The area development manager position is typically used by corporations that operate multiple retail branches or outlets over a wide geographical area, or by franchise corporations that provide support to franchisees. This sort of business manager operates as a consultant in the field who ensures that the remote locations conform to the corporation's guidelines. To become an area development manager, you will likely need a relevant business degree and years of experience in branding, market development, operations and management. The hiring specifications often require a number of intangibles, such as excellent communication skills, networking acumen and problem-solving ability.
Large retail companies with multiple store locations are often concerned about product and image consistency. The company wants to make sure that a customer who walks into a store in one location is exposed to the same retail experience as a customer who walks into a store someplace else. To ensure uniformity across individual locations, the company sets standards that govern a wide range of factors, from operations to merchandising displays.
The area development manager is the company's field agent who polices the implementation of these standards. It is his job to make sure that retail locations in his area meet operational guidelines and targets. He is also responsible for coordinating local support for the stores and organizing marketing and advertising campaigns to further develop the market. In all of these tasks, he must be an expert in the company's way of doing business.
To become an area development manager, you will typically need at least a bachelor's degree in a business major, such as marketing. With an undergraduate degree, you will likely start off in an entry-level position in the company and have to work your way up to an area manager position on merit. If you pursue a Master's of Business Administration (MBA) degree, however, it will be more likely that your education can substitute for working your way up through the company.
Often, an area manager will be promoted up through the ranks of a company because the position requires someone who is well-versed in its business methodology. Companies often favor candidates with marketing, operations and management experience and a career trajectory that shows an increasing level of responsibility. Some organizations also offer a training program that accepts internal applications for the position. Demonstrated leadership ability is often one of the most important selection factors for this type of internal grooming program.
You can also become an area development manager by moving laterally from a lower-level marketing or management position in a different company. An outside recruitment process often emphasizes a demonstrated ability to motivate people, communicate effectively and network. Many companies look for people with the intangibles to lead in the field first, knowing the functional knowledge of the company can be acquired through training.