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Ask INSTORE: March 2006

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Sleuthing out employee theft, the insurance implications of children’s playrooms, and advice on charging to cut off a customer’s ring.

[h3]Deterring employee theft[/h3]

[dropcap cap=Q.][h4][b]How can I solve an employee theft?[/b][/h4][/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=A.]”Ninety percent of all business theft is somehow related to the people who have the most opportunity – the employees,” says Steve Cotner of Corporate Intelligence Consultants. When trying to solve an instance of theft, he recommends the following:

Refrain from involving employees in the investigation. They may have caused the theft or have knowledge of who caused the theft.
• Discuss all decisions with your business attorney.
• Don’t wait to investigate. The longer you wait, the less detail is available to bring the investigation to a positive outcome. Document everything.  
• Check company surveillance cameras. If you don’t have video documentation or sworn witness statements, the likelihood of a successful investigation will be reduced.
• You may suspend the suspected thief pending the outcome of the investigation. Collect keys, change alarm codes and revoke computer access.

After the investigation is complete, perform an evaluation of the crime. Reviewing the results of the investigation should reveal what procedures need to be installed to make it more difficult for this to occur in the future.[/dropcap]

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[componentheading]INSURANCE[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Pay to Play[/contentheading]

[h4][b]I heard insurance companies will raise my premiums for having a kid’s playroom. Is this true? If so, how can I try to keep an increase in premiums down?[/b][/h4]

Most insurance companies charge an additional premium for children’s playrooms due to the increased risk of injury. Parents are often quick to sue when their children are hurt. According to Sue Fritz of Jewelers Mutual Insurance, the amount of the surcharge depends upon factors such as the items in the play area, the size of the play area, whether the area is supervised, and whether food or beverages are served.

That said, Jewelers Mutual insures a number of playrooms for no additional charge. These playrooms may include a toy box, TV and videos/DVDs, books, large-sized Legos, etc. An indoor playground with slides, swings, or trampolines is a different matter. “Work with your agent and insurance company to design an area that meets your customers’ needs without increasing your insurance premium,” suggests Fritz. Jewelers Mutual offers design assistance to its policyholders at no charge, whether for a playroom, remodeling project, or new construction.

[componentheading]MARKETING[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Direct Route[/contentheading]

[h4][b]How can I improve my direct mail copy?[/b][/h4]

According to Al Lautenslager, author of The Ultimate Guide to Direct Marketing, you can vastly increase your response rate by following a few simple guidelines in your direct mail copy:
• Use short copy to tease the reader to read further or respond  
• Minimize the use of buzz words  
• Prove any claims with details to add credibility  
• Make your offer easy to understand at a glance  
• End pages in the middle of a sentence to encourage more reading  
• Keep paragraphs short  
• Break up long copy with graphics or white space  
• Don’t dwell on history or background
• Always put a sense of urgency and deadline in your copy  
• Create excitement: “Act Now!”, “For a limited time!”, “Hurry while it lasts!”
• Have a call to action at the beginning, middle and end of your copy
• “Free” is still a motivating word-use it and highlight it
• Restate your offer often, especially at the end of the communication  
• Use a “P.S.”- it’s one of the most frequently read parts of the copy

[componentheading]SALES[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Either/Or[/contentheading]

[h4][b]Is it better to have an employee with great product knowledge and no sales skills, or a person with no product knowledge and great sales skills?[/b][/h4]

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“Truth be known, you probably wouldn’t want either of them,” says Dave Richardson, sales consultant and author of the new e-book Managing a Growing Store in a Highly Competitive Marketplace. However, Richardson says that if push comes to shove, select the salesperson with no product knowledge. His reasoning: “You can always teach a good salesperson product knowledge, but it’s a lot more difficult to teach someone with a wealth of product knowledge about persuasive selling skills.” And in retail, closing sales is the name of the game.

[componentheading]STAFF[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Laser Learner[/contentheading]

[h4][b]I just purchased a laser welder and want to set up a training regimen for young new hires. What do you suggest?[/b][/h4]

“Training new hires on how to use your store’s new laser-welder starts with the store owner taking good notes during the manufacturer rep’s presentation,” says retail jeweler Chris Snowden, owner of Snowden’s Jewelers in Wilmington, NC, and laser aficianado. (Read his column “Laser Blast” in February’s INSTORE.)

According to Snowden, the first task new trainees should learn to do is weld jump rings. It may not sound like much, but they will be able to accomplish many jobs with this one skill. Most repair shops are loaded with these “menial” tasks, such as adding charms to a charm bracelet, or putting clasps onto chains and bracelets. The next task for them to tackle (usually within a couple of days) is welding broken chains. These two tasks should be enough for beginners in their first month.

The next step is to train them on ring sizing, and then finally on prong re-tipping. Most people can apply these skills to unusual jobs like welding a handle back onto a pewter baby cup, or replacing and welding a solid pin back into a watchband. With your new laser, the repair possibilities are almost endless.

[componentheading]SALES[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Going, Going …[/contentheading]

[h4][b]What’s the best way to respond to a customer who says, “I’m not interested?”[/b][/h4]

One thing you should not do is thank the customer and watch him or her walk out of your store. Despite their statement, you may still close this sale, says sales trainer Dave Richardson. “Try asking your customer a few questions and who knows what might happen,” he advises. He recommends asking the customer one of the following:
• “I appreciate your very frank comment; may I ask you why you’re not interested?”
• “Is it that you’re not interested now or not interested at all? Would it be better if I touch base with you next month when things are less hectic for you?”
• “Is there some aspect of this necklace that I didn’t fully explain to you or something that you’re looking for that I didn’t fully understand?”
• Just don’t give up, says Richardson. “Take the words as a challenge to stay in the game and see what you can do to resurrect a potentially lost sale.”

[componentheading]CUSTOMER SERVICE[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Cut-off Point[/contentheading]

[h4][b]What should I charge to cut off a customer’s ring?[/b][/h4]

Not a penny, says Tony Aalund of Jeweler’s Bench (Kingwood, TX). “Most people who need to have their ring cut off are in a bit of a panic,” says Aalund. “They’ve been trying to get the ring off for days, with no success. Most have thought about going to the emergency room, but we all know how expensive that is.” Barry Nicholls of Paradise Jewelry (Naples, FL) offers another reason. “I want to accept no liability. If it’s free, my exposure is a lot less,” he says. He has customers sign a release before he’ll cut off the ring. Be sure to explain the process before you begin, advises Nicholls. “Once I had a lady cut herself badly trying to remove the ring after I cut it, but before I bent it open. That cutter often leaves a razor edge sticking up,” says Nicholls. Most people are very appreciative, says Aalund. “We tell them it’s no charge to cut the ring off, and if you want it repaired and sized to fit correctly, we will be happy to do that. Almost all of them leave the ring.”

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

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