Group Editorial Director
In editing our cover story this month, I was taken with a section deep in the article that talked about how important it is to find a store manager who has a passion for the job at hand.
Frankly, there is no substitute for it. As my dad used to say, it is easy to teach someone how to do the basic work necessary to get a job done. However, the enthusiasm to go above and beyond a normal workload and the right passion to do the job cannot be taught. Trying to relate to me, he said that in sports, passion was usually the difference between victory and defeat.
However, getting the right person as a store manager—and keeping him or her— is a two-way street. Yes, the store manager must possess the smarts and passion necessary to lead a staff of usually part-time employees who probably will not work at the store for more than six months to a year. But business owners must demonstrate to a good, passionate store manager that he or she is valued and can potentially have a long future with the business.
Proper compensation is the first and most important step. Money is at the top of the list when it comes to convincing good people to hang around a bit longer.
Yet, retailers should not forget that there are other things that make a work environment attractive. Giving the manager a high level of responsibility and the ability to make decisions on key issues will help them feel wanted. Backing that with other good working conditions will only serve to lessen the odds that an employee will look for greener pastures.
The vice president of operations at a major pet retailer told me several years ago that his chain had a 40-percent annual turnover rate with store managers. That means that this operation basically had to train an entirely new set of store managers every couple of years or so. Besides the cost associated with this, the turnover disrupts the business model, makes other employees feel uncomfortable with their own positions and may even impact consumer attitudes about the operation.
Finding the right store manager—with the right attitude—is definitely hard. Keeping them is a bit harder. Store managers who want a future with the business must be willing to go a step beyond; but storeowners who want to keep good employees also have to do their part to show their commitment.