Setback turns into diamonds for Zales manager

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Turning a pink slip into a grand prize seems natural when Lisa Overturf tells the story.

The manager of Zales in the Natchez Mall, Overturf found herself suddenly unemployed in Monroe, La., where she lived and worked for another company until five years ago.

&8220;I was in human resources with another company in Monroe,&8221; she said. &8220;The manager of Zales in Monroe let me work part time. I started out as a cashier and was looking for some other work.&8221;

Email newsletter signup

Soon, however, she decided to see what she could do with Zales instead of pursuing other jobs. She knows now that she made the right choice.

Recently Overturf won the store manager of the year award for the company out of all the more than 800 Zales stores in the United States.

&8220;In Monroe, I showed them what I could do,&8221; she said. &8220;I went to gold-elite status within 10 months in sales, reaching more than $450,000 in sales.&8221;

Since moving to Natchez in 2004 to become manager of the mall store, she has set goals and reached them.

Being named store manager of the year represents a variety of tasks she and her staff did well, she said.

&8220;We get ranking reports every month. At first, I didn&8217;t know what that entailed,&8221; she said. &8220;I was focused on meeting all the criteria we were supposed to meet.&8221;

That focus led to success. &8220;In January my supervisor said that it looked like this store was ranked number three in the nation,&8221; she said.

The rankings include measures of percentages of sales plans completed, number of credit applications, number of multiple sales, repair sales and other criteria. &8220;It&8217;s just anything that can be measured,&8221; she said.

In December, she heard she had reached the number one spot among managers nationwide.

&8220;I held that position through the rest of the year. I&8217;m a fighter. I love a challenge,&8221; she said.

The staff with whom she works shares the credit, Overturf said. &8220;They worked hard. They are a really good team.&8221;

Faye Massey, who has worked at Zales for 16 years, said the manager&8217;s success and the store&8217;s success is due to hard work and &8220;how you deal with people.&8221;

Overturf is a Natchez native and happy to be back in her hometown. &8220;I was born and raised in Natchez, went off to college, got married and raised a family,&8221; she said. Her two children are grown now.

Her philosophy is simple, starting with hard work and focus on the task at hand.

&8220;I treat everyone the same,&8221; she said. &8220;That&8217;s important.&8221;

&8220;And I try to tell everyone to learn everything you possibly can.&8221;

Further, she advises her staff not to take criticism personally, as &8220;it&8217;s a way to make you better.&8221;

After winning so high an honor, Overturf wonders what her next goals will be. &8220;Right now I&8217;m in a quandary over what is next,&8221; she said. &8220;But I have a team who wants to repeat what we&8217;ve done.&8221;

Showcases are filling with new products, and the Zales team is preparing for the holiday season, she said.

&8220;Now is the time for people to start thinking about Christmas. It&8217;s a third of our business,&8221; she said.

Thinking back on her life and finding herself as manager of the jewelry store, Overturf is surprised but pleased.

&8220;I never dreamed I could do it, but I think this is what God had for me to do,&8221; she said. &8220;I can&8217;t believe my regional manager gave me the chance to come and prove to Zales and myself that I can do this.&8221;

Her story is a lesson for others, she said. &8220;People ought to know that there are things deep down inside them they don&8217;t know they have. You don&8217;t know until you tap into those things and find the riches.&8221;