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From left to right: TreyBailey, Kevin Reilly, Craig Rottenberg

From left to right: Trey Bailey, Kevin Reilly, Craig Rottenberg

WE’VE DISSECTED THAT,” says Trey Bailey, CEO of Bailey’s Fine Jewelry in North Carolina. “Sometimes the engagement ring comes from where the guy lives, from his family jeweler, and then the mom and sisters of the girl are excited and they go wedding band shopping at her hometown jeweler.

That’s part of it.

“I’ve heard this theory, too, that there is a lot of work and research on the engagement ring, and when that’s done, they might be traveling somewhere or in the mall and the girl decides to stop and try on wedding bands, and sees something she likes and just buys it.”

Although there’s no silver bullet to selling the band, Bailey’s offers 15 percent off a wedding band with the purchase of an engagement ring and has bridal and engagement ring sales, during which bands are sold. But more important than any of that is knowing the client, staying in touch and using the CRM system. “The strategy at Bailey’s is to be proactive,” Bailey says.

Of course, independent jewelers with good customer service skills are in a prime position to pick up new clients who were not satisfied with their engagement ring shopping experience.

Tom R. Nelson of Nelson Jewelry in Spencer, IA, for example, is amazed, he says, by how many people buy bands from him who didn’t even shop his store for the engagement ring. He attributes that to poor customer service elsewhere. “Chain stores seem awesome until they actually make the purchase,” he says.

During a webinar called “Unleashing the Untapped Power of Wedding Bands,” sponsored by the Plumb Club and Platinum Guild International, PGI’s Kevin Reilly says that since, according to a Knot.com survey, 89 percent of engaged couples plan to purchase wedding bands, it’s nearly a guaranteed sale.

“Why would we as an industry ignore a guaranteed sale?” he says. “The engagement ring is all about the promise, but the wedding bands are all about the commitment. Together, these are the two pieces of jewelry that symbolize the most important relationship in a couple’s lives.”

Here’s How to Make Sure That Engagement Ring Client Returns for the Wedding Band

Severine Ferrari of Engagement.com believes that the issue often is a question of timing. “That’s where there is a blind spot in the industry,” she says. “If you wait too long, then there’s no budget left,” she says.

Craig Rottenberg, president of Boston-based Long’s Jewelers, says that although some customers inquire about bands on Day 1, most do not, and retailers may balk at suggesting a second sale. “We as a retailer have a lot of fear that not only do you have to make this big purchase, possibly the biggest purchase you’ve ever made, but now you have to buy something else. It should be part of the process, but it can come toward the end of the sales presentation.”

If retailers wait too long to broach the subject and customers put it off, not only will the budget be claimed by other wedding necessities, but the couple could be scrambling at the last minute to place an order and have the bands delivered in time.

Rordan Shane, CEO and president of Shane Co., says Shane stores are more likely to lose the sale of the groom’s band, rather than the bride’s, often due to procrastination or a lack of belief in the importance of the product. “Maybe there’s a week till the wedding, so he’ll grab it online or when he’s doing his grocery shopping at a large national chain that may sell jewelry as well. Then what I hear out on the street, is, ‘Oh, yeah, I got this ring right before the wedding, but I wish I would have put a little time, energy and effort into it.’ Because it is something you’re going to wear for the rest of your life.”

Rottenberg notices both extremes of shoppers when it comes to timing. “We will have some folks come in and their wedding is nine months away, sometimes 18 months away, and a large number will say, ‘We’re getting married in a week or two weeks.’ So some are way ahead of the curve and some are last-minute shoppers. It’s the last thing on their list. We can accommodate both.”

Another issue, Shane says, is when a couple are shopping together for the engagement ring and the bride-to-be falls in love with a band but doesn’t make note of exactly which one it is and can’t find it later. “Some of the most stressful moments come when that band is not the band they remember from the day they bought their engagement ring. Or if they come in days before the wedding and either it’s not in their size or they need a special order.” Shane says it’s important to make sure those style preferences are captured in some way.

Dianna Rae High, owner of Dianna Rae Jewelry in Lafayette, LA, says her staff is trained to discuss the band during the initial engagement conversation. That discussion is reinforced by signs around the store, saying, “Ask me how to get 20% off your wedding band.” If her client buys both the diamond and mounting from her, she gives them 20% off both the men’s and the ladies’ bands. “We continue to send them emails or texts about wedding bands with the 20% off if they qualify. Our clients almost always come back for the band.”

Here’s How to Make Sure That Engagement Ring Client Returns for the Wedding Band

Sherrie Schilling-Devaney of Sherrie’s Jewelry Box in Tigard, OR, encourages couples to purchase the wedding bands right away and eases budget concerns by inviting them to put the purchase on layaway.

There’s also room for a larger sale.

The average spent on women’s bands is $1,100 and men’s, $550. Reilly suggested that focusing attention on a more special ring, particularly for men, is one way to grow that part of the business. And with recent trends, including stacking, the number of bands is no longer limited. “It’s no longer two people, one ring each,” he says. “Now it’s two people and who knows how many rings. The category can be expanded far beyond what we traditionally think about.”

With a recent focus on men’s jewelry, many men are putting more thought into what kind of ring they want. “We have seen a shift,” Rottenberg says. “Going back 10 or 15 years, my experience is that most men wanted a simple gold or platinum band. But now men have embraced that wedding band as a great way to express themselves.

“Many men’s bands are more substantial, more precious, more unique, more of a statement in some way. And our vendor partners have come up with some really interesting things. On the high end, it can be wearable art. We’ve had a lot of success and growth with this as more men move away from the traditional gold band.”

Ferrari says more couples want rings that are similar to one another, with both partners opting for a unisex style with emeralds or diamonds or the same metal. “In Europe, it’s more common to get the same wedding band, but it’s a trend that’s growing here, too,” she says. Ferrari also suggests approaching the bride-to-be, who may want to upgrade the groom’s ring to add something special to the story of their relationship.

In June, Tacori introduced its Couples Collection: gender-neutral, size-inclusive diamond bands made to mix, match or stack. Nadine Tacorian Arzerounian, Tacori’s head of design, began to notice couples choosing eternity bands and fine jewelry rings in lieu of engagement rings and men’s bands. “We’ve seen modern couples who want to celebrate love authentically, in their own way and on their own terms, stepping away from the traditional category conventions,” says Arzerounian. “While engagement rings still hold a prominent place in both society and in our product assortment, we were excited to capture this evolving trend.”

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THE BAND
EVENT

Melissa Quick of Steve Quick Jewelers in Chicago says a wedding band trunk show each spring has helped sell more bands. Every February, they personally invite everyone who has bought an engagement ring in the past two years but who has not yet purchased a wedding band from them. “When we deliver an engagement ring, we mention the trunk show to plant the seed.”

Rottenberg transforms the inventory at Long’s largest store (10,000 square feet) into all wedding bands, creating an incredible selection from Long’s suppliers and attracting 1,500 to 2,000 people over a three-day event, many of whom bought their engagement rings elsewhere. “A significant number of the sales are new to us,” he says.

He describes the event as “wedding band heaven” for shoppers because the selection is so vast. “There are so many options for almost any configuration you can think of.” Although they partner with restaurants and other complementary retailers for prizes, the real draw is checking the band off the to-do list during an event well known to the community.

 

Here’s How to Make Sure That Engagement Ring Client Returns for the Wedding BandEric Stevens, president of Stevens Jewelers in Springfield, MA, plans an attention-grabbing BOGO wedding band event every February, soon after Valentine’s Day, that he promotes as a free wedding band. The key to the BOGO strategy is to make sure the markup is at least 2.5. Remarkably, as many as 60% of brides-to-be at the event select two bands for themselves to stack. In those cases, Stevens offers a 40 percent discount on the guy’s band. “We’ve been doing it over 20 years,” he says. “In a good year, we sell about 100 wedding bands in a weekend and in a slow year, 30 to 40.”

Another lure is a chance at a free cruise with the purchase of a $1,500 or $2,000 band.

There’s a mix of clients and newcomers at the event, so Stevens allows clients who’ve already purchased the engagement ring to make appointments or invites them to a VIP appointment in the days leading up to the event so they don’t have to wait in line during what can be a chaotic event.

“We build some hype going into it, and people are aware that we do it annually,” he says. “The margins are very small, but the whole point is you’re gaining a client you may not have had. Our focus has been to gain the client more than the sale itself.”

Stevens works with his vendors to have up to 1,000 different wedding bands in stock. Custom-designed rings are not included in the promotion. He also promotes interest-free financing through Synchrony.

Here’s How to Make Sure That Engagement Ring Client Returns for the Wedding Band

MAKE SURE
THEY RETURN

Peter Hannes, sales manager for Craig Husar Jewelers, says making contact with every customer who bought an engagement ring in the past year or two should be automatic. “Reach out to see if they’ve sent a date (hint: Google them, and you can find a lot of dates on couples on The Knot) and remember that anything inside of a year is ‘coming up soon’ and they should set an appointment to look at wedding bands.”

Sometimes it’s as simple as making a return visit seem routine.

After the proposal, John Carom of Abby’s Gold & Gems in Uniontown, PA, invites couples to return to have the engagement ring checked and cleaned. They’re given a swag bag that includes a discount coupon. “We mention the wedding band during the diamond engagement ring sale and continue to mention it (without being pushy) at every opportunity.”

Tim Sherrer of Lou’s Jewelry, Mobile, AL, has an 88 percent return rate for wedding bands within the first year. “We ask the guy to return with the new fiancée to make sure the engagement ring fits, so she gets to meet the sales staff and feel comfortable in the store,” he says. “We also give her a small gift and let her know if she needs anything to please call us.”

Once the engagement ring purchase is wrapped up, says John Thomas Mead of Albuquerque, NM, the couple is encouraged to return every six months for a warranty inspection.

ALLOYS EXPAND
SELECTION

From left to right: JanelleMead, John Thomas Mead, Eric Stevens

From left to right: Janelle Mead, John Thomas Mead, Eric Stevens

Mead’s store, John Thomas Jewelers, is on the third floor of an office building in Albuquerque, NM, and boasts an overall 90 percent closing rate. “It seems like by the time they have found us, they’ve done their research, their homework,” he says. “Once they’re in, I keep my diamond prices competitive, close to that of major websites.”

Nearly 70 percent of the business is focused on weddings, and he sells many more bands than engagement rings by unit. Mead sold 246 bands in 2020 with an average price of $1,217 and an average 2.5 markup. “Part of that is they may find out about us after they buy the engagement ring, and the man gets one, the woman gets one, or more than one, because women stack them.” If a guy is shopping solo for engagement rings, he is shown men’s bands at the same time, either for an immediate sale or to plant a seed.

Mead stocks almost all alloy samples, with $241,000 in live, owned inventory and $2.7 million in sales. As a Preferred Jeweler, he also offers a free lifetime national warranty. Clients can visit any other Preferred Jeweler in the country and have their rings serviced for free. Mead pays the first year of insurance, too, on any ring $1,500 and up.

Even the design of the store facilitates band sales.

All varieties of rings are available to play with due to the store’s drawer displays. “Because it’s all alloy and all on the customer side, they can open the drawers without having to keep pointing through the glass at what they want to see.” The average sale has gone up as a result. Men are spending more on bridal, both engagement rings and wedding bands, because women aren’t shy about reaching in and trying on something bigger and flashier than they might have otherwise.

“Very seldom do we not have what they’re looking for,” he says. “We will also custom make alternative metal rings through Heavy Stone rings. Or if it’s precious metals, we will open up our phone or iPad and show them some men’s custom rings that we’ve done, and when you throw that much selection at them, they will focus on something they like.”

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DESIGN
SENSE

Denise Oros of Linnea Jewelers in LaGrange, IL, says it’s vital to get clients thinking about the overall aesthetic and the rings as a set that together make a design statement.

One of the first questions the Linnea custom design team asks when the engagement ring is purchased is, “Are we thinking a flush fit band or a shadow band?” That single question helps immediately identify aspects of a bride’s style while also bringing up the band purchase in a natural way.

“Creating custom engagement rings and having a significant diamond band selection along with unique wedding band options gets couples talking from concept to completion on what would enhance their unique engagement ring,” Oros says.

Guys wanting to surprise their girlfriends are encouraged to work with Oros’ team to design the engagement ring, equipped with Linnea’s Sherlock Holmes Detective Package that helps them determine budget, finger size, metal preference and style. They often return for wedding bands because he invested time and thought in the purchase and tells her the story of navigating the design process and executing the planning for the proposal.

Joseph Villarreal of Villarreal Fine Jewelers in Austin, TX, emphasizes the fit. “We create engagement rings with the idea that a matching band will fit flush/properly with the engagement for a perfect fit,” he says.

A LIFETIME
OF LOYALTY

Harvey Rovinskyand Karen Hollis

Harvey Rovinsky and Karen Hollis

At Bernie Robbins Jewelers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, sales consultants offer $250 off bands at the time of the engagement ring purchase while clients are excited and in a buying mood, says owner Harvey Rovinsky.

Their efforts don’t stop there, though.

“In our CRM system, we have a tickler that lets salespeople know when the wedding is, and three months prior, we reach out to the client again and offer the wedding band promotion,” he says. “We work hard to capture that business. We want to encourage repeat business and multiple sales.”

It’s important to Rovinsky to develop lifetime loyalty well beyond the wedding.

“When we sell an engagement ring, we have the client from cradle to grave. They know that when they need an anniversary, birthday, holiday or push present, we have exactly what they need for those occasions. We have a sophisticated CRM and staff is constantly clienteling.”

Marc Majors of Samuel L. Majors in Midland, TX, says clients return for the band because of expertise and the relationship they build. He believes having too wide a selection can actually be detrimental. “We don’t have a large bridal collection, and our offerings are very tailored.

I think people like that they can come in here and not be engulfed by hundreds of options and talking to salespeople who only know how to read tags.”

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JUST MAKE
THEM HAPPY

But Bob Goodman, owner of Robert Goodman Jewelers in Zionsville, IN, says when his clients return for a wedding band, it’s not due to a strategy or an event. “If someone returns to our store, it’s probably because they had a happy experience,” he says.

Karen Hollis, for example, of K. Hollis Jewelers in Batavia, IL, achieves an almost 100 percent return rate that she attributes to letting her customers play. “We make wish lists when the girl comes in to see what she likes, and we take good notes and let the guy know that he did the hard part and that we can’t wait to show her the band choices that work with her engagement ring,” Hollis says.

And Gary Zimmerman, owner of Windy City Diamonds in Chicago, sells bands to engagement ring clients better than 99% of the time. “I believe that it’s our reputation and the fact that our clients have been happy with the work we did for them on their engagement ring,” he says.

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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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