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David Geller

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MANY STORE OWNERS are afraid of paying their staff on commission. The truth is, a heavy commission or bonus plan will actually cost you less than a salary plan and has a great chance of paying the staff more. Your costs as a percentage could drop and sales dollars could increase.

Start by giving your sales staff a taste of how a bonus plan can pay out for them. Like most jewelers, you probably have too much old inventory. Take a large sampling of jewelry that’s over 18 months old, clean the pieces and place them in a special case just for them. Put a pretty sign in the case that reads: “Extreme Value Showcase.”

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Give discounts of 25 to 60 percent off. The older the item, the greater the discount.

Give discounts of 25 to 60 percent off. The older the item, the greater the discount. Give the sales staff 7 percent of the selling price. Look at it as a deeper discount. You’ve got to make the pie sweet enough to make it worth their while.

I’ve seen many jewelers be cheap and give only 2 percent. If the staff sells a $500 item, 2 percent is 10 bucks. It costs 10 bucks to eat at Subway, with chips and a drink. It’s just not an incentive.

If possible, have the bookkeeper issue separate payroll checks and hand out just the bonus checks at a sales meeting. You’ll find the staff will start showing the extreme values we have for our customers more often.


Don’t worry about not selling the new items; they’re pretty and they always sell. This is about getting money back out of old inventory.

As you grow more comfortable with your bonus plan, you can expand it by adding extra incentives:

  1. You get 7 percent of everything sold in the extreme value case.
  2. Anyone who sells $10,000 (you decide on your number) in total sales from the case in a month will get an extra $500 bonus check. (That’s only an extra 5 percent for such a great feat.)
  3. End of the month, the single largest sale from the case, give 10 percent commission on that sale rather than 7 percent.
  4. The person with the most quantity of sales from the case (units sold, no matter the price) gets dinner at Longhorn Steak House.
  5. You could even try this one, which requires some attention on your end. Keep track of everyone showing an item from that extreme value case, whether they sell it or not. Give the staff $1 every time they show a piece and the customer tries it on. Pay this out once a week in cash, especially at a meeting.

Soon, your staff will love bonuses, and you can try a heavier commission or bonus system.

Higher Holiday Sales

In fact, want to increase sales a lot this Christmas? Go out and buy two flat screen TVs: one for $600 and another for $300. The $600 one would be a good sized one, the $300 one would work in the kitchen. Put these in your back area for the staff to see. Put a sign on the TVs:

  • Big TV: “Awarded to the staff member with the highest total sales during the season.”
    Smaller TV: “Awarded to the staff member with the second highest sales.”

See what kind of results that brings!

This story is from the October 2009 edition of INSTORE.




Moving Up — Not Out — with Wilkerson

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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