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Do You Or Don't You?

Have You Ever Had a Mentor? Here’s What Other Jewelers Said

More than half of jewelers find guidance somewhere.

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THIS MONTH’S QUESTION: Do you have (or have you ever had) a mentor? 

Yes: 55%

After being in business for two years, a customer, who was a retired businessman, stopped in to buy his wife a piece of jewelry. He said, “Why so glum?” I said that business was not very good. He said, “Why don’t you let me have a look at your financials?” I said OK. A week later, he came back and said, “You know, if you doubled your business, you still wouldn’t be making any money.” After that, he helped me work out pricing, marketing, and eventually helped me buy the building I operate out of and subsequently helped me buy other properties. I am eternally grateful to him. Ragnar Bertelsen, Ragnar Jewellers, Vancouver, British Columbia

  • I have had several over the years. One is an insurance agent that has helped me for over 30 years. I have studied why I enjoy spending time with him and have found it is the way he listens and values time with his clients. Don Bullock, Bullock’s Jewelry, Roswell, NM
  • My husband and I began the business 25 years ago. At that time, he had a mentor who encouraged him to go out on his own. He passed away in 2005 and I only recently hired someone to advise me on a better marketing strategy. I also worked with folks from the Small Business Alliance in 2013 on some goal-setting measures, which included remodeling the store. Wish I had done this sooner — it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done to grow this business. Jane Johnson, RM Johnson & Sons, Salem, VA
  • Abe Sherman. I’ve been a member of one of his Plexus groups and on Balance to Buy for years. Abe is a brilliant (if very opinionated, LOL) mentor to many independent jewelers. He is always there to help independent jewelers AND the vendors who serve them. In my opinion, any independent jeweler or vendor doing more then $500,000 per year in volume should be on Balanced to Buy; it will teach them so much about maintaining a profitable inventory. Dorothy Vodicka, The Gem Collection, Tallahassee, FL
  • It is my considered opinion that everyone is smarter than I am. I try to listen to others in the business all the time. My job is to discern what is applicable for me and what is not. Brian McCall, Midwest Jewelers and Estate Buyers, Zionsville, IN
  • This older (more “mature”) man is not involved in the jewelry industry, but he has helped me, on numerous occasions, to remain focused on what’s most important in my life: my relationship with my God and my wife. He is also trustworthy for me be able to share my hurts, hang-ups and bad habits without any fear of him gossiping anything I’ve told him to anyone. He is a trusted prayer-warrior in my times of need, and he reciprocates trust with me as well. Shannon Murphey, Murphey the Jeweler, Tyler, TX
  • I was introduced to Don Palmieri of GCAL (Gem Certification & Assurance Lab) through a mutual friend the first year of my career (1974) as a new and very young jewelry store owner. Throughout the years, Don has offered direction and advice in operating and growing my business. He always stressed continuing education, knowing your industry and sharing your knowledge. We’ve been friends all these years and continue to do business to this day, 42 years later. J. Dennis Petimezas, Watchmaker’s Diamonds & Jewelry, Johnstown, PA
  • Shane Decker has been our most consistent mentor. His guidance of our sales force is important, but what he offers the owner and management team is more valuable. He shows us where we can grow, what the steps are and what to monitor to maintain healthy systems. Megan Cooper, Blue Heron Jewelry, Poulsbo, WA
  • My father was killed in an armed robbery in the store when I was 18 in 1978. One of his friends, who didn’t know a lot about the jewelry business but was an excellent MERCHANT, taught me how to be a merchant and especially about customer service and how to treat people! I’ve never forgotten the lessons I learned from him, and I wouldn’t have a business if it weren’t for him! W.J. Smith III, Smith Jewelers, Franklin, VA
  • My dad was my mentor. Sadly, he passed away before he could impart all his bench wisdom. There is a locket hanging on my bench with a bit of his ashes in it. When I hit a hard job, I’ll tell dad I need inspiration. Usually we figure out a way to get the job done! Loann Stokes, Stokes Jewelry, Stillwater, MN
  • Yes, our mentor is through the Edge Retail Academy (shout out to Sherry!) and she has helped us in many ways, but the main ways are keeping our inventory fresh and flowing and keeping our stats and goals at the forefront. Our business has grown with her help. Everyone should work with a coach or mentor — outside perspective and emotionally detached professionals are valuable and help you see your business through a different lens. Whitney Lang, Burkes Fine Jewelers, Kilmarnock, VA
  • Jim Ackerman from Ascend Marketing was my “marketing coach” for a time. It truly made a difference in the way I approached our store’s marketing and increased business almost immediately. Customer traffic and cash flow both improved. Bill Warren, The Gold Mine, Hudson, NC

No: 45%

  • I would love one. Michael Cook, Walter J. Cook Jeweler, Paoli, PA
  • It would have been nice to have someone to bounce ideas off, or to warn me about making a big mistake (someone who knew something about leases). Mark Thomas Ruby, SunSpirit Designs, Loveland, CO
  • I would love to have a mentor! Unlike my husband, I did not grow up in jewelry, retail or have parents who were self-employed. I have been learning as I go. If I had someone that I could ask, “Sooo, how would you handle _______?” I would be in heaven. Shannon Lorenz, Michael & Son’s Jewelry, Reno, NV
  • I learned by doing and being thrown into the fray! A mentor would have helped. I read everything I could, and still do. Rosanne Kroen, Rosanne’s Diamonds & Gold, South Bend, IN

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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Do You Or Don't You?

Yes or No: Print Advertising for the Holidays?

Our Brain Squad weighs in.

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Yes: 54%

  • People look for jewelry at the holiday season more than other times. — Steve & Alice Wittels, Aljan Jewelers, Mahopac, NY
  • There are still people in our area who get the local daily paper. Demo probably 45 years and up. — Cindy Fuller, Fuller Designs, Poplar Bluff, MO
  • We have a clientele that encompasses all ages. Older clients still follow and advertise using traditional methods. We still have to do everything. — Jon Walp, Long Jewelers, Virginia Beach, VA
  • We have a weekly newspaper in our small town and we advertise every single week of the year. Ironically, our print ads are our most effective form of media. v Nicole Shannon, Keir Fine Jewelry, Whistler, BC
  • We receive co-op for some vendors. Seems more people are looking at print during the holidays. — Brenda Hefner, Oz’s Jewelers, Hickory, NC
  • Christmas catalog is the only print media that works for us. — Joe Thacker, Thacker Jewelry, Lubbock, TX
  • People still respond to print! Postcards, ads in popular local magazines. Some of our customer base is still not digital. — Kim Hatchell, Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC
  • We do very little in print. We focus more on direct mail, email blasts and social media. We feel that you just don’t get the bang for the buck with print today. — David Lindsay, Purdy’s Jewellery & Gems, Bobcaygeon, ON
  • I believe that you need to utilize all levels of marketing in today’s world. Print reaches an older generation that is not as comfortable with social media. As well. I believe that with social media at times, it feels like you are bombarded with ads. — Stacey Gemici-Saunders, Gelmici Jewellers, Edson, AB
  • I only run print ads in November and December, with the bulk in November because we are a custom shop. I cut print advertising by 70 percent this year, and our numbers are running neck-and-neck with last year. Social media brings customers to us far better than print ad ever did. — Jo Goralski, The Jewelry Mechanic, Oconomowoc, WI
  • I use it to feature a specific product (i.e., diamond stud earrings) or some other item that I may stock in anticipation of a trend for the holidays. Small ads as a reminder. — Murphy McMahon, Murphy McMahon & Co., Kalispell, MT
  • Though it has lost its effectiveness, our older customers are almost exclusively receptive to print advertising. — Steven Wardle, Forest Beach Design, Chatham, MA
  • Even though the Houston Chronicle only has a circulation of about 7 percent of the population, that readership is a core demo for the holiday jewelry buyer: male, educated, employed, disposable income … and it provides an immediacy that no other media replicates. — Rex Solomon, Houston Jewelry, Houston, TX

No: 46%

  • Doesn’t work well in my area. — Laura Pool, Laura’s Jewelry Designs, St. Robert, MO
  • Diminishing results for last decade. Finally redistributed entire ad budget. Switched to social media. Still doing direct mail but no newspapers, shoppers guides, etc. — Robert Borneman, Diamond Jewelers, Centereach, NY
  • Too much money and no guarantee to increase sales. — Tommy Thobe, The Village Gem, Perry Hall, MD
  • I do not. I think billboards, social media and email marketing are much more cost effective, and I like the idea that you can target a specific audience. — Michael Kanoff, Michael’s Jewelers, Yardley, PA
  • Not this year; will be doing more radio. — Cathy Graves, Ellis Jewelers, Frankfort, IN
  • Digital works better for us. — Tim Sherrer, Lou’s Jewelry, Mobile, AL
  • Circulation in the newspaper business has decreased, and those reading already have most of their jewelry wardrobe. — Laurie Cusher, Hyde Park Jeweler, Hyde Park, NY
  • It stopped working. — Ken A. Apland, Apland Inc., Hood River, OR
  • I used to send direct mail. I am planning not to this year. Emails are working; why waste the dollars. — Varsenne Massoyan, Massoyan Jewelers, Old Tappan, NJ

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

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Do You Or Don't You?

Try To Sell Wedding Bands With the Engagement Ring? Our Brain Squad Is Almost Split

Slightly more jewelers say ‘don’t do it.’

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THIS MONTH’S QUESTION: Do you try to broach the wedding band sale immediately after closing the engagement ring sale?

Yes: 45%

  • We offer a credit based on the amount of the engagement ring purchased towards wedding bands. We mainly let the customers know that, and if they want to look, we do. — Rick Sanders, Sanders Jewelers, Gainesville, FL
  • Actually I mention it before we close the engagement sale: “What band will we be making to match?” — Russell Criswell, Vulcan’s Forge, Kansas City, MO
  • We offer a coupon for money off both their wedding bands when an engagement ring is sold. It does well for us, too. — Beth Cevasco, Scott’s Custom Jewelers, Fairlawn, OH
  • Many years ago, I read that statistically, people don’t even buy their bands from the same store as they buy their engagement ring. From that time on, I’ve always at least planted the seed and often offer an incentive to have the clients come back. After all, you’ve already done the heavy lifting. Why not finish the job? — Jon Walp, Long Jewelers, Virginia Beach, VA
  • I like to show all the options available when the engagement ring is here and the customer is excited. Also, many guys don’t necessarily think about rings for themselves, and they start to have fun looking. It’s finally their turn! — Robin Lies, Burnells Creative Gold, Wichita, KS
  • They are in a happy, excited mood and still in the buying mood. — Paul Reiniger, Reiniger Jewelers, Swansea, IL
  • Why … to educate, to create satisfaction with our product quality/care/maintenance plans, to create additional ring sales and to create lifelong customers/friends and referrals. I always tell people that they want to consider the type of band that will be worn with the ring (integrated, contour, stacked … ), that guys tend to get a few alternative bands for fashion, and that we offer a Tough Love silicone band to each of them complimentary as we’re describing best care for fine jewelry. — Jill Keith, Enchanted Jewelry, Danielson, CT
  • Always looking for the add-on sale because if you don’t ask, you will not always get it. — Rick Nichols, Nassau Jewelry, Fernandina Beach, FL
  • If they decide on a ring that does not have a matching wedding band, then they need to start thinking about having one made right now if they are going to consider more than one ring. I have had customers come in a week before the wedding and want a band that will have to be custom-made. We can’t usually help them at that late date. Even if they don’t purchase now, they need to be thinking about a band for the guy and the girl. — Murphy McMahon, Murphy McMahon & Co., Kalispell, MT

No: 55%

  • I don’t ever pressure my customers to buy anything. I don’t like it and would never do such a thing to them. — Craig C. Curtis, Belfast Jewelry, Belfast, ME
  • Only if we are custom-making an engagement ring do we approach the band sale at that time. We have found in our area that an engagement might take a year or few, and we do not want to push the issue and lose the engagement sale. — Tim Wright, Simply Unique Jewelry Designs, Yorktown, VA
  • They are usually exhausted from the decision-making, if they were selecting as a couple. If he’s making the decision alone, HIS band is the last thing on his mind! The exception is for same-sex couples. We look for both together — it’s cool! — Debbie Fox, Fox Fine Jewelry, Ventura, CA
  • Still in shock from selling the engagement ring. — Bill Elliott, Ross Elliott Jewelers, Terre Haute, IN
  • Why ruin the moment? If it needs to be resized or they bring it in for cleaning, then we will bring the wedding bands up. — Donald Killelea, Killelea Jewelers, Midlothian, IL
  • Too pushy. If you’ve done a good job, the chances are high you’ll get an opportunity down the road. — Bob Goodman, Robert Goodman Jewelers, Zionsville, IN
  • We always let the buyer know that they will receive a discount on their bands as a reward for buying the engagement from us. When we meet the bride-to-be is when we really drive that point home. The guy has forgotten every detail as soon as his feet hit the curb. We feel it’s better to let him get out of the store feeling excited about what he’s about to do and follow up with the bride-to-be a few weeks later. We have over 90 percent conversion on wedding band sales to clients who bought their engagement from us. — Mark Snyder, Snyder Jewelers, Weymouth, MA
  • I should. I get lazy. — Steven B. Goldfarb, Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler, Bellevue, WA
  • Relationships take time to form and evolve. Things should happen in gradual steps. First maybe the engagement ring, next would be a birthday or holiday gift. I should also see her a few times for a cleaning where we can talk about the wedding planning process and than bring up wedding bands, wedding gifts and something borrowed. — Christopher Sarraf, Nuha Jewelers, Plainview, NY

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

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Do You Or Don't You?

Discounts For Cash Payments? 6 Out of 10 Brain Squad Members Say Yes

Most jewelers will offer at least a small discount for dollars.

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Yes: 60%

  • If cash, the discount can be 4 percent, but usually only offered if the customer keeps insisting on a discount. — Spencer K., Sheridan, WY
  • 3 percent. It’s what I would pay to run a credit card. — Kelly J., Sammamish, WA
  • No matter how low I go on a sale, I always leave 2-4 percent for a credit card. If a client offers cash (or a check), I will give them 1-3 percent off, depending on the item. The credit card companies have created a truly dependent society. Everyone uses them for every purchase. Clients do not even KNOW that there is a fee to the vendor! We receive our 1099 every year from Mastercard/Visa and we could pay another employee a full salary with what we pay them just to accept cards. It’s crazy and nobody even knows! — Mark S., Weymouth, MA
  • Courtesy 10 percent if asked for. — Gordon L., Santa Fe, NM
  • With repeat customers, I like to offer them a discount as an incentive to keep coming back. — James S., McMinnville, TN
  • Usually 10-15 percent, if at all. Not too often, but some customers are insistent, and it’s not usually the millennials. — Cathy M., Austin, TX
  • If they ask, I’ll give them up to 20 percent off of in-case items, never any discount for custom or repairs. — David P., Durham, NC
  • Depends on how often the customer buys from me and how long I’ve had the piece. Maybe 30 percent off. I have a month-long clearance in September, which most of my customers wait for. — Laura P., St. Robert, MO
  • 2-5 percent. I’d rather give it to my customers than the credit card company. — David E., Tacoma, WA
  • I offer my credit card discount if someone is haggling and only for dollars. A check will not do. — Paula D., Asheville, NC
  • When someone negotiates in cash, I am happy to offer them the 3 percent discount for what it would cost me in credit card fees. However, I always respond to them by saying, “I look terrible in orange” (meaning going to jail in an orange jumpsuit), and we pause and chuckle a moment, and then I further explain that I will still be giving you a receipt for this purchase, on which I will need to include sales tax. Reminding them that sales tax is “collected” for our state … and I am obligated to collect it. It is NOT my money. Most of the time, they understand and are grateful for the additional 3 percent. — Rita W., Rocky Mount, NC
  • 20-30 percent. No choice. Everything is available everywhere for cheaper. — Christopher S., Plainview, NY
  • The discount depends when I purchased the item and at what gold market I paid. Some items will get a 30-35 percent savings. — Anonymous

No: 40%

  • The customers who are offering cash are usually expecting big discounts for cash, and that is not our business model. It all goes in the register and on the books, so our savings are less than 2 percent, so they usually plunk down a card. — Alan L., Cape May, NJ
  • We stick with one price for everyone … cash, charge, rich or poor, frequent flier or new customer. Our egalitarian mindset may cost us a sale every so often, but in the long run, our clients have learned that we are not desperate and that they receive the best value. “You can get money anywhere, but this one-of-a-kind piece … only here. Sorry, we don’t discount.” — Steven W., Chatham, MA
  • In order to offer a discount, you need to add dollars to the price up front. When you do this, where do you stop and who do you offer this to? It is kinda like a stripper: they have to put on the garments before they can remove them. I know that this comparison is crude, but think about it and determine what kind of business person you want to be. My pricing scheme is to charge all customers the same and not play favorites. I know that I lose some customers because I don’t give discounts, but I have very loyal customers that would abandon me if I were to offer discounts. If you explain that you price your product correctly to start with, most customers understand. — Ed M., Brainerd, MN
  • Never. Our credit card merchant agreements state that it is against the contracts to offer a discount for a payment that is other than having the customer use the respective credit card. Additionally, our bank charges our company a cash handling charge and we have to fill out a lot of paperwork when people pay with cash. Bottom line: the price is what it is. — Andrea R., El Dorado Hills, CA

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

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