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Ask INSTORE: May 2006

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Handling finger-licking ring removers, the power of video testimonials, and the pros and cons of lab reports.

[h3]Window Cleaner doubles to deflect ‘disgusting’ customers[/h3]

[dropcap cap=Q.][h4][b]A letter writer in your April edition complained that finger-licking ring removers leave her feeling grossed out. Did you find an answer for dealing with “disgusting” customers?[/b][/h4][/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=A.]We did — Windex. Whenever a customer starts drawing their hand towards their mouth, shout out, “Wait, wait!” and tell them you have a much better way to get the ring off[/dropcap]

Quickly reach for a bottle of handily positioned window cleaner, give the finger a squirt and the ring will slip off. The lubricants in Windex work much better than lotion and will also not soil the ring, says Yolanda Rivera of Edwards Jewelers in Modesto, CA. Rivera also advises laying out a Kleenex on the showcase to allow customers to take their own earrings off. “They get the idea,” she says.

[componentheading]SALES[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]No Buts![/contentheading]

[h4][b]I can’t carry everything for everybody. How can I compete with the brands that I don’t carry?[/b][/h4]

Knowing that you can’t be everything to everybody — and not trying to be — is already half the battle, says Kate Peterson of Performance Concepts. Be thoroughly familiar with the unique features and benefits of the products you do carry.

Then, train your staff to become expert listeners, tuned to hear and discern the customer’s real needs. “Although there are some ‘brand collectors ‘ out there (for whom nothing but the exact line or even exact piece will do), you should recognize that more often than not, when a customer asks for a specific brand in a jewelry store, he or she is most likely asking for the ‘look’ (i.e. something he or she saw elsewhere) or the implied quality (i.e. “Rolex means ‘good watch’”) of the brand,” says Peterson.

When a customer asks for a line you don’t carry — i.e. “Do you have XYZ engagement rings?” — the typical “no, but…” is the worst possible response, she says. The customer hears nothing after “no.” A more appropriate response might be to answer the question with a question: “Is there a particular look or style you had in mind?”

[componentheading]MARKETING[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Video Stars[/contentheading]

[h4][b]What’s the best format for a customer testimonial?[/b][/h4]

Your eight-year-old knows — it’s video. Letters with those lifeless words lying there on the page just can’t compete. They ask the customer to do too much work, and are far too easy to glance at and ignore. What you want is your own mini-infomercial, featuring your best customers expounding on why your store can’t be beat for service, price, reliability, whatever. “Video is active, alive, and believable. Video is power,” says sales trainer and author Jeffrey Gitomer. Do what you can to get some video testimonials and display them wherever you can — on your website, or even playing in a continuous loop on computer monitors or those brand-new plasma TVs you’ve got hanging on the walls in your store.

[componentheading]SALES[/componentheading]

[contentheading]See Me, Heart Me[/contentheading]

[h4][b]I’ve heard of customers being classified as “auditory”. What does that mean and can it help me communicate with a customer?[/b][/h4]

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Basically it just refers to customers who like to learn by hearing. People are sometimes classified into three groups — visual, auditory and kinesthetic — by the way they take in information. Even if you weren’t aware of the labels you probably already know the types of customers they refer to.

Visual people walk into the store and look at everything. They need to see how an item would look on them. Consultant Andrea Nierenberg advises giving such customers plenty of time to look around. As you respond to them, use phrases such as “I can picture her now” or “Look at this piece”.

Auditory customers will listen to everything you say about the jewelry that interests them. They may make requests such as: “Tell me about this piece”. Choose words that paint a picture for them as you describe how the item was made and other selling points. Kinesthetic refers to feelings and these kinds of customers will want to touch and try on a lot of the jewelry. As you talk to them, ask questions such as “How do you feel about that piece?” and “Would you like to try on our new line?”

It takes time and practice to learn how to adapt your sales techniques to these different kinds of customers, but it’s worth making the effort.

[componentheading]SALES[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Child Control[/contentheading]

[h4][b]If a jewelry store doesn’t have a kid’s room, what can we do to keep the rowdy kids under control? Is there a way to make my store kid-proof without making it look like the local day care center?[/b][/h4]

Aside from adding a completely separate children’s playroom, the next best plan is to dedicate at least an area in the store to entertaining the kids, says Woody Justice of Justice Jewelers (Springfield, MO). If that is not possible, have coloring books, video games, or other items close at hand. In the event that kids become unruly, it becomes a team situation. “Other sales associates that are not busy should be trained to recognize this situation and come to the aid of the parents and sales associate by engaging the kids in the games available,” says Justice. “Kids coloring or playing games in the middle of the floor are still better than ones swinging from the light fixtures.” Adds Justice: “A little time spending a few bucks at Toys R Us can really pay dividends down the road.”

[componentheading]BENCH[/componentheading]

[contentheading]The Cutting Edge[/contentheading]

[h4][b]I’m looking to save money on re-cutting a diamond. What are my options?[/b][/h4]

Your best solution is not to have it fully re-cut, but only repaired at a fraction of the re-cut charge, says Bill Bray of W.R. Bray Co. (www.diamondguy.com). But if you do have to re-cut the diamond, consider your potential long-term loss before going the cheapest route. If your diamond cutter is a contractor, he may charge a lower price and then subcontract the work out to sectionalized workers — a girdler, blocker, and brilliandeerer.

The other type of cutter is the independent that works the whole stone by himself. He may charge a higher rate, but he has all the skills of the mechanics above. As such, he can move from one phase of cutting to another and back again, depending on the needs of the stone. Ultimately, the independent will usually return the stone to you with more weight than the contractor would, because the sub-contractors do not consider each other’s needs as they perform their work, which results in weight loss.

‘The profits you’ll make on the larger version of the stone generally outweigh the costs of hiring an independent cutter — sometimes by a surprisingly large margin!

[componentheading]SALES[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Lab Gab[/contentheading]

In the wake of “Certifigate” what are some pros on gem labs and diamond-grading reports I can weave in to my sales presentation?

One of the initial comments a salesperson can make about gem labs is their impartiality, according to International Gemological Institute’s (IGI) director of education, Terry Buckham. “Most diamond reports are produced by independent labs, which have no commercial interest in the sale or purchase of goods submitted to a lab for grading,” he says. With regards to the accuracy of a diamond-grading report, Buckham adds that in most cases more than one person must examine the diamond for color and clarity.

And, at least two people in a lab must agree on color and clarity before the rest of the report can be completed. Some labs are also ISO-approved, which means they must follow strict international standards of examination and record-keeping. Labs that are ISO-approved must pass an inspection at least once a year to keep their ISO standing, which is a highly effective way of ensuring their honesty.

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

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