Job Descriptions, Definitions Roles, Responsibility: Sales Worker Supervisors

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Sales worker supervisors oversee the work of sales and related workers, such as retail salespersons; cashiers; customer service representatives; stock clerks and order fillers; sales engineers; and sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing. Sales worker supervisors are responsible for interviewing, hiring, and training employees, as well as for preparing work schedules and assigning workers to specific duties. Many of these workers hold job titles such as sales manager or department manager. Under the occupational classification system used in the Handbook, however, workers with the title manager who mainly supervise nonsupervisory workers are called supervisors rather than managers, even though many of these workers often perform numerous managerial functions. (Related occupations discussed elsewhere in the Handbook are retail salespersons; cashiers; customer service representatives; stock clerks and order fillers; sales engineers; and sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing.)

In retail establishments, sales worker supervisors ensure that customers receive satisfactory service and quality goods. They also answer customers’ inquiries, deal with complaints, and sometimes handle purchasing, budgeting, and accounting. Their responsibilities vary with the size and type of establishment. As the size of retail stores and the types of goods and services increase, supervisors tend to specialize in one department or one aspect of merchandising. (Managers in eating and drinking places are discussed in the Handbook statement on food service managers.)

Sales worker supervisors in large retail establishments, often referred to as department managers, provide day-to-day oversight of individual departments, such as shoes, cosmetics, or housewares in large department stores; produce and meat in grocery stores; and sales in automotive dealerships. These workers establish and implement policies, goals, objectives, and procedures for their specific departments; coordinate activities with other department heads; and strive for smooth operations within their departments. They supervise employees who price and ticket goods and place them on display; clean and organize shelves, displays, and inventories in stockrooms; and inspect merchandise to ensure that nothing is outdated. Sales worker supervisors also review inventory and sales records, develop merchandising techniques, and coordinate sales promotions. In addition, they may greet and assist customers and promote sales and good public relations.

Sales worker supervisors in nonretail establishments supervise and coordinate the activities of sales workers who sell industrial products, automobiles, or services such as advertising or Internet services. They may prepare budgets, make personnel decisions, devise sales-incentive programs, assign sales territories, and approve sales contracts.

In small or independent companies and retail stores, sales worker supervisors not only directly supervise sales associates, but also are responsible for the operation of the entire company or store. Some are self-employed business or store owners.

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