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Ask INSTORE: March 2011

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Are employee reviews a good idea when I’m not giving out raises, and is it worth it to rewrap my displays?

[h3]Reviews in a Raiseless Economy[/h3]Ask INSTORE 3-11

[dropcap cap=Q.][h4][b]Is there any point doing performance reviews when it’s very unlikely we will be handing out pay raises this year? I don’t particularly like doing them and I imagine the staff will view it as a waste of time.[/b][/h4][/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=A.]Ideally, a review should be a discussion about an employee’s performance, not about his compensation. And while you have no carrot to wave, it’s still important to let your staff know how well they are doing at their jobs, what plans you have for their development, what areas they could improve (and if possible, targets for them to shoot for), plus a reminder that the payoff will come when times improve. As for you, a review gives your staff a chance to provide feedback. One thing to be mindful of is that you need to try to take some action based on what is discussed in the review. Otherwise, it really does become a bit of a pointless exercise, from the viewpoint of your staff. [/dropcap]

[componentheading]WHOLESALE [/componentheading]

[h4][b]How can a small studio establish wholesale accounts without spending a fortune?[/b][/h4]

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It would be nice to think good design alone would give your business wings but there is really no alternative to hitting the pavement and setting up your stall wherever possible.

 “Trade shows are the best way to get in front of the right audience,” says Katie Diamond of Katie Diamond Jewelry. “It is a fair amount of money up front, but even in the worst economic times (when I first launched my collection) I have always at least broke even.” Diamond notes that there is a wide variety of trade shows now, and each caters to a specific market, so with the right research you should be able to identify the best one for your line. Note that you need to start doing your marketing well before the show by targeting the wholesale accounts you like with introductory e-mails and high-resolution images of your pieces. One word of warning: Be careful not to overextend yourself by trying to be in too many places at one time — or putting too much out on memo. Building a name takes time and patience.

[componentheading] DISPLAYS [/componentheading]

[h4][b]Where can I get my old displays rewrapped?[/b][/h4]

We applaud your frugal instincts but this is a bit like getting your 14-year-old refrigerator reconditioned — you’re often better off buying a new one. “The costs are prohibitive and the old display structure is usually destroyed in the process,” says Larry Johnson, senior VP of Pacific Northern and the author of The Complete Guide to Jewelry Display. Johnson recommends you tell your display vendor what you liked about your old display and get them to help.

[componentheading]STAFF [/componentheading]

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[h4][b]How long should it take for a broker to sell my store after it is listed?[/b][/h4]

Probably the best part of a year, says Mike Handelsman, general manager of BizBuySell, an online business-for-sale marketplace. “The selling time for the average properly priced business is between six and 12 months. The best brokers should be able to prepare and sell a listed jewelry store in six to eight months, excluding businesses with extenuating circumstances. If the sale of your store takes longer, make sure it is for a legitimate reason,” he says.

[componentheading] FOR SALE [/componentheading]

[h4][b]What’s the best approach to selling a customer who wants something you don’t have?[/b][/h4]

If you can’t give them what they want, tell them where they can get it — but try to sow some doubts first. This may well be an uphill battle if it’s a particular brand-name item they’re after but go ahead and ask what it was about the piece that they liked so much and offer to show them something similar. You never know, they may just fall in love with it. As a last resort if you can’t provide it, tell them where they can get it, because that’s part of your job. “Everyone hates to walk somebody, but it’s the professional thing to do if you can’t turn it around,” says sales trainer Shane Decker.

[span class=note]This story is from the March 2011 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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