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David Geller

David Geller: “I Feel Your Pain”

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David Geller: “I Feel Your Pain”

Practice stories to tell customers to explain your value.

Published in the April 2014 issue

Two jewelers recently contacted me about dealing with silver customers.

The first had a customer bring in a silver ring for sizing and her response was that the repair charge “was more than I paid for the ring.”

The second jeweler quoted a custom design price of $150 for a silver pendant and chain. The customer’s response was the pendant should cost about $20 and the chain $50.

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I suggested the silver-sizing jeweler tell a story like one I would have used. It goes like this:

“My dad owned a Cadillac and he was frugal. The Caddy needed a new alternator so he bought one at Pep Boys for $300. He took it to his favorite car mechanic, who charged him $150 to install it. Wouldn’t you know it, the alternator in my Honda also died so I went to Pep Boys and got one for a Honda for $75 and then went to Dad’s mechanic. He wanted $150 to install my alternator too. I said to him: ‘But the alternator cost me only $75 and you’re charging me double that just to install it!’

“He said to me: ‘Boy, it takes two hours to install it in your dad’s Caddy or in your Honda, and all I’m selling is time and expertise.’

At staff meetings have everyone share one story so they can practice it openly. They’ll then be ready when the time comes.

“And so, ma’am, that’s all I’m selling you today: time and expertise. I have worked on jewelry valued at $100,000 and have been doing this for 25 years. I might be overqualified to size your silver ring, but I promise you that you won’t be able to see where it’s been sized, and that’s because of my expertise and my $25,000 laser welder. It is made to perfectly size silver rings because it won’t harm the metal, stones or the finish and you won’t see where it’s been sized. It would be my pleasure to do this for you but it takes me longer to size a silver ring than a gold ring. If you do take it someplace else, please make sure they size your ring with a laser machine or they might ruin it.” (A little fear never hurts — and yes, I know you can size a ring with a torch for those who don’t have a laser machine.)

I then posted this on the Polygon jewelers network and another jeweler commented that he uses the example of his dry-cleaner: Whether he takes in a $75 jacket or a $350 jacket, he is still charged the same amount.

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On to the silver-pendant jeweler. This is what I’d say:

“Mrs. Jones, I agree with you; it’s a lot of money. But as you can see, we’re not able to find what you want at a lower price. I had the same problem a few years ago.

“In our bedroom we placed our TV in a caddy-corner spot so we both could watch Jay Leno at night. We went to Ikea and there were plenty of cabinets to hold the TV and our DVDs for under $250 but none were the right size nor matched the color of our bedroom furniture.

“So we had a cabinet guy build it for us for $700 and we absolutely love it. I cringed when he told me the price, then I got over it because it was exactly what we wanted and I have not thought about the price since.

“Allow me to make this for you and you’ll love it forever and you’ll think about the price one minute and then love it from this day on.”

The custom jeweler told me he didn’t get the job but he was not worried about it. It’s impossible to sell everybody who comes into the store, and this job wasn’t worth his time.

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I’m sure you have your own stories of how and why you decided to pay more than you had planned for a purchase. Use those stories with customers. Spend time being empathetic. At staff meetings have everyone share one story so they can practice it openly. They’ll then be ready when the time comes.

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