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David Geller

David Geller: Keeping Your Promises

If you’re having problems finishing repairs on time, says David Geller, it’s time to get organized.

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MANY A STORE owner will walk up to a jeweler’s workbox, see jobs that are overdue and explode. “Why aren’t these jobs finished? The dates are clearly marked. We’re always behind.” The truth is you’re not always behind — but even being late 5 percent of the time is not acceptable for many stores.

I want to share with you what we did and what I’ve picked up from others. In the beginning I wanted to promise “one week” for repairs. My standard was unattainable, we were always late. My shop foreman wanted to promise the repairs when they could be ready, not when I wanted them ready. On any given day, we’d have 450 jobs in house. We’d do over 9,000 jobs per year. That’s a lot of confusion. And much of it was custom design.

So per our foreman’s suggestion we created a new procedure. At Office Depot, we bought a white writing board, about 18” x 24.” On it, we listed our four main procedures in rub-off letters, leaving a blank space underneath. The board was hung on a wall in the showroom, and read:

  • Repairs Will Be Ready On
  • Wax Views Will Be Ready On
  • Custom Jobs Will Be Ready On
  • Watch Repair Estimates Will Be Ready On

In the spaces underneath each procedure, we wrote the dates with a felt tip pen. Where did we get the dates? We asked the foreman. He had a feel for workload and we used those dates. Every morning we updated the dates. It was easy for the sales staff to just point and say to a customer: “Your ring will be ready on the 23rd.” Instead of whining, customers just said “OK”. Our on-time delivery increased by 75 percent, resulting in lots more happy customers. For people who wanted their repairs done sooner, we offered while-you-wait service at 50 percent higher prices. (A whopping 40 percent of our customers took that service when offered.)

To keep up with this we used a program called “Jewelry Shopkeeper,” which printed a report for us every day of all jobs due in the next three days, sorted by the jeweler. We gave the list to the five jewelers and had them check off ones that would be late. We then shuffled those to other available jewelers or called the customer and let them know the work would require another day or two. We used a red magic marker to flag these jobs as super-urgent.

Another thing we did was to help the jewelers prioritize their work. They would look at 50 jobs in a box and say “Gee, I can only do what I can do.” You go to the box and say “Hey! There are four jobs promised for today, what gives?”

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To help the jewelers check their workload more readily, we placed a different-colored sticker in the upper left hand corner of each envelope to indicate the day the job was due. Different colors for different days. So you might place a yellow “THUR” sticker on all jobs you wanted done by close on Thursday, or green “MON” sticker for jobs that should be completed by Monday. This is not the promise date. That might be Friday or Tuesday. Day done by!

The stickers come from Uline, a shipping packaging company. Call for their catalog at (800) 295-5510 or visit their website at www.uline.com. A box of 500 stickers for a single day is $18.

One store I visited had a promise date system that was almost flawless. The one thing I didn’t like about it was a jeweler had to decide each promise date for each job. But they were virtually never late. Since they did a lot of custom work, it also was a time saver for them.

They had on the wall one of those large paper desk calendars that people used to use before their desk had a computer monitor on top. Every job came to this one jeweler who estimated how long it would take to do the job. He then wrote on the calendar on the date it was promised the customers name, envelope number and time it would take (example: .5 hours).

When a day’s work load added up to 5.5 hours, they stopped promising for that day and went to the next one. I always figured in my price book that an eight-hour-a-day jeweler could only do 5.5 hours worth of work, considering interruptions, bathroom breaks, etc.

When they took a job in for a wax view, the wax view date was assigned based upon hours in a workable day and time to make a wax view. Once the customer viewed the wax they went to the calendar to see what was the soonest date that had two hours available to perform the job.

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They were virtually always on time.

Now it’s time to get back to work. Hope you’re having a great season!

This story is from the December 2003 edition of INSTORE.

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 [email protected].

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