What kind of staff training is required?
“I hope the sales staff has an effective answer to the inevitable question, ‘Who is this designer Joe Smith?’ I frequently hear, ‘It’s one of the lines we carry,’ which is about as lame a response as there is,” says Larry Johnson. “Sales members should have a 45 word ‘elevator speech’ that sells me on the designer and gives me a reason to care. If you don’t have the 45 words, take the designer’s name out of the case.”
Before Jennifer Gandia, co-owner of Greenwich St. Jewelers in New York City, launches a line, education involves immersion in the brand, not just for the sales staff, but for everyone, marketing and website and production people, too. “We bring in some sample product for the staff to see and we’ll do a meeting where we look at it, discuss price points, talk about the designer, the look of the items, materials and what other lines would work well with a piece of this jewelry,” she says. “If there’s no training from the vendor, we make our own. We make sales sheets where we list materials, features and benefits and we develop that in store. That way, we are armed with what’s unique and different and special about the line.”
Kate Peterson of Performance Concepts says “An effective designer jewelry presentation requires that I clearly understand both the client’s message (either to a gift recipient or to the public at large, and the designer’s inspiration and vision and that I can make a match between the two. What I’m really offering is the designer’s passion, not his or her name, and not the materials from which the piece is made.”
What’s a good way to motivate the sales staff when it comes to brands?
No matter what brands you sell, make sure you know what incentives they offer, and then educate your team on what they are and how to take advantage. “We have grown our Gabriel & Co. sales a lot this year, and I think a big contributor to that is that our sales associates are more engaged with the incentives they offer compared to previous years,” says Lucy Conklin, sales manager for Toner Jewelers in Overland Park, KS. “My associates have earned a few new pieces of jewelry for their hard work. Which just makes them want more!”
Atelier D’Emotion in New York City specializes in designer jewelry.
Where do I begin?
Find a niche and stick to it. It’s important to understand how you will curate and select designers whose work will be shown in your store. Single Stone of San Marino, CA, for example, features its own handcrafted Single Stone jewelry collection along with the work of designers including Irene Neuwirth, Temple St. Clair, Marla Aaron, Alex Sepkus, Jemma Wynne and Carolina Bucci.
Single Stone looks for interesting and unique contemporary jewelry that resonates with the fashion forward, modern woman and meets quality and craftsmanship standards that ensure the jewelry will be passed down through generations. Other retailers look for regional designers or choose to carry only handmade jewelry.
Other questions to ask yourself include: Do you expect exclusivity in your market? Will the designer give you credit if your customers or people in your area buy directly from the designer online?
How can I forge a relationship with a well-known brand if my town is barely on the map?
Be a big fish in a small town. Be persistent and be willing to prove yourself. Beth Carter, owner of Carter’s Jewel Chest with her son, Chris Carter, are based in Mountain Home, AR, yet managed to eventually forge a relationship with John Hardy. When they wrote an order in 2017 and the national sales manager came to the store for the launch, the community showed up in droves to make it the best opening day ever.
How can I introduce designers to clients?
Atelier D’Emotion in New York City introduces designers’ work on their website with short videos of each telling their story, then following up with images and videos about the designs, which are promoted on Instagram and Facebook. Virtual trunk shows have also become popular in 2020.