Author Topic: Escaping Retail Management  (Read 2055 times)

SolusEquitem

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Escaping Retail Management
« on: February 28, 2017, 08:16:06 PM »
There was a very good article on these forums on this subject a couple years ago, and I was hoping to tap into some of the same knowledge. I posted this on reddit a couple weeks ago but only got one response.

I am in my late 20s and have a reasonably successful career in retail management as I run a retail corporate store. I never wanted a job like this, however after graduating with a masters degree in government, it was either work in retail or go live with my parents.
Slight detour here: I am fully aware that a liberal arts degree is not typically a pathway to economic success. My original plan was to work in government directly or work for a research think tank. I had that pathway somewhat opened for me(interned for a US congressman and was offered a paying job on staff after the conclusion of it. At the munificent sum of ten dollars an hour.), but I chose to step away from it, due to the long hours, low pay, cutthroat practices, and large amount of stress involved. Also see: ten dollars an hour is not a living wage.
I also chose to avoid trying to get a foot in a policy think tank as the story is much the same there, with the additional bonus of the fact that unless you are an Ivy League graduate with connections, you will never be in any position to do research on anything worthwhile. Everything you do will be pure gruntwork that nobody else wants to do. Also, they get back to you in geological time, i.e. months can easily pass before you even find out that you might possibly be considered for the position of assistant dung-keeper. I did have one phone interview, but by that point I was already working in the oil fields(little more on that below), and giving a phone interview right after a 35 hour day(still in my work truck, still filthy with grease and oil)...well it was a good thing that I had already decided that I had no interest in the job and did the interview purely on a whim.
Anyhow, I was raised to be self-sufficient, so when my ivory tower plans were shown to be untenable, I moved to the oil fields of (insert state here) and worked for some months servicing the rigs. I found that I enjoyed the physical labor and the lack of butt kissing, however my system was starting to break down under the strain of 90 hour weeks(on call 24 hours a day), so I chose to move on to the only other thing that I knew how to do, which is retail work(worked at Best Buy for a few years while in graduate school, most of it in Geek Squad).

Two years ago I started at the bottom of (insert famous retail store here) as a full-time sales consultant, and within two years I was asked to take over a failing location as store manager(with an interim stop in between as an assistant store manager). That was four months ago.
Please understand, I have no grounds for complaint, nor am I trying to complain. I have a salaried job, work about 45 hours a week, and make about 66K(80K last year with some moving bonuses added in) a year with great benefits and lots of vacation time. The problem is that I hate retail work. I just happen to be quite good at retail sales and retail management.
Can anyone offer me any suggestions on alternate career paths that I could move into? I have looked at B2B sales (not a huge fan of sales either, but if I am going to work it, I would prefer to do B2B and/or sell large items such as cars). I have looked into working in car sales, however there seems to be a ton of shady behaviors there, and an 80 percent fail rate. While I am confident that I can sell anything, I want to be able to spend time with my family and avoid working 6 days, 12 hours a week.
I have some years of construction experience from working through college and I do like the thought of going into commercial construction and working my way up, but I have no idea where to even start.
I have some basic IT experience (one class away from an IT minor in college but would have had to stay another semester) and I worked at Geek Squad for a couple years while in graduate school. I took COBOL (yeah...not terribly useful. but kind of fun :D ) and a year of C Programming along with a year of Networks. But I haven't the foggiest idea where to start looking in that area, if that's even an option.
I have access to online classes through Udacity at my employer's expense(they do tuition reimbursement as well, but it requires staying for two years for each reimbursement, or else you have to pay part/all of it back), but I want to make sure that if I do something that requires more time commitment to education, that I pick my topic carefully as I don't want to waste time.
Please understand, I am fine with taking a decent pay cut if that gets my foot into the door at a job that I can enjoy working and avoid dreading going into work every day. But I do need to make somewhere in the mid 40k range in order to take care of my family(first kid arrives next month) and service my bills. (I have 35K of student loans and a small truck payment on a 9-year-old vehicle. I am almost out of all other debt completely, paid off about 15K of debt in the last year and a half and am down to about 3000 in credit card debt, that should be gone in another two-three months.)

I really hope that this kind of made sense as to what I am asking, and I appreciate any advice that is given on job prospects or areas to look at.

Thanks!

oregonian5

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Re: Escaping Retail Management
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2017, 10:16:25 PM »
I get it.  My husband and I both worked retail management jobs for a long time after college.  At times it felt like we would never get out.  Can you look into corporate jobs for your present company?  What about transferring to a store near the corporate office, and making a name for yourself there while networking with corporate people?  Some companies like to transfer their best store managers to corporate management jobs, because these are the people who are used to hard work and managing difficult people, versus some people who have only worked in an office and are intelligent, good workers but don't really know how to manage people.

birdiegirl

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Re: Escaping Retail Management
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2017, 10:25:35 AM »
What specifically do you hate about retail management?   The hours?  Managing people?  Dealing with the public?   Are there any parts of the job you like?   

There are a lot of possibilities where your experience might translate...sales like you mentioned, HR, operations,etc.   Knowing what works and doesn't work for you would probably help narrow down the possibilities to what might be a better fit. 


SolusEquitem

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Re: Escaping Retail Management
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2017, 06:14:01 PM »
I get it.  My husband and I both worked retail management jobs for a long time after college.  At times it felt like we would never get out.  Can you look into corporate jobs for your present company?  What about transferring to a store near the corporate office, and making a name for yourself there while networking with corporate people?  Some companies like to transfer their best store managers to corporate management jobs, because these are the people who are used to hard work and managing difficult people, versus some people who have only worked in an office and are intelligent, good workers but don't really know how to manage people.

There are only a handful of corporate locations in the USA and job are limited for a generalist such as myself. A recent corporate purge and reorganization didn't help matters either. I do keep an eye on corporate positions and am open to moving to one, but so far no door has even come close to opening.

SolusEquitem

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Re: Escaping Retail Management
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2017, 06:29:58 PM »
What specifically do you hate about retail management?   The hours?  Managing people?  Dealing with the public?   Are there any parts of the job you like?   

There are a lot of possibilities where your experience might translate...sales like you mentioned, HR, operations,etc.   Knowing what works and doesn't work for you would probably help narrow down the possibilities to what might be a better fit.

The hours aren't too bad anymore, now that I have my own store. Monday-Friday three weeks out of four, and generally I work about 8:30 to 6:00. Of course that can vary a decent amount, but overall its not a bad schedule, especially for retail.

I mostly dislike the retail sales aspect of it. The massive amounts of pressure, constant nagging from district leadership, frequent changes to focus on the Next Big Thing, getting eviscerated by district leadership if I didn't magically sell X amounts of a product, even if our traffic that day was almost nonexistent. Having to then put every one of my employees on written success plans, document every breath they take, and submit random samples of the documentation to district leadership for inspection and critique. Etc ;) I am good at it, and my yearly reviews are very good (got the maximum score that my direct superior could give to me). But it is a lot of stress and make work, that I really don't want to be doing.

I don't mind managing people, according to my direct reports I am quite good at it and am viewed in a generally positive light by them. But its not really a big thing for me. I don't need the ego validation of having direct reports, I can take it or leave it. By nature I am a loner and very introverted, I just know how to work around it, if that makes sense. Its why I was very successful as a sales rep and why I ended up getting my own million dollar a year store within less than two years.

You do ask a good question about dealing with the general public. And to be honest, I would prefer to never have to do it. While I am wishing, I would like a million dollars and a yacht ;)

Mostly what I like about my job is that I am successful, that I can take pride in pushing my store to its best performance in years, and that I get to play with cool tech. I love tech stuff and obsessively tinker with computers in my spare time. Build my own computers, run Linux as my main OS, that sort of thing.

birdiegirl

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Re: Escaping Retail Management
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2017, 01:42:41 PM »
I can totally relate to the "make work" you described.  I think you find that with every job but it does seem to get much worse when you move into a management role. 

Based on what you described, it seems like an IT/engineering path might be a good option for you.  Most places you'll still work on a team to support a system or specific projects but from what I've seen in companies I've worked for these roles have a fair amount of independent work time to actually work on their core technical responsibilities...at least until you get to a management level. 

Not sure how easy it is to break into these jobs...I know our company has hired entry level right positions for recent tech school grads (or in some cases before graduation and they finished in evening classes).   Maybe you can find a few job postings that look appropriate and see what specific education or experience the employers are looking for.  Since you already have a college degree it might just be a matter of taking a few specific classes and finding somewhere you can learn on the job.