Successful Store Managers at Dollar General

The training program consists of a structured, blended learning curriculum.

By Margery Weinstein

Dollar General Corporation doesn’t leave the leadership of its stores to chance. The company’s signature program is designed to ensure that newly hired or promoted Store Managers (SMs) are trained to achieve operational excellence—to achieve “Retail Excellence, Every Day.”

On average, approximately 3,500 SMs successfully go through training each year. Due to Dollar General’s growth, the company discovered that its current business model and the complexity of running its stores made it increasingly difficult to successfully execute in-store training. As a result, it focused on improving the application of key operational processes: serving customers, increasing sales, and reducing shrinkage and out-of-stocks. Here are the details on how this program works:

The training program consists of a structured, blended learning curriculum:

  1. In-store specific learning activities with a Store Training Manager (STM) at a training store.
  2. In-store reinforcement from a STM at the home store.
  3. A District Manager (DM) assessment to validate readiness of the trainee.
  4. A weeklong classroom workshop focused on operational excellence, following in-store training, and a period of time of in-store management experience.

The New STM Program has several components to ensure the success of new hires:

  • Certification of STM through defined criteria, a Regional Director Store walk, and successful completion of an e-learning module.
  • External hires sent to designated training stores to complete their in-store training with an STM who has been preselected and certified by a Regional Director.
  • A new SM spends eight days in the training store, coached by the STM, to complete the required computer-based learning and In-Store Checklist and associated activities.
  • The STM also spends an additional two days in the home store of the new SM following the guidelines in the In-Store Guide and coaching him/her using just-in-time feedback methods.
  • In week three, the DM visits the new SM and completes an evaluation to determine knowledge retention and application of training after the completion of the two-week In-Store Experience. Results of the evaluation are used to identify additional training opportunities for the new SM and to put together an action plan to ensure required additional training and ongoing success of that new SM.
  • In weeks three to five, the new SM works in his/her home store, followed by enrollment in the weeklong classroom workshop. This workshop includes a blend of classroom presentation, facilitation, hands-on application, knowledge checks, and a test that assists with developing an action plan for ongoing training and development needs.
  • The 13-week DM onboarding checklist for new SMs ensures consistent engagement of that DM with not only the new SM, but the STM.

Dollar General’s revised program successfully met its current business goals of achieving rapid growth by increasing efficiency and transfer of learning consistently across all retail stores.

Looking into the future, the company also is piloting a second week of classroom training focused on specific leadership and operational skills that new SMs would take during their fourth month in their new role. A new company goal is to reduce turnover of new SMs during their first six months in their new role with this additional week of development and training.

HAVE INPUT OR TIPS on this topic? If so, send them our way in an e-mail to with the subject line “Dollar General,” and we’ll try to include your advice in an upcoming edition of the Training Top 125 Best Practices/Executive Exchange e-newsletter.

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