Armand Lobato, The Produce Aisle
Armand Lobato, The Produce Aisle

One line of questioning that popped up during my chats with produce managers (and clerks) was this: “How can I improve my standing? How can I get full-time hours or a promotion? I’m going nowhere here.”

My answer was usually this: “If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, put in for a transfer.”

Susan M. Heathfield at wrote this on the subject:

“A transfer … is an approach to helping employees develop a career path. A transfer provides experience in other areas of an employee’s current department or in a new department within the business.”

Transferring is a challenging step. Advising someone to transfer to another store was frequently met with resistance. The counter to this ranged from, “But, I’m only 10 minutes from work now!” Or, “I’m on a regular schedule that allows me certain shifts and days off. Transferring to another store may change everything.”

It’s all about measuring the pros and cons.


If you transfer you will certainly be out of your current comfort zone. You will have to adapt to new circumstances at your new location, such as fitting in with the new store management and produce crew.

Your schedule will be different, perhaps worse than it is now. Who knows, if you put in for a transfer you may even be required to take whatever becomes available, which may result in an undesirable location or a cross-town commute.

What’s the technical terminology? “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.”


Being the eternal optimist, this list is longer. First of all, transferring to another (or new) store offers an opportunity to share or learn new skills.

Further, a new store manager always has a slightly different approach in running the business. Everyone at the new location has something to offer, be it in product knowledge or training methods, for example.

As a result, you expand your network by transferring. Knowing people (who need people, are the luckiest people…), well, you get the drift. Building a network is always beneficial.

A transfer sends a strong message to your produce director or district manager too. It demonstrates that you are willing to sacrifice the comfortable for the sometimes uncomfortable situation.

Many times a transfer leads to a problem store. Perhaps the location is undermerchandised, has slumping sales, is bleeding shrink dollars or has a dysfunctional crew.

By transferring and turning around a troubled store, you will undoubtedly make a good impression and build your reputation. This can lead to even bigger opportunities, such as being the first choice managing a new or flagship store or getting on the short list when it comes to upper management promotion considerations.

You can’t do any of this anchored to one location.

Armand Lobato works for the Idaho Potato Commission. His 30 years of experience in the produce business span a range of foodservice and retail positions.

What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.