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Ask INSTORE: January 2008

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Can you search an employee you suspect of theft?, powering up your gift cards, and a few fresh responses to “Just looking”.

[h3]Find What You’re Looking For[/h3]

[dropcap cap=Q.][h4][b]“Just looking” now seems to be code for “Give me space.” Do you have any comebacks other than the rather tired “And what are you looking for?”[/b][/h4] [/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=A.]If it’s someone who looks like a genuine browser, give him a quick rundown of where certain types of merchandise are placed, what’s new and what’s on sale, says sales trainer Brad Huisken. Then, having given this person his time and space you can follow up in a few minutes with, “Find what you’re looking for?” For a man apparently looking for an engagement ring, try a knowing nod and the question, “Doing a little research, are we?” This kind of response quickly transforms you from “sales shark” to trusted adviser. Trainer Richard Fenton says be sure in the initial exchange to stick to non-threatening questions and welcoming statements such as “Have you shopped with us before?” and “We’re delighted to have you here today” in response to “Just looking.”[/dropcap]

[componentheading]THIEVERY[/componentheading]

[h4][b]What does the law say about conducting a body search on a staff member I suspect of theft[/b][/h4]

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It says keep your hands to yourself. The laws regarding searches (body and workplace) all stem from the way the Constitution guarantees American citizens a basic right to privacy — and your worker has a very strong privacy interest in his or her own body, even when fully clothed. If you have a strong and legitimate concern that a staff member has stolen a piece of jewelry or other precious material, call the police in to take it to the next level. For more information on searches, try “Workplace Investigations: A Step-by-Step Guide,” by attorney Lisa Guerin.

[componentheading]PIECE OF THE PIE[/componentheading]

[h4][b]We are constantly being bugged by phone calls regarding the De Beers class-action settlement. What are other jewelers doing about this?[/b][/h4]

Only about one-third of our Brain Squad told us they are planning to file and most of those said they would fill out the form themselves. (See Do You or Don’t You? page 98.)

The general consensus seems to be the claim forms aren’t that tough to complete. (If you haven’t been mailed one, they are available on the Jewelers Vigilance Committee’s website, www.jvclegal.org. The JVC is providing free guidance on how to fill them out, as is Rust Consulting, a claims administrator.) The JVC isn’t taking a position on whether you should hire a third party to help you, although it notes that even if you do, you’ll still be responsible for the financial research and bookkeeping. As for whether the settlement will fund a Caribbean anchorage for your yacht, don’t count on it. The trade portion is expected to be less than half of the $300 million being doled out, and of that projected $140 million, lawyers are expected to take as much as $40 million. The biggest portion of what’s left will go to the big buyers, like Zales, with small independents to pick up the crumbs. Some jewelers have talked about giving the money to charity, but that’s obviously up to you and your feelings of how De Beers’ trading practices impacted your business.

[componentheading]GIFT CARDS[/componentheading]

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[h4][b]I want to make our gift cards more of a “gift.” I’m thinking of a $50 upgrade package where the gift card is put in a basket with chocolate and champagne. But I’m worried about the legality of “selling” champagne. Can I do it? And if not, what could I substitute for the champagne?[/b][/h4]

No, you can’t sell any form of liquor, even as part of a gift package or other promotion without a license. And it’s pretty unwise to try. Most state licensing bodies tend to be aggressive and literal in enforcing the law. If you’re convinced it must be champagne or nothing, contact your state attorney general’s office and enquire if they sell temporary liquor licenses. These can be less than $100. As for gift ideas, this is really a test of your skills as retailer. Whether you opt for flowers, bath lotions or civet-excreted kopi luwak gourmet coffee, keep this in mind: The best gifts are those the receiver wouldn’t normally spend money on (because they can’t justify the cost) but would love to indulge in. This, according to economists, is because more practical gifts tend to illicit an unsatisfactory response in the recipient. The reason? They’re an inefficient use of money because you can’t know another person’s spending priorities. We trust that makes sense.

[componentheading]ENNUI[/componentheading]

[h4][b]I find my first days after the weekend or a longer holiday aren’t particularly productive. How can I break through the inertia[/b][/h4]

There’s likely to be a ton of stuff waiting for you to do, but set yourself a small goal, or list of goals for the first day. Having accomplished that, momentum will build and before long you’ll be your old Energizer bunny self. Just ask yourself: “Why is it ‘too hard’ to do this for just 15 minutes? It isn’t, and you’ll find that you quickly enjoy the feeling of completion (somewhat).
Other tips to prod yourself into action:
• Make a public commitment to getting something done. Public scrutiny — even if it’s just in your mind — is a powerful motivator.
• If it’s a big, cumbersome project you keep delaying, accept that it’s going to take time and praise yourself for incremental progress.
• Be quick to reward yourself, but understand that relaxation differs from laziness in that it is a reward for a completed task.

[span class=note]This story is from the January 2008 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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