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David Brown

David Brown: Plug the Discount Leak

Most store owners find it tough to say no to a request for a price break but the effects can be ruinous.




ONE OF THE MOST important ways to ensure the success of your business is to concentrate on the areas that have the greatest impact. While this seems logical, we frequently see store owners concerned about staff taking five minutes too long for lunch while ignoring the hundreds of dollars in discounts that are being given away each day.

When it comes to measuring the amount of discounts a store is giving away, many store owners don’t know where to look. After all, it is seldom reported separately in financial profit and loss accounts. Producing a daily sales report from your system should show you the size of the discounts you are giving away each day.

Many jewelers tend to ignore discounts as they see it as an area that they have little control over; they feel uncomfortable and pressured by the customer and tend to lose control of the situation. However, a few simple steps can be taken to regain control and see the leakage reduced substantially.

  1. If a customer asks for a discount, cheer! It means they want to buy it. You have now moved beyond selling and into the area of negotiating. They are a step closer to buying and the game has moved in your favor.
  2. Don’t offer a discount! Fifty percent of your customers will accept it if you explain that this particular item can’t be reduced. This will halve your rate of discounts immediately. Those who won’t accept it won’t walk straight out the door. You have an opportunity to deal with them as outlined below.
  3. Offer an alternative. This could be vouchers (which will cost you less and bring them back in the store) or a discount on an alternative item with more margin, or one that you really want to get rid of.
  4. You’ll be left with the 10-20 percent of hard core bargain hunters by now. Don’t give in right away! Many enjoy the challenge and will, in fact, be suspicious if you give in too easily. Offer a level less than they are asking and many will accept.
  5. You’re nearly there! If they are still insistent, give them what they want (within reason). It is better than losing the sale. But following this strategy and training your staff in this manner will cut the size of discounts given away by hundreds of dollars each day!
  6. Discuss the daily discount with the staff. We know of one store that let its staff know the amount being given away each day and specified the amount given away by the heaviest discounting staff member (but not his name). The result was an immediate drop in the willingness of staff to discount and a sizeable reduction in the amounts given away.

It is a law of nature that you will get that which you concentrate on the most, whether good or bad. Concentrate on reducing your discounts and you will see the results.


This story is from the April 2010 edition of INSTORE.


David Brown is the president of Edge Retail Academy, a leading jewelry business consulting and data aggregation firm that provides expert business improvement plans to help with all facets of your business, including improved financials, healthier inventory, sales growth, increased staff performance, recruiting and retirement/succession planning, all custom-tailored to your store’s needs. They offer Edge Pulse to better understand critical sales and inventory data, to improve business profitability, benchmark your store against 1,200-plus other Edge Users, and ensure you stay on top of market trends with their $3 billion-plus of industry sales data. Contact (877) 569.8657, ext. 001, or



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Trish Parks has always wanted to be in the jewelry business and that passion has fueled her success. The original Corinth Jewelers opened in the Mississippi town of the same name in 2007. This year, Parks moved her business from its original strip mall location to a 10,000-square foot standalone store. To make room for fresh, new merchandise, she asked Wilkerson to organize a moving sale. “What I remember most about the sale is the outpouring excitement and appreciation from our customers,” says Parks. Would she recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers? “I would recommend Wilkerson because they came in, did what they were supposed to and made us all comfortable. And we met our goals.”

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