The holidays are here. Is it such a bad thing to take work home to do on my off days?

Sometimes it seems like a good idea to crush an hour of work on Sunday so you’re not so slammed on Monday. But there’s eventually a cost to be paid in terms of your energy and attention levels — and the end result is a loss of overall productivity. If it’s just catching up on email or doing paper work, we’d advocate not doing it — your inbox will replenish itself regardless. If, however, it’s something creative like sketching a particularly engaging ring design or plotting a fun marketing event, we’d then say go for it for a couple of hours.

How do I do an event that my best customers will interpret as sincere thanks for their patronage?

That’s easy — just ban all buying. That way, your customers will know that they are free to peruse your cases or special displays. A charity aspect can further underscore that this is not about the jewelry, but anything really — the food, the wine, a special guest star can act as the headline rather than your inventory. While you can have wishlists ready, your focus at such events should be on giving your staff the chance to bolster their relationships with your best clients, along with showing customers how much they are valued.

I own a jewelry store with two siblings. Our parents are aging and need constant care. Is there a way to fairly split the obligation without it affecting the business or our relationships?

The best approach typically involves bringing in a certified mediator to get everyone — including your parents, of course — to work together to find a solution everyone can live with (two such are Eldercare Mediators at eldercaremediators.com and the Association for Conflict Resolution at acrnet.org). Kate Peterson, president of Performance Consultants, says to keep in mind that “fair” and “equal” are not the same. “What is fair might not appear to be an equal distribution of workload. Assuming everyone is approaching the situation in good faith, you will each bring value to your business in your own way. The time one of you devotes to caring for your parents, for example, might be every bit as valuable to your business as the time another puts into running the store.”

We just got a one-star review on Yelp. How can I be sure this never happens again?

Between the lay experts, the “waiter didn’t fill my glass quickly enough” narcissists, general trolls and the genuinely aggrieved, you don’t really have much hope of preventing poor reviews. You can help yourself, though, by ensuring that whenever a review site opens, a friend is among the first to post — initial posts seem to set the trend — and by learning from it when things go wrong. We know of several jewelers who hold bad-review post-mortems to figure out specifically what went wrong and how they can prevent it from occurring again. 

How much should I charge for an appraisal?

There are a number of factors at play here: complexity of the job, your credentials, your market and your client (if you’re doing work for a court, for example, you may earn better money). Gail Brett Levine, executive director of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers, said the highest she’s ever heard is $250 per piece, and the cheapest about $25. Just don’t try to charge by the value of the piece. As for those people seeking a drive-by freebie for the ring they picked up in southeast Asia, Blue Book author David Geller recommends an appropriately weighty sign on your counter that you can point to, declaring:

“If you need a value on something you’ve bought or been given, we can offer you two choices:

  • Written, professional, certified appraisal: $85 (or whatever).
  • Oral, non-binding evaluation with no guarantee of accuracy: $20.”

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 edition of INSTORE.