What's it like working as a retail store manager

I’m Chris. I’m the manager of the menswear store.


I’ve been in the industry for about 25 years now.


Started off as a salesman on the floor and worked my way up to eventually manage stores, buy for businesses both here and in the UK.


I now manage a menswear store and its great fun. It’s a very very nice job.


A typical day involves a typical day of starting any business. You know you have to be there on time if not earlier. Probably have as much done from the previous night as possible so that when you turn up.  If there’s a customer waiting outside the door you can open the door, turn on the lights and you can make a sale. That’s what it is all about.


Organizational skills are paramount. You need to be able to think on your feet and always take the best-case scenario. You need positivity, you need to be thinking that “tomorrow’s going to be a great day - today was an OK day – tomorrow’s going to be a fantastic day”.


You’ve got to multi-task. It’s much bandied around that you have to be able to do more than one thing - well in this industry you do. You’ve got to be able to present a retail environment in a way that the customer: A enjoys; B feels comfortable in and C buys from.


There’s no point in having the nicest looking store in town if it’s un-welcoming and clinical. It has to be homely in my opinion. You’ve got to always be mindful that the customer comes through the door and they know nothing about what you’re doing or what it takes to run your business.


So the moment a customer comes in, everything else is dropped. The customer is king, always will be, always has to be. There’s nothing worse than walking into a store and somebody’s on the phone and even if they acknowledge you they don’t get off the phone.  There’s a lot to be done but when a customer is present there’s only one thing to be done and that’s to give them your undivided attention.


What we really aim to do is to give the customer far more than they expect. You know, I once spoke to a man and he said if you have to ask for it it’s not service and that’s what we try to do.


One of the most pleasing aspects of your day is that you come across a lot of different people. People talk about having variety and having challenges, well you’ve got that in spades. You know you meet different people, all ages, all walks of life. You hear peoples’ life stories, you get to meet a lot of people who almost become friends. They come in for a social visit and they might buy something. Those people are your greatest assets because those people are the people that will refer you.


Happy customers return, dissatisfied customers go on to tell other people that they didn’t have a happy experience and they won’t come back, nor will anybody else.  Your greatest asset is word of mouth praise and if you’re able to do the right thing by people they will do the right thing by you. You know people say that if you give good service 3 people will hear about it, you give bad service 10 people will hear about it. I believe it might actually be a little bit more.  If you have a service oriented focus in your life, people will come back to you. Because people like people who are willing to do something for them.  


For younger people menswear or fashion, in general, has traditionally been thecasual job - the job that saw you through university. And it’s a good learning curve for younger people.


Career-wise it certainly is “the sky’s the limit”, but with there being less and less independence and it being chained, The real career path is in store management, area management, state management etc. Which generally to get to that level you have to be tertiary qualified.


For older people returning to the work force or looking for a career change, this is the place to be.


Not decrying the young but experienced people have to have, experienced people in life you have to have a customer focus, a people friendly demeanor and that will really get you over, that will get you started.