, of course, imploding. They decided to reduce costs by firing the higher-paid salespeople at their stores.

Kevin Hillstrom at The MineThatData Blog asks whether Circuit City is correct when they state:

“There is no data in the company’s analysis that the service level has dropped due to the absence of the top paid employees.”

There’s no way that Circuit City can provide the same level of service. CompUSA tried the same thing when faced with competition from Best Buy. Now they’re closing some 50-odd stores around the US.

If I were Circuit City, I’d do three things:

  1. Hire the best salespeople I can find.
  2. Do a once-a-week, one-hour training session in every store where salespeople get to learn about the latest technology. Make the stereo people listen to a talk about WiFi. Make the computer people listen to a talk about HDTV. Make all of my employees enthusiasts.
  3. Host a series of “we want you back” events. Invite customers to come meet the staff, tour the stores, and enter for a free HDTV or some such.

Right now, Circuit City is entering a race to the bottom. Best Buy, Fry’s and web-based retailers like Amazon have more cash in the bank. They’ll win that race. So start a new race, based on top-quality service and an enjoyable shopping experience.

Oh, and if the problem is cash, close stores and consolidate. Then follow the 3 steps.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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