Sandra has worked in retail for over 18 years. 7 of those have been in management roles. Her career has been varied and she has worked her work up the retail career ladder on more than one occasion. After leaving college in 1996, Sandra worked briefly for 30 hours a week at the Totnes Times newspaper, as an Admin Assistant in the Editorial department. Although her role went beyond that. She used to interview people for potential news stories and look out for newsworthy items to put in the paper. It was too far to travel for the wage and in September 1996, she left and began working part-time at a discount department store called Bewise. Whilst working at Bewise, she worked at other jobs alongside it. This included working in House of Fraser part-time for Dannimac, a rainwear concession, for 3 years. Which lead to full-time work for the same company in Debenhams. In fact, it was working for Dannimac that gave Sandra her first taste of management, when she became Acting Manager of both ladies and men’s Dannimac in Debenhams. This was a position she held for 6 months before she was made redundant due to Debenhams deciding to take the concessions out of the store.
After 6 weeks of being redundant, Sandra returned to work in Debenhams, as a Sales Advisor for soft furnishings company Montgomery. She moved from there, to Bensons Beds, where, after just 2 months as a Sales Assistant, she was promoted to Branch Manager. Almost 3 years later, Sandra left and got a job working as British Heart Foundation Shop Manager, but it wasn’t long before Sandra was off to pastures new, as she missed working in Furniture sales . Her new role was working as a Manager for Hammonds Furniture that was a concession inside of a Land Of Leather store. After 3 years, Sandra was made redundant for the second time in her career when Land of Leather closed down. After that, Sandra did a series of temporary jobs before Managing Blacks Camping and Leisure for 1 year. Sandra took a year out of retail from October 13th 2011 to October 19th 2012, to focus on her writing and learn new skills for her start-up businesses with the aim of becoming self-employed. To do this she attended and completed a number of courses, including a PTTLS Level 4 Teacher/Trainer qualification.
On the 20th of October 2012, Sandra returned to work, for the Rolls Royce of retail, John Lewis. Where she currently works full-time, as the Fitted Bedroom Specialist, 5 days a week. In the evenings and on her days off, Sandra works on her businesses. Throughout her retail career, Sandra’s main focus has always been to give great customer service and make the customer her number one priority. Sandra likes to use a consultative approach to selling because she believes it is the best way of establishing the customer’s needs and of building strong customer relations. Whilst being employed in retail, Sandra has worked from a budget store, through to middle and high-end stores, this has enabled her to develop the following skills:
- Excellent communication and customer service.
- The ability to relate to people from all walks of life, various nationalities, class and backgrounds and to build a good rapport with them.
- To realise that anyone and everyone is a potential customer regardless of outward appearance.
- To recognise and act on, the many different buying signals.
- To ask open questions to sell more effectively.
- To match customer’s needs to the products most suited to them.
- Have a diverse range of selling skills that enable her to sell a range of products and services and adapt to any working environment.
- Be able to demonstrate a variety of products and promote their benefits to customers.
- An ability to fearlessly close the sale.
- To work in both a hard and soft sales selling environment.
Sandra’s core skills as a Manager include:
- Effectively managing a team.
- Successfully placing job adverts with the job centre.
- Sifting through job applications
- Interviewing and recruiting staff.
- Coaching staff.
- Leading a team by example.
- Training staff.
- Assessing staff’s training needs and teaching them in a way that suits their learning style.
- Setting targets for sales and KPIs, analysing and monitoring results.
- Performance manage both individual staff members and a team.
- Preparing and delivering team-talks.
- Visual merchandising.
- Organising, preparing and launching, promotions and special offers.
- Writing-off faulty stock.
- Excelling customer care expectations.
- Dealing with customer complaints.
- Opening and closing the store.
- Dealing with deliveries and stock transfers.
- Cashing up and keeping a float.
- Recording of daily and weekly sales against targets.
Courses Sandra has attended related to her retail work:
- Morrisons Management Skills 1 and 2.
- Hammonds Management Foundation 3 day course
- Hammonds Management Foundation 2 day course
- Hammonds Review and Performance Management.
- Hammonds Telephone Sales Training.
- Hammonds Train The Trainer.
- Hammonds Motivation.
- Relyon structured training seminar
- Bensons Beds Sales Training 3 day course.
- Windsmoor Focus On Selling Skills.
One aspect of management that Sandra enjoyed the most, was training staff. In Hammonds, the quality and integrity of her training, was held in such high regard by senior management, that she was sent staff from other stores to be trained by her. Before she was made redundant, Sandra did all of the induction training for the new manager of the Weston-Super-Mare store, that had recently opened at that time.