Sunday, July 5, 2009

Professional Interviews: Mary, assistant manager in a tack shop

Interview #3 in this series, if you are keeping track, still taking advantage of my friends' patience as I am as yet too timid to interview strangers. For urban readers, a tack shop is a saddlery, a place that sells equipment for horseriders, competitive and recreational, and for the horses themselves.

What is your job? I'm in sales, shipping, and I'm assistant manager, 2nd within the chain of command.

How did you get that job? By chance. I was laid off for the winter from the nursery [plants, not babies] that I was working at and my friend who owns a horse farm needed some help because her dad, who usually helped her out in the barn, was having bypass surgery. So while he recuperated she needed a hand and I needed something to do. I worked for her through the winter and summer while looking for another job (I had decided not to go back to the nursery when they asked since they weren't going to give me back my management position).

I called the Saddlery one day while I was working on the horsefarm, since I'd been told by friends I'd be g ood in a tack shop. I was told to come in that day for an interview, which was mainly about horses, and got the job. I started a week before The Royal Winter Fair (RR notes: this is like starting in the Secret Service the week before Obama's inauguration).

A typical shift for me: I get there are 8:45, unlock, turn off alarms, turn on lights (and fans, if it's summer, turn on the Open sign, take sale or feature items out to the porch. And water my plants! Load computers, count change in the till, count out bills to add to the till...then, if no customers have come in, I'll answer any emails that need answers and print off any online orders that need to be filled, check the fax machine for fax orders, check the log book for phone and other orders have come in [since my last shift]. I'll go get the required items from around the store to fill the orders. If large quantities or a large item is require, I'll fax a request to the company warehouse and have them check their stock since it's easier for them (but if they don't have what's needed, I'll pull it from the store). If no one has it, I call the customer to suggest something else. Once an order is filled, I got omy till, look up the customer (or add the info, if they aren't in the system) and run their credit card through. If all goes well, I put the order into shipping and receiving for my boss to take to the warehouse.

I also answer the phone, I set up meetings with suppliers, I sit in on those meetings, take stock of items required to fill the store, and help any customers that need me. But the mail-order takes up the majority of my day.

What makes you good at your job? Knowledge of horses and livestock and the fact that I ride all the time. People don't want and don't trust advice from someone who has no contact with horses. I have very good customer service skills and excellent phone manners. And I know what's going on in the horse world, since I got to shows, know rules and regulations, things like that. Even rodeos.

What sort of person would hate your job? Someone who doesn't know the horse world; they wouldn't be able to give good advice. Someone who doesn't like helping people; there's a lot of 1-on-1. You can't have issues with people who come into the store.

Favourite item in the store? A brand-new Billy Cook barrel saddle, the new design. It has a natural coloured rawhide-wrapped horn and cantle... As opposed to the natural light colour, it's a chestnut. Even the roughout leather on the fenders and jockey skirt are a chestnut colour. It's very comfortable to sit in. It makes me debate whether to trade in my current saddle. But I don't think I will.

Final statement: To ride a horse is to fly without wings!

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