Smart Circle / north chicago marketing branch - gurnee il
I answered an ad for a customer service/marketing rep position. Little did I know it was a smart circle subsidiary and the following weeks would be terrible.
I had been looking for jobs through temp agencies with not a lot of luck for months. I decided to apply to some places upfront and the first ad I answered was for a company called North Chicago Marketing in Gurnee, Il. They were looking for a customer service/marketing rep. This is not typically the type of position I would apply for but it said entry level, no experience needed, management training and gas reimbursement. It sounded really nice. I was called the next day saying they could squeeze me in for an interview. I was excited and obliged.
I arrived at nondescript business park and found my way into a seemingly nice office. I met with the "owner" Manny Lopez. The interview lasted less than 15 minutes. I was asked very briefly about my work experience. I noticed he didn't even have a copy of my resume handy. We went over some basic interview questions, like what I was looking for in a job and where I saw myself in a few years. That was it. At the end of the interview we hadn't talked about compensation, any job details, or what types of hours I would be working. Never mentioned why on the ad "gas reimbursement" was listed. He told me they were interviewing dozens of candidates but hadn't found the right one. He told me they usually don't do this but he'd would like to schedule me for a second round interview the next day. I was skeptical but agreed.
I went home that night and researched North Chicago Marketing on Glassdoor and found outstanding reviews. I felt a little better. The next day I arrived at the office and was told I would be going to one of their "client locations" with a "corporate trainer". I was excited to see what type of work I would be doing considering I had heard very little actual details about the position. It was a Menards. We walked to the back of the store by the dog food and door knobs to a little kiosk where my interview would be conducted. The corporate trainer asked me questions about my work experience, if I knew anything about marketing (I do a little) and some customary interview questions. I was filled in a little more on the position. It was a management training program! They were ACTUALLY looking for a market director and haven't found the right person yet. My job would to be to learn their system from the inside out (by a doing a ton of recruiting and training) so I could become the "owner" of a branch wherever I wantend to open a market. This sounded pyramid scheme-y but I'm not one to deny a challenge.
The "corporate trainer" then asked how much I would like as starting pay. I requested $15/hr based off of my education and experience. I was told that no one in the office was making that LITTLE and he laid out numbers that sounded a little too good to be true telling me I could expect to be making 45-50k a year just as a client rep. When I became an owner I would apparently be making 6 figures. I left the second interview knowing that he had tried really hard to sell me on a job that I was very weary of. However, I took it because I needed income and the prospect of growth within a company seemed appealing to me.
I spent a week of in office/2 hr a piece sessions of training called "atmosphere" where the owner talked about how much money he was making, one day spent an entire hour belittling people with college degrees, and generally babbling about "making the system work for you" and "not getting negged out." During these sessions I was able to absorb product knowledge, how to sell, tips and tricks etc. however, the rhetoric seemed a little cultesque, overly positive, and any one who wasn't a "high roller" was talked down to by peers. It was really sad in some instances.
I spent another week at a Menards, 45 mins away from my home, with the same corporate trainer I interviewed with trying to sell directv packages. I made one sale and was excited. During this week though I can't count the times my "trainer" would make inappropriate comments to me, snap my bra straps, or even throw things at my butt. After only making one sale during that time the following week they put me with another trainer. She was awesome and during that time I had the most faith in this business. Then some weird things happened.
We entered sams club one day to find someone with direct tv already set up. They weren't from our office, looked high, disheveled, didn't know where his office was but kept mentioning the name Cydcor. He was asked to leave. I did some digging of Cydcor and a bunch of stuff from [redacted] came up and I kept seeing the name Smart Circle pop up along with it. As far as I knew, smart circle was only the name of the call center we used to process orders for directtv and we are with something called "solution nation" (which I could find nothing on only something called Seven nation solution.. probably an older name they used before changing). I spoke with the girl that was training me about pay and found out she wasn't making the numbers everyone claims to be making and that often what she does make barely covers her bills. Also found out "corporate trainers" are required to buy their trainees lunch which made me feel bad knowing how little some of them were making and how much time and effort they were investing into something that probably won't pay off.
I was continuously told not to focus on numbers and just keep a positive attitude and sales would happen and to make the system work for me etc etc. however, all the "owner" really cared about were numbers and would make you feel bad if you were performing really well or not. It didn't matter.
I was promised gas reimbursement and I know now that that will not happen. I was promised management training and received nothing but how to manipulate people into listening to a sales pitch and how crappy this business is. I was made to participate in conference calls at a whim even when I was driving or being charged for the service. Our schedule would change at weird times and we wouldn't know until the very last minute. The owner barely ever answered calls or texts. All the while no one ever mentioned smart circle or described to me what role smart circle played in our business model. We had an entire meeting once about why we're not a pyramid scheme. And yeah it doesn't fit the definition but it's pretty much the closest thing you can get to it legally.
It was so weird because they told me the position that I was being hired for was highly sought after and I assumed it was because of the lengthy interview process but the same week I was hired they hired four other people for the same position.
Any skepticism was met with sharp rebuttals that seemed prepared. If you were negative people wouldn't talk to you.
It may not be a down right scam but they lie to and misguide job seekers to keep their revolving door of an office open. They would have a lot more luck just being honest and calling the position what it is and being upfront about expectations instead of filling your head with false positivity and passive aggressive behavior.
Avoid this company at all costs unless you're super good a sales and enjoy working 40+ hrs a week with one day off, no benefits, and no time for social interaction except with your coworkers.
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