A smooth operator

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 April, 2008, 12:00am

Every day presents new faces and fresh challenges for Amy Lau, a boutique manager at one of Salvatore Ferragamo's flagship stores.

My role is to manage and monitor the store's day-to-day operations involving achieving sales goals, the store budget and inventory control, customer service, staff management and customer relationship management. How do I manage to finish them and ensure their quality? By building up proper store organisation and working closely with the team. I work on shifts, including weekends and holidays. It helps me to obtain a full picture of the store and staff performance.

I spend most of my time coaching my team members, to ensure the smooth operation of the store at all times. This usually starts with spending time on staff training and communication before the store opens. I also set the daily sales target, highlight issues to be aware of [and] explain instructions or assignments from management.

I encourage training via daily duties because through this I can share my experiences with them. The daily briefings and monthly meetings are sometimes handled by the store supervisor and I am an observer. After that, I review and provide feedback. I also serve customers along with the team members to act as a role model and to keep close to our customers to understand their needs.

I work in a 6,400 sq ft shop with 24 team members. Before I was transferred here, I had no similar experience of working in or managing a flagship store. Moreover, the shop is located in a high-traffic area with great potential. Every day, many different customers come from around the world. They are from different backgrounds. It is challenging to ensure that we provide excellent service and that they have a memorable shopping experience.

The most exciting thing is to handle the end-of-season sales period. Each member of staff has to serve at least two to three customers at a time. Each customer may buy a few items. There's non-stop activity such as going in and out of the stockroom to check merchandise, providing a fitting service, closing transactions and packaging procedures. We need to work efficiently and ensure quality of service in a short time, and capture every sales opportunity.

I have 24 years of retail experience and have worked for Ferragamo for almost nine years. At Ferragamo, I started as a senior saleswoman and was promoted to store manager three years ago. I appreciate that the company continuously gives me training to allow me to grow and develop my career.

After I left secondary school, the retail industry was booming and many retail sales positions were available. My personality does not suit an office environment. I enjoy working and communicating with different kinds of people, so I thought that being in sales would be interesting.

There are so many vacancies in the market. The retail industry needs a lot of new blood to support its development, especially in the mainland. But to be successful in the sales profession, you have to be hardworking, eager to learn, willing to face challenges, open-minded and flexible. If you would like to be a good player, you cannot rely on the knowledge you gained at school. Work experience is important, as are other skills such as presentation, communication and problem-solving. Most companies will provide training. For new joiners, it's necessary to ensure that less experienced staff will be able to provide quality service. It's an advantage if you know a few other languages, with English and Putonghua being the basics. A higher educational background could benefit future career development.