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David Geller

Can’t Find a Jeweler to Work for You? Here’s What You Should Do

Charge more, then pay more to solve your problems.

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There was a post on Facebook: “Can’t find a jeweler.”

They are not being trained, and because it doesn’t pay well to start, many opt for other careers. You can go to HVAC school for six months and earn $35,000 to $40,000 in year one.

My response:

  • The No. 1 problem is stores don’t pay high enough wages.
  • Stores don’t pay enough because they think they can’t afford someone because they don’t charge correctly. It’s a vicious cycle.
  • America pushes college. We need to think trade schools.
  • You should grow your own jeweler. School begins soon. No matter how much work you have, contact your local high school counselor and get a part-time teenager. Teach the person to polish your work.

Don’t argue! You should be producing $125 an hour, and because repairs include polishing, you are not charging extra to polish. So while you are producing $125 an hour, in the afternoons pay $10 an hour to have someone polish your work. You’ll net $115 an hour. Thirty days and he or she can polish virtually everything. You want to polish the $5,000 emerald, fine, but 90 percent is done by your new employee.

We had the high school kids then learn to invest and cast, then engrave. They took out trash, changed light bulbs and ran errands.

This will save you time, and just by having them polish things, you can tell if they might do well sitting at the bench. Start later training them to solder and size.

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We developed a few full-time jewelers this way.

In April/May I’d ask seniors, “So, are you working here for the summer or traveling before college?”

No matter what they said, I said, “You can’t quit.”.

“Sir, you can’t keep me here,” they’d say.

“Oh yes I can! You can’t quit until you bring in your replacement from school and train them,” I’d say.

Ninety percent of the time they did. They’d never bring in an idiot, but always a younger classmate they knew well, and they started the training. 

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I had the store 25 years.

I had a student for 18 of the 25 years. The other years, we were so busy that I had a full-time polisher.

Grow your own! (And have them polish for you.)

David Geller is a 14th-generation bench jeweler who produces The Geller Blue Book To Jewelry Repair Pricing. David is the “go-to guy” for setting up QuickBooks for a jewelry store. Reach him at david@jewelerprofit.com.

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David Geller

What You Can Learn From Insurance Companies to Make More Money in Your Shop

Charging more to every customer helps pay for damages that your store covers.

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REDOS, STONE LOSS and breakage are the bugaboos of any shop. Stuff happens, but who pays for this?

Do you think Allstate pays for a car repair when you wreck your car? No! All Allstate customers share in that repair, which is built into their premiums. We all pay.

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That’s how stone loss, breakage and redos should be paid in every store: by charging more for all repairs to cover these procedures.

Let’s talk profit-and-loss statements for a moment. As a reminder, here’s the breakdown:

  1. Sales minus cost of goods = your gross profit
  2. Expenses are paid out of your gross profit
  3. After paying your expenses, what you have left over is net profit

Let’s say you size a ring and months later the customer comes back and says, “Hey! You sized my ring I had for 12 years, and 30 days later, my 5-pointer fell out. Now take care of it!”

We’ll assume you will give her a new 5-point diamond at no charge. Your cost probably $30. Where on your P&L does the $30 cost come from? It comes out of your net profit.

The typical American jewelry store has a net profit of 5 percent. So, the “Allstate question” is, “Who’s going to pay and by how much?”

It’s simple really: Just divide the cost of this problem (the lost diamond) by your net profit percentage.

$30.00 divided by 5% (“0.05”) = $600.00

Your store will have to do an extra $600 in sales, above and beyond your goal, to have $30 left over to pay for the lost $30 diamond!

The easiest way to get this extra $600 is by charging customers an additional fee for the jeweler to check all stones, tighten any that are loose and guarantee them for one year against loss.

You charge this same fee if:

  1. All stones are loose when ring comes in.
  2. If just a few of the stones are loose.
  3. Even if none are loose, because we are still guaranteeing after we work on the ring that the stones won’t get loose or fall out in the following year.

Sounds like Allstate, doesn’t it?

Here are our current Geller Blue Book prices to check and tighten stones:

  • Up to 4 stones, no charge.
  • From 5 to 20 stones = $34
  • From 21 to 35 stones = $52
  • From 36 to 50 stones = $70
  • Each additional stone over 50 = $1 per stone

The typical store will take in an additional $18,000 to $40,000 with this extra income, whereas typical store losses in a year are less than $5,000.

Like Allstate, you’d make money on crashes. Imagine that.

Is your store in good hands?

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David Geller

Want to Raise Repair Prices? Train Your Staff to Sell Them First

Confidence and knowledge will convince clients it’s worth it.

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A JEWELER ONCE TOLD me, “Our unspoken principle in the shop is that we do not want anyone to think they have paid too much for a repair.” I get your point, but how does a jeweler know that a customer is about to pay too much? That’s a jeweler’s brain, not the customer’s.

I’ve visited many stores and connected to their books, and I usually see that their shop numbers are too low. When I tell them their prices are too low for the work, many will say, “My customers won’t pay.”

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How do you know? How many times did you ask? And how many really said “no” before you decided that the price was too high?

Before we decide on a metric for determining your repair pricing, let’s look at your expectations of selling out of your showcase. If you see 10 customers and only three buy, you don’t think you failed in selling, even though 70 percent of those people walked! Fail or not, you have decided a 70 percent walk rate is good because “I sold a few pieces.”

Now, let’s look at selling repairs. Repairs typically have a 90 percent closing rate because repairs are not price-sensitive. What if you charge more and the closing rate drops to 80 percent, and you now at 80 percent take in more money than you did at 90 percent? Are you charging too much? Why not work less and make more?

Even if your repair closing ratio hits 70 percent (I see this all the time), it’s never ever that you’re charging too much.

The staff’s selling skills suck because they think you charge too much or they are not explaining to the customer the difficulty and expertise required in this repair. (And yet, even at 70 percent closing ratio, you’re doing twice as well as selling from the showcase.)

In 1986, I did $830,000 in sales, of which 75 percent was from our shop. I had a 95 percent closing ratio. But we were failing due to debt. Our prices were too low, among other things.

That’s when I wrote the Geller Blue Book. Once printed and used, our closing rate dropped a bit because we were all scared of quoting these much higher prices. After I started sales training and I personally went to a Harry Friedman class (on being a sales manager and trainer), our closing ratio went back up and sales went up.

Every time I have spoken at a jeweler’s meeting, I ask the attendees, “What do you charge to size a typical 1-carat, six-prong, 14K yellow gold engagement ring smaller?” Their answers range from $22 (yes, 22) all the way up to $65 and even once $85 dollars.

Guess what? All of them achieved a 90 percent closing ratio, and none of them thought they were overcharging.

People will pay for quality work, and charging more is the only way to fix the shop’s profitability, which should be keystone or better. Of course, you can lower the jeweler’s pay, but I don’t think that would go over well.

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David Geller

Here’s What’s Really Keeping Jewelers From Having More Money

If you think it’s low margins, you’re wrong.

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I WAS READING THE Big Survey in last month’s issue of INSTORE, and one question popped out at me: “What will be your greatest priority next year?”

Thirty one percent of respondents said, “Boosting profitability.” The money-savvy ones (21 percent) said, “Clearing old inventory.” Most jewelers just don’t get that there is a big difference between making money and having money.

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Someone once taught you that margin was your most important metric. Yep, that was a good thing when everyone made two and three times key, but no more. What hampers you from having money is not low margins as much as inventory level.

Your debt typically equals one-half to three-quarters of your inventory that’s more than a year old. It shows up as accounts payable, credit card debt, lines of credit, and money owed to you (the owner) for money you’ve personally loaned the company.

Having money depends on your ability to keep that debt to a minimum. How can you do that? As a jewelry store/shop owner, there are a few options.

  1. Repairs. This is a revenue stream that requires very few resources to produce income. Your ongoing costs are findings, small stones and your jeweler’s paycheck (plus the occasional equipment upgrade).
  2. Buying scrap. This really only requires several thousand dollars of cash on hand to make a profit. Buy it on Monday, mail it on Wednesday, get a check on Saturday and you’ve made a profit and replenished your cash to do it again.
  3. Inventory sales. This is likely your biggest cash outlay, and it needs to throw off revenue monthly. All of it must throw off revenue at least once a year. All of it. You can’t wait two and three years to have money come in to pay a bill or check tomorrow.

Look at 1 and 2 above. The amount of money required is small. You don’t keep scrap very long and most people order “just enough” in findings for jobs this month, maybe a few extra items.

But inventory piles up for years and causes debt. In a jewelry store, your average inventory level should be somewhere between your cost of goods sold and gross profit amounts for a 12-month period. Any amount above that will show up as debt and poor cash flow.

Keeping inventory within these two numbers (give or take) will increase positive happy cash flow, increase your checking account balance, lower total overall debt, remove stale and outdated inventory, and may actually increase sales as you have more leverage to buy new fashionable jewelry that pleases your customers.

That would be a good thing, right?

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