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Counter Manager Job Description

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Counter managers lead a team of workers in a retail department. A "retail counter" is a department where customers purchase packaged or custom-made goods prepared by employees. Supermarket delis and bakeries as well as department store makeup counters are common work environments.

Leadership Responsibilities

The manager directs the work of a team or group of assistants. In a supermarket, the counter team processes products, packages them, interacts with customers and prepares custom orders. The manager trains new employees on the different responsibilities and the equipment used. At a meat counter, the manager must train workers on safe use of meat-cutting equipment. A cosmetics counter is sales-driven. The manager coaches new sales representatives on different products, as well as on how to consult with customers. Developing and monitoring sales staff is a primary leadership role. The counter manager often plays a hands-on role in selling as well.

Administrative Responsibilities

Counter managers also tackle several administrative responsibilities. They order inventory and supplies. In a supermarket, managers order ingredients, food and paper products used for service and packaging. The counter manager also maintains relationships with key suppliers. At a cosmetics counter, the manager orders new beauty products and builds relationships with suppliers. Cosmetics counter managers also play a role in marketing to attract new clients. Hiring and firing staff, scheduling and equipment maintenance are additional administrative duties of counter managers in any environment.

Background Requirements

While business classes or a degree may expedite your ability to land a counter manager position, no formal education is required. The normal path to counter manager is through experience in a counter assistant or representative role. At a food or deli counter, an assistant who learns all roles in the department and performs well for a few years can become a manager. A cosmetics counter manager must establish herself as a successful sales rep or consultant for a few years. She must also demonstrate elite customer service and leadership skills.

Advancement Opportunities and Pay

Counter manager is typically the highest position within a department. The first step in promotion is often taking on a higher-volume store. Successful cosmetics counter managers may become district, area and regional managers. Supermarket or general merchandise counter managers may move up to store-level management positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics didn't isolate the counter manager role, but it did indicate an average annual salary of $41,450 as of May 2013 for "first-line supervisors of retail sales workers." Cosmetics counter managers may receive sales commissions and bonuses for their team's performance.


Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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