It’s been 16 years since David Geller sold his store. Here’s what he’d do today.


This article originally appeared in the July 2016 edition of INSTORE.

David Geller bench shop advice

Who am I? A 14th-generation bench jeweler. Began learning the craft at the age of 10 at my father’s wholesale jewelry business.

Started my own store in 1974. Thirteen years later I developed the Geller Price Book with the help of our accountant, a former watchmaker. Improved the store performance with the Geller book and placing the five jewelers and five sales staff on a 100-percent commission basis.

In 2000, sold the store to an employee after doing $1.8 million in sales the previous year, with three-quarters of that coming from the shop, and the remainder showcase sales. Previous year, we handled about 9,000 job envelopes — all retail customers.

Since then I’ve helped jewelers with Geller pricing and setting up QuickBooks for Jewelers. Many have asked me, “If you were younger and were to open a store again what would it look like?”

In today’s environment I would go back to what I know best: the shop. However, whereas my store started with repairs, this time it would revolve around custom design.

The Store: Jim Tuttle, owner of Green Lake Jewelry Works in Seattle, WA, once told me he had visited my store and gathered a few ideas before starting his own. This time, I’d follow his lead. It’s all about custom design.

I’d want a free-standing building and as you enter immediately on the left would be jewelers doing their work. On the other side, would be wax cutting/milling machines, easily visible to clients. It would be like passing through the kitchen long before you meet the hostess in a restaurant.

Monitors overhead would show cameras over each jeweler’s bench so customers could experience every aspect of the process. Designing desks would be scattered throughout the showroom. No traditional “my side and your side of the showcase.” We’d sit at the tables, chatting like friends. Each table would have a computer monitor so we could show previous designs and start designing with CAD/CAM.

Customers could get a headstart designing their own jewelry using a “design your own jewelry app” downloadable to their phone or computer

Would also have a kids’ room, husbands’ room, coffee and refreshment bar, and fresh-baked cookies on site.

The Staff: Weekly training for all staff to improve their skills and knowledge. Sales staff would have sales goals and at least 50 percent of their total income would come from commission and bonuses

The Shop: Everything would be state-of-the-art and visible to customers through glass

One laser welder for every four jewelers on staff. Each bench would be well lit along with bench scopes for closer work along with a GraverMeister to assist in setting.

Sales: Majority of income would come from the custom design side along with sales of loose diamonds for the pieces we make. (We’d have a good-sized wallet of loose diamonds and color.)

Many cases would have “brass and glass” models, making it easier to sell our own designs or special orders from outside vendors.

First 15 months, we’d want sales to be $1 million. Then growth at 25-35 percent per year for the next three years.

Store Hours: Open seven days a week. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Friday. Saturday until 6 p.m., Sunday 12-5 p.m. Open one long day for the convenience of clients: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Margins & Inventory levels: Profit margin on repairs: 65 percent; on custom jobs: 60-68 percent

Shop inventory: Between $25,000 to $50,000 in inventory. Mostly casting grain, sizing stock, findings and small stones.

Now I’ll go see a “shrink” and think this over again.


David Geller is a consultant to jewelers on store management. Email him at dgellerbellsouth.net.

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