As a former employee of a Smart Circle office, I cannot even begin to describe how unethical their business practices are. I am writing this in hopes that I can deter someone from making the same mistake I made.
I am sure you are reading this post because you (along with 70+ other individuals) have recently received a recruiting call informing you that you were selected for an initial interview. Now, the exact position you applied for is questionable as there are numerous misleading job postings on the web. However, please note that everyone is applying for the exact same position. So, to begin, I’m going to explain the three-part interview process. During phase one, you will come into the office and meet with the “President,” “Executive,” or “CEO”. He or she will talk at you about contracts they have with top “Fortune 500, big-box retailers”. Due to overwhelming “success” and “growth”, the “company” you are interviewing with is expanding. That’s where you come in. You have applied for a “management in training” position and will be told that in just 6-12 months you will be given a portion of the “clients” to manage on your own. Now, let me be clear, the individual interviewing you does not have a single personal contract. He or she is one of the many incorporated offices working for The Smart Circle (the parent company). Your interviewer makes zero decisions when it comes to the products represented, and he or she has no control over the success of the individuals coming into the company (you).
If you are selected for a second round interview, you will be on-site at one of the big-box retailers receiving a “bird’s eye view” into everything that position entails. During that interview, you will spend about an hour shadowing and speaking to someone in “Event Management,” “Campaign Management,” or another similar “title”. You will be shown an event (and at that moment you should realize that you have simply applied for a sales position). If you decide to stick around for the second half of the interview, your interviewer will attempt to paint a picture of the “success” that you could have, and they will explain how you move up within the company. Everyone begins in “entry level”. Your interviewer will tell you that your promotion is based off of your ability to master and duplicate/train a skillset. But, please don’t be fooled! Your “promotion” within the company is 100% based off of your ability to recruit and maintain a “team”. The “company” you have just applied for is the perfect example of a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme. Simply put, it is a pyramid scheme without the “initial buy-in”.
What your interviewer won’t tell you is that if you accept this position you will work countless additional hours off of the clock (in addition to the 10+ hour “solo” days, holidays, and weekends you are already clocking). You will be required to attend and/or conduct unpaid one-on-ones, breakfasts, “business dinners”, Saturday morning meetings, and team nights. You will begin distancing yourself from your true friends and family in order to maintain an artificial friendship/relationship with your “owner” (yes, “owner” is what your new boss is called) and team. An “ownership mentality” will be drilled into your head, and, once brainwashed like I was, you will begin thinking “time now for time later”. I know of multiple people (including myself) who have given up on their dreams because of this scheme. Dreams including: finishing undergrad, attending grad school, applying for the ideal job, and attending weddings, funerals, and showers. Please don’t fall down the rabbit hole!
Now, I don’t want to go into too much detail when it comes to pay because the structure varies from office to office. However, you will essentially make minimum wage plus commission; all while dreaming of making upwards of $75,000+ during your first year in executive management. (For the record, my bi-weekly paychecks rarely exceeded $600 after taxes).
If you’re still drinking the Kool-Aid, the third round interview’s purpose is to clear up any questions you may have. And, hopefully at this point you have a lot of questions. If you are offered a position with the “company” and accept, congratulations?
Once employed, you will attend Monday-Friday morning meetings (and Saturday, once you are promoted out of “Entry Level”) where you will take notes on impacts and workshops focused on: how to maintain your attitude, how to avoid negative influences (i.e. – people in your life encouraging you to see reality), and how to sell (you are a salesperson, after all!). Ownership mentality, time now for time later, and going the extra mile will be the anthems of these meetings. Your owner will frequently run “opportunity” meetings where they brag about how much money they make or how much money another owner in the business makes. Researching The Smart Circle a little further will prove that owners are almost always lying about their yearly salary (this is based off of reports from former owners). After the morning meeting, you will head off to your assigned event. You will be responsible for your own gas and car maintenance (while being paid for travel only when you travel from the office to an event, from an event to another event, or from an event back to the office). Sometimes your commute will be upwards of one-hour, one-way. If you ever take a “road trip” or “business trip” trough the company be prepared to share a bed and pay for every meal.
If you decide to stay with the company and begin building a team, say “goodbye” to free time. In addition to constantly being on the phone, your owner will encourage you to “secret shop” (AKA – spy on) other employees. Networking with individuals in your office and around the country, employed by different offices, will be required constantly. You will have to “break down your day” (AKA – pull out negatives and set goals) after each shift. And, once you begin building a “team” of your own, your pyramid will begin calling you daily so that they can break down their day. It’s a good thing I had unlimited minutes…
I know of multiple individuals who are/were in “the business” for 2+ year. Yet, they haven’t been promoted to “ownership” (That’s a really long “6-12 months” in sales, if you ask me!!) Now, if you happen to build a team and make it through the “management in training” program, you will move away to open a “new” Smart Circle office in a city where a previous office likely failed.
I really could go on and on, but I’ll leave you with this. No, it’s not a “scam”. It is possible for you to open up an office of your own. But, you will have to ask yourself, “Is the personal investment and sacrifice really worth it for minimal financial gain?” I encourage you to make your own, educated decision. But, please be cautious! They say, “Time now for time later!” But, just remember, you can’t get lost time and memories with family and loved ones back once it’s gone.