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Best Outdoor Jobs: Are You a Gearhead?

Backountry.com Gearhead
Backountry.com Gearhead

“The most important thing about a Gearhead is passion”, says Nathan Ellsworth, Customer Solution Supervisor at Backcountry.com. “Not just passion about gear, but passion for the outdoors and the sports they enjoy.” That’s what Nathan looks for when he interviews people applying for Gearhead jobs at Backcountry.com.

You’d think that’d be hard for an online retailer to find compared to retailers that have stores, but it’s not. You can tell pretty quickly if someone actually knows what they’re talking about or if they’re just a sales person trying to move product.

You see real gear heads don’t talk to you just about gear. They talk about what you want to do and about your skills before they start telling you the pros and cons of different products. More than anything, they’re evangelists for the feeling of renewal that people get from outdoor recreation.

“It’s the same as meeting a new climber at a 5.12 and talking about the love and respect you have for the sport,” says a member of Nathan’s Gearhead team. “We engage our customers and encourage them to share and find the same passion we have for a sport.”

[quote]I just wanted to send in a note about the great service I received when placing my order. I called in and spoke with Brooke who was extremely kind and helpful. She was able to help me with size recommendations and give me advice on differences between brands. I could not be happier with the selections she helped me with and how easy she was to work with.[/quote]

I know this from personal experience. I buy a lot of gear from Backcountry.com and for a while I was one of their top 100 customer gear reviewers (I’ve since fallen to #310 out of 157,000). Besides having a great selection, including many European specialty brands, I shop there because I can always get the information I need about products before I buy them, even if it’s a little obscure.

Backcountry Skiing
Backcountry Skiing

You might not have ever noticed this, but Backcountry.com rewrites a lot of the product descriptions they get from manufacturers to make them more accurate and useful. Their Gearheads will also research gear you want more information about even if it’s not listed on the web site. Like whether you can replace a backpack hip belt with one that’s sized independent of the torso length or which mountaineering boot liner to order if the manufacturer’s web site doesn’t specify one.

[quote] I just wanted to take a minute to thank you and your staff who set the bar high when it comes to customer service. One of our orders was for my wife, for her birthday.  One item did not fit her the way she liked.  When I called customer service for the return it was made as simple and easy as it could be.  Your customer service rep offered me several solutions to ensure my wife got the item by her birthday, which it made with time to spare.  I am 100% sold on your company and look forward to doing much, much more business with you.[/quote]

“The key to being a good Gearhead is to connect with customers that contact you for help,” says Nathan. “It’s gratifying to connect to customers this way, and motivates us to go above and beyond to satisfy their needs.”

“How far above and beyond?”, I ask. “We’ve even hand-delivered gear to customers at ski resorts when it’s gotten lost in shipping”, Nathan replies. “They were amazed. But that kind of stuff happens all the time at Backcountry.com. It’s even encouraged.”

Airborne
Airborne

Being a Gearhead is not without its rewards. In addition to recieving  manufacturer pro-deals (wholesale pricing), Backcountry.com provides their Gearheads with some awesome perks. Gearheads receive free lift tickets, gear rentals, and have access to special opportunities at local resorts and industry events in the Salt Lake City area. All of the manufacturers carried by Backcountry.com are constantly educating Gearheads by running clinics about their newest products and Gearheads get early access to the latest gear before it’s available to retail customers. Sweet!

To get hired as a Gearhead, you have to live in Salt Lake City. They don’t make exceptions – I already tried!

The most successful applicants for the job must demonstrate a strong passion for a sport: being a sponsored athlete, a ski instructor, or a professional mountain guide are great credentials to put on your resume (if you have them.) Previous industry experience is a plus, either working for a gear/apparel manufacturer or in a customer facing job such as retail or teaching.

“But the most important thing is passion”, say’s Nathan. “When we share a common passion with our customers, they believe in us as individuals and as a brand.”

What’s your experience been with Backcountry.com customer service?

5 comments

  1. backcountry com is one of my favorite seller.
    although i live in a country very far from the US (and Backcountry will not ship to my adress), i use a forwarding service to buy and get things from Backcountry. I always check Backcountry first when looking for some new gears, although sometime some of its prices are higher than other websites. I have been buying some gears from backcountry outlet too (department of goods)..

  2. Too bad about that SLC thing… I’d be all over them for a job if it was anywhere else :)

    Backcountry’s product descriptions and reviews are so much better than any other outdoor retail website I know of. Star ratings like REI and EMS have are worthless to me, because I can assume most people don’t use their gear the same way I do, or look for the same features I do. The reviews on Backcountry actually turn into conversations between people and the customer service reps, complete with non-stock photos of the gear in use. Imagine that– info about a product that doesn’t come from the manufacturer! I wish more websites did this.

    • I agree with you about reviews on other web sites. I would have written more for backcountry.com but their automated proofreader kept labeling my submissions as spam so I gave up. They never saw the light of day. Wish they’d fix that because i would contribute. I think Chad Poindexter is a big customer reviewer for them. Yep – found the URL to his BC profile. He’s been busy.

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