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Tip Sheet

A Metaphor for the Importance of Perseverance and More November Tips

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Don’t Get off the Bus

There is nothing new under the sun, goes the proverb from Ecclesiastes, so if you want to be innovative, it’s best to stay the course rather than look for new areas to conquer. Consistency, hard work and persistence yield success. So says photographer and writer Arno Rafael Minkkinen’s “Helsinki Bus Station Theory.” If you hop on a bus leaving Helsinki (a metaphor for your work), you’ll see that the route you’re taking has been taken before. Wanting to be an innovator, you’ll get off the bus at the first stop, grab a cab back to the bus station and jump on a different bus. Again, you’ll realize that this route has already been taken, too. “This goes on all through your creative life, always showing new work, always being compared to others. What to do? Stay on the bus. Because if you do, in time, you will begin to see a difference,” he says. Over time, your own personality, voice and ideas will shine through.

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


Love Your Vendors

The vendor-retailer relationship can become strained at times. But ultimately, it’s one of mutual benefit. To keep those bonds healthy, Long Jewelers in Norfolk, VA, holds an annual Vendor Appreciation Dinner toward the end of the year.


Keep Bad Debt Honest

Sooner or later a customer will fail to make good on a debt, leaving you with no option but to write it off. Many business owners record the hit against revenue, but Ken Kaufman, author of Impact Your Business, advises against this, so as not to distort how your business is actually performing. “You should expense it. It is a cost of doing business and it should not hurt all the work you are doing to correctly recognize revenue,” he writes on the Amex OPEN Forum blog.


Don’t Slouch

Stop slouching. “If you take on a collapsed position, it really shifts the physiology,” Erik Peper, a health education professor at San Francisco State University, told Bloomberg. Tests have shown that slouchers’ testosterone levels go down, cortisol levels go up, and they have more helpless thoughts. The opposite happens when you sit up, stretch, or, even better, skip on the spot for just 10 seconds.

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To-Do Triumph

If you use a to-do list to guide your task choices through the week, leave your “done” items at the top as you knock them off, suggests productivity website Lifehacker. The feeling of accomplishment will help you get through the other items.


Day Trips Dazzle

 Nobel laureate psychologist Danny Kahneman showed that when it comes to experiences, our memories of events are dominated by what they were like at their peak (for positive events) and at their nadir (for negative events) — and what they were like at the very end. In terms of vacations, that suggests it’s often better to plan more, shorter breaks, rather than stretching them out to two weeks.


It Starts with Sales Staff

Preparing a holiday ad campaign? Rather than start with a big concept, reverse-engineer the process, says Mark Stevens, author of Your Marketing Sucks. Talk to your salespeople first and then work your way back to strategy, he writes on the Amex Open Forum. “Salespeople are the ones who get the phones hung up on them. They’ll tell you what works.”


Vanishing Email Address

Ever wanted an email address you could discard like a pair of chopsticks? 10 Minute Mail (10minutemail.com) is for you. The service sets you up with a self-destructing email address that expires in — yep — 10 minutes. Your temporary inbox works just like regular email. Whitepaper downloaded, anonymous comment posted, whatever — once you’re done, pull the pin and walk away.


Speak on the Breath

Harness your breath for a more powerful sales-floor presentation, says Allison Shapira, lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Shapira recommends this exercise: Stand tall. Put one hand on your belly button and one hand on your chest. Breathe deeply into your stomach and then take note which hand moves. (It should be the lower one). “Then exhale slowly, and speak ‘on the breath,’” she says. “Use your breath to support your words by letting it out steadily while you are speaking.”


Alarm Bells

Red flag: A shopper who asks to see the most expensive item in the store. The Jewelers’ Security Alliance recommends establishing a price threshold where staffers ask to see identification when a consumer wants to try on something “super expensive.” (Tip: blame it on “insurance company rules.”)

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Failure Wall 

Consider a “failure wall” — a flat space, preferably in your back room, where you and staff can share your “growth lessons” with each other. “Something magical happens to failure when it’s openly acknowledged,” writes business author Jeff Stibel in a column for Bizjournals.com. “Paradoxically, it becomes less of a big deal. The idea of failure is often the elephant in the room.”

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Tip Sheet

How to Sell More “Spa Treatments” for Jewelry, and More Tips for September

Millennial shoppers respond to education, privacy and transparency.

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TIME MANAGEMENTAim for Busy, Not Rushed

How should you strive to feel when working? Busy, but not rushed. Research undertaken by the University of Maryland found this is when people are happiest. And when you’re happiest — meaning engaged and in the flow as opposed to giddy with joy — you invariably do your best work. So, start creating realistic schedules, stop checking email every 15 minutes, take breaks to exercise, and stop letting other people set your deadlines (yes, you could finish the job by tomorrow, but Friday is best for everyone.)

MARKETINGA Time for Pampering

One of the key challenges at this time of the year is how to get customers in the door. The Gem Collection in Tallahassee, FL, does it with a “Spa Treatment” for rings. The treatment, which is recommended annually, includes inspection of stones by hand, ultrasonic cleaning, steaming of the stones to remove excess dirt, refinishing to remove scratches, polishing the ring, and for white gold jewelry, a rhodium finishing, all for one price. “The spa treatment name was used so that the customer feels as if their jewelry is being pampered instead of worked on,” explains co-owner Don Vodicka. “This has raised our repair sales and keeps our customers very happy.”

MARKETINgShout It in Brass

If you buy your diamonds from Antwerp, it’s always a good idea to let the world know about it. Molinelli’s Jewelers in Pocatello, ID, actually has it in brass letters on their wall.

SALESLaying on a Bridal FeasT

Showcases — who needs them? That’s the diamond-selling approach at Siegel’s Jewelry in Paso Robles, CA, where customers are encouraged to sit with staff at a custom-made, long community table to discuss jewelry. “I designed my store with a lot of seating space in order to show diamonds effectively, and to make my employees and customers more comfortable,” explains owner Ken Siegel.

STRATEGY“How” is the Enemy

Something all true entrepreneurs know: “How” is the enemy. “We always want to know how things will happen,” says Claudia Azula, a popular podcaster and co-author of the Power Of No. “But how is the enemy because it blocks the possibilities that open up when we are willing to not know. When you don’t know about tomorrow, all you can do is focus on doing your best today.” Stop thinking, Just go do it.

SALESKeep Me Safe and Prosperous

Buy an engagement ring at Eichhorn Jewelry in Decatur, IN, and you also get a “Keep Me” — an original document that travels with the piece of jewelry. The paper “encourages customers to spend dollars by emphasizing the legacy aspect of their purchase,” explains owner Eileen Eichhorn.

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Tip Sheet

Saving the Boring Jobs for the Office, Watching TV with Purpose and More Tips for July

Plus, how to use questions to make yourself a better listener.

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personalDo Down Time With Purpose

Approach this summer with more purpose, recommends Greg McKeown, writing in the Harvard Business Review. “That means if you decide to watch TV, really watch it. If you are having a meal, take the time to enjoy the meal.” Of course it also means making a choice: do you want to spend your summer downtime in front of the tube? We’re going to hazard a guess the answer is no. Go schedule some activities that ensure you fully recuperate this summer.

EVENTSMake It Light-Hearted

Orin Jewelers in Northville, MI, understands that at its heart, shopping for jewelry should be a joyful experience. To support that message, it tries to add a lighthearted touch to city events by doing something fun in the store, say owners Orin and Tina Mazzoni. “Example: when a citywide ban was put on serving wine/drinks to women at the annual Girls’ Night Out, we all dressed as if it were the Prohibition and served root beer and sparkling wine.” How does your fun game compare?

LEARNINGUp Your Reading Game

Want to read more? Try what serial entrepreneur and business author James Altucher does and read about 30 pages of five books each day. Given the average American reads about 250 words a minute, or about a page a minute, that’s two-and-a-half hours. Don’t have that much time? How about 25 pages of three books? That’s little more time than it takes to watch an episode of The Real Housewives Of New Jersey.

PRODUCTIVITYHome Is Where The Creativity Is

Here’s a neat rule to get the most out of your work day (for people in a position to pull it off, meaning business owners): Do creative work at home and boring work, where you may need some compulsion, at the office. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, researchers found that when it came to creative tasks, people were 11 percent to 20 percent more productive outside the lab. For rote and repetitive tasks, however, they were 6 to 10 percent less productive when not in a formal work environment.

SALESIs That So?

In The Patterson Principles Of Selling, Jeffrey Gitomer suggests training yourself to be a better listener by asking a question at the end of your customers’ statements. If you make your own statement, it’s possible you are interrupting. But if you ask a question, you almost have to wait until they’re finished speaking.

SERVICEDon’t Band-Aid A Gunshot Wound

When it comes to repairs, it often pays to look beyond the customer’s specific request, says Bruce Goodheart of Goodheart’s Jewelry in Overland, KS. “Don’t fix one prong when there are 20 other prongs you need to re-tip. You don’t need the headache, and it will show how professional you are. You have a reputation to uphold, and you can’t put a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.”

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Tip Sheet

Learning to Love PITA Customers and More Tips for June

When starting out, go bold and quirky (just not weird), and the secret to a perfect break.

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CUSTOMER SERVICEEmbrace the Pain

In his most recent letter to Amazon’s shareholders, CEO Jeff Bezos said one thing he loved about customers is that they are “divinely discontent”. Their expectations only ever “go up,” he said. Eileen Eichhorn, owner of Eichhorn Jewelry in Decatur, IN, said decades working in her family store has taught her something similar about demanding customers: they make excellent references. “Pain-in-the-ass customers send us the best customers.”

STRATEGYBegin With Bold

When trying a new business venture (or even prototyping a new jewelry line), always try the wackier, quirkier stuff first, says Jason Fried, founder and CEO of Basecamp and author of the business bestseller Getting Real. “The deeper you get into a project, the more conservative it tends to get. Stranger ideas are more at home earlier in the process,” he recently wrote on his Twitter feed.

EVENTSBirthday Gifts Welcome

What month was your company born? Throw a birthday party and ask your customers to bring “gifts” of testimonials that you can use in your marketing. Including such third-party recommendations on your website and in your ads is one of the best ways around to convince others that your store is, indeed, the best place to shop, says Entrepreneur magazine’s Idea Site For Business.

HUMAN RESOURCESDivine Your Own Dress

Siegel’s Jewelry in Paso Robles, CA has solved its dress code issues by simply leaving it up to the staff. It’s part of a bigger strategy to emphasize the employees’ individual talents and unique tastes. “We think it is better for them to be different from one another and create a balanced set of skills and talents, than to all offer the same things,” says owner Ken Siegel. “Employees are happiest when they can be themselves and are encouraged to develop their own self in a safe and happy environment.”

STORE EXTERIORThe Big Picture

First thing to do before slapping a mural on the side of your building? See if the government will pick up part of the bill. Joe Declet of Fins and Skins in Pinellas Park, FL, got tired of telling new customers to look for the “ugly orange building,” so when his lease came up for renewal, he negotiated the right to add the mural. Working with a local artist, he now has a 30- by 50-foot mural depicting a coral reef — and the city offset his expense with a $1,500 grant as part of a beautification program.

MANAGEMENTBreaking Breaks

The most important thing to understand about breaks is that they are not a deviation from performance; they are part of performance, says Dan Pink in his latest business best seller, When: The Scientific Secrets Of Perfect Timing. “And the most restorative breaks are social rather than solo, outside not inside, moving instead of stationary, and fully detached rather than semi-detached.”

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