If stores did not show any effect of poor management, then why was Browett fired? I suspect it had mostly to do with a mis-match of understanding of the job the stores are hired to do by consumers and by Apple itself. The company treats the stores as a sales channel but also as a communications channel with its customers. Recall when Steve Jobs was asked why they stopped attending MacWorld (and any other trade show) he answered that they had the dialog they needed with customers through their stores making.
Horace writes an excellent and in-depth piece about the firing of Browett from Apple. Sales were good, visits were high – from a purely business standpoint the figures were backing him up. So why was he so unceremoniously canned?
It would take a considerable effort to reverse Apple’s recipe for retail success so even with the wrong guy in charge, numbers will still ride high. However, with Apple Retail, it’s not about the numbers. Browett failed at Apple because he wasn’t a good fit for the staff, the customers or Apple Retail. He was a numbers guy, a knife to a gunfight.
Remember the debacle over layoffs in the summer? Browett was universally hated amongst the retail front line. The Genius Bar in particular had gone from a place that felt special to a conveyor belt of desperate attempts to see more customers in less time.In the good old days, all a Genius needed to focus on was keeping repair times down to less than two days and the happiness of the customer. Now? I hear from former colleagues everywhere Geniuses are expected to see two or more customers at once and the focus shifted from customer service (repairing relationships as Ron called it) to metrics such as number of appointments and total repair numbers.
It seems Browett misjudged this seemingly lack of focus on numbers for an area that was neglected. It’s these figures Apple shouldn’t and don’t care about and that’s where he went wrong.