7 Essential Retail Manager Skills Your Store Needs To Succeed

Retail managers

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What retail manager skills does your store need to succeed? Managers need a host of interpersonal skills to execute a management plan and help retail stores boost sales.

One thing that can compromise a store is that most retailers promote from within, and while that can be good for morale, it is often bad for business. Hands-on experience is valuable, but it can also be limiting.

In business, success is determined by your bottom line - profits - not by your loyalty to your family or employees.

What is needed to increase your bottom line may not be clear-cut, but certain soft skills go a long way to ensure any retail manager has what it takes to succeed.

Basic retail manager skills should be a given

The rewards come when your crew exceeds your expectations, for example, adding on to every sale, driving average check, and increasing the average number of items in a sale. 

These are the things that should get the sales manager a bonus.

Any potential raises should be achieved by raising sales. Period. If you or your manager don't have all these retail manager skills, hire to fill any weaknesses.

Managers hold the key to leading employees in the business's direction, but this is especially true in retail. That's because management wears many hats.

These seven retail manager skills are essential for any store

Whether you’re promoting from within or hiring externally, look for the right skills to ensure your candidate is equipped for the job. While your best candidate may have gaps or weaknesses, they should be willing to learn how to be a successful retail manager and grow with your feedback. 

Retail management skills can be trained, but it’s ideal for your manager to have a compatible personality type and extensive sales experience to draw from. Here are the essential skills a manager should bring to a retail store.

1. Multi-tasking

Good managers must be able to oversee all the employees, keeping their abilities and weaknesses in mind while prioritizing multiple projects. I call this being up the blimp, looking at the action on the field rather than being in the game.

That's the most effective way to develop and use their problem-solving skills. The best managers multi-task and balance these priorities without losing productivity.

2. Decision-making

An effective manager can evaluate and decide which are crucial to the success of your store. Retail often means actions must be acted upon quickly, but making the right decision rapidly without mistakes means evaluating information to weed through what is important and what isn't.

You don't want a manager who looks at a situation repeatedly without making a decision - right or wrong. Keep one; you'll lose sleep, profits, and many sales opportunities.

3. Leadership

The best managers know how to get the most out of their team by using their people management, listening, and problem-solving skills to encourage their associates and sustain employee engagement.

That means using judicious, constructive criticism instead of belittling them. It means respecting others instead of "my way or the highway." It means leading by example instead of doing as I say. These leadership skills inspire employees to give their best.

4. Motivation

This goes hand-in-hand with leadership. To be effective as a team leader, you must learn how to motivate retail employees. Even though I'm a motivational speaker, my motivation to do well is internal. 

Successful retail managers can nurture that, along with clear performance expectations. Setting goals will keep managers focused on the long-term success of your company.

5. Organizational skills

A manager must be able to look for areas in which the rules or procedures of the company can be improved. Millennial employees are very good at seeing these things when they first start, so be open to their problem-solving skills.

A good leader demonstrates these skills by streamlining procedures, hiring the best associates, training them correctly, and cutting costs.

6. Effective communication

Only a small percentage of communication is the spoken word. Body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice all combine with words to convey a message.

The best managers have developed the ability to communicate the points they are trying to make and truly listen to those around them. True communication skill means having the smartphone off and eyes looking at the person as they strive to hear rather than speak.

7. Making the first sale of the day

When your employees see them actively selling that first customer, it makes it much harder for those associates to stand behind your counter and groan, "No one's buying." 

Maybe that means waiting on several customers on the sales floor until they make that happen. Still, the example to your team is better than any caffeinated drink, breaking news, or social media notification.

And this is on top of the most basic abilities to be on time every day, stay late when needed without grousing, and pitch in when it is busy without having to be asked.

These skills give them the ability to create and sustain excellent customer experience in their store.

See also: What's Important To Train A Retail Manager

What are the responsibilities of a retail manager?

A retail store manager must manage the office and sales floor capably. They’re responsible for helping boost sales and increase the store’s bottom line and staffing, budgeting, and inventory. 

The manager must see the big picture, leading sales and ensuring store operations run smoothly.

Good retail management skills are handy when supervising employees, working with vendors, and resolving customer disputes. 

Is your retail manager getting real results?

By using the seven store manager skills listed above, your manager will receive information from multiple sources - including from employees - and then use that information to benefit your bottom line.

And while I'm all about giving people a chance, it's up to them to provide results in the role you hired them for and for the money you pay them, not act like charity cases that require you to look the other way.

If you're struggling with your leadership's managerial skills, you must either begin retail sales training for managers or get someone else in there who has demonstrated these soft skills.

"Bless his heart, he's trying" is fine to say about a child, but not for you to say as a manager's boss.

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