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David Geller

David Geller: A Voyage into New Waters

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Taking a cruise might just be the best thing for your store.

[dropcap cap=I] just came back from a 12-day Mediterranean cruise with my wife and friends. Italy, Greece, Turkey and a touch of Spain. The ship was fun and the side tours were amazing. Got to see the statue of David (no relation), the Trevi Fountain, Vatican City and the ruins of Rome.  [/dropcap]

Besides relaxing and getting a new look at life from around the globe, I realized a cruise in Europe can give you a new perspective on your store — from jewelry styles to customer service.

Most jewelry stores in America are nothing more than the “sea of same.” Nothing exciting or cutting-edge. Stores in Europe (at least the ones tourists see from a cruise ship) are still pushing gold. But the bold look of designs and the use of colored gems was very exciting. That’s not to say there weren’t stores that looked like many here. There were. But most stores and shops had unique as their mantra.

Look at what you can start stocking that’s really different. And take a chance.

If you want a refresher on customer service, shop for a rug in Turkey. We were in a rug store and were shown a woman making a carpet on a loom. It was explained to us how the carpet was made, the painstaking hours it took to make each carpet (three to 12 months!), and how each one looked when turned 180 degrees.

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They had us in a circle in a room as they explained the beauty of each carpet without any high pressure at all. They served us all a nice sandwich and a drink. “First we must eat! Then we’ll show you carpet!”

Hospitality. True hospitality. We bought a carpet for the front entry of our house.

In two jewelry stores we visited, we were served their favorite liqueur as we toasted to life. Then we looked at jewelry.

In Greece more libations with “Opa!” We bought a few items.

Most stores in America think they have good customer service. Many of the stores in Europe made sure we became friends long before they took out the first piece from the case. Everyone was polite and talkative. I’ve been in stores in the states that have bumps on logs for sales staff .

In 100 stores I never heard, “May I help you?” Only, “Welcome!”

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In restaurants and stores I never heard, “No problem.” (That phrase bugs me so much.) More often I heard: “My pleasure.” “No worries.” “No worries, mate.” (I loved “No worries,” especially with the accent.)

Here are the tips I came away with from the stores I visited: Practice true warmth in the store. Give customers drinks, water, snacks, places to sit. Talk first before showing items from the case. If possible, give a tour of the store, introducing key people, even the jeweler: “This is Harold, he’d be the one to size your ring to a perfect fit!”

Our cruise ship was a source of inspiration as well. Every employee was top-notch, caring, sweet and attentive. Tell your staff to quit whining; these people work 12-plus hour shifts every day, seven days a week. Every few weeks they get a few days off, and they do this for nine months at a time.

My point? You should follow the cruise line’s hiring technique: Hire enthusiastic people first, then train product knowledge.

Anything you wanted, from more food to “get me another fork, more towels, clean up my mistake” or whatever you want was always done with graciousness and a smile. They never said “No problem,” only “Certainly, sir.”

Travel abroad. Reach out. Take a cruise. You’ll find relaxation and a wealth of ideas for your store.

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David Geller is a consultant to jewelry-store owners on store management and profitability. E-mail him at [email protected]

[span class=note]This story is from the December 2010 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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