My Personal Management Experience
My Personal Management Experience
I was employed as a store manager for a jewelry store that was only just opening. My boss called me one morning and said, “I want you to be in Eastridge Mall tomorrow,” and he gave me the address. I showed up the following day at the Mall as directed and found a store under construction. The whole place consisted of construction material and debris. There were Sheetrock walls, hanging wires from the ceiling and brand new showcases ready to be installed.
He called me the same evening and surprised me by saying, “Congratulation, this is the store you will be running.” I accepted this new and greater responsibility with newfound confidence. I had worked as a jewelry sales person and I understood quite well the difficult task that lay ahead. This was bound to be a wonderful experience. I had always wanted to mange big assignments and this was one of them.
My first management challenge consisted in establishing a clientele, forming a strong workforce and making a reasonable profit for the company. My boss believed in my vast experience as a sales person and he expected me to deliver the required results.
. I had to strategize on how to kick-start the operations of the store and how to capture loyal customers. This was no mean feat for someone who has never had any management experience in the past. Running a new store is a challenging task. In the retail world, all businesses are driven by the desire to make profits.
This was a difficult task considering the fact that I was given a brand new store with no clientele and located in a very unfamiliar market. I had to apply what I had learnt from my experience as a sales person and what I had learnt from my management classes to this challenge. I was required to takeover the planning from now onwards. As the manager, I was tasked with the responsibility of organizing the required resources whether financial or material to be delivered to the store. I was also responsible for the staffing. The store needed an adequate and competent workforce to be able to make it through this stage. For the operations to run smoothly, I had to be able to guide and motivate my workforce and ensure that everything was going according to the plans set down. This is just but a brief insight of the task that lay ahead of me. As a manager, I was supposed to do my work diligently.
The construction was already underway, I had to incorporate my company’s designs into the already laid out designs. This was to make sure that the store is constructed according to the company’s standards. I therefore had to be present at the construction site to supervise the ongoing construction. This was my first assignment. I had to co-ordinate the construction process and I was leaving nothing to chance. Signs for example, were to be placed in the right places and given perfect angling; the lighting system had to meet the company’s standards. Since this business involves expensive jewelry, security was very important. I had to ensure that the security system was standard. All the display cases had to be secured to ensure no one tampers with the jewelry. These measures had to be taken to ensure that everything was in place. In this stage of the project, I applied management control. This assisted me in verifying whether the construction work was going according to my plan
After overseeing the completion of the construction work, I had to focus on the opening of the store. This was one of the most important stages of this assignment. My mission was to put up a credible work force that will assist me in developing the store into a competitive and profit making outlet. I recruited a formidable sales team bout one month before the store commenced its operations. This was essential because without the right sales people I (Store manager) would not succeed. Coming up with the right team was quite difficult. I had set my own objectives on the kind of people I wanted for this job. I had to build a competent group of workers and so I chose those that really suited my descriptions for the best. As a manager I was guided by one principle, I gave my work the best I can and treated my customers with the respect they deserved. As quoted in Arnold et al’s article in the Journal of Retailing issue number 85 of 2009, “transformational managers attempt to act in the best interests of both the customer and the company to provide effective solutions to the needs of both groups (Bass, 1977)”. This principle motivates me to do my best and guides all my practices as a manager. A manager however does not work alone; he is assisted in his work by his sales team. I strived to instill these values in the team that I managed to create. I set goals for the sales team we had to get the business running and rake up sales within the first two months.
These objectives guided my choice of candidates for the sales job. I laid out the minimum qualifications and the attributes of the sales personnel. My ideal candidate had to possess the following characteristics. First, they must be lovers of jewelry, a person who does not love what he/she is selling will find it difficult to passionately market a piece to a customer and convince them to purchase it regardless of its price. Second, the person must be enthusiastic; customers prefer sales people who are lively and appealing. Positive attitude will always result in customer satisfaction and eventually a sale. Third, the person must be ambitious; employees who want to advance in their careers in future always give their best. Keeping in mind all these expectations, I formed a sales team that consisted of seven dedicated people. They were lovers of jewelry, enthusiastic, and all desired to grow in their respective careers. They also had to fulfill my manager’s expectations. These people had to be proficient in whatever they were going to do so training was necessary. After hiring them, I trained them on the various roles they would take in the store.
Several years ago, I was working as a sales person at my first job (Zale’s the Diamond Store). The manager at this store had a great relationship with his workers. I loved the way he related with those under him and he inspired me to be like him. He was also unbelievably talented in the art of marketing. He knew how lure the customer into buying something; he always knew the right words to use. .He taught me how to approach the customer, make a conversation, find out about their needs, and listen to them. He believed that through listening, we learn more about someone than when we talk. Roman et al in their article in the journal of marketing management say that listening skills can lead to higher sales performance “From the salesperson’s perspective, empirical research has shown that effective listening leads to higher sales performance” ( Roman et al, 2005 ). He inspired me and I strived to pass down his values to my sales team
The staffing function required much more time than I had anticipated; I had to set up instruction/training sessions for my team on a daily basis. The training comprised education on customer service, product knowledge and listening and communication skills. The daily sessions are essential because they are also used to review the progress of our daily objectives and assist us in making corrections as appropriate. Through these meetings, we interact, highlight the problem areas, and propose solutions or improvements as appropriate. We have set up half hour opening and closing meetings where we talk about the store’s goals break it down to our individual goals, and then we discuss whether we have achieved those goals and what we ought to do in order to achieve them. In the closing meetings, we review the days work and evaluate individual as well as team performance. These meetings represent a minor form of performance appraisal. Another strategy that I employ when dealing with my team involves role-play and building scenarios. This has an enormous impact on their learning. It is a great confidence builder and aids the team in their learning. The bottom line is I always recognize the efforts of my sales team and closely monitor their behavior and correct them in areas where they have gone wrong.
My short-term goals were to be able to gain a consistent flow of sales and to attract a meaningful number of customers. With these goals in mind, we set out on the methods to achieve them. I identified several ways through which we could be able to gain and retain customers. One important was to have a motivated sales team, second was to carry out intensive marketing of the new store. These were key strategies for the achievement of our goals. I had to motivate my sales people and ensure that we marketed ourselves well. Together with the head office, we embarked on massive promotional campaigns on print and communication media and in the internet. We also put up a series of promotional billboards in the neighborhood. Our marketing campaign paid off very well and within a few days, customers started streaming into our store. The second step involved the motivation of workers, we offered incentives for those who achieved a certain amount of sales and the daily meetings enabled them to be participatory and hardworking. Overall, the performance of the sales team and the store in general exceeded my expectations. I agreed to become a manager because I believed in my ability to recognize the areas for potential improvement in my sales associates and correct it before became too late. I understood that every single flaw within my sales team would reflect ten times greater on my own portfolio. I achieve that by creating a great relationship with my team.
Achieving our short-term goals was not as difficult as I had previously thought. With the motivated workforce and the regular clientele, we were way beyond our goals. My focus now shifted to the medium term goals. One of my medium term objectives involved the retaining of present customers and improvement of sales. We had to create an impression on the clientele to ensure that they will come back again. This was not an easy feat to achieve. Great and efficient customer service is a combination of patience, intelligence and understanding. The sales team had to be made aware of these three pillars of effective customer service delivery. I ensured that I reminded them about this in our daily meetings and instructed them on how customers should be handled. Another important step that I took was to enforce disciplinary actions, these were necessary in order to maintain a reliable and strong sales team. At the end of the day, the manager is responsible for the mistakes of his team. It is therefore prudent to have disciplinary action taken against team members who violate the rules set to govern misconduct at the workplace. This is one way through which the work force can stay focused on the company’s objectives. When a manager metes out punishment on an employee it is always for the good of the employee and the company. When the employee is repeatedly involved in misconduct, he/she should be replaced. Some of these rules were agreed on as we embarked on the journey to achieve greater sales and to retain and gain more customers.
As a manager, I prided myself in being a successful organizer. I had the roles of all my seven sales personnel well defined, each of them had a role clearly carved out for them. Teamwork was an important element of the sales process. If one member of the sales team found it difficult to convince a customer, it was normal practice to refer them to another member. If both failed to make a deal with the customer, I always intervene to save the situation and make the sale. I have never been a manager who works only to collect paychecks, but to gain my paycheck and deserve it. My participation motivates the team; they are aware of the need to be effective and to do their best. Having a rapport with your customer gives them the motivation to come again. They also recommend the store to their friends. Excellent customer service helps the company establish this rapport with the customers and in turn enables the organization to increase sales. I endeavored to ensure that the sales team maintained an excellent rapport with customers in order to achieve the goal of maximum sales and to gain more clients. Through these simple steps, we were able to establish ourselves as a formidable force within the jewelry market. Our sales soared at unbelievable rates and clients continued streaming into our store. My manager acknowledged my performance and even upgraded my store’s capacity due to the increasing sales that we were registering.
We had made a lot of progress as far as the achievement of our goals was concerned. We attained parity in sales and the number of customers who called at our store had increased. However, one problem still troubled me; we had inconsistencies in the sale of a particular stock of diamond rings. This ring had registered the least sales despite being tone of the most valuable and most sought after rings in the country. I figured out that there might be a problem in its display station and made the decision to have it displayed at a different position. We deliberated on this as a team and I decided that this particular ring be displayed on the finest showcase for the customers to see. Each member was supposed to take keen interest on customers who showed their interest in the ring and attend to them with the tact and experience they had gained over the few months that the store has been in operation. Another problem that we had to contend with was the height of the showcases it was observed that the showcases were taller than the standard height. This made it difficult for the customers to have a comprehensive view of the jewelry showcased. This was identified as an impediment to the sales process. Some jewelry had intrinsic features that could only be noticed by an observant customer. Others like rings had minute details that can only be seen if the customer has the best view. This therefore posed a major problem. The showcases had to be replaced with others that were waist-length in order to allow the customers to have a comprehensive view of the jewelry. These two were some of the major challenges that we faced in the jewelry store. We were able to replace the showcases after receiving financial help from the head office. Our sales increased considerably with this new adjustment and we realized that customers could now see all the jewelry displayed in the store. Our sales staff also became busier than before since customers were now more interested in the detail.
We have not yet achieved our goals as a company yet but according to my observation, we are right on track and given more time, we will be a force to reckon with in the jewelry market. As a manager, I believe I have employed the functions of management as taught in management class and that is the reason why I have a wonderful record of accomplishment. I planned my processes and objectives quite well and organized all the resources required to achieve them. I also ensured that I had a well, developed and qualified workforce for the job. I ensured that the workforce was well motivated and that communication in the store was open. Constant evaluation and reviews of the progress of operations also assisted me in troubleshooting potential threat areas and finding credible solutions to these threats. Recognizing the passion for what we do is the key to our success. The only reason why I have been featured on the company’s “newspaper” for several years now is because my store registered the highest profit margin. I am proud of myself simply because I always give the best of my efforts, set higher than normal expectations for myself and never lose hope in difficult times.