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Career Story: Retail Support Manager For A Food Services Contractor

Retail Support Manager For A Food Services Contractor

Job Title: Retail Support Manager

Type of Company: My company is a worldwide contract management company. We manage food, facilities, environmental services and other adjunct services for businesses, schools, colleges, hospitals and retirement communities.

Education: BS, School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University

Previous Experience: I started as a food service manager in our Corporate Service Division, managing employee cafeterias for large companies in Boston, Massachusetts. I worked my way up to District Manager overseeing several locations.

Job Tasks: As a Retail Support Manager I help management teams in the hospitals that contract with my company in all aspects of their retail operations (mostly staff cafes and coffee kiosks).

My main responsibilities include training and project management. Training takes place in many ways. Some days I will work directly with a new retail manager on specific duties he needs to be familiar with to run a cafe smoothly. I also partner with another food support manager in planning and executing quarterly training days for the chefs and managers in our locations. Our topics include food purchasing, promotion planning, the latest food merchandising techniques, creating effective signage, etc. Another way I assist our region in training is by cultivating retail coordinators who will be assigned to work closely with other retail managers in their district. This group of 8 managers meets with me regularly to be trained on how best to perform quality assurance audits in the units for which they are responsible.

Project management is another one of my main responsibilities. I work closely with onsite management teams to create a plan for their retail operation that will improve financial results and customer satisfaction. Many times this plan includes a renovation of the existing cafeteria. I recommend the type of equipment they should include, suggest a menu and discuss the latest trends, signage and merchandising. I am a key player on our region's opening team when we are contracted by a new hospital to run their food and nutrition department.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of this job is that I go to different locations each day and that provides great variety. I enjoy meeting different people and trying my best to influence them on how to improve their operations. It is great when people tell me how much I've helped them to achieve better financial results or improvements in their customer satisfaction scores.

One challenging part of this job is that there are times when people don't follow my recommendations and problems linger when they could've been resolved. Also, it is tough to be on the road each day driving an average of 80-100 miles a day, especially in snowy weather!

Job Tips: In order to support management teams and earn their respect, it is important to have a solid background in operations management including successful operation of a food retail outlet. You'll need to know how to schedule staff, purchase food, merchandise food, advertise, and train staff in excellent customer service.

I also suggest taking courses on communication styles. It is important in any type of management to understand how to effectively communicate with different people from different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures.

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