Connect with us

Tip Sheet

How to Avoid Bugging Your Best Clients, What to Do If A Competitor Is Trying to Poach A Staffer, and More Tips for This Month

mm

Published

on

How can I ensure a prospective custom client doesn’t steal my ideas?

For many jewelers, CAD has changed the game and they don’t release any designs or sketches until the customer has paid a deposit or a sitting fee that can be put toward the final purchase price. Still, if there were a consensus view when we put this question to our 700-strong Brain Squad, it is that successful custom necessitates a free exchange of ideas and developing a close relationship with the customer. And that requires trust. “I give away all my ideas. On our note paper. With a quote. If they choose us (because we’re awesome), more power to them. If not, they probably aren’t our ideal client! If you win them over with fresh ideas and honesty, you will have a customer for life,” says Jennifer Farnes, the owner of Revolution Jewelry Works in Colorado Springs, CO.

How do I not bug my best customers with follow up?

We applaud your thinking. Existing customers are your best prospects and likely to be your greatest source of additional sales, but too few jewelers have a follow-up system in place. The secret is to make them feel special. Let your best customers know when new merchandise will be coming in, and especially, if you decide to put it on sale. Second, offer them special services such as a free regular cleaning service, free appraisals, and keep notes about the little things in their lives that you can bring up in conversation later. Final point: Don’t worry so much. Most times customer will be happy to hear from you. Effective follow-up doesn’t have to be more than a customized handwritten note, postcard or phone call once every six months with some personal detail.

I suspect a rival is trying to poach one of my best sales associates. Should I try to pre-empt them with a pay raise?

Happy employees don’t leave for a small amount of additional money, so the first thing to do is sit down with your associate and see if there are things you can do to remove any frustrations from her current work life or if there are perks (more flex time?) or professional challenges (responsibility for a big marketing campaign?) that could tempt her to stay. Throwing money at them is unlikely to help if you don’t remove what’s unsettled them in the first place. Staff churn is a natural part of business life, especially in a strong economy like today’s, and non-compete agreements are a blunt tool that workers resent. A better approach is to foster a great culture. Check in with your team periodically to make sure employees feel challenged, engaged and appreciated.

Lately, my father seems to be working less and taking more cash out. There has always been an understanding that I’d eventually buy the store. I want to grow it, but I can’t unless we start reinvesting our profits.

Well, it is your father’s store. He built it. He’s at a different stage of life and wants something different than you do. That’s the joy of being the founder, and the curse of being the successor. Still, you don’t necessarily have to buy it. In fact, you may decide your future lies elsewhere (spend some time with something like David Brown’s gap analysis to see if the store can deliver the lifestyle you want). If separate paths looks like the best option, you obviously want to leave on good terms. Bring in a mediator. Sit down with your father (and mother) and lay out your plans. Reassure him you want to come up with a plan that allows both of you to achieve your goals. And do it soon. Otherwise, you’ll be 10 years older; your father will still be alive, hopefully; and you’ll be in the same position you’re in today.

What are some good innocuous questions to determine someone’s budget?

We asked this question in our 2015 Big Survey and a not-insignificant proportion of jewelers — more than 20 percent — said it’s simply wasting people’s time if you’re less than direct. Their approach: just straight up ask how much they want to spend with an inquiry such as “Did you have a budget in mind?” There were also some lighter-hearted variations of this that we liked, such as:

  • Did you want to be closer to $10 or $100,000?
  • Are you looking for something that will make your friends wonder if you won the lottery, or just if you got a promotion?
  • Is this a big bling event or a little bling event?
  • Or ask about their jewelry buying history:
  • Tell me about some of the other jewelry you have bought.
  • Or the reason for the purchase:
  • Are you shopping for a special occasion? 
  • What are you celebrating?
  • Who are you celebrating?
  • Finally, there’s the “goods first” approach:
  • What do you think about this? (And then watch their reaction.) 
  • How do you like this one? Is it too big, too small?

This article originally appeared in the February 2018 edition of INSTORE.

Advertisement

Advertisement

VIDEO HIGHLIGHT

Gene the Jeweler

Gene Shows His Competitive Spirit ... and It's Not Pretty

In this episode of Jimmy DeGroot’s satirical Gene the Jeweler series, Gene answers a viewer question: “It looks like you have a laser welder in your shop. Should I get one?” Gene suspects he knows who sent the query. He’s not pleased. In fact, the situation brings out the worst of Gene’s competitive spirit.

Promoted Headlines

Want more INSTORE? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Comment

Tip Sheet

The Best Question to Ask Job Candidates and More Tips for March

Don’t miss “the right-hand close.”

mm

Published

on

Security
Beware Social Thieves

Going to Basel? Beware of who you tell, what you post, and how you move. “Skilled gangs of robbers monitor social networks, and, based on information that the exhibitors post, the robbers have attacked, robbed and even burglarized hotel rooms that the exhibitors were staying at,” Itay Hendel, CEO of Israel-based ISPS, which specializes in theft prevention for the jewelry industry, says in a statement.

Management
Will Do, Not to Do

When making your daily to-do list, don’t pick 20 things you hope to do and that you think will add up to one day’s work: you’ll overestimate your capacities. Instead, pick the three or four most important things and really commit to doing them, even if you think they’ll take you only a couple of hours, suggests Luciano Passuello at litemind.com.

Showroom
Sign Language

When you go to a jewelry show, you ask your vendors what’s new, right? Of course you do. Consultant Larry B. Johnson, author of The Complete Guide to Effective Jewelry Display, says the best way to draw customer interest from regular clients is to put a whiteboard on an easel (total cost: $79) just inside your door with all of your new products written on it.

Sales
The Right-Hand Close

Owners are uniquely placed to provide a blessing to close a sale, but knowing when to intervene can be tricky. The sales associates at Linnea Jewelers in La Grange, IL, signal such situations by shifting the piece to their right hand (a technique recommended by sales trainer Shane Decker). Owner Denise Oros will then step in to provide the reassurance that’s often needed with a line such as “Great choice! I got that stone, pearl, etc. in Tucson, it is a one-of-a-kind, she will love it! You really have an eye for the finer things.”

Personal
Keep Vacations Short

There seems to be a belief that a “proper” vacation requires at least a week off. But as the American psychologist Thomas Gilovich told the Boston Globe recently, “If you have to sacrifice how long your vacation is versus how intense it is, you want shorter and more intense.” That’s because we remember and judge our experiences, whether good or bad, not in their entirety, but according to how they felt at their emotional peak and at the end.

Hiring
Ask How They Prepared

Anand Sanwal, the CEO and co-founder of fast-growing tech company CB Insights, has an interesting take on the best question to ask a job candidate: “Tell me how you prepared for this interview.” Not only does the reply likely reveal a lot about how the person’s commitment to the position — do they care? — but it will hint at their work ethic and their analytical capabilities, he says.

Continue Reading

Tip Sheet

How to Become an Idea Machine, and More Tips for April

One tip involves a jeweler who allowed a client to pour his own gold.

mm

Published

on

Strategy Be an Idea Machine

Write down 10 ideas a day. “Do it for six straight months and see what happens. It actually turns into a super power,” says serial entrepreneur and author James Altucher. To collect his ideas, Altucher buys 1,000 waiter’s pads at a time from restaurant supplies websites (10 cents a pad). “They’re great for meetings because I have to keep concise lists, and they’re always good conversation starters.”

Podcast: How Can Jewelry Stores Stop Losing Their Best Employees?
JimmyCast

Podcast: How Can Jewelry Stores Stop Losing Their Best Employees?

Podcast: A One of a Kind Family Heirloom is ‘Vaporized’ … and a Jeweler Goes Above and Beyond to Replace It
Over the Counter

Podcast: A One of a Kind Family Heirloom is ‘Vaporized’ … and a Jeweler Goes Above and Beyond to Replace It

Podcast: Using Social Media to Win Customers and Lower Your Intimidation Factor
JimmyCast

Podcast: Using Social Media to Win Customers and Lower Your Intimidation Factor

Management We Are Family

Leitzels’ Jewelry in Myerstown and Hershey, PA, has a cool rule to reinforce the store’s culture: Every day, each team at both its stores must include a Leitzel family member. “We take pride in every aspect of the business and build relationships. It is easy to overlook how cool it is to be a family-owned and operated business,” says third-generation co-owner Allison Leitzel-Williams.

Customer service Pour It On

The trend of customers wanting to be intimately involved in the creation of a piece of jewelry can be considered either an annoyance or an opportunity. Collins Jewelers in Dallas, GA, opts for the latter view, starting with taking the customer out to lunch to go over their renderings and then involving them in every step of production. “One customer wanted to pour his own gold, so we made that possible and he was ecstatic,” says owner Marty Collins.

Productivity Take an Unwanted Break

According to a recent Columbia University study, the key to getting the most out of work breaks is to stop even when you don’t feel like it. “Participants who didn’t step away from a task at regular intervals were more likely to write ‘new’ ideas that were very similar to the last one they had written,” the authors explained in Harvard Business Review. So, “if you’re hesitant to break away because you feel that you’re on a roll, be mindful that it might be a false impression.” It’s notable, too, that the “break” in each case merely involved switching tasks. A change, it seems, really is as good as a rest.

Community Show Your Spirit

Communion season, which often takes place after Easter to around Mother’s Day, can be a nice opportunity for a jewelry retailer that is involved deeply in its community. Orin Jewelers in Northville, MI, is one such business, sponsoring a host of activities in support of groups from USA Hockey to the local hospital. They also sponsor, as well as make custom jewelry for, the Catholic high schools in their area.

Management Bad News First

When you’re delivering good and bad news to employees, always give the bad news first, says Daniel Pink, bestselling author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. Pink acknowledges this often feels counterintuitive, as many bosses hope that by starting out positively, they will cushion the bad stuff. “The reason has to do with endings. Given the choice, human beings prefer endings that elevate, that have a rising sequence rather than a declining sequence,” he says.

Continue Reading

Tip Sheet

A Low-Tech Loyalty Program and More Tips for February

From bench training to personal expectations, this advice provides holistic assistance.

mm

Published

on

TrainingTake Your Bench Live

Live feeds from the bench have been used by jewelers to build showroom ambience and by sales associates to close sales for more than a decade. But there’s a second benefit that’s often overlooked — as a training tool, says Jude Dutille, owner of Dutilles Jewelry Design Studio in Lebanon, NH. Dutille has a camera at his work bench to “provide micro-visuals of what he is demonstrating,” be it stone-setting, fabrication, or hand-engraving to his staff of goldsmiths (all of whom are trained in-house “from scratch”).

Podcast: How Can Jewelry Stores Stop Losing Their Best Employees?
JimmyCast

Podcast: How Can Jewelry Stores Stop Losing Their Best Employees?

Podcast: A One of a Kind Family Heirloom is ‘Vaporized’ … and a Jeweler Goes Above and Beyond to Replace It
Over the Counter

Podcast: A One of a Kind Family Heirloom is ‘Vaporized’ … and a Jeweler Goes Above and Beyond to Replace It

Podcast: Using Social Media to Win Customers and Lower Your Intimidation Factor
JimmyCast

Podcast: Using Social Media to Win Customers and Lower Your Intimidation Factor

ServicePass The Buck

A neat — and cheeky — way of dealing with overly demanding customers from a fellow independent retailer in the vision business: BJ Chambers of Carrera Optical in McQueeney, TX, told INVISION Magazine she keeps business cards of other optical shops on hand and gives them to problem patients and suggests they “go visit.”

ExperienceProtect The Window View

Yes, the job market is tight and you might be short of staff, but hang those flyers on a local bulletin board or near your counter, not on your storefront window as some retailers are doing. “Your front window is your customers’ first impression of your store,” says merchandising expert Tom Crossman. “Don’t make it a messy one.”

PersonalExpect Less

The problem with high expectations is they often result in future disappointment. Meanwhile, low ones tend to make you glum in the present, given there’s not much to look forward to. The answer? Stop expecting, says Jason Fried, who has written several books on work. “I used to set up expectations in my head all day long. But constantly measuring reality against an imagined reality is taxing and tiring, [and] often wrings the joy out of experiencing something for what it is.” Expectations also keep you mentally living in the future and deflated when events don’t measure up — even if what does happen is actually pretty good. In 2019, don’t expect … so much.

IncentivesLow-Tech Loyalty Program

Two-thirds of consumers shop more frequently and spend more at retailers with loyalty programs. But if all the recordkeeping seems like too much of a headache, you could do what Maxwell & Molly’s Closet, a pet-grooming business not far from our office in New Jersey, does: Spend $200 and earn 5 percent off all purchases for life. People appreciate simplicity.

MarketingFind Your CPP

When plotting a mass medium campaign, be sure to speak with the TV or radio channel’s consultants on how to best utilize your budget and determine what the “cost per person” you reach is, advises J. Dennis Petimezas, owner of Watchmakers Diamonds & Jewelry in Johnstown, PA. “What may be the most expensive on a cursory review may be the smartest choice if you do your homework,” he says, adding that any consultation should be at the station’s expense. “They can afford it, so don’t take no for an answer.”

Continue Reading

Most Popular