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How Long to Hold Repair Records, Making Change Stick and More of Your Questions for January

We answer your January queries.

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How long do you have to keep repair records such as a claim slip on file after the item has been returned to the owner? Some of our files go back as far as 1970. Is it safe to discard them?

This is a state-by-state issue and there is quite a degree of divergence between jurisdictions and between the category of record. In New York state, for example, “the statute for holding all business paperwork is 10 years,” notes the Jewelers Vigilance Committee. Meanwhile, in North Carolina it can range from two years for duplicate deposit slips to seven years for invoices to permanently for private ledgers. Best thing to do is check with your state’s attorney general’s office. Another good source of information is your local Better Business Bureau.

DISPLAYS

I see some firms offering “magnetic displays.” What are they and should I look seriously at getting them?

Magnetic displays are designed with small magnets in the bottoms of the trays and elements, explains Larry Johnson, author of The Complete Guide to Effective Jewelry Display. The complementary platforms are made with a metal plate built into the top of the display. When you place a magnetic tray down on the metal platform, it “sticks.” This not only keeps the jewelry from moving but reduces the impact of the repeated arm action inside a showcase. In addition, breaking cases down at night is easier since all the displays come out at once and the magnets keep items from falling on the floor. Final benefit: They make it easy to attach signage to a display without using adhesive. “Pardon the pun, but magnetics are an attractive feature,” Johnson says.

REFINER PROFITS

I’d like to know how a refiner can pay 98 percent of the spot price of gold and turn a profit. Do they keep all the alloy metals?

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This has much to do with economies of scale. A larger refiner can be profitable on 2 percent or even less, partly due to the volume of the metal it is dealing with, says Robert Truhe, refinery manager at Dillon Gage Metals, one of the biggest precious metals dealers in the U.S. A small refiner or consolidator/collector, however, would find it difficult being profitable on 2 percent, he said, because it has to turn around and sell the metal to a larger refiner and pay the associated fees. “Also, larger refiners need metal to turn into other products such as bullion or alloyed products,” Truhe says. “When this is done, a small percentage is made on both the buy and sell, making the whole transaction worthwhile.”

MANAGEMENT

Every time I try to shake things up at my store it seems sooner or later we revert to the old ways of doing things. How do I make change stick?

For often extremely irrational reasons, humans just don’t like change. In 1995, Harvard professor John Kotter published groundbreaking research that showed only 30 percent of business change programs are successful. Thirteen years and a lot of corporate initiatives later, McKinsey & Co. followed up and found the rate of success for change programs was … 30 percent. To improve performance you need to change behaviors. But improving behaviors isn’t simply about articulating new ways of doing things and building capabilities — because it is mindsets (thoughts, feelings, beliefs) that drive behavior. The key to getting people to do what you want is to find what motivates them (and it usually isn’t money, at least primarily). Figure out what people are good at and give them tasks aligned with that, work out what motivates them (praise, independence, mastery, etc), build up social and structural supports (routines and skills training), and hold people accountable to the new ways on a day-to-day basis. Finally, be prepared to communicate your message over and over again.

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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