Killer Bees, Beer and Break-ins: The District Manager Diaries

Being a service provider to the retail industry, servicing primarily district managers and operations executives, we make it our business to know our users, understand how they work and what they go through everyday.

Here is what we have learned: being a proficient district or regional manager is no easy feat, it requires multi-disciplinary skills and talents. A district manager is a financial advisor, a coach, a consultant, a trainer and at times a disciplinarian. A district manager needs to communicate, educate, inspire, assist, verify and enforce. A district manager is the liaison between the stores and head office, the voice of head office at the stores and the voice of the stores at head office. It is a pivotal role, the backbone of the operations apparatus. While we normally focus on the business side of retail compliance (the value of having and measuring standards, visit follow ups,  etc…), the stories below from real district managers tell a better (and more entertaining) story than any research paper could. We are grateful to the district managers who have graciously accepted to have their stories featured. If you have one of your own, please send it to us.

I walked into a store one time and found the overnight cleaning crew sprawled out on top of the bar drinking beer and telling jokes..They did not expect me to arrive so early. I fired them, then they went across the street..bought more beer…and started making prank phone calls to the store..much funnier now than back then. – Luke Tushim


How about a Charity Fund Raising Car Wash in the parking lot of one of my stores, where all “donations” went into the store manager’s pocket? I found out about it by receiving a call from the town’s Mayor, thanking me for having our location and employee’s involved in what he thought was a community charity. When I visited the location the following Saturday (the day of the week they did the car wash) I found a sign on the front door of the store stating “Closed for Car Wash”, then went around to the parking lot and found the manager and 3 other employees (all of whom I was paying;they were punched in) washing cars and taking “donations”. Suffice it to say the manager was terminated, as were the employees, after they agreed to pay back what they claimed they took in “donations” which was immediately given to an actual charity. -Alan Ferraro


On Christmas night, had a guy break into a store through the back door. He broke apart the door and then guess he didn’t expect the alarm, so left the wooden heavy door battered, but at least didn’t get in. I went to the store, meet with police, reports, checking for anything missing, arranged for a lock smith to fix the lock and the door, then put on additional security, was there for 5 hours middle of the night on Christmas, not fun. – Murray Kobe


I could not reach anyone at one of my stores. I contacted the store next door and they told me the store was closed with a sign on the door stating. “I have gone to New York City for the weekend”. Of course the store was a 5 hour drive and no flights available. When I finally got in touch with the Store Manager he explained that he needed some time off, so I gave him all the time he wanted. For some reason all of my tough visits were stores located in resort towns. – Kathy Buyers


In a tiny kiosk location, with single coverage, walked in to find the SM having a diabetic reaction, passed out on the floor. – Christine Harvey


Went to do inventory and had a swarm of killer bees invading the store, cancelled the inventory that day had to call the RM very early in the AM and tell him the news. – Mary Jo Finn


How about getting a frantic call from the GM saying there is suddenly a flying termite issue. I walked in 90 minutes later (driving quickly) to a swarm of flying termites….thousands! Almost turned around and walked out, Almost. We closed for 5 days, discarded all product and started over again. – Paul Manley

Are you a District Manager, Regional Manager or Operations professional? Join one of two moderated LinkedIn groups Store Walk-Through and District Managers, Regional Managers, Store Owners, Franchisees & Operations Professionals.


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