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Best Ways to Give to Charities? Here’s What Our Brain Squad Says

Innovative practices include asking for charitable donations instead of charging for watch batteries.

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Brian Stubblefield, Hendersonville Jewelers, Hendersonville, TN
  • We get on average five requests a week. With every request, we thank them for thinking of us as we love to give and support our local charities and communities. We ask for a 90-day written notice. This eliminates about 95 percent of requests as they are usually last minute. Most of the charities that we partner with we have been with for years, but each year we set aside a certain dollar amount for the “add ons.” When our budget runs out, we explain how we budget our donations on an annual basis. It’s amazing how well this goes and the people that truly want to partner will go ahead and start working with you for the next year. At that point, anyone associated with that charity sees your involvement and support and you become not just part of their inner circle but the jeweler for the charity, and they promote you. — Joel Wiland, J. David’s Jewelry, Broken Arrow, OK
  • I have given gift certificates. Everyone appreciates them and it gets new people into the store. I don’t set a limit like “$100 off $500.” That’s a turnoff. Every gift certificate has been toward jewelry that’s much more than the face value of the certificate. It gets the name out and that’s important. I’ve given jewelry to charities, but I never see the customer come into the store. — Dale Robertson, Dale Robertson Jewelry, Loveland, OH
  • I think the most effective way of giving back to the community is by actually showing up. Don’t just give a piece of jewelry away; show up to the event and mingle. — Christopher Sarraf, Nuha Jewelers, Plainview, NY
  • I sit on several boards, chaired several events and have been on numerous nonprofit committees. The thought is, do you give time or treasure? I feel time has reaped the most financial advancement. We have given jewelry for numerous charity auctions, but it does not bring people through the door like the time I donate to many organizations. — Patty Gallun Hansen, Dorothy Gallun Fine Jewelry, Cedarburg, WI
  • We keep track of who asks for what, when and how well it was handled on both ends. If it was a good experience and we and the community benefitted, we continue to work with them yearly. We love these opportunities. It gets to the root of what we are trying to be … the neighborhood jeweler. — Ryan “Jr.” Karp, Cornerstone Jewelry, Palos Park, IL
  • We have found that concentrating on two larger fundraisers in a year seems to be successful for us. We will contribute our time, money, and jewelry toward those larger events. For all the additional asks that we receive, we have a donation request form that can be completed. From there, we hand-select qualifying charities that are doing great things in our community. — Allison Leitzel-Williams, Leitzel’s Jewelry, Myerstown, PA
  • We give gift certificates only. It’s a way to get a new customer into the store. — Brian Stubblefield, Hendersonville Jewelers, Hendersonville, TN
  • I give to schools locally and in the nearby area. I also donate jewelry and gift cards to all local fundraisers. — Diana Smires, Diana Smires Jewelry, Columbus, NJ
  • We ask our best customers to host a party in their favorite charity’s honor at our store. We invite the hostess’s besties and our best customers. We donate 10 percent of our entire weekend profits to the published charity (the party is on Thursday — we allow the sale special to run all weekend).
  • The donation is a direct result of the hostess’s effort and her friends’ response to the party invite. The better the hostess/hostesses, the better the party and donation.
  • We are only four years old, but giving back to our community is something many of our seasoned competitors still don’t do. — Elizabeth Kittell, Pretty In Patina, Omaha, NE
  • If it is not too expensive, I will support it. — Steve Wittels, Aljan Jewelers Ltd., Mahopac, NY
  • We have two drawers that are donated items. We give to most charities that request, and most are requesting an auction item, so we just pull an item from this stock (most are older items that just didn’t move or sell). We have a handful of charities to whom we donate larger items or give a gift card. — Kriss Roethlisberger, Ace of Diamonds, Mount Pleasant, MI
  • We give to almost every 501(c)(3) group that requests. Many years ago, we quit selling watch batteries and asked, instead, for donations. People generally give $5 to $20 and we’re raised over $75,000. This money goes to mostly local charities. Customers really like this! — Richard Frank, Goldstein’s, Mobile, AL
  • We judge the charity by what the people that need the help get out of it. There are a lot of groups that want things, but they are not always working the best for the people they say they want to help. Then you get people that just want help their family, and it is all about them. — Mark Brushert, JR Brushert Jewelers, Wausau, WI

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 76 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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Buzz Session

To Pay Commission Or Not to Pay Commission? That Is The Question

Here’s how our Brain Squad members pay their employees.

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  • Commissions only get paid if the employee’s wages plus the commission check is half or less than what the employee brought in for the month. And all bonuses are paid on the profit the employee brings in. It makes it easier for all involved. — David Dumas, Diamonds and Gold, Int., St. Louis Park, MN
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  • I believe in giving commissions for many reasons. I believe it can be used as a reward system as well as helping to establish an “owner mentality,” by encouraging them to develop relationships with customers. — Rita Wade, Wade Designs Jewelry, Rocky Mount, NC
  • We have a living wage guarantee for all employees and it is all the same. Commissions are the opportunity to earn what you deserve. I love paying the bonus because it shows the employee is working for our mutual good. — Russell Criswell, Vulcan’s Forge, Kansas City, MO
  • We do not have commission. We have team sales goals. If we meet our monthly goal then we all get a bonus. This encourages us to work as a team and sell as much as we can, together. — Erica Lorenz, Michael & Sons, Reno, NV
  • They have to make our baseline requirement for profitability before we distribute commissions. They can earn up to 3 percent commission, they can earn a bonus for selling a high-dollar item over $10,000, and the manager can earn additional perks. — Elizabeth Kittell, Pretty In Patina, Omaha, NE
  • No commissions. I pay a fair wage and everyone works as a team. Less conflict and happier customers without heavy-handed sales techniques. — John Hayes, Goodman’s Jewelers, Madison, WI
  • We have a profit sharing program that the sales staff gets monthly depending on total sales. This way, we do not get competition for a big customer. — Michael Halem, Halem & Co. de Sonoma, Sonoma, CA
  • Commission does not work for our store. I prefer to build in daily team incentives. If sales on given days meet or exceed our daily goal, every person who worked on that day receives the same bonus. Our bonuses are usually in-store credit that staff can spend as they wish, or accumulate for something substantial. The only stipulation is that it must be for the individual staff member to enjoy, not for gift purchases. — Laurelle Giesbrecht, French’s Jewellery, Wetaskiwin, AB
  • I don’t pay commissions; I pay monthly bonuses. Most of our sales are custom designs, which require a team effort between the designer, CAD artist, and diamond/gem specialist. We have monthly sales goals, and if we make them as a team, everyone receives a bonus. — Dianna Rae High, Dianna Rae Jewelry, Lafayette, LA
  • We pay commissions to some and not to others. We used to pay commissions to everyone, but that got buggered up so we went to salary only, and when the “issue” no longer worked full-time, we went back to paying commission. Our team is so great at working together that we hear most often, “No, you take it; it was your sale.” We just try to encourage that behavior! — Nicole Shannon, Keir Fine Jewelry, Whistler, BC
  • We pay commissions, but everyone has to play fair. I will revoke if someone is being nasty. — Amanda Lanteigne, Gold-n-Memories Ltd., Steinbach, MB
  • Will never do commissions, they are the worst thing you could do to a customer. — Craig C. Curtis, Belfast Jewelry Belfast, ME
  • We stopped commission when we saw it creating a nasty work environment for sales staff and customers’ needs with the right product being overlooked for the sake of trying to make money. We instead raised the salary/hourly wage and went to performance bonuses and saw a huge improvement in teamwork and getting the client the right solution. — Julie Terwiliger, Wexford Jewelers, Cadillac, MI
  • Employees are motivated by money. We pay between 3 percent and 6 percent commission. — Brian Goff, Goff Jewelers, Staten Island, NY
  • We did salary plus commission for 18 years but switched to salary base two years ago. It has gone well. Our sales staff still has goals, and we review monthly/quarterly to make sure that everyone is hitting their targets. — Valerie Naifeh, Naifeh Fine Jewelry, Oklahoma City, OK
  • We pay by the hour because my staff all do different things. I don’t feel it is fair to pay by commission when one key employee is often handling all the engraving jobs, thus not allowing her to be on the sales floor. We all work together without any competition. I do, however, have several items listed each month that we have a spiff for if sold. — Sue Parker, Nyman Jewelers, Excanaba, MI
  • I’m a sales guy at heart. I’m motivated by money (and lots of other things), so I LOVE to pay my employees a commission. — Travis Piper, Piper Diamond Co., Vincennes, IN

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

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Buzz Session

Crazy Job Applicant Requests? One Wanted to Attend Every College Home Game

Another ‘wanted more than I make.’

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    • One person I interviewed wanted more than I make. Also, dictating when they would work and four weeks paid vacation the first year. Alan Beckner, Beckner Jewelry & Repairs, Naples, FL
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Podcast: Michael O’Connor, Jewelry’s Perfect Spokesman, Visits ‘The Barb Wire’

  • I long for the days when people appreciated having a job in a business like ours! My last disappointment was a woman in her 50s telling me she would be available on Saturdays (when I needed her most) only to discover that, upon hiring her, she absolutely had to go to every Virginia Tech home football game! Really? Jane Johnson, RM Johnson & Sons, Salem, VA
  • Funny, they all want weekends and evenings off. Haha! Me too! Stacey Gelmici-Saunders, Gelmici Jewellers, Edson, AB
  • Yes! We are getting demands for no weekends due to their recreational activity such as volleyball, golf, even babysitting grandchildren. It’s retail! Alison Sophy, Sophy Jewelers, St Clair, PA
  • One in particular wanted the entire month of December off to travel. Linda McEathron, Design House, Waco, TX
  • Total lack of qualified people. Was surprised to have a prospective employee ask for a lot of money, health benefits and retirement benefits. No jewelry experience. Michael Cook, Walter J. Cook Jeweler, Paoli, PA
  • We had part-time employees ask about health benefits and even moving reimbursement. Beth Cevasco, Scott’s Custom Jewelers, Fairlawn, OH
  • It’s ugly out there! I can’t afford to employ entry level any more. Trying to find real salespeople is tricky; they want a big salary and commission. No one wants to work hard any more. Laurie Langdon-Gerber, Elisa Ilana Jewelry, Omaha, NE
  • We have a hard time getting applicants and the ones we get aren’t dressed appropriately: shorts and flip-flops. Charles Hood, C.B. Hood Diamond Co., Santa Maria, CA
  • I live in a market driven by the oil field, so it’s boom or bust. It’s very hard to find good help in a boom and plentiful to find it in a bust. Marc Majors, Sam L. Majors, Midland, TX
  • We had a new hire not want to sign off on our background check because it addresses medical issues. The medical portion is there to check if someone has had mental issues, drug abuse or pre-existing injuries. We check it to protect ourselves from potential work comp issues. We couldn’t hire her. Elizabeth Kittell, Pretty In Patina, Omaha, NE
  • Tried to find help, but no one even applied. Laurie Cusher, Hyde Park Jeweler, Hyde Park, NY
  • Mostly surprised at their resumes. They all change jobs every year! Cathy Calhoun, Calhoun Jewelers, Royersford, PA
  • Yes and no, it’s been trending for a little while. Fewer and fewer workers want to work Saturdays, and more and more applicants are demanding more time off and requesting more flexible times. The days of someone young being eager to work their way up seem long gone. Kim Hatchell, Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC
  • We do not offer insurance and lost two good manager candidates to jobs outside the industry that did. Russell Criswell, Vulcan’s Forge, Kansas City, MO
  • Not really any demands, just unqualified people unfortunately. Alisha Moore, Toner Jewelers, Overland Park, KS
  • I was surprised how many “applied,” sent their name and wanted more info, yet never followed through. Possibly just getting job application quota for welfare benefits. Julee Johnson, Julee’s Jewelry, Mankato, MN
  • I hear a lot of, “How much will I make and will I have to work on Saturday?” That’s a deal breaker for me. Murphy McMahon, Murphy McMahon & Co., Kalispell, MT
  • Yes: phone rights, sleeping later than required to be here, all Saturdays off and two weeks to three weeks vacation the first year. Just a few. Tim Wright, Simply Unique Jewelry Designs, Yorktown, VA
  • I did hire recently and I can say I was pleasantly surprised with the professionalism of our candidates. Sue Parker, Nyman Jewelers, Excanaba, MI
  • Not really. A lot of younger people don’t even apply for retail. I mostly hire 55 and olders! Teddie Gause, Gause and Son Jewelers, Ocala, FL
  • We have hired an awesome young lady that we are paying less than she was making, but we gave her the opportunity to make more by her performance. Brenda Hefner, Oz’s Jewelers, Hickory, NC
  • The tight labor market doesn’t seem to have affected my area as much as others. Jon Walp, Long Jewelers, Virginia Beach, VA
  • Part-time do not want to work full days, want to leave daily for lunch, want higher starting hourly wage. Some only want to sell, don’t want to install batteries, don’t want to set-up, etc. Jody Bond, Just Gold Jewelers, Stuart, FL
  • Applicants want to pick and choose the hours they are to work and they want $18-$20 an hour. Georgena Kincaid, Gold Casters Fine Jewelry, Bloomington, IN
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Buzz Session

The Best Last-Minute Strategies to Drive Holiday Sales, According to Our Brain Squad

Here’s what our brain squad found to be the most effective holiday sales strategies.

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Phone calls, Facebook ads … networking! Hit some of the main holiday parties or hot spots in town. Nothing works as well as socializing and having someone “remember” they still need to come see you, or notice the jewelry you are wearing and start asking about it. — Alan Perry, Perry’s Emporium, Wilmington, NC

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Podcast: A One of a Kind Family Heirloom is ‘Vaporized’ … and a Jeweler Goes Above and Beyond to Replace It

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Podcast: Using Social Media to Win Customers and Lower Your Intimidation Factor

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The Barb Wire

Podcast: Michael O’Connor, Jewelry’s Perfect Spokesman, Visits ‘The Barb Wire’

  • We go to six days a week in December. And seven days for the two weeks before Christmas. — Steve & Alice Wittels, Aljan Jewelers Ltd, Mahopac, NY
  • Stock up on low-end, last-minute items. — Cindy Fuller, Fuller Designs, Poplar Bluff, MO
  • I give a free gift with purchase of $450 or more. The free gift is always something young and fresh in styling. — Cathy Calhoun, Calhoun Jewelers, Royersford, PA
  • Avoid staff fatigue by sending salespeople home whenever possible. With an average age of 66 on the floor, the last thing we want is one of our staff nodding off during a presentation. — Bill Elliott, Ross Elliott Jewelers, Terre Haute, IN
  • Last year we teamed up with Jewelex and Collected Concepts for their “Hot Deals of the Week.” This gave us video and excellent footage for online advertising … and best yet, they took care of organization and posting so we could continue to focus on our daily work and selling our jewelry! — Erika Godfrey, Hawthorne Jewelry, Kearney, NE
  • We designate one person to the telephone to call each customer with our special Christmas offer. We have a weekly email to each customer for the Deal of the Week, which we change to the Deal of the Day in December. — Ragnar Bertelsen, Ragnar Jewellers, Vancouver, BC
  • We partner with another local business to give our customers a special sweet treat thank-you! We have tried custom cookies, peanut brittle, and chocolates. This helps spread the news of another small business and makes our customers feel very special. — Linda McEathron, Design House, Waco, TX
  • For the first time ever, we put our ads in movie theaters in a great community, so before the movie, we are on previews! Great audiences and movies run five times a day in three theaters. — Teddie Gause, Gause and Son Jewelers, Ocala, FL
  • Make lists of best clients so you can reach out to them in December if they have not already contacted you. They never mind that you thought of them, even if they are not making jewelry a part of this year’s holiday giving. — Steven B. Goldfarb, Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler, Bellevue, WA
  • Clothing-optional shopping, small lizards roaming our showroom and we promise not to play christmas music in our store. — Cliff Yankovich, Chimera Design, Lowell, MI
  • Phone sales; contacting those customers that are in the 20 percent bracket. — Daniel Rochricht, Wedgewood Jewelers, Woodbury, MN
  • Late hours for sure. We extend our hours and see a lot of evening shoppers. It’s really helped us to be extremely responsive to digital communications as well (i.e., answering Facebook messages, comments, email, etc. as soon as possible) — Chris Wattsson, Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelers, Marquette, MI
  • A sale case full of beautiful older stock, usually priced at 50 percent off. — Brenda Mitchell, Gleim Jewelers, Palo Alto, CA
  • We have found social media pushes targeting a specific category or price point to be most beneficial. Around Christmas Eve, we make an ad geared towards last-minute shoppers (i.e., husbands and boyfriends) and select the demographics that are more prone to find themselves in that category. — Morgan Bartel, Susann’s Custom Jewelers, Corpus Christi, TX
  • Increasing humorous Facebook posts to lighten the mood during this hectic season. Reminding everyone we see that you can never go wrong with a little box from us under the tree! — Andrew Russakoff, Russakoff Jewelers, Skowhegan, ME
  • Constant contact with your client base. Direct mail methods are best (and most economical) in my small community. — J. Dennis Petimezas, Watchmakers Diamonds & Jewelry, Johnstown, PA
  • People want price cuts, so we give price cuts on specific days like Black Friday, an early December Friday flash sale and coupons to our top 20 percent of customers. It’s what they wait for and expect, so we give them several opportunities to shop with us early for a discount. — John Carom, Abby’s Gold & Gems, Uniontown, PA
  • We send a flyer to 10,000 households in our zip code 10-12 days before Christmas, extend our hours a bit and open the Sunday before Christmas. — Rosanne Kroen, Rosanne’s Diamonds & Gold, South Bend, IN
  • Events! There is nothing better than several events that are scheduled throughout the season to create momentum, excitement and a real “buzz” in the store. I believe that you can’t just do one. You need to do several events to capture your market share and keep people talking. — Rita Wade, Wade Designs Jewelry, Rocky Mount, NC
  • We try to keep our best sellers in stock. We picked our holiday catalog from a supplier who can fill our last-minute orders on the best sellers. — Donald Killelea, Killelea Jewelers, Midlothian, IL
  • I try not to do any last-minute strategies, as typically the last 10 days we are swamped with customers. I think the most important thing for my store (and my mental state) is to have a plan of hours, customer contacts and inventory finished way before the last days so all we have to do is focus on the customers walking through the door. — Kristin Cornwell, Cornwell Jewelers, Athens, OH

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

Continue Reading

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