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Ask INSTORE: May 2009

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Avoiding a cash crunch, drawing customers to a new location, marketing via text message.

[h3]Relocating can be a great marketing opportunity[/h3]

[dropcap cap=Q.][h4][b]I’m moving my store. What are some ways to get my customers to follow me to the new location?[/b][/h4] [/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=A.]Have no fear — this is actually a great marketing opportunity because it gives you a valid reason to communicate with your existing clientele as well as prospective customers. Start getting out the news months before the move. “It is important to communicate why you are moving — a better location, a bigger location, a more convenient location, you purchased a building,” says James Porte of the Porte Marketing Group.

Place a small sign in your existing store announcing the move. You can also mention it on your business cards, repair envelopes, and other mediums. A direct mail-out is critical, says Porte, adding that the more memorable way you can communicate this, the better the chance it will be remembered. “I once saw a pack of playing cards imprinted with the jeweler’s name that was packaged in a die-cut paper moving truck as a self-mailer. It was awesome!”

Next, get in touch with the local newspaper and tell them about the move, and in particular what you’re bringing to the market; possibly its first repair department, or maybe a technological advance, your laser equipment or other services or products. As the day nears, get on the phone. “Contacting each and every customer by phone to let them know you are moving is by far the most effective way,” Porte says. Finally, a grand opening will help get your old customers to the new store so “they can experience what you have done that is improved and of greater benefit to the customer,” he says.

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And don’t worry about overdoing the message. This is one time when repetitive communication is necessary, particularly to your existing customers.[/dropcap]

[componentheading]TECHNOLOGY[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Text Time[/contentheading]

[h4][b]I want to get into this “text-message marketing,” but don’t know the ins and outs.[/b][/h4]

OK, first off, know the law: You can’t send business-related texts to customers without their consent, so the first thing you need to do is break out that old sign-up sheet thing at the front desk (or the digital version in your e-mailers). From there, the trick is to make your clients “want” to read your texts. “Keep the messages stress-free” to extend the luxury like feeling, says Kim Dushinski of Mobile Marketing Profits. “And be sure to alert your clients about certain packages being available.” Dushinski says there are plenty of companies who can handle the back end for you, such as Mobivity, i2SMS, TextingForward, or TxtWire. So get those texting thumbs warmed up!

[componentheading]PERSUASION[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Remount Research[/contentheading]

[h4][b]How do I tell someone they need to remount?[/b][/h4]

By outlining the great alternatives she’s got to that battered, thinning piece of metal clinging to her finger now. All right, language is key, as is research. You first need to find out the history and “status” of the ring. Once you get an answer like, “Oh, when I first got it, I loved it but now …” you’ll know how to proceed, says sales trainer Kate Peterson. She also suggests a nifty transition like, “Take a look here (in the microscope). Can you see how some of the prongs that hold your diamond are very worn and thin? Consider that normal wear — but understand that it means that we’ll need to put some additional work in to your ring to ensure that your diamond stays secure in its setting.” You can then outline the options — sizing the ring, a whole new ring or a totally different setting. “Keeping in mind that, priced right, a quality restoration is about as profitable as a new ring (in some cases, more profitable), I’m happy with whatever she chooses,” says Peterson.

[componentheading]ACCOUNTING[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Staying Flush[/contentheading]

[h4][b]How do I avoid a cash crunch?[/b][/h4]

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The key to warding off liquidity problems is the ability to accurately project your cash-flow needs. If you’re off by more than 5 percent of your receivables each month, then you’ve got a problem. The capability to produce cash-flow projections is one of the greatest strengths of a POS system. If your POS system is not spitting out the numbers you need, find a tutor — quickly! If you do your accounts by some other system and need help in working out cash flow, go to our archives and go back through Laurie Owen’s columns. She lays out step-by-step how to project cash flow.

[componentheading]STAFFING[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Difficult Inheritance[/contentheading]

[h4][b]After years away from the business, I returned home and took over my mother’s jewelry store when she fell seriously sick 18 months ago. Along with the store I inherited two difficult long-term workers. They resist any changes I try to make and don’t seem interested in stretching themselves. Yet I don’t know if I could run the store without them and don’t think I could replace them as cheaply.[/b][/h4]

There are a bunch of issues here but they all seem to stem from a reluctance on your part to act. If you don’t trust your jewelry-business knowledge, bring in an outside consultant to set up structures so the business can operate properly without these recalcitrants. At the same time, the system should have in place incentives to motivate and upgrade the skills of workers. If they can’t be “retooled,” get rid of them. Take advantage of the downturn to get yourself some genuine staff assets. It sounds like these “indispensable” staff are making your life miserable. Bad businesspeople are masters at coping, and living with, bad situations. Change it up.

[span class=note]This story is from the May 2009 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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