Retail is one industry that many pass through on their way to other careers, but others make their long-term pursuit. The flexible hours, exciting environment and physically active work appeal to lots of people, especially those who enjoy interacting with a wide clientele.
In today's economy, jobs in every field are a bit more competitive than they once were. So what are some tips to being the best you can at your job and ensuring not only that you stay working, but even get promoted? We asked experienced retail veteran Andy Mosure. Mosure has, over the past ten years, worked for photography studios, big-box home-goods stores and boutique electronics/lifestyle shops in the Indianapolis, Ind., area. He has worked his way up the retail food chain, from sales associate all the way to store manager, and shares with CareerBuilder his opinions on being successful in the industry.
CareerBuilder: How do you stay motivated in retail over the long haul?
Andy Mosure: There are two main opportunities for me in retail that I find satisfying to achieve: personal growth and customer experience. I am very passionate about developing my own career within a company. I also take personal satisfaction in knowing that I've helped someone solve a problem, whether it be with a product or a service.
CB: When a customer comes to you and seems not to know what he wants, how do you help him?
AM: The first part of learning about a customer's needs is to really set that customer at ease and build a trust and relationship with him. Once you've developed rapport, it becomes a natural part of the conversation when you start suggesting items.
CB: Is fostering teamwork in a large-store environment different from doing so in a smaller one?
AM: Absolutely. In a large-store environment, there is a certain structure which splits the entire staff into different areas of responsibility. In this environment, it's difficult to fully understand a coworker's responsibility, so you're less likely to lend a hand when needed. This split in teams also creates more opportunity for miscommunication to occur. When you observe a smaller environment, you find that most of the staff will cover several areas of responsibility. You'll notice a stronger sense of teamwork and better lines of communication.
CB: What advice do you have for people who have coworkers they might not personally get along with?
AM: Well, part of doing your job is to be professional. Even if you don't get along with someone, you're still part of a team. Unfortunately it's often easier to find a quality you don't like in someone, rather than one that you do. I've always found that being magnanimous is best!
CB: Can you share an anecdote of a memorable customer service experience?
AM: While working for the portrait studio, I had one specific family that I worked with that still sticks in mind today. At first, the mother (and her son) wasn't very fond of me, but as she noticed that I took the time to build a connection with her son, she was quite amazed with her experience. Later on in my career, she made an appointment and spent 2 hours driving, just to come visit me in another city.
CB: Any other personal tips for success in retail for those interested in making a career of it?
AM: First, positivity is the best attitude to adopt from the start. You may have negative energy in your face from time to time, but keeping an upbeat attitude is key. Secondly, learning to empathize with a customer will get you very far. Make sure you're taking care of who really pays your paycheck! Lastly, be willing to roll up your sleeves and do what it takes to get the job done. You can't ask anyone to do anything that you aren't willing to do for yourself.
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