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Ask INSTORE: October 2011

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Rules for paying new salespeople, and what to do if your displays are cooler than your jewelry.

[h3]CAN I AFFORD TO HIRE?[/h3]

[dropcap cap=Q.][h4]I’m trying to do a budget to see if I can afford to take on my first sales associate. I’ve read the traditional rule of thumb for employee benefits is to assume it at about 10 percent of their salary. Does that apply in jewelry?[/h4][/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=A.]It does indeed apply for the jewelry industry, says Suzanne DeVries, the head of Diamond Staffi ng Solutions. “We would advise you to shop around for plans, as insurance can vary hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year for someone and their family.” DeVries also recommends that you write a policy for your employee manual clearly stating how much the employee is responsible for paying and how much the company is responsible for. One thing to watch however, is that benefits as a percentage are much higher for lowerpaid employees. If you spend $600 a month for insurance for an employee who earns $24,000 a year, for example, that’s a hefty 30 percent of the employee’s payroll just for basic health coverage.[/dropcap]

[componentheading]DISPLAYS[/componentheading]

[h4][b]I like to use non-traditional displays in my cases — wood blocks, rocks, old tools, books and other unique items. Lately, people seem interested in buying my displays. How can I stop this?[/b][/h4]

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Display rule No. 1 is nothing matters but the sale of the jewelry, says Larry Johnson, senior VP of Pacific Northern and author of The Complete Guide to Effective Jewelry Display. “If your sales are suffering with your unique trim, take it out. If sales are up, then simply tell your customers that these items are not for sale.”

[componentheading]E-MAIL[/componentheading]

[h4][b]How can I prevent my e-mail from being labeled as spam?[/b][/h4]

For existing customers you need them to “whitelist” it, which means getting them to accept you into their address book. If you are sending an e-mail to someone you don’t know, you need to be more careful. According to Andrea Stenberg, author of The Six Most Common Mistakes Baby Boomers Make With Social Media, the things that may flag your e-mail as spam are graphics (even a company logo), attachments, using some variation of “hi” in the subject line or the words “free,” “guaranteed,” “offer” or “spam.” Also avoid dollar signs, question marks or exclamation marks in the subject line and NEVER WRITE IN ALL CAPS.

[componentheading]TAXES[/componentheading]

[h4][b]Until now I’ve done my own taxes but now I’d like to fi nd a tax pro. Where do I fi nd a good one?[/b][/h4]

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One option is to search online directories such as Teaspiller.com, CPAdirectory.com, Accountant-Finder.com and AccountantsWorld.com. The National Association of Tax Professionals also offers an online database of tax preparers, and the American Institute of CPAs has one for CPA firms. If you do contemplate hiring a tax preparer you found online, request referrals to past clients so you can ask about the quality of the service they received. A possibly better strategy is ask people in the industry — so look into joining your state jewelry association or joining a peer group. This is because your ideal target should have some experience doing returns for jewelry stores as every industry has its own rules and deduction options.

 

[componentheading]ADVERTISING[/componentheading]

[h4][b]I’m looking at two billboard sites. One is on an arterial road with high traffic numbers and theother a smaller road that gets more local traffic. Advice?[/b][/h4]

Don’t be fooled by traffi c numbers, warns the “Wizard of Ads,” Roy Williams. “High traffic doesn’t always mean high visibility. Are they mostly the same people each day driving to and from work, or is this a twice-a-month artery for a much larger population?” he says. The first option reinforces your message daily and builds “top-ofmind” awareness, he says.

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

 

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