2012 Hall of Fame: Babak Ghaznavi
Ghaznavi also seems as if he was born with innate management skills. Circuit City gave him his first management position in 1986 at its West Los Angeles store, where Ghaznavi helped make it one of the highest revenue generators in the chain. Thrown into the fire, he quickly learned some important lessons that has helped him get to where he is today: communicate clear expectations to the staff and provide them with the tools they need to succeed; create the most effective work schedules; make sure every product on display works properly; and, perhaps most important, how to manage inventory.
“Without the right inventory, you can lose a customer,” he said. “The customer doesn’t want to wait for it.”
During his nine years at Circuit City, Ghaznavi was moved to nine different stores, always to make improvements. “I liked it because I worked for different store managers and learned from them what to do and what not to do,” he said. “It taught me a lot.”
The lessons were well-learned.
“He is a guy that has constantly been able to show leadership at all levels,” said Dave Gentry, whom Ghaznavi hired when he was sent to open Circuit City’s store in San Francisco. “Babak has that Midas touch. He understands all aspects of the business what drives the consumer, add value and still make money at it.”
But, as everyone in retail knows, sometimes you have to lose money to gain a customer and beat the competition. One example of that stands out. Shortly after Ghaznavi was tapped to open a flagship Circuit City in San Francisco, he sold a TV for $499 to a customer who immediately went across the street to a Good Guys store, got a better deal and returned for his money back. Ghaznavi beat the price but the guy came back saying that the Good Guys offered an even better deal. Fed up, Ghaznavi sold him the TV for a penny, wrote on the invoice “Don’t Mess With Me!” and had the customer show it to the manager of Good Guys. A few days later, the Good Guys manager offered Ghaznavi a job as district manager. “I was always taught to be competitive,” he said