Store managers can be found in all shops as they are the main cog in its running. They are employed to ensure that the day-to-day operation of the shop is efficient and effective, with the main aim of bringing in the maximum profit possible. They are responsible for all employees within the store and are present to ensure the shop runs without hitch.
Every shop needs a store manager, making it a very versatile job that is widely in demand. The retail sector employs around 11% of the UK’s total workforce, so there are many opportunities available in this field.
Starting salaries for store managers usually fall between £14,000 and £20,000 per annum, but if the applicant has a great deal of experience in another management position or in a lower shop position it can be slightly higher. Within the first 10 years this can be expected to increase to between £21,000 and £28,000. Senior store managers of large chain companies can sometimes earn up to £40,000, but this is rare. Commission and bonuses are often awarded according to the success of the shop and its achievements, so this can be a great incentive to the Store Manager.
The hierarchy of the store
The store is often divided according to responsibility, so that the manager is at the top of the triangle with several subordinate divisions underneath them. The assistant managers report directly to the store manager and take on some of their responsibilities and duties but to a lesser degree. Supervisors may also be employed in the shop, and then the floor staff are at the very bottom of the triangle.
This includes dealing with all monetary aspects for the store, for example the banking. The store’s sales figures are vital statistics, and the manager should be able to forecast future profits and set the necessary targets. If the shop experiences losses then it is up to the manager to rectify this situation. This includes looking for new ways to increase sales and improve the efficiency of the team; certain promotions may be presented within the shop or incentives to increase sales (see below) may be offered to the team members. Maintaining security of the store is integral to its operation, thus the manager has either to employ security services or ensure other security measures are in place. If items go missing or lax security results in a loss for the store, the manager will be held responsible, and will have to resolve the problem. Finally, within store operations, the manager is often the last port-of-call for complaints; the floor staff will try and deal with these first, but sometimes the customer may ask to see the manager if they want to have their money back or want to make a formal complaint. Unsolicited feedback may be given directly to the manager, and they will then have to take this complaint to the appropriate quarter and ensure that the problem is solved.
One of the critical jobs that take place within a shop is the recruitment and training of all new members of staff, essentially one of the manager’s main duties. They will post the advertisement for the job, deciding where it should be placed, and then look through the applications to decide who should be invited for an interview. The manager will be present at all interviews, often with some secondary members of staff, and a joint decision will usually be made as to who is hired, although the store manager has the overriding decision. The manager will ensure that all their staff are trained appropriately, although they will often not do this directly themselves but pass the duty onto another member of staff. If a problem arises amongst the staff, their manager will be approached to resolve this and to ensure the smooth running of the shop’s team. This also includes motivating the team by providing them with incentives, days out and other strategies.
The sale is one of the busiest and most important events of a shop’s calendar. The manager has to arrange for all the cogs to run smoothly, for example enough staff should be available to work, which needs to be arranged weeks before the event. For chain stores, the head office will contact each store manager to provide them with details about the themes of the sale and what promotional material will be used. The marking down of items is a huge event, with the majority of the team being involved. It can often take many hours and the manager needs to ensure that the team are kept motivated and focused throughout.
Managing the Market
The sales market is a competitive one, thus the manager needs to make sure they are on top of market trends and are aware of who their competitors are. Customer expectations are vital to meet; liaising with both customers and shop floor workers will give the manager a better understanding of what customers want from the shop. Questionnaires and market research may be a good way of establishing this, but making sure that a good relationship is maintained with lower members of staff can also be vitally important.
Rather than any specific qualifications being necessary for the job, experience equips the manager with their knowledge and is an essential part of a CV. Most managers will need to have a reasonable grade in English and Maths G.C.S.E, and it is becoming increasingly common for an IT qualification, for example RSA Level II, to be required. The main route of entry is by working up the triangle, from shop floor to manager. This provides large amounts of experience, meaning training occurs steadily. Conversely it may be an advantage if managerial experience has been gained from another industry, and then this can be applied, although some shop floor experience will still usually be required. Foundation courses or HNDs in business, retail management or marketing may be an advantage, but these will usually only be required if the applicant does not have any previous experience.
Some chain stores have management training schemes, which usually require the applicant to be qualified to level 3 of the BTEC National Diploma or to have A Levels. These courses usually last for about 18 months to 2 years, or can even provide on-going training throughout your career, for example computer training including the use of software such as Excel or “in-house” systems. Other topics inclde how to market promotions, the importance of the lay-out of the shop and more specific product information, for example details about buying for the season at the appropriate time.
Once you have the job, some companies provide in-house training or offer national qualifications, such as an NVQ Level 2 in Retail Skills, or Level 3 or 4 in Sales.
You will need excellent communication skills as constant contact with other members of staff and customers will be necessary throughout the working day. Exceptional organisations skills are also needed, including the ability to direct other members of staff and to arrange the shop floor. Although some team work is required, you must be able to motivate yourself and other members of staff so a great deal of individual work is necessary. The ability to use your initiative and to think on your feet will be needed frequently, and the manager will be the member of staff who has to go beyond the call of duty when the store requires this.
Typical hours can vary greatly, according to the opening hours of the store, but a shift will usually run for 8 hours. The total working hours per week will be between 35 and 40. Many companies run early shifts, usually starting around 7 a.m., which deal with deliveries, and late shifts for closing the store, stocking up and cashing up. The manager will work 5 days a week, for various shifts and will usually have to work 2 out of 4 weekends. During the sales they will often have to work every day for over 7 days in a row.
The job can be physically demanding and although there is an office within the shop, the manager will often be on their feet all day and be required to move around the shop a lot.
Working as a shop assistant is the best experience. This will not only give a flavour for the demands of working on the shop floor but will also highlight what the manager has to do. Working up to assistant manager gives experience of management responsibilities without having to take on all aspects of the job.
Experience could also be gained in other managerial positions, for example in an office or restaurant, but these will obviously not provide an insight into shop work. Many shops will be willing to take on someone who has come from a managerial position in another industry as long as they can prove they have knowledge of the products that are being sold.
All shops need a store manager, thus the job is available in all retail outlets.
Opportunities to further your career are available in the main in larger chain stores. If you are successful in your position as a store manager, progression to area or regional manager may be possible. These jobs involve looking after all shops within an area or region, and being the go-between between the store managers of these shops and the head office of the chain. The positions involve visiting shops to ensure that they are running smoothly, taking up any major complaints and making sure that the managers are performing successfully. In clothes shops, some managers may even be able to progress to a buying position, whereby they choose the clothes that are sold in the shop.
Also known as…
- Retail manager
What’s it really like?
Laura Murchie has been a store manager, she tells us what it’s like…
I did a GNVQ in Retail at College whilst also working part-time in a boutique, which was family owned. Once I had finished my course I increased my hours to full-time, and within a few months the owners had offered me the opportunity to fast track to assistant manager. I accepted this incredible opportunity. My main duties included cashing up the tills, being involved in employment, training new members of staff and being left in charge of the shop. As the shop was relatively small I was also included in the buying, which meant I got a say in what was sold in the shop. This was a great opportunity for me as I’m aware other assistant managers do not often get this responsibility.
After a few years working for this company I decided I wanted to increase my responsibilities. I knew that I would not be able to do this at my current workplace so I applied for the position of assistant manager at a chain clothes shop (Monsoon), with the aim of later being able to work my way up to store manager. My responsibilities here were increased as I had more rules and regulation to adhere to, but other aspects of my previous job, principally the buying, were removed. After staying in this position for 18 months I decided to move to London and applied to an advertised position of Store Manager of the London chain shop Joy. This was a great step up for me as I was provided with greater training and had the sole responsibility of my own shop. I was accountable for employing all members of staff, creating displays, writing rotas, ensuring the money taken into the shop was correct and relaying figures to the head office. I was also able to decide what was sold in the shop.
After a year in this position I contemplated trying another career and applied to work as a recruitment consultant. It is rare for someone who does not have any formal qualifications to be able to apply for a position like this, but my previous management experience meant I was considered for the job – and got it! However, I found working in an office on the telephone all day less rewarding than the hands on work that shop work provides. One of the best things about working as a store manager is the variety of people you get to meet every day, as well as getting to know regular customers. It is a very social job and I missed this aspect greatly. After only 6 months I applied for a management position at GAP which is where I am currently working. It’s been great to get back onto the shop floor with the huge amounts of responsibility the job offers. Although the money is not amazing, there are often many perks and discounts which come with it that make it worth it. If you are organised, hard-working yet love a social job where you are not stuck in an office then being a store manager is perfect.