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Ask INSTORE: January 2006

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Keeping the best employees, doing radio broadcasts from your store, and avoiding sore feet on the job.

[h3]Get great employees thinking like the owner[h3]

Q. Once I find a really, really great employee, how do I keep him or her?

A. Okay, we’re going to take your letter at face value and assume you’re not talking about just the ordinary, run-of-the mill great employee — but the “really, really great” employee. And the best way to keep someone “really, really great”, says CPA/consultant Irv Blackman of Blackman Kallick, is to make them think like an owner.

“Almost 100 percent of the best key people have the soul of an entrepreneur. But for various reasons they do not want to strike out on their own or couldn’t — usually because they cannot raise the required capital,” according to Blackman. To mimic ownership, Blackman says, “Give ’em the same challenges as an owner and, if successful, most of the rewards.” What kind of rewards?

Blackman says there are four things that most top executives want: (1.) a piece of the action (a share of company profits); (2.) to get paid when they are sick or become disabled; (3.) to receive adequate retirement pay when it’s time to leave the company; and (4.) death benefits for their family. It’s a high price – but should ensure that your superstar stays with you for the long term. (As for the care and nurturing of the ordinary “great employee”, treasure them, pay them well, give them support and praise, and thank heaven every day that they decided to work with you.)

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[componentheading]PUBLICITY[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Live Aid[/contentheading]

[h4][b]I’m doing a live radio remote from my store. How can I make it stand out to listeners?[/b][/h4]

Think visually, says Jeff Crilley, author of Free Publicity. And yes, he knows it’s radio. “You want something for the radio host to see and talk about when they arrive,” he says. Having a visual object like, say, an incredibly unusual piece of jewelry, may help the host get more excited about promoting your store. “And the folks behind the microphone are very talented at describing what they’re seeing,” says Crilley.

If the description is exciting enough, then not only may you increase your traffic that day, but anyone else that heard it will be more likely to give you a shot when they’re in the market for jewelry.

[componentheading]PURCHASING[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Street Wise[/contentheading]

[h4][b]What’s involved in buying scrap gold and previously owned gemstones or jewelry from the public? Do I need any special licenses or permits to do so? If so, what are the costs?[/b][/h4]

Depending on where you are located, you will probably need a pawn broker’s license, says David Geller. He recommends you give your local boys in blue a call. “The police department can easily tell you about the ‘buying permit’ needed,” he says.

The cost of the license will be under a few hundred dollars. In addition to any licenses, you’ll also need expertise, says Geller. “You’ll need to know costs for diamonds and colored stones so you can buy well. You’ll need a diamond tester, moissanite tester, specific gravity fluids, gram scale, and gold tester.”

Another thing to be ready for? Paperwork, says Geller. “You might need a small camera and photocopy machine for making copies of things like drivers licenses,” he says. “For items that cost over $10,000, you will need Federal forms for paying out over $10,000 to one person.”

Finally, you’ll need to advertise. More specifically, have a presence in the Yellow Pages, and in your local newspaper’s classifieds under “For Sale.”

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[componentheading]SALES[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Nerd Alert![/contentheading]

[h4][b]We pride ourselves on our jewelry expertise, but sometimes I notice customers’ eyes glaze over when we get technical. Any advice?[/b][/h4]

It’s all about how you use your knowledge, and why, says sales expert Harry Friedman, author of No Thanks! I’m Just Looking.

Friedman says that while technical information can be important, it can also diminish your demonstration, “especially if customers feel that your use of jargon is intended to amaze them about how much you know.” The key is not to show off, but rather to use knowledge to “paint a verbal picture of your merchandise within the context of what the customer needs,” according to Friedman. “Use words to express, not to impress.”

As an example, Friedman points out that while a customer may not care at all about the nacre forming in the oyster’s shell to make the coating on a pearl, she does want to know that opera-length pearls can be worn as a single length, or doubled and used as a choker. This tells her that the product is more versatile, so the information is far more valuable.

HEALTH

[contentheading]In My Shoes[/contentheading]

[h4][b]Standing at the sales counter all day leaves me dead on my feet. Would it help to wear different shoes?[/b][/h4]

Quite possibly, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety. Within your store’s dress code, you can still find shoes that make you more comfortable — and therefore more productive — during your work day. The Centre recommends the following:

• Wear shoes that don’t change the shape of your foot.
• Choose shoes that provide a firm grip for the heel. If the back of the shoe is too wide or too soft, the foot will slip, causing instability and soreness.
• Wear shoes that allow freedom to move your toes. Shoes that are too narrow or shallow will make your feet sore and tired.
• Make sure that your shoes have arch supports. Lack of arch support causes flattening of the foot.
• Wear shoes with laces.
• Tighten your shoelaces firmly to help keep the foot from slipping inside the footwear.
• Use padding under the tongue of the shoe if you suffer from tenderness over the bones at the top of the foot.
• Don’t wear completely flat shoes.
• Don’t wear shoes with heels higher than 5 cm (2 inches).

[componentheading]MANAGEMENT[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Time For Fun[/contentheading]

[h4][b]I want to make our workplace more fun … how can I get started?[/b][/h4]

A great place to begin is store meetings — which can be the most boring part of the day.

Kevin Ryan, author of Making Fun Work, suggests appointing a different person each meeting to start with a joke, funny story, game — whatever they can to lighten the mood. “Give them a time limit, but that’s all!” says Ryan. “They need the permission of management to be as creative, silly and irreverent as possible.” Ryan suggests that learning on the job can be fun as well.

He recommends instigating a monthly award for the silliest mistake made by staff — with a cash prize. The rules: staff can only nominate themselves and have to stand up and tell other staff what they did and how they will spend the money. “The prize is awarded to the staff member who (a) made the biggest mistake (b) is most honest about their mistake or (c) nominates the most creative way they will spend the money to help them avoid the same mistake again or compensate any aggrieved party,” he says.

[componentheading]PROMOTIONS[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Starting Off Cool[/contentheading]

[h4][b]We’ve always been kind of cool, hip and urban store. But we’ve moved into a new neighborhood and want to make sure consumers and the competition know we have arrived. How can we show exactly how cool we are?[/b][/h4]

Remember that first day at the new school? The best way to be cool is to get in with the cool kids.

So, Bruce Brigham, founder of Retail Clarity Consulting, suggests finding a way to get involved with the local art scene. “Find a way to get these hip movers-and-shakers into your store, where you can show them your cool displays, hip jewelry, and avant-garde designs — and, of course, your ability to throw a good party,” he says. Take it a step further and hire some graffiti artists, and set up “walls” along the street so the artists can paint while the guests watch.

As far as spreading the word goes, do some limited advertising in the local or neighborhood paper that reflects your store’s cool style. Go out on a limb with your message and graphics. “Grab attention,” commands Brigham. “Your first impression needs to be a bit over-the-top.” Keep the message current and consistent with your store’s promotions by taking that same graphic and message (simple, bold, cool), and hang it on the outside of your store in multiple banners.

Some final words of encouragement: “Be creative,” says Brigham. “If you are hip and cool and have savoir-faire, then by definition you are creative. Don’t be afraid to make a statement.”

[componentheading]OPERATIONS[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Dirty Talk[/contentheading]

[h4][b]This New Year’s I swear my resolution will hold on putting an end to clutter. But how?[/b][/h4]

Rita Emmett, author of The Procrastinator’s Handbook and The Clutter-Busting Handbook can help. First, have you ever wondered why you have a clutter habit? Emmett takes a peek in to a dark and scary place — your mind. She claims the four “goofy” habits that turn people into clutterers are saving things that we never need or use, insisting on bringing in things that we never need or use, never deciding on a place for things to be put and setting things down instead of putting them where they belong.

Here are Emmett’s 21 ideas:

1. If you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it.
2. Every day toss or put away three things on your desk.
3. When you buy one thing, get rid of one thing.  
4. Before leaving a room pick up clutter and put it where it belongs.
5. Decide now. (Clutter is often caused by putting off decisions.)
6. Make a place for everything.  
7. And, put everything in its place.  
8. If you take it out, put it back.
9. Ask a “non-clutter friend” to help you sort through your clutter.  
10. Take five minutes whenever you can to tackle a small section of clutter.
11. Donate stuff you don’t need or use to a favorite charity.  
12. Decide on one place to put your keys and always put them there.  
13. Live simply so that others may simply live.
14. Don’t buy something unless you have a place to put it.  
15. Always open mail next to a wastebasket.  
16. Never leave a room empty handed.
17. Never go up or down stairs empty-handed.
18. Have company over once in a while so the home gets cleaned.
19. Pay bills, fold laundry, sort through clutter and so forth during TV commercials.
20. When de-cluttering a room choose a direction so you know where you left off if interrupted.  
21. Don’t de-clutter and clean the same day. You might keel over.

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

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