Circuit City and HHGregg

November 20, 2008
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How can it be that Circuit City is bankrupt and HHGregg is still going strong? Both companies sell electronics to consumers, though Gregg also deals in appliances.

Part of the reason may be found in how they treat their sales staffs.

Circuit City famously fired more than 3,000 of its top salespeople in March 2007 in order to cut costs. Now, less than two years after the â??wage management initiative,â?? Gregg is opening its 109th store and honoring Circuit City gift cards as the rival closes locations.

Gregg has long bragged of its service. Walk into a Gregg location and its sales people are likely to know their products and patiently walk customers through a buying decision. To boot, the quality of Greggâ??s product line is similar to competitors and the company often beats or matches their prices.

Jeff Pearson, who heads Gregg marketing, wonâ??t disclose tenures or compensation of its sales staff. But he says even veterans get 200 hours a year in morning walk-throughs and vendor training.

What are your thoughts about Gregg? Do you see other differences between the local company and Circuit City, Best Buy and other competitors?
  • I think it all boils down to customer service. I always end up at HH Gregg because although Best Buy & Circuit City have more employees & better prices, they are only interested in talking to each other & not the customers. When you ask questions 9 times out of 10 they can't answer them & doesn't inform anyone that can. When I work retail I was all about customer service & it's just gone down the toilet. I can see why more & more people shop online.
  • Agreed, HH Gregg earned 10k of my business remodeling my kitchen last year.
  • best buy sucks!!!! Circuit who??
  • Service, service, and service --before, during, and even long after the sale.

    Great delivery, a helpful sales staff that seems to know their stuff and is not high pressure, and did I mention service? Their stores, even the big one on 96th, are workable and walkable. They seem to have the same mantra in other cities I've lived that have Gregg's, like Cincy and Columbus OH.

    I've always found prices to be competitive with the biggies for the most part. This is no company hack talking here -- this is a satisfied customer on many levels: fridge, W&D, big screen plama and sound system, LCD tv.

    Best Buy, Lowes, CC are all huge, and hugely disappointing. However, Fry's takes the cake for worst-trained, highest-pressure staff. They do have lots o' crap, but the place is an electronics flea market.

    To boot -- Gregg is local. Really, if all else is equal, why not buy there?
  • The local guy gets my business nearly all the time, especially when price is comparable (which it usually is). There are no appliances or TVs in my house that didn't come from H.H. Gregg or Clark Appliance. Best Buy and Circuit City are horrible for customer service, and I nearly always walk out of those places angry, because they don't have what they advertise or they can't answer my questions - or because they just plain ignore me. We tend to vote with our feet and our pocketbooks, and the locals will get my business with those. The big chains can mostly go hang.
  • Thank you, Norm, for the post and the opportunity to vent. It is absolutely no wonder that Circuit City is tanking. When they fired all of their staff, I stopped shopping there. I have been a loyal customer of HH Gregg because of their customer service. I've spent thousands there and they're my go-to store when I'm looking for electronics or appliances.

    Have to agree with parkershade--I hate Fry's! The store is disorganized, you can't find sales associates to ask questions and when you do, they seem disinterested.

    Many companies could take a lesson from HH Gregg, Nordstrom and the few other stores that understand good customer service both at the time of the sale and after.
  • It is true that customer service is different at HH Gregg than CC or BB. And yes CC terminated their high paid employees and replaced them with less experienced, less expensive employees but their boat was already sinking when that happened. They over borrowed in their expansion and now Chapter 11 is in the works. Regardless of that now you'll find that at CC or BB a majority of their employees are high school kids on summer break or college kids earning hourly wages they go to school. You have to go to manager just to find someone who MAY have experience. HH Gregg is not this way. Most people familiar with HH Gregg know that their sales associates are generally older career oriented people who have been there anywhere from 5 to 30yrs. They are also paid on commission so knowing the product and taking care of the customer is actually beneficial to them unlike their competitors who make 8 bucks every hour they are there no matter how much help they are or are not to the customers. As for pricing, the impression that one is cheaper than the other is a misnomer. Every one of these boxes has a price guaranty. The only difference is HH Gregg offers the customer the best price up front where the other boxes make you go find it and bring it back an fight for it. I promise if you asked an HH Gregg salesman to find out what the competitions price is, he or she would have it for you and beat it before you leave. That is why HH Gregg is making it when others aren't. They have a sales force who's interest is your best interest. It is an Indiana based company with Indiana based ideas. What can you say for the others?
  • HHGregg wins on PRICE every single time. BB, CC, etc will not haggle, but HHGregg will. I get great deals on everything I buy there just by asking.
  • Amen about Best Buy's sales staff. Every time I walk in the door -- and I mean every single time -- I feel as though I'm interrupting a college dorm get-together. They don't want to talk to me; they'd rather talk to each other. If I interrupt their chat and force them to help me, they're usually polite, but they try to get their conversation with me over with as quickly as possible. It's been that way for years! All the appliances in our house are from Clark's, and after 12 years, we only recently had to have the first of them serviced.
  • Pres says bring back Ken Beckley!
  • Best Buy and Circuit City definitely have their uses. If you are looking for cheap CDs or know exactly what you want, you may be able to find it for less there, but if you know enough about your product, you should be able to find it for even less on If you need installation, knowledge and depedability so to HHGregg every time. If you know that you will be making major purchases over the next 5+ years, you will benefit by showing your loyalty to HHGregg because your sales contact will most likely still be there.

    Good luck finding that anywhere else.
  • We remodeled our kitchen last January and I went into HH Gregg with the intention of buying all my new appliances. The salesperson we ended up with did not seem to want to work with us. I even said, I have cash right now and if you work with me, I'll buy everything today. She could've cared less. We went to Sears where I did get good customer service, a better price, and free delivery.

    I will choose Circuit City over Best Buy any day. We've bought our computer, tv, surround sound, mp3 players, ect, all there. Best Buy lost my business as a woman several years ago when I read an article on their customer profiles. The only female shopper included was the busy suburban mom. I took offense that they only targeted that female demographic. It certainly showed that they weren't catering to my demographic whenever I went into the store. I'm not a mom, have always bought my own electronics whether or not I've had a male counterpart, and I don't ever want to live in the 'burbs.

    I'm sorry Circuit City is failing. It seems upper management has never known how to run a business. In the end, it will be all the people who are working at the store level who will suffer the most. I wish them luck in finding a new job. I have no idea where I'll shop when they close.
  • Yes, Gregg is good. But what happened to their advertising in the last two years? It's become uninteresting video wallpaper of the Buy! Buy! Buy! Save! Save! Save! ilk. Gregg had an image for 20 years that stuck with you. Now they are just one more hawker screaming Price! with everybody else. Bring back the twins. Or Beckley. Or George and Joey. Or something other than floating logos and generic teenaged sales geeks.
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