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Yes, It’s Definitely Time to Buy Property … and More Jeweler Questions Answered

Is it time to buy real estate, LEDs in stores with high ceilings, using Instagram to market, and more.

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PROPERTY

Given the state of the real estate market, should I be looking to buy?

Prices and interest rates are low, banks are lending, there are all those potential tax breaks of ownership not to mention that feeling of being your own landlord and building equity in your own property … how could the answer be anything but yes, yes, yes? OK, we’ll grant history is on your side.But make your decision based on location and a long-term view. Explore everything — zoning, insurance, utilities, traffic flows, the potential new neighbors — and be sure to have sufficient funds for the move, renovations and down payment so that you won’t be left short; this economy is not quite out of the woods yet. Be sure, too, to check out what the SBA offers (to qualify for an SBA 504 loan you must have an existing, for-profit business with a net worth of $8.5 million or less, and a net profit after taxes of less than $3 million.)

“Owning your workplace is a path toward long-term wealth,” says Chris Hurn, author of The Entrepreneur’s Secret to Creating Wealth: How the Smartest Business Owners Build Their Fortunes. “The smartest way to do that is through the SBA 504 loan program administered by the Small Business Administration. It offers long-term financing at below-market fixed rates, which businesses generally can’t get through banks.”

LIGHTING

I have 15-foot-high ceilings. Will an LED work well from that height?

While very high-powered LEDs can illuminate from such a height, the truth is they won’t do it well. “The distance the light would have to travel is too great to permit the correct amount of light power to reach the merchandise,” says Howard Gurock, president of lighting supplier Econo-Lite. “In such a situation, the better option is to lower the lights by use of a pendant or track extension,” he says.

SOCIAL MEDIA

How can I use Instagram in my marketing efforts?

With its 80 million registered users, Instagram has obvious appeal to marketers, but so far no single best approach has emerged. Josh Riedel, Instagram’s manager of community and partnerships, told Mashable recently that businesses should “just get started and don’t be afraid to share photos and see what your followers say about them.” Nevertheless, the social media site has shown it can be a good medium for a competition when hosted on a specific hashtag. General Electric doesn’t rush to mind as a sexy brand to follow on Instagram, but it attracted nearly 4,000 Instagram photos to its designated hashtag #GEInspiredMe. The photos were posted to Facebook, where fans voted for a winner who got a trip to Wales to photograph a GE aviation facility. Facebook — as well as a GE Pinterest board that showcased all the submitted #GEInspiredME photos— helped extend the contest’s reach. Red Bull ran a competition last summer in which it asked followers not to send photos of its products, but those that matched a theme (#summerishere). We could imagine a similar contest run over the spring wedding season working well. It seems a good idea to make the theme as simple and non-promotional as possible. Finally, a good prize always helps.

PERFORMANCE REVIEWS

What’s your view of a 360-degree performance review for a small business?

We like the idea of seeking out the views from all the sides that come in contact with you as the boss or your employees. For instance, if you are rating a salesperson, it’s great to get feedback directly from customers.
However, we’re not sure a traditional 360-degree progam with its questions about personality profiles and corporate jargon such as “Are you an ESTJ or an INFP?” is what a small business needs.

Keep it simple, predominantly positive, focused on constructive criticism, not personal attacks, and make sure you follow up on suggestions, and the process should be successful. As the business owner, you also have to be ready to deal with criticism (or “development needs” as they are known in 360-degree speak). If you can’t, don’t ask for it.

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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