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The general manager of a retail store has more responsibilities than any other employee. She handles the everyday operations of the business from interviewing and hiring new employees to managing the store's inventory. Finding success in this line of work depends largely on your ability to handle the hectic pace of a retail environment, so more often than not, retail experience is just as important--if not more important--than a college education.
As with many careers, having the proper education is important. Retail general managers almost always have a high school diploma or GED, and often have at least an associate's degree. Some may have earned bachelor's degrees in areas like communications or business, but this is not necessarily a requirement--in fact, retail experience may be just as valuable, depending on the setting.
The general manager of a retail store is responsible not only for the store itself and its customers, but also for its employees. This means interviewing job applicants, hiring and training new employees and motivating current employees. The general manager is also usually responsible for coordinating the schedule and may also personally handle the store's payroll.
Organizational skills are key for a retail general manager. One way these skills are put to the test are in organizing the store itself--in a retail environment, it is important that customers are able to easily navigate the space and find what they are looking for. The manager may install new displays or rearrange the store to improve traffic flow or highlight sales. Organization skills also extend to planning an overall strategy for the store, such as analyzing sales trends, recording sales figures and determining how to increase the store's profits.
The general manager is the final line of defense for the store, meaning that she is where almost all customer issues eventually land. This includes both positive and negative customer interaction--the manager needs to personally resolve customer complaints as well as respond to customer praises. For this reason, the manager must be patient and able to effectively communicate with all manner of customers.
According to survey results on the website PayScale, the median income for general managers as of July 2010 was between approximately $43,000 and $87,000. Because of the wide variety of retail environments, the amount earned by general managers also significantly fluctuates.