Thursday, January 12, 2006

So, you wanna work for Jenny Craig?

WARNING: Long ass post. You may want to print it out and bring it to the bathroom with you so you can do something, er, productive with your time while reading this...


Training was about to start and I was actually excited about it. I mean, I was going to learn everything. Everything I needed to know to be a qualified, certified, and confident weight loss consultant. It all felt so very professional.

I showed up in my new business lady clothes that I bought fresh off the racks at TJ Maxx. I had to convince John that I needed the new wardrobe, so I could look the part.
When I got there, the receptionist told me to go on back and the training would start as soon as Amy and Diane arrived.

There was a half circle of about eight chairs with attached desktops in the room, a dry-erase marker board, and flip chart. About half of the newly hired were there and I said hello and introduced myself. One of the girls practically rolled her eyes at me and went back to her conversation and another one just smiled and nodded her head. Feeling like an absolute idiot, I sat down and rustled some papers around my puny desktop trying to look busy.

After spending what felt like an hour of me looking at papers I wasn’t reading, the girl who rolled her eyes got up and grabbed a fun-sized Nestle Crunch bar. I wondered why in the world she was going to eat candy in a diet center. I mean, duh?

But then I discovered she’d fished it out of a giant plastic bowl overflowing with candy on a snack table tucked in the corner of the room. There were other things on the snack table too, like veggies and dip and some fruit. But who the hell is going to help themselves to an unpeeled orange? All that orange zest gets stuck under your nails and then your hands are all sticky, every time you pull a piece off you risk squirting juice all over you. And everybody knows when someone’s eating an orange. It’s impossible to contain the smell. It’s not a bad smell, it’s just that then everyone’s like, "Hey, is someone eating an orange in here or something?" Who wants to draw that kind of attention to themselves? Even more puzzling; why was there all this candy? I knew it was a test. There was probably some sort of hidden camera in the room. Maybe that was why the trainers were late. They were probably yukkin’ it up in the back watching us on some small black and white t.v. I can’t believe that idiot fell for it. Serves her right; thinking she’s better than me. Bitch.

Finally, Amy and Diane strolled in causing a whirlwind of excitement. They were the only ones that seemed excited, though. Amy started up some friendly banter with some of the girls. And Diane stood there with a smile that made her mouth appear freakishly large in comparison to the rest of her face. She was in a navy pantsuit with a white turtleneck, gold necklace, and gold hoop earrings. She looked as though she’d just stepped out of 1988 and was feeling like a million bucks. Amy was dressed in a much more updated pantsuit which just became a pair of slacks and t-shirt soon after she lost the jacket.

Diane instructed Amy to go ahead and start setting up, which meant she was to become her lowly assistant for the rest of the day. Everything that Diane said was quickly recorded on to the dry-erase board as a bold point. Then Amy would flip to referenced pages that were previously written out in different colored markers on the big flip chart.

We learned about the history of Jenny Craig the woman, the inspiration, the diet guru. Later on we were then quizzed on that information.

We learned about what every employment position was responsible for. For example, a consultant’s job was to see active clients once a week for a fifteen minute long consultation. In those fifteen minutes a trained consultant could help their client celebrate their weight loss by being their little hired cheerleader and then they’d get down to business and put together the next week’s food menu.

A Program Director’s job was to set up appointments with potential clients, called "tours", and spend one hour with them asking questions about their weight loss goals, the challenges that have prevented them from losing weight, and then to sign them up with one of the Jenny Craig programs that would best suit their individual needs.

The next day of training involved rolling up our sleeves and role-playing the parts of consultants. Amy and Diane acted out a scene which involved a nervous caller played by Diane, and a consultant, played by Amy, who tried to comfort her and encourage her to come in for an appointment. In the end, Diane’s character felt relieved that she’d taken the first step in calling and Amy thanked her for calling Jenny Craig and was looking forward to meeting with her to discuss the weight loss program options this Wednesday at 2:00 PM. Sounded easy enough. But then again, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

First, we had to learn how to answer the phone. This was tricky. There was a script to follow and those anxious callers could throw you a curve, such as asking how much it cost to join, or "do you have to eat the food?", and "I heard the food was expensive!" Beads of sweat formed on the forehead of every trainee with a look of "what do I do next???" Enter the experts. Diane and Amy would step in to show you how it’s done.

When it came to receiving new customer phone calls, it was crucial to remain in control of the conversation at all times. Don’t let questions about price or food get you off track. Never, and I mean never, talk about what the food or programs cost except in the case of the advertised program specials. You were permitted to say "Our current special is 19 lbs for $19! (plus the cost of food)" And you always had to say "plus the cost of food" to cover Jenny’s ass. If the Federal Trade Commission called and you forgot to say that, it could be grounds for immediate termination. They were always telling us about all the legality stuff, and how you would be fired if you messed up just once with the wrong person.

After a long morning of rehearsing our telephone answering scripts, it was time to break for lunch. Two of the girls, Lisa and Courtney, asked if I wanted to go to Chili’s across the street.
While the three of us waited for our food, we talked about the whole phone pitch. "Doesn’t it feel kind of phony? I mean, if I called, and like, wanted to just find out how much it cost, and like, some stupid chick kept saying ‘19 lbs for $19!’, I’d be like, shut-up and tell me what it really costs," Lisa said. "Oh, and I like how we’re supposed to say ‘plus the cost of food’, which would naturally lead into the customer asking, ‘Well, how much is the food?’ and we’re not even allowed to tell them. So stupid."

I asked what was up with all the candy. "I mean there were mounds of candy on that snack table yesterday and today. And someone had to have refilled it, because I noticed M&Ms were there this time and they weren’t there yesterday, you know." But they didn’t seem to bothered by it. I asked if they thought it was some kind of test or something. They shrugged. Was I the only one who thought that was little hypocritical? They hadn’t really thought about it. I started to think they maybe they were in on it. Maybe I was the one that Jenny Craig was testing and the rest of trainees were just paid actors. I dropped the subject immediately.

The next couple of days involved more role-playing, but this time it was acting out a consultation. It was even more awkward and unnatural than the phone answering bit. You really had to hone in your acting skills with this one. Always using a positive spin on everything and making sure that you sent your client off with a full week’s worth of food and a motivated spirit. Before they left, you had to be sure to secure their next week’s appointment, because if you didn’t, they could fall off the wagon and you’d lose them forever. In other words, if they didn’t come in next week, Jenny made less money and you were out of food commission.

Consultations are free, the food is not, and that’s how Jenny Craig stays rich.

As the end of our training days neared, we’d spent almost every moment of our time learning how to answer a phone, sell food, products, and programs. We learned how to operate the extremely outdated and anything but user-friendly computer systems. We practiced bagging up clients’ weekly food orders and then double checking with the clients to make sure that we packed all their precious Jenny Cuisine and had "secured" their next appointment. We made "reminder calls" to real live clients to make sure they weren’t going to conveniently forget to come in tomorrow.

The last day of training involved some serious testing. Diane and Amy pushed us to the limit, role-playing phone call and consultations. It was the day that we all had to bring our A-game or we could kiss our Jenny Craig careers goodbye.

23 Comments:

At 05 September, 2007, Blogger Stephanie said...

I want to hear the rest of the story! I was actually considering applying for a position at JC and wanted to know what it was REALLY like behind the scenes. Your post was fantastic and revealed more than I expected. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it. Now that you've whet my appetite, I want to know how you did after you started the job and how long you stayed before you quit, or if you did quit.

 
At 12 February, 2008, Blogger Jimmy said...

Oh my. I just laughed my ass off reading this. I filled out an app, but now I'm reconsidering the follow up call. In a way, it reminds me of those Vector Marketing knives - I tried that scam back in my college days. It seems as if there's a lot of hidden agendas within this job that aren't clearly pointed out in the job description.

 
At 10 May, 2008, Blogger Lady Char said...

Loved your story! I recently started working for JC as a "receptionist". I haven't been allowed to answer the phones yet, fore I need to be certified first(pass the written script you mentioned). Training for the position seems to be lacking and I actually am more of an inventory clerk....constantly stocking food items!! I hope to learn the basics and move into a Consultant position. Are you still with the company???

 
At 29 May, 2008, Blogger Jo-Anne said...

The contrived responses are frustrating, and go against my fierce sense of honesty, it also smacks of telemarketing techniques.It was also frankly not as incredulous as I would have imagined. In a relatively positive job, with potentially positive results I will have to see the differences between one locaion and another. Unfortunately there can be bithcy self- absorbed girls anywhere who can make any experience just a little more miserable.

 
At 08 March, 2009, Blogger George said...

Jo-Anne really has her "stuff" together. Don't go on the word of one person; if interested in the JC program or employment, visit a center yourself. I've been a member of two centers, one in San Antonio, TX and one in Oklahoma City and it is my personal opinion that these are some of the nicest people I've had the pleasure to meet. As in any profession, I'm sure there are some are more efficient than others, but don't take the word of one or two people who have bad experiences; I am sure they probably did, but check it out first hand.

George

 
At 19 November, 2009, Blogger Barbara said...

Amusing post, but I don't really know any more about what it's like to work at Jenny Craig than I did before I read it. I kind of know what TRAINING is like, but training and the real job are two entirely different things. I'd love to see a followup on what life is like on the job.

 
At 22 May, 2010, Blogger Erika said...

Hi,

Did you end up working for JC? What was the contract you had to sign like, if they are so strict on even answering the phones? :)

 
At 16 December, 2010, Blogger jblaze said...

Do not apply for this job unless you want to get jerked around.

I applied for this job since it is close to my residence and figured that I like helping people and I want to make a career move into the health consulting field. I should have known that this was a mistake given how gimmicky the JC program seems.

So I applied online and called into the recruiting center to pass their initial screening process. I did just that and was informed that I would be called to schedule an in-person interview at the store location. I was able to pick a time that worked for my schedule. I was instructed to arrive 15 minutes before the start time which was 9 am. The recruiter was very adamant about being punctual and if I failed to show up, it would be another 3-6 months before I could reschedule. Sounded like an empty threat but I knew I would be on time so it didn't bother me that they already assumed that I'm a loser that doesn't have a job and couldn't make an appt on time.

So I arrive at 8:40 am for my interview and the store doesn't open until 9am. I figured that there was someone in there waiting for me. I rang the bell and as I feared nobody was inside. I called the recruitment center and told them that I was at the store for the interview and nobody was there. She said that maybe I could wait until someone arrived. I figured that I was already there and I could wait but I asked the recruiter why they would tell me to be 15 minutes early when nobody was going to be there. She had no answer and I had no recourse except maybe I would get the chance to scold the manager when she would arrive. Anyhow, I waited in my car until the receptionist arrived at 8:59am. I went inside the store and said that I was here for an interview. The receptionist said that she wasn't aware that someone (me) was coming in for an interview and that the manager who would be giving the interview wouldn't be there until 11am!! She called the manager and told her that I was there for the interview but the manager said that she can't come in because her dog was on the loose and she had to drive her daughter to work before she could come in. The manager couldn't even talk to me to apologize. So I told the receptionist after she relayed this to me that I wouldn't want to work somewhere that is this inefficient and less than courteous. The receptionist rebuttled with, "well we don't schedule the interviews, another company does this for us and this happens all the time". Well it certainly wasn't my fault, I was on time and ready. They were not!

SIDEBAR: It's a real shame that a company like this preys on the insecurities of mostly women to convince to work the the Jenny Craig program and push their food products on them. The funny thing is that a client of their's had also showed up for an appt with a consultant and, guess what, the consultant wasn't there yet either.

 
At 15 February, 2011, Blogger Jenny Craig Action said...

The culture of "sell, sell, sell" within Jenny Craig encourages the retention of employees lacking any conscience whatsoever. If you have any human empathy at all, you could never tolerate working for such an organization where desperate people are exploited and milked for tens of thousands of dollars.

Of course, when your business model depends of attracting unscrupulous people to work for you, it cant be surprising when they turn around and steal from home office. That's exactly what is now happening within hundreds of Jenny Craig locations; the rot has set into the organization itself.

Hundreds of employees across North America are skimming profits from the corporation by selling customers Jenny Craig meals that are never delivered. Instead, store-bought groceries are substituted.

This is exactly what happened to me and I'm taking the company to court to make sure the situation is resolved and, hopefully, see the company reform itself.

If you want to know my story, take a look at my site:
http://jennycraigaction.org/

 
At 15 February, 2011, Blogger Jill said...

I have been going to JC for the past three years. About 2 years ago I lost 40lbs and have kept it off. I still go to Jenny to maintain by eating their meals during the work week.

Alot of people are talking about Jenny like they are supposed to help you for free. They are like any other business and need offer you something you want or need and in return you pay them money. If you don't like what they are selling, don't buy it.

It's the same when buying a car and the salesman tells you you need a sunroof so he can sell you his inventory or the Dr that tells you that you need a follow up appointment to McDonalds asking if you want fries with that or the poor abused animal that needs your help for 37 cents a day. This is what makes the world go round.

The same women have been working at my center since I started going three years ago. They all get along and it is fun to go each week and see how everyone is doing. My consultant has never asked if I wanted any of the products because she knows I am there for the food. I have started running and when I asked about buying a pedometer she told me I would be better off going to Target and buying a Garmin running watch.

Working at Jenny Craig or being a client is not for everyone. Sales is not an easy job and not for everyone.

I am not putting down anyone else's opinion, just showing that there are positives too.

I needed to lose weight and for a price, JC was willing to help me. I lost weight and they made money. It's a win/win.

(Just as a side note...the JC meals were less expensive than the meals I was cooking and the fast food I was already eating. So I saved money as well.)

 
At 20 July, 2011, Blogger Violet said...

how much money does a consultant typically make? I am going on an interview next week and they will not give you any idea of the pay over the phone.

 
At 29 November, 2011, Blogger kristam0101 said...

Basically it's all about how good you want to be and maybe Jenny didn't deserve the best of you. Or maybe you were so negative you didn't think people you could possibly inspire deserve The best of you.

 
At 23 January, 2013, Blogger Melissa said...

I have an interview this week. I was excited but after reading most of these comments I'm more confused and not sure how to feel.
Anyone know the salary? It's been a few years since the last comment. Any more experiences or stories to share please?

 
At 23 January, 2013, Blogger Melissa said...

How did your interview go? Are you an employee today? What do they pay? I have an interview this week.

 
At 23 January, 2013, Blogger Melissa said...

I have an interview this week. I was excited but after reading most of these comments I'm more confused and not sure how to feel.
Anyone know the salary? It's been a few years since the last comment. Any more experiences or stories to share please?

 
At 19 April, 2013, Blogger Reiko Romero said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 19 April, 2013, Blogger Reiko Romero said...

I have an interview coming up Monday. Ugh...wish I had not read this. Any idea of what they pay?

 
At 18 March, 2014, Blogger cvtldy said...

$8 AN HR. GO TO GLASSDOOR.COM FOR ALL INFO ON WAGES

 
At 09 March, 2016, Blogger Tricia Rodriguez Jimenez said...

I start tomorrow with JC. I was offered way more than $8 an hour plus this location makes the most bonuses in this city. I'm gonna go in the with a positive mindset. I've sold before I just need to be trained and get knowledge of their food and products. When I've gone into this center, there was always quite a bit of ppl so the business is there. I've kept of 40 lbs for 3 years. I've read alot on nutrition, I workout, and I changed my lifestyle. I think it will be a great thing to be able to teach ppl what I've learned and make money while doing it. In sakes, yes, you gotta push their products because you are working for that company. And goes for selling cosmetics, supplements, etc. It's the job. Sales aren't for everyone but some ppl just have a knack at it. Especially when it's something/product you like and enjoy.

 
At 25 November, 2016, Blogger Thisbe Rush said...

I think the blogger here is either very young or just inexperienced. What, she thought JC Centers run on air? That the employees aren't supposed to make money? Maybe she is just unfamiliar with sales? I dont really see a story here. She took a job & went through company training- like a million other jobs that offer company training. Maybe she was expecting JC centers to operate like a charity (?) or just wasn't meant for this kind of sales job. I hope she found something that suited her better & that she could feel good about.

 
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