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There at 2 kinds of District Managers

In the roles I’ve played in my retail career, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Retail District Managers in various capacities.  As a Store Manager, I’ve reported to District Managers.  As a Marketing Director I’ve relied on District Managers to help execute campaigns in their stores.  And now, in my role at Graff Retail, I collaborate with DM’s on rolling out and sustaining new training programs at store level. 

In all of these roles and through all of these initiatives I’ve learned that there are 2 kinds of District Managers; one is The Pencil Pusher and the other is The Sales Driver.  There’s a big difference between these two types of DM’s.  Let’s take a closer look. 

  1. The Pencil Pusher

This DM is really good at ticking all the boxes on their ‘to-do’ list, but their ‘to-do’ list very seldom includes anything outside of the mundane, administrative tasks that are inevitable inside a retail organization.  I truly believe that this type of DM is a product of the culture of the company they work for. 

An organization that is more merchandise driven or bogged down in policy and procedure doesn’t produce Territory Managers (or Store Managers for that matter) who pay attention to what really drives the business.  The District Manager role ends up becoming more of a babysitter, where the DM drives around from store to store, spending more time on the phone or in the backroom doing paperwork during a store visit than engaging with their teams. 

It’s typical in these kinds of organizations for the Store Managers and sales teams to receive more training and development than the District Manager!  This DM, who happens to be in a position to truly drive performance for an entire territory, ends up thwarting performance throughout their region.  Over time, they become either ignored or feared by their store teams.  All they do is show up and enforce policy because that’s all they know how to do!  With some direction and role-specific training (and perhaps a well-needed culture shift for the Executive team at Head Office), these DM’s could be the key influencers out in the field that drive revenues over the top!

  • The Sales Driver

This District Manager works for a retailer who ‘gets it’.  This DM has been given the training, tools and the autonomy to get out in their territories and really make an impact.  The Sales Driver doesn’t operate solely under the Head Office radar.  They aren’t spending more time in their offices than they are in their stores.  They have proactive store visits where the focus is about performance.  It’s about the ongoing coaching of their Store Managers.  It’s about the numbers…and they know their numbers (conversion rates, average sale goals, IPS, etc.).  It’s about true leadership within a sales-driven organization.  And most importantly, these Sales Drivers know their success is tied to the Talent in their stores.  They focus on recruiting, hiring, onboarding, training, coaching, mentoring and leading the best talent possible.  They know that to drive sales results they need top talent.

So, ask yourself…

What kind of District Manager are you? 

What kind of District Manager Team do you have out in your regions? 

What kind of retail organization do you work for? 

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