Columns Here’s How to Address the Impact of COVID-19 in Your Store From financials to staffing to marketing, these are the steps to take. Published 7 months ago on March 16, 2020 By Sherry Smith Share Tweet COVID-19 CONTINUES to spread at a precipitous rate, dominating the news and potentially impacting the positive sales growth trend the independent retailers have been enjoying. Do we close? Do we stay open? What’s the correct and appropriate action retailers should take? Facing these very difficult questions can be overwhelming and stressful to say the least. We don’t have a crystal ball and we have no way to project the overall impact of COVID-19. Podcasts Maximizing Your Business Potential Is Easier Than Ever With the Zing™ Platform by Jewelers Mutual® Group Sponsored Podcasts Find Out Why So Many American Jewelers Are Loving Thai Jewelry (and Gemstones) JimmyCast Podcast: New Jewelry Store Owner Wilson Lin on Why He’s Opening This Year, of All Years Here’s what we currently do know. February sales growth was up 17 percent for independents in the US, and sales for the last 21 days (February 19 – March 10) are showing a 9 percent increase in gross sales. The first 7 days of March also showed a 17 percent increase in gross sales. However, other markets are feeling the impact, as evidenced in diamond market expert Edahn Golan’s March 4, 2020 column, “Lack of Confidence Hurts Diamond Prices,” which shows an adverse impact on diamond pricing both in January and February due to the coronavirus. Although it hit the US later, we would be naïve to believe that the US will be fully insulated from any potential adverse effects of COVID-19. However, there are things retailers can do that will be beneficial now and in the future, including laying out a contingency plan for these types of anomalies. Focus on the things that you can control. Advertisement Financials Assess your slush fund. How many months of operating costs can you cover? If you don’t have one, it’s never too late to start. I used to take 10 percent of every deposit and move it into a “rainy day” account. I cannot tell you how often that came in handy, or just how reassuring it was to watch it grow. If 10 percent seems too high, start with 5 percent or less, but start. Staffing Is it possible to set up remote working infrastructures for some of your team members, specifically your back of house team? Basic bookkeeping or running reports, even clienteling can be done remotely. Remember, the onerous duty is on you, the owner, to ensure the safety and well-being of your employees. Customers Set their expectations. This virus is affecting all industries and that includes factories, travel, shipping, etc. If you’re working on special orders, you need to be fully transparent with your customers and communicate these potential delays. Have your salespeople utilize their devices to Facetime and Skype with their customers and get as much business completed remotely as possible and with as little contact as necessary. Store Hours Assess whether it would be prudent to temporarily reduce your hours and/or adjust the number of team members scheduled during these hours. While we want to have as little impact as possible to our staff’s wages, it is better to make minor adjustments along the way to ensure our operating costs align with the revenues than to wait until the situation is dire and may ultimately require more extreme actions. Marketing Send out an email blast to your customers to let them know your mission is to continue to service them and fulfill their needs while mitigating potential health risks. Let them know you’ve taken steps to keep your environment clean and sanitized. At the risk of sounding condescending, strategically place hand sanitizers throughout your showroom. Ensure your staff is using it before they show jewelry to a customer. Consider doing the elbow bump instead of shaking hands. People are showing a fear of crowded spaces. Taking steps to assuage their concerns will demonstrate that you’re being proactive and that you care about your people, your customers, and your community. Advertisement Related Topics: COVID-19customer serviceFeaturedfinancesmanagementMarketing click to Comment(Comment) Up Next 10 Tips to a More Useful and Customer-Driven Online Presence Don't Miss You Don’t Have to Be Next to the Customer to Close a Sale Sherry Smith Sherry Smith is the director of business development for The Edge Retail Academy. Continue Reading Advertisement SPONSORED VIDEO Wilkerson Testimonials A Liquidation Sale during a Pandemic? Wilkerson Showed Them the Way For 25 years, Stafford Jewelers of Cincinnati, Ohio, was THE place to go for special gifts, engagement diamonds, high-end Swiss watch brands — in other words, the crème de la crème of fine jewelry. But this summer, the Stafford family was ready to retire. So, they chose Wilkerson to help them close up shop. “One of the biggest concerns was having the sale in the middle of COVID,” says Director of Stores Michelle Randle. Wilkerson gave the Stafford team plenty of ideas as well as safety guidelines, which they closely followed. “All of the employees felt safe, the customers coming in the door felt safe and we did a lot of business,” says Randle. How much business? “The inventory flew,” she says. Translation: They sold millions and millions of dollars-worth of merchandise. Randle calls it, “an incredible experience.” Would she recommend Wilkerson to other retailers who are thinking of thinning their inventories or retiring? “Everyone got more than what they expected out of the sale. You have to hire Wilkerson. They’re amazing.” You may like Want To Know How Your Website Is Doing? Track These Metrics Planning Holiday Work Flow, Updating Online Listings, And More Manager’s To-Do Items For November 3 Guidelines to Focus Your Digital Marketing Strategy — and See Results Promoted Headlines JYE’S International is Seen in All the Best Cases The Sylvie Collection Knows What Women Want Sylvie Collection From Chain to Casting, National Chain Group Does It All National Chain Group Advertisement Latest Trending Videos Press Releases2 hours ago New PGI-Commissioned Study Offers Retailers Insights Into How to Ease Customers’ Concerns Over COVID During the Holiday Season Press Releases5 hours ago Accutron Lights Up Empire State Building Celebrating 60th Anniversary Press Releases5 hours ago Industry Experts Gather for Collaboration on Ethics and Sustainability in Gold and Diamond Enterprise Press Releases5 hours ago Analytical Gemology and Jewelry Head Says GIA Is “Wrong” to Grade Lab-Grown Diamonds the Same as Mined” Big Survey9 hours ago 25% of Jewelers Are Drinking More This Year Because of COVID-19 Big Survey2 weeks ago Jewelers Plan to Vote for This Presidential Candidate on Nov. 3 Benchmarks4 weeks ago 13 Jewelry Store Shop Areas That Put Bench Jewelers Center Stage Products4 weeks ago The Overlooked Jewelry Trend Started By Princess Beatrice At Her Wedding Press Releases4 weeks ago 9-Carat Diamond Found at Crater of Diamonds State Park Headlines3 weeks ago CNN Delves Into Lab-Grown Diamond Debate Sponsored Content1 week ago A Liquidation Sale during a Pandemic? Wilkerson Showed Them the Way Sponsored Webinars2 weeks ago Podium Presents: 5 Crucial Customer Experience Improvements to Make as You Reopen Jimmy Degroot2 weeks ago Video: How to Smooth Out the Chaos in Your Jewelry Store and Create Harmony Instead Jim Ackerman4 weeks ago Video: Don’t Be Afraid to Run Multiple Jewelry Marketing Promotions at Once Jim Ackerman1 month ago Video: How to Spend Your Jewelry-Business Advertising Budget the Right Way Advertisement Advertisement SubscribeBULLETINS INSTORE helps you become a better jeweler with the biggest daily news headlines and useful tips. (Mailed 5x per week.) Facebook Latest Comments Most Popular Big Survey1 week ago These Are the Top Watch Brands of 2020, According to INSTORE’s Big Survey Big Survey1 week ago The Guy Who Bought 13 Rings, and Other Tales of Serial Engagements Photo Gallery2 days ago 12 Photos That Show Off the Wow Factor at Thollot Diamonds & Fine Jewelry in Colorado Big Survey1 week ago COVID-19 Has Some Silver Linings for Jewelers — Here Are the Upsides Big Survey6 days ago 7 Out of 10 Jewelers Surveyed Said They Do Not Want to Add a Brand Sponsored Content1 week ago A Liquidation Sale during a Pandemic? Wilkerson Showed Them the Way Big Survey4 days ago What’s Wrong with Millennials? Here’s What Jewelers Say Sponsored Content1 week ago Why Have 1,800+ Jewelers Switched to BriteCo?