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David Geller

David Geller: Book Club




David Geller shares the secrets of organizing your books to show what areas of your business are really making money.

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[h3]Book Club[/h3]

[dropcap cap=Y]our goal for the year: for the first time, ever, to really know how well your store is doing. Knowledge is pure gold. And knowing what areas of your business make you money lets you run it more profitably with less stress.[/dropcap]

To figure it out, you’ll need to correctly set up your point-of-sale or accounting software. Some POS programs have an accounting program installed with it but, if not set up properly, it’s just “mish-mosh” numbers. This article is the first in a series of how to set up QuickBooks for Jewelers. But you can apply this strategy to whatever program you use, whether it’s Peachtree or your POS accounting program. (As a QuickBooks Pro Advisor, I just find QuickBooks to be the easiest program to use.)

[h4]Let’s begin: First, a jewelry store should have its POS system and accounting program divided into three major income sales divisions.  
Showcase Sales: Sales of merchandise that we own. Our stuff.
Special Order and Memo/Consignment Sales: Sales of merchandise that we don’t own.  
Shop Sales: Repairs, custom design, appraisals, engraving watch repairs.[/h4]


Most stores have one income account: Sales Revenue. This does you no good. You’re a jeweler — you’re special! And you have to organize your books in a special manner.

[h4]To go with these three sales divisions, you will also need to create three matching “Cost of Goods” accounts:

• Showcase Sales Cost of Goods
• Special Order/Memo Cost of Goods
• Shop Cost of Goods.[/h4]

These cost of goods numbers come from the POS program. “Cost of Goods” for merchandise is not entered when you enter a bill or pay for the merchandise. “Cost of Goods” is arrived at on the day the piece is sold.
(Important point: most jewelers pay for merchandise and call it “Cost of Goods.” It is not a cost. It’s an investment in your business. Therefore it’s called an asset account — “Inventory Asset.”)

Continuing on … the Shop Cost of Goods does not come from the POS system. Most jewelers will scratch their heads, trying to figure out the cost of sizing the ring. If you pay the jeweler an hourly wage and then charge the customer a single price you’ll never know what your cost is. Stop trying to enter into your POS system the repair cost … because you don’t know it!

What you do know, on the other hand, is the weekly pay for the jeweler. So the only way to setup the shop in QuickBooks is to compare Weekly Shop Sales versus Weekly Shop Costs.


You know how to get the weekly shop sales: just add up last week’s repair invoices.

Then, to calculate cost of goods for the shop, add the following: weekly gross pay for the jeweler (move his/her pay check up from “Payroll Expenses”); the matching taxes you paid on the jeweler; your share of his/her insurance; findings bought this week, repair stones, gold; shop supplies, gas and oxygen, buffs, etc.

Now you can see if the shop is profitable. In fact this is virtually the only way. It’s the way I set people up when I do store visits and, for the first time, they have black-and-white numbers for the shop.

Organizing product sales in the manner above lets you clearly identify your Gross Margin Return on Investment (GMROI). By setting up the two product groups (Showcase and Special Orders/Memo/ Consignment) we will be able to see, by category, if the items we actually own make us money based upon the store’s inventory, not based upon if we made money on individual sales. If you have $25,000 invested in wedding bands from Vendor A wedding bands, any sales made from this category should be listed as “Showcase Sales/Department WB.” You own these bands. If they don’t sell, you know it — not to mention, feel it.

[inset side=right]You’d probably be better off to drop Vendor A’s line and stock Vendor K instead. Or maybe get out of the wedding-band business altogether![/inset]Further, if a situation arises where you need to special-order bands from Vendor A (you don’t have the size she needs, customer wants more diamonds, etc.), you should still list these as Showcase Sales/Department WB. That’s because, even though this was a special order, you wouldn’t have made it without having that vendor’s inventory in your case. So the inventory did make you money — and that’s the performance standard we’re trying to find. (However, if you have to order the wedding band from a different vendor, let’s call him Vendor K, whose tattered catalog you have on hand for such situations, you should not list that sale as Showcase Sales. Instead, it should go under Special Orders/Department WB.)  

This is the best way of finding out how a category is performing from you. To show you how misleading figures could be if you organize your books any other way, take the following situation as an example: If you stock 24 vendor “A” bands and with those showcase sales and special ordering from that vendor you sell a total of 18 bands in a year, the turn would be low — you sold less than you stocked.


But if you lump all wedding band sales into one single category called “Wedding Bands” (WB), the sale of an additional 30 special-order bands from that tattered catalog you keep pulling out will make the WB department look like it sold 48 bands (18 + 30) and you’d think your investment with wedding bands, and particularly Vendor A, was a good one. It wasn’t. You’d probably be better off to drop Vendor A’s line and stock Vendor K instead. Or maybe get out of the wedding-band business altogether!  

Next month, we’ll dive into this even further. We’ll continue to talk about how you actually enter your sales income into QuickBooks. It doesn’t come from enter the Visa/MasterCard entries either! That’s money — not sales. Those are two totally different things.

David Geller is an author and consultant to jewelry-store owners on store management and profitability. E-mail him at

[span class=note]This story is from the February 2005 edition of INSTORE[/span]



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David Geller

What You Can Learn About Turn from Clothing and Furniture Stores

Hint: Turn more, earn more.




THERE ARE REALLY only three important numbers in a retail store: gross profit dollars, inventory on hand, and inventory turn. So who’s better at managing money among these three retailers?

Store                         Gross Profit %
Jewelry                      42.6%
Furniture                  45.0%
Clothing                    46.5%

Darn close, aren’t they? The grass isn’t so green on the other side after all. Or is it?

Let’s look at inventory turn, which means how many times a year an item sells. (These numbers are from stores doing “pretty well.”)

Store                            Turn            Days in the Store
Jewelry                   1.4                       260
Furniture               3.5                       104
Clothing                 4.3                       84

A clothing store won’t keep a shirt/suit/jacket/blouse in the store more than three to four months. They will heavily discount it at that point to get it out the door; they don’t just “squash” merchandise closer together to show more like jewelers do.

Furniture stores work the same way. They have a natural problem: available floor space. The biggest reason for high turn in a furniture store was told to me by a furniture store owner: “Where am I going to store an extra 100 mattresses?”

Clothing stores get rid of their merchandise every quarter. Furniture stores get rid of their inventory every four months, and a good jeweler turns their merchandise a little over once a year. But most jewelers I meet have had their total merchandise for two-and-a-half to four years! This causes terrible cash flow and piles of debt.

If you buy jewelry in January, it should sell at least once by Christmas; that would be a turn of 1.0. If it stays until after Christmas, discount it or give a spiff to the sales staff to unload it, or even return it to your vendor and exchange it.


If it is still there in 18 months, scrap it. That’s what clothing and furniture stores do.

Let me show you the money-making power of turn. All three stores are going to buy an item for $200. For a jeweler, this might be earrings; for a clothing store, a nice jacket; and for a furniture store, it might be a chair. In the table below you can see the cost, profit margin in dollars, and what that brings in for total product dollars in a year.

Keeping an item long-term is a detriment. Even if someone buys it three years from now, you should have had that $207 in profit for each of the three years, totaling $621 brought into the store (not the measly $163.35 you would make by holding it three years).

When it’s over a year old, most things need to be disposed of and replaced. Maybe your customers just aren’t buying what you have in stock. Change that!

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David Geller

Here Are a Few Tips You Haven’t Seen to Make the Most of Your Bridal Custom Designs

They’re simple yet brilliant.




IT’S 2019, AND it’s not your daddy’s jewelry store anymore. No more high margins on diamonds. Where’s the money now? The mounting.

Keystone is the goal, and many get it on the mounting, but comparison shopping can make it difficult. That said, the really big problem with selling from the showcase is the amount of inventory you must carry.

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On the other hand, custom designing an engagement ring has many advantages:

  • Higher profit margins
  • You pay for the item after you’ve collected money from the customer.
  • The customer feels like they are directing the process rather than being “sold.”
  • If you share the process of designing their ring with the customer, they will likely share with their friends and family. It’ll be on social media, texts and emails.
  • You can adjust which components go into the ring to more fit their budget.
  • Selling from the showcase has a closing ratio of 30 percent in most stores, but custom design has a closing ratio of 70-80 percent.

The downside? Someone must know how to design the ring, how it comes together and pricing. Training is essential, or having someone specific to sell the ring and lead the customer through the process. Figuring out how to price the item requires particular skills.

Here are some additional tips to make the most of your custom design process:

  • While designing the ring, if you use CAD/CAM, take a snapshot of the model on the screen and send it to the customer, saying something like, “Well, Jim has gotten started on your beautiful design.” If you hand-carve the wax or mill it, take a picture and send by text or email. Same goes for the casting process and another of the jeweler finishing up the ring.
  • When appropriate, send out a handwritten thank-you note.
  • Go to Office Depot and buy a pack of 100 sheets of do-it-yourself business cards. Make yourself a master blank company business card with no logo, just everything else about your store. Take a good picture of their new ring and paste it on the card, then print a sheet of 10 and have it in the envelope when you deliver the ring.

After they “ooh and aah” over the ring, tell them, “I’m glad you love it. You know, we have more customers come in from referrals than anything else and would love for you to refer family and friends. Here are some of our cards.”

Then plop them down on the showcase face up.

They will be so excited that they will not only place one on their refrigerator door, they’ll give them out to friends and show everyone how their ring is on “my jeweler’s business card.”

Isn’t this a fun business?

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David Geller

Close More Sales, Courtesy of David Geller’s Uncle Irv

These four “tricks” from an old sales pro will help you make more money in your store.




MY UNCLE IRV WAS the No. 1 car salesperson for every single dealership he ever worked for. When he retired in 1987, he was the No. 1 Jaguar salesman in the United States. Here are some tips I learned from Uncle Irv that will help you make more sales today.


My Uncle Irv had a Rolodex, and while the salesmen on the floor waited for a “hot one,” Uncle Irv was calling his previous customers to see if:

  • They had friends looking for a car.
  • Their lease was up and it was time to buy.
  • They were getting tired of the older model he sold them years ago.

He made appointments while the rest sat around and waited.

Tip from Uncle Irv: Call your customers twice a year to just say “hi.” Contact them or their spouse about milestone dates for gift ideas.


Uncle Irv fought in the Philippines, and at age 26, he was considered an “old soldier.” He told me they were preparing to go to battle and a 19 year-old started to cry. The sergeant came to the private and asked, “What’s wrong?”

“I’m scared, Sarge. I don’t want to go.”

The sergeant replied, “You don’t have to go, son. You just can’t stay here!”

In the 80s, I almost went bankrupt. Uncle Irv told me this story and said, “David, you just can’t stay here where you are now.” So, I got up enough gumption, fired half of my 16 employees, started over, developed the price book, and a year later, started to make it back.

Tip from Uncle Irv: You can’t keep doing things the way you have been. Times are changing and you must change, too.


When Uncle Irv was the sales manager of a big Chevy dealership here, he had to motivate and train the sales staff, but also give them confidence when times were tough. You’ve had the same feeling: it’s getting close to having to make payroll, funds are low and you’ll take any price to get money into the bank account. Uncle Irv didn’t want to have the salesmen look at a walk-in customer as their last meal ticket and give away the farm.

Out of his own pocket, he gave each salesman three $100 bills to carry around at all times. He wanted them to feel like they didn’t need the sale, so that they wouldn’t discount so much.

Tip from Uncle Irv: In one way or another, throw money and jewels at your sales staff. Make them feel and look richer, and they will sell better. I used to let my staff buy or custom-make any piece of jewelry at 10 percent above our cost and take it out of their paycheck over six payroll periods.


Uncle Irv told me that many salespeople are afraid of silence. He said, “Tell the customer the price and then shut the hell up!”

Scenario: You tell the customer $1,495 for the ring, and then there’s silence. Twenty seconds go by and you’re thinking “OMG, they aren’t saying anything. They are going to bolt or go online. Maybe I should give them a discount; I need this sale.”

Meanwhile, the customer is thinking, “Hmm, let me see — rent is due Friday, car note next week, summer camp dues in three weeks. No — I’m OK, I can do this.”

The first person who breaks the silence will give up their money to the person on the other side of the showcase.

Uncle Irv also brought his lunch every day. He told me, “I can’t afford a $500 hamburger.” (You’ll get it.)

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