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Ask INSTORE: April 2006

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A source for statements worth engraving, the latest retail color combinations, teaching sales associates that it’s alright to turn over.

[h3]Online Engraving Sources[/h3]

[dropcap cap=Q.][h4][b]I’m a big believer in engraving but always draw a blank when trying to come up with sayings people can engrave on their jewelry. A little help here?[/b][/h4][/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=A]To quickly add some timeless wisdom to your library, here are three useful online sources:

BrainyQuote.com: The website is a treasure trove of quotes — from the famous (William Shakespeare), to the infamous (comedian Steven Wright). Users can browse quotes by topic, like love, marriage or friendship. On the website’s homepage, author types are given so users can research famous quotes from popes to presidents.  

Famous-Quotes-and-Quotations.com: Overall, it’s not as user-friendly as Brainyquote.com, but it does contain a good mix of short and lengthier quotes. The love section has a good mix of quotes that will serve up matches for any given couple.  

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Great-Quotes.com: The website boasts more than 50,000 famous quotes and is very user-friendly. One useful section available from the home page is famous quotes from popular movies – which could be a good angle to reach younger customers.

Another idea is to order a book of quotations from Amazon.com for your customers to browse through in your store. Try Bartlett’s Book of Love Quotations.[/dropcap]

[componentheading]MARKETING[/componentheading]

[contentheading]List Clean[/contentheading]

[h4][b]In researching direct marketing lists, what is the difference between a CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) list and a non-CASS list? What are the benefits of using a CASS list?[/b][/h4]

Here’s the skinny from Martha Retallick of PostCardMania.com: “A CASS Certified list ensures there’s much less chance for even good addresses to get kicked back to you.” CASS is a USPS service that all list compilers can take advantage of, but all don’t necessarily do so. Every CASS certified list comes with a certificate stating its authenticity and a date when the certification expires so that you know your lists are still fresh.

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The CASS process uses data from credit companies like Equifax and Experian because information that is tied to a person’s financials and credit score is more likely to get updated accurately. Your database is evaluated against their information, and names are removed or addresses are enhanced wherever there is a question regarding the legitimacy of the address. All list compilers do this, but some are more thorough than others. For instance, Experian has more data regarding children or mortgages, while Equifax has more data on the elderly and credit data. Be sure your list compiler uses both for best results, says Retallick.

[componentheading]INTERIOR DESIGN[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Color Scheme[/contentheading]

[h4][b]What are good wall, carpet, and accent color combinations stores are using that will keep my store looking “in” for the next five years?[/b][/h4]

For boutiques and smaller stores whose brand isn’t immediately identified with a color, the trend is to use richer colors, finishes, textures and natural materials, says Shawmut Retail Group VP Les Hiscoe. But as jewelry is very small, the colors of the space should not overpower the fixtures and, ultimately, the product. Golds, lighter taupes, rich yellows, muted oranges, silvers and medium greys are all very luxurious, yet not overwhelming.

These are not bright primary colors and will provide a “quality-feeling” background, allowing your wall fixtures and floor cases to “pop”, drawing attention to the product. It may be wise to avoid darker colors like deep greens, maroons or darker blues, as dark colors tend to absorb light and make spaces feel dim — a definite no-no in jewelry retail. Furthermore, these colors may be beautiful today and invoke feelings of quality, but may look dated in several years.

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[componentheading]STAFF[/componentheading]

[contentheading]The Price You Pay[/contentheading]

[h4][b]After you fire a salesperson, or a salesperson quits, how much does it cost you to hire, train, and ramp up a new salesperson?[/b][/h4]

More than you want to spend if you can possibly help it, says Bob Nelson, Ph. D., president of Nelson Motivation and author of The Management Bible. “This of course depends on the level of the person and how long they have been employed by your organization, but recent data from HR News indicates that the cost of turnover may be as high as 1-1/2 times an employee’s first-year salary,” says Nelson.

“I’ve also seen estimates of $12,000 per non-exempt (hourly) employee and many times higher for exempt (professional) staff.” And it gets worse. “This does not include the ‘opportunity cost’ of losing someone you’ve invested in, nor the potential threat of having that person now competing against your firm, or worse, luring away some of your clients,” Nelson adds. The moral? Hire well, train well, and keep ’em happy. For more great tips on human resource management, check out www.nelson-motivation.com.

[componentheading]SOFTWARE[/componentheading]

[contentheading]The Perfect Match[/contentheading]

[h4][b]There are so many inventory software packages out there – how do I know which is right for me?[/b][/h4]

The Jewelers Mutual “Guide to Inventory Software” (found at www.jewelersmutual.com) lists several software packages. You’ll also see appraisal programs listed, as well as software packages with other functions such as Tagware and Gemprint. The guide includes a short description, operating system compatibility, cost range, and contact information for each software. Jewelers Mutual also encourages you to get references from the software providers, to further ensure that you purchase the most appropriate package for your business. Sue Fritz, VP of Marketing and Communications at Jewelers Mutual, plans to update the guide in the very near future – so if your favorite inventory or appraisal software package is not listed, please contact her at (800) 558-6411 or [email protected], and she will contact the software provider.

[componentheading]MANAGEMENT[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Escaping the Bench[/contentheading]

[h4][b]Our store is mostly repairs and custom, and everyone wants to talk to the guy in the leather apron (me). How can I stay at the bench more, visit less with repair customers, and make more money for the store?[/b][/h4]

If you really want to make more money, you’re going at the problem backwards, says Mark Clodius of Clodius & Co. (Rockford, IL). “Nobody can sell like the owner,” according to Clodius. He says the first time he was able to find a jeweler who he knew was good, he hired him, even paying more than the business could really afford. “If you know the bench and can find help with talent, then you can train, coach, and set the standard for work out of your shop,” he says.

Clodius advises getting your shop staffed first and you (the owner) out front to sell, which will grow the business. Then, develop a sales and support staff so you can grow more, or take time off. “People like seeing me in the apron, but now, we’re so busy and have so many new customers, a lot of people don’t need or don’t even know to talk to me … and that’s great!” says Clodius.

[componentheading]MANAGEMENT[/componentheading]

[contentheading]SENSITIVE ISSUE[/contentheading]

[h4][b]I have a salesperson who seems to take it personally whenever a customer doesn’t seem to like him. How can I convince him that it’s okay to T.O. customers?[/b][/h4]

He has to put his ego aside for the good of the team, says Brad Huisken, sales trainer and author of Munchies for Salespeople. “People may or may not like us for the most ridiculous reasons,” he says, citing gender, hairstyle, skin color, speaking style, height and body size as potential causes. “They may not like you simply because you are a salesperson.” That said, it’s more about a customer’s preferences than actual dislike. “If you were to line up any ten people in a row, you probably would naturally gravitate to the person who looks most appealing to you,” says Huisken. The bottom line? “You may change your appearance, but it is much harder to change your core personality,” he says. “The instant you feel the customer is uncomfortable with you, immediately turn him or her over to someone else. Your attempts to make your customer comfortable may win more than a loyal customer -— you may actually change their perception of fat, blue-haired salespeople with nose-rings!”

[componentheading]MARKETING[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Look at Me![/contentheading]

[h4][b]How can I make my direct mailers more eye-catching?[/b][/h4]

Capturing your reader has to happen fast, says Al Lautenslager, Entrepreneur.com columnist and author of The Ultimate Guide to Direct Marketing. Therefore, you’ve got to make sure your selling proposition stands out right away. Some tips include:
— Use graphics and color to support the message and text  
— White space is good — a clean look is professional and easy to read  
— Use colored paper to make impact and save on printing costs
— Put a headline on the envelope  
— Put a picture of a phone by your phone number
— Use typestyles that are easy to read, not a mix of them  
— Use bullet points and small segments of information  
— Put in a photo of yourself or an associate’s to personalize it  
— Use captions, sayings or titles under all photos  
— Use handwritten notes or comments on your direct-mail piece  
— Use graphics on the outside of envelopes  
— Self-mailers are read more than stuffed envelopes  
— Print on the flap of the envelope to increase exposure  
— Lumpy mail gets attention-it gets opened and gets a good response  
— Odd shapes work, too

[span class=note]This story is from the April 2006 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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