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How Can I Better Cater to My Aging Customers, and More Reader Questions Answered

Including what to do with an obviously mentally ill person who wants to come into your store.

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How Can I Better Cater to My Aging Customers, and More Reader Questions Answered

How do I keep a mentally disturbed person from entering my store — or if they’re already in, how can I get them to leave my store?

Start with empathy. The individual is likely experiencing mental health challenges that make it difficult for them to control their behavior. Of course, you also need to prioritize the safety of yourself, your staff and other customers. If the person is outside your store and you do not want them to enter, you are within your rights to deny them entry or tell them that you “cannot serve them at this time.” If they are already inside and their behavior is causing a disturbance or is potentially dangerous, you can ask them politely but firmly to leave. If they refuse, you should call the police for assistance. As long as they pose no threat to you or others, do not try to physically restrain or remove the person yourself. That will land you in legal trouble, as will making discriminatory or derogatory statements like, “You’re crazy, get out of my store” or “You’re not welcome here because you’re mentally ill.” Show respect, even if their behavior is difficult to manage. And it’s a reminder to check the status of your relationship with local law enforcement authorities. They are increasingly undergoing training in handling people with mental problems and are vital allies in such situations.

Many of my best clients are now in their late 60s and 70s. What can I do to better cater to their needs?

This is an adjustment that you will find covers a surprisingly wide range of your business. But it’s a smart move: Aging baby boomers with money are a huge and increasingly important consumer cohort. Begin by ensuring your physical store is accessible and senior-friendly, which starts in the parking lot and may involve widening aisles, installing handicapped door openers, allotting more space to seating areas for customers or partners who may need to rest, and increasing the size of your signage (we know jewelers love discreet price tags, but some of your older customers may really struggle to read them). The same applies to your store’s website: It should be easy to navigate with large buttons and clear text. Next, look at updating your training to ensure staff are attentive to the needs of older customers, starting with being a little more patient. The team at Gold In Art Jewelers in Lady Lake, FL, which is located in the largest the retirement community in the Sunshine State, makes it a point to clean customers’ jewelry “right in the showroom so they don’t have to worry if we’re switching their diamonds,” notes owner Richie Kluesener. Review your services: Can you, for example, offer delivery of repairs or even home visits for customers who may have difficulty leaving their homes? Give seniors more priority in your marketing efforts by reviewing the use of the models you use in your advertising (although remember that people like to actually see younger mental versions of themselves in ads) or creating a customer loyalty program specifically for seniors with special promotions. Finally, think of ways to get more involved in the seniors community. Of his local community, Kluesener notes: “These old-timers have created hundreds of organizations that are making the world a better place. We support almost every one that asks.”

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I have been getting many local high schools coming by for ads for yearbooks, band club books, etc. Is this a waste of my money?

Yes, it is … most of the time. Of course, there can be exceptions. Ellen Fruchtman of Fruchtman Marketing recommends setting up a budget for these types of “donations” at the beginning of the year. “These ads are primarily for goodwill rather than good marketing,” she says. Fruchtman adds that you should consider advertising only in those high school publications that cover the region where your primary customer base lives. Furthermore, she states that the price could be worth it if the solicitor is the child of a good customer. In that case, “the cost of the $50 ad is well worth the benefit of a future sale.” But don’t rush your decision. “Tell the solicitor that your marketing firm handles all of these decisions (even if you don’t have one!) so that you have time to review the proposal,” says Fruchtman. “We provide our jewelry clients a donation request form that all solicitors must fill out and submit before any decisions are made. This should include information about the organization, how it will be distributed, who attends the event, costs, etc. By all means, if you do decide to run an ad in any of these publications, address the audience with something clever. It’s bad enough that it’s not money very well spent; you might as well attempt to get someone’s attention.”

Is one photo enough for an appraisal? I’ve seen some people argue you need a dozen or more.

One is usually enough, says Gail Brett Levine, executive director of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers. She adds, however, that her endorsement comes with a long string of conditions and exceptions, starting with the quality of the image. It has to be “one that fills up the viewfinder, so you can get really good detail of what the piece is about.” And then there are those exceptions: “For instance, for a double-strand pearl necklace — say a 20-inch — it really doesn’t help to use only the photo that encompasses the entire piece. We usually also include a close-up photo of the clasp and five to eight cultured pearls on each side.” For rings, separate top and side views are typically necessary, especially with the newer micropavé mountings, Brett Levine says. “When it comes to brooches, if there is something unusual about the reverse, like with Aletto Brothers that has diamonds set on the rivets, we show a photo of that. Or if it has detachable elements that convert to pendant/brooch/dress clips, we show detail of that.”

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It Was Time to Make a Decision. It Was Time to Call Wilkerson.

Except for a few years when he worked as an accountant, Jim Schwartz has always been a jeweler. He grew up in the business and after “counting beans” for a few years, he and his wife, Robin, opened Robin James Jewelers in Cincinnati, Ohio. “We were coming to a stage in our life where we knew we have to make a decision,” says Jim Schwartz. He and Robin wanted to do it right, so they called Wilkerson. The best surprise (besides surpassing sales goals)? “The workers and associations really care about helping us move out own inventory out of the store first. It was very important to us.”

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