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The Key To Hiring Good Store Managers |  April 16, 2015 (1 comment)


Boston, MA—One of the most misunderstood hires in retail jewelry is the position of store manager. We tend to think about the role as though it is quite easily defined and we all too often underestimate the complexity of the position and over-estimate the new hire or, worse still, your top salesperson, to whom you have just promoted into the role. 

Without belaboring the later point, I would strongly caution against taking your best salesperson and making him or her your store manager. On the surface, this can often look like the obvious choice, but it is anything but.  While promoting a great salesperson gives you some immediate advantages, such as understanding the company culture, procedures, personnel and customers, the net effect is that you have typically lost a great salesperson and gained a poor manager. The innate wiring needed for sales and management is simply different and, when that becomes obvious to all parties, it is not so easy to unwind.

Frank Cespedes, the Harvard Business School Professor and author of Aligning Strategy and Sales wrote, “You can’t just excel at sales to be a good manager. Yet, that’s precisely how most companies select new frontline managers.”

Before you begin to look at internal or external candidates for the store manager position, you must first clearly define what you want from the position.  If you were to ask 10 people what they want in a manager you would likely get entirely different responses from each of them. Some require a head-salesperson (with the attendant responsibility of making personal sales) who will become the key-holder, schedule-maker, head-merchandiser, chief customer-service person etc.  Still others want the manager to be a good coach, with the chief responsibility to raise all boats by hiring, coaching, and partnering with the sales team to become more effective as a unit.  Others may want a combination of the two.

Peter Smith

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer as to what the store manager ought to look like, there can be no doubt whatsoever that the role needs to be clearly defined in advance of beginning the search. Decide what your needs are and make a list in order of priority. You might not be able to find everything you want in a candidate, but you should not compromise on those things that are most important to you. The following short list might be helpful in getting you started:

Tony Rutigliano wrote in Strengths Based Selling, “Gallup research has found that people don't leave companies so much as they leave managers, and a great manager is the surest route to outstanding team and individual performance.”

Again, there are many ways to define what your manager should look like, but make sure that you feed the needs of your business by establishing your priority list, instead of compromising your needs to accommodate a less-than- ideal candidate. This hire, one way or another, will impact every single employee on the team and it should meet the highest possible standard.

Peter Smith, author of Hiring Squirrels: 12 Essential Interview Questions To Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent, has spent 30 years building sales teams at retail, and working with countless numbers of independent retailers as a brand-executive, to offer his counsel and advice on personnel matters. A graduate of Boston College, he has served on the Advisory Board of Caliper’s Global Conference and is a contributing panelist on the KR Executive Group’s Talent Blog. Smith has worked for Tiffany & Co., and was executive vice president of brand development for Hearts On Fire, where he authored the Menu For Success, a roadmap for retail success.  Smith’s book is available in print or Kindle digital edition on 

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Comments (1):

Nice article, I agree completely.

By Hugh Jones on Oct 26th, 2015 at 8:34pm

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