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Commentary: The Business

Steve Feldman: Burn That White Flag



Do we stay reasonably aggressive to make things better, or do we wave the white flag of surrender and wait for things to get better?


Is the solution to your economic woes closing your doors and giving up? Of course not! Nor is the solution running fire sales, or minimizing inventory levels to the point of not being able to service customers. You’re tampering with your image, your brand, your competitive edge. Some of you have spent the better part of your lives building your reputation. You sure ain’t gonna quit now. But man, oh man, it’s tough out there. So what are you going to do about it? 
Focus on the one aspect of your jewelry store’s business that suffers the least from this economy — bridal. People are still getting married. 
And a huge majority of these brides-to-be are being given a diamond engagement ring. Sure, there are probably some men who have less to spend on that diamond than they did six months ago. But he’s still asking her to marry him, and he’s still looking for that perfect engagement ring. There’s the key: They’re looking for the perfect ring. The one that will make her so proud. That will make him so proud. The most important purchase he’s ever made, and the most important gift she’s ever received. 
He wants to buy her the most beautiful diamond he can find, mounted in the perfect setting. Again, within his budget, but he’s not sacrificing beauty. If anything, he’s more likely to cut back on color or clarity, or even the size. But it better be gorgeous! 
Are you promoting to these brides and grooms-to-be? Are you ready for them when they walk in? More important, are your salespeople ready? Do you have diamonds in stock that you know he’s going to love? 
There are four critical points to remember:  
“Can I help you?” just doesn’t work. And if your salesperson accepts “I’m just looking” with no response, consider replacing that salesperson. The guy (or the couple) will let you know very quickly why they’re in your store. You can probably see it in their eyes. Take a personal interest.  
Ask lots of questions, even if he thinks he knows what she wants. He’s probably in desperate need of your help to figure it out. And not just questions about the diamond or his budget. Questions about her. Does she typically like flashy or understated? Traditional or contemporary? Would she prefer better quality or a bigger look? Is she tall or short, have big hands or small? Will she be surprised, or can you bring her in? There’s a lot your salespeople need to find out before they even begin to show any diamonds.  
Your relationship with this customer doesn’t end when he says “I’ll take it.” It begins. There’s more jewelry to be sold, beginning with the wedding bands. Don’t forget to ask about the wedding bands. Does she need any basic jewelry for the honeymoon? Gifts for the bridal party? If you’ve created a relationship, you’re their personal jeweler, selling them for years to come. So please don’t stop once you’ve sold the diamond. 
Ask when he intends to give her the ring. This way, you can communicate with him without worrying about spoiling the surprise. And you must find out the wedding date, so you can send a congratulatory note or gift. Year after year, send an anniversary note to remind him to buy her a gift). 
This guy is really excited. You and your salespeople should be — or at least act — equally excited. You’ve got a chance to become part of his and their lives. To play an important role in an incredibly exciting time of their lives. 
Economy shmonomy. This is why you’re in business. Good luck! 
Steve Feldman is director of sales and marketing for Hasenfeld-Stein, an American DTC sightholder. He has been focused on sales and marketing for retail jewelers for almost 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]



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