Management by the book proves to be a best-seller

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 October, 2005, 12:00am

As manager of Page One in Festival Walk, Jenny Wong's duties are diverse, from keeping up with the latest publications to taking care of lost children

BEING STORE MANAGER for one of the company's largest branches is definitely not a walk in the park. I have to look after both frontline sales and back-office functions and make sure everything is running without a hitch.

As long as the lights are on in the store, I am busy. It might be checking displays and systems, giving the daily staff briefing or dealing with unpredictable things such as shoplifting or a power failure. I see any difficulty as a challenge to overcome.

My previous experience was on the retail side of the music industry. When I worked in that sector, copyright piracy was a serious problem and caused a severe shrinkage of the business. Therefore, I started to look for another area to go into and saw a job advertisement for Page One in 2001. I have been working here ever since.

The first thing I had to do was learn more about what Page One sells. So, apart from the training given by the company, I also spent time researching the current best-sellers by reading trade papers and searching the internet. Because one of my duties is to place repeat orders for the store, having a good feel for what sells and what doesn't helps tremendously.

I also need to know about the different types of customers and what they are interested in. For example, our Festival Walk branch is near the train station and attracts a lot of mainland visitors. We decided to stock a wider variety of Chinese books, but then we discovered that they are mostly interested in the fashion magazines. Since the store is in Kowloon Tong, with many schools nearby, we also have a lot children and teenagers coming in. Children's books and fiction catering for these age groups are among our best-sellers.

One of my duties is to oversee in-store visual displays, so it's important to make sure I know the target audience for each new product.

As a manager, it's also my responsibility to work closely with my team, discuss plans with them and delegate duties fairly. And I have to train new staff for their respective positions. Early on, I realised that on-the-job experience is the best training you can have. Coming into contact with customers is always interesting and at times educational. Their comments and suggestions can be extremely valuable for improving customer service, designing displays, selecting merchandise and the general set-up of the store. However, I also have to be ready to handle ad hoc customer-related cases, such as shoplifting, accidents, false fire alarms and lost children.

Another challenge I face is operating the first Page One cafe. That requires different skills and I am fortunate to have help from people who know about menus and food.

Besides the more unpredictable and visible parts of the job, I am also responsible for what goes on behind the scenes. This includes manpower scheduling, promotional plans, controlling expenditure and inventory control, being accountable for sales and profits, and working out strategic development plans. These activities may not seem as exciting, but it is important to put in the time needed to get them right.

Even though I have been here for more than four years, my goal remains the same - to improve performance and achieve excellence.