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How to Survive Construction on Your Town’s Main Street … and More of Your Questions for November

Plus, the security considerations of Google Business View … and more.

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Our Main Street is scheduled to undergo major roadwork for four months next spring. What can we do to limit the disruption?

Sound the trumpet, this is an issue that requires a united and well-organized front from local business to negotiate with city officials and the contractors to lessen the impact. Generally contractors are only too willing to work with small businesses to negotiate sidewalk access, change routes and signage and alter schedules or even suspend work to accommodate special events, critical business days or other peak shopping periods — they just need lots of notice.

Be sure there is a business-community representative at every planning meeting and set up a communications system — a Facebook page, a regular email or SMS alert — so that everyone is kept up to date with what’s happening — plans often change.

Start planning special events or awareness campaigns to let shoppers know what’s happening and how they can access your business. Through your Chamber of Commerce brainstorm ways to keep customers visiting the downtown district. Ideas could include “A retailer/restaurant of the week” campaign or promotional “roadwork currency” that can be used at any local business. Think too about outreach services. Could you visit clients at their homes, start a repair pickup and delivery service, extend business hours or even sell more online? Also, give thought to preparing for the lean times ahead. If a staff member leaves, it may be wise not to replace her. Similarly, look to run a low inventory after the holidays and talk to your bank about increasing your line of credit (It’s always best to ask when sales are good). Finally, in line with the thought that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em … what about closing for a remodel yourself?

This may be a naive question, but why does it cost more to grade a larger diamond? It’s the same people, equipment … it just doesn’t make sense.

The answer is simple, says Kristin Mahan, a spokeswoman for Gemological Institute of America. “Larger diamonds take longer to grade, which results in a higher cost.” A significant factor is the value of the diamond, especially when it comes to appraisals, notes Gail Brett Levine, executive director of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA). “With larger diamonds and gemstones, there is a higher need of documentation and research; most of all, there is a greater exposure to liability,” she says, noting that at the NAJA, plots are mandatory for diamonds 1.00 and above, coupled with a description of color, clarity, proportions, strength of fluorescence and grading of polish as well as symmetry. “Essentially it requires more expertise, more time and more research; and larger stones carry higher values exposing the grader/appraiser to greater liability,” Brett Levine says.

Are there security considerations to be aware of before posting a Google Business View virtual tour of my store?

Indeed there are. “With a few mouse clicks, resourceful wrongdoers will know the location of your surveillance cameras and motion detectors, the layout of your location, and even what types of merchandise you have in your cases,” notes Jewelers Mutual in a recent warning to its clients. “Having this information will allow them to execute their crimes with greater accuracy and speed.” Still, with a few precautions, it’s possible to take advantage of this quite revolutionary technology to give prospective customers an engaging look inside your store — without literally giving the store layout away. Industry SEO expert Matthew Perosi, who has also obtained accreditation as a Google Trusted Photographer, provides a terrific overview of the security risks. The main things you need to do are: 1.) Block off all doors and hallways with curtains to hide views of possible escape routes or passageways to your vault; 2.) Make sure customers can’t be identified, or even observed to see how they dress; and 3.) Identify all cameras, motion sensors, and panic buttons to the photographer and ask him or her to use the Pano Editor blur tool to obfuscate them from the virtual tour, Perosi advises.

One of our associates, a terrific young man, is leaving for the West Coast. How do I write him a reference that makes him look good?

Think about the references that have impressed you as a boss. The secret is to make it personal. Don’t just repeat his qualifications or you flub the chance to extol his character traits — something a résumé can’t convey. Think of a story when he went beyond the call of duty and how your store benefited. That’s really what a prospective employer is looking for. But don’t go on too long — a page should be enough. As with all writing, the shorter it is, the more impactful it will be.

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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