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Full Staff Incentive Programs, 25th Anniversary Celebrations and More of Your January Questions

INSTORE’s experts answer your January queries.

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What sort of staff incentive plans do you recommend?

There are so many things to consider — monetary incentives versus spiffs, commission-only versus a mix of base and commission, the percentages to be paid on jewelry with different margins (say, loose diamonds versus finished jewelry) and then there is the non-sales staff, such as the bench jewelers — that we’re going to skip over the details and go big picture: Whatever you decide, keep these guiding principles in mind:

  • Don’t use incentive pay as a substitute for leadership. Build a team culture around labor productivity. Communicate your expectations to your team and hold them accountable.
  • Forecast the financial impact of any incentive payouts, and have a fallback plan in case the market changes.
  • Be wary of commission-only. Most of the successful plans we have heard involve a three-part bonus tied to the success of the individual, the team and the store. Commission-only and even base-plus-commission can encourage selfish behavior and in some cases poison the atmosphere in the store.

WEBSITE

I need to take my website to the next level. Should I just tell my Web designer to copy a famous site’s design?

When you say “copy,” we assume you mean take inspiration from a particular website in following best or common practices (such as placing the search box in the topright- hand corner). That is a smart idea. There is a general consensus on what makes a good, luxurious looking website (easy navigation, fast downloads, minimal Flash, high quality photos). But be aware that big companies have different needs or motivations determining their design ideas — minimalism works well for Google while the color red sends a certain message for Cartier that may not work for a small retailer. So yes to inspiration, no to slavish copying.

MARKETING

The most common approach we’ve seen used by jewelers is to host a big in-store bash with discounts on merchandise that somehow reflect the occasion. You might also want to do something with a silver theme. Last year, Bernie Robbins at Somers Point, NJ, held a “golden” celebration for its 50th birthday. Other ideas:

  • Krombholz Jewelers in Cincinnati, OH, which invited all old customers and old employees to get together again for its 70th anniversary party.
  • 100-year-old Hamilton Jewelers in New Jersey, which asked customers to bring in old receipts to receive discounts while also offering to buy back old pieces for its own house collection.
  • A little store in Canada, which gave away three .25-carat diamonds because it was celebrating 75 years (3 x .25 = .75 ).

DISPLAY

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The place to start is the floorboards in your cases, says Larry Johnson, author of The Complete Guide to Effective Jewelry Display, and senior VP of Pacific Northern. Rewrapping them in a different color will give your showcases a nice, fresh new look at a cost of only about $25 per case. “Use display fabric, not local fabric store material to avoid tarnish problems,” Johnson advises.

STAFF

I want to appoint a new manager from among our staff. One candidate is very driven and competent at everything she does. The other is more laid back and more of a people person. Which would you suggest?

There is a saying that employees join companies and quit managers. By far, the most important quality a manager can possess is the ability to identify people’s unique talents and bring out the best in them. That is a rare quality and it is not always possessed by the person who is striving to achieve her own goals.

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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