Determined, positive and good with people: those are the skills you need to become a store manager. Here Aimee tells us how she became a manager for the store Booths, and what a typical day on the busy shop floor is like.
What is your job? Store manager
How long have you worked here? 3 years
A-levels: Law, English language, biology
Degree: Management at The University of Manchester
1. What was your very first job?
I had a Saturday job working in my cousin’s sandwich shop when I was 14.
2. What did you want to do when you were at school?
A policewoman. I watched a lot of The Bill!
3. How did you find out about the industry?
Being surrounded by the retail environment and all of my first weekend jobs were in retail.
4. How did get there?
Firstly, I studied hard to get the grades I wanted. I would say I am not naturally the most intelligent but I put the work in when needed. I also got out there and got some work experience. I have had a job since I was 14 and used this to find out what I was good at and not so good at. It also helped build my skills and confidence. On a more practical note, having work experience also gives you something to talk about in job interviews. You can draw a lot of examples of your skills from even the smallest of jobs.
I got into the retail industry through the M&S graduate scheme after university. I liked the brand and reputation of the company and knew their graduate scheme was one of the best. It wasn’t easy and involved a temporary relocation a few hours away from home but was worth it in the long run.
5. What is a typical day like?
I normally start around 8am when the store opens. The first thing I do is go to each department of the store and say good morning to the team and check that they are set up and ready for the day.
At around 9am we have a team huddle where we discuss sales as a team and talk about the priorities for the day. I lead this meeting and it is my job to make sure that everyone is up to date with what’s happening in the store and that any immediate problems (like someone calling in sick) have been dealt with.
The rest of the day I spend the majority of my time on the sales floor talking to the team, working alongside them and checking progress on the day’s priorities. Talking to and helping customers is also a big part of my day. I spend a lot of time helping them with their purchases or just having a friendly chat and unfortunately dealing the occasional complaint.
Throughout the day I check emails and the company communications to see if we have anything to pass on to the relevant teams.
On a Monday afternoon I have a managers meeting to check progress on longer term objectives in a more formal setting. Throughout the week there will often be disciplinary meetings, one to ones with managers and training to be completed.
Every day will be different and there is always the unexpected events such as power cuts and fridge breakdowns that you have to be prepared for and manage as the person in charge. Basically, no two days are ever the same!
6. What’s the best thing about your job?
Being on my feet all day, I like being active and would not enjoy sitting at a desk.
7. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Some days can just be overwhelming when everything feels like it is going wrong. There are so many moving parts that when a few are not working it can have a big impact.
8. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
The good thing about my job is there a lot of ways to get into it. My way of getting a degree and going into a graduate scheme is one but I would say the majority of my colleagues worked their way up from Saturday jobs to store managers. Doing it my way probably made it happen quicker but it’s not the only way.
I would say qualifications are less important and it is more important to have the right personal qualities. You need to be determined, positive and good with people.
Be prepared for working long hours at all different times of the day and minimal time off over weekends and busy periods like Christmas.
9. What things do you wish you’d known before starting your career?
It is difficult to change careers once you have got to a certain level in that field. Don’t just go for an easy option to begin with, as you might find yourself 10 years down the lines in an industry that you don’t enjoy. This luckily isn’t the case for me as I love retail but I have seen some of my colleagues struggle with this.
10. Where would you like to be in five years?
I would love to do something in the central office of our company at some point being involved with the planning stages of business change would be really interesting. I really love being a store manager and would always see myself coming back to this role and taking on bigger and better roles as a manager.
If you're interested in a role like Aimee's, learn more in our guide to jobs in retail.