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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.

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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: The 12 Days of Christmas … Like You’ve Never Heard It Before
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Podcast: The 12 Days of Christmas … Like You’ve Never Heard It Before

Podcast: Aleah Arundale Tells Why She Created Jewelers Helping Jewelers
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Podcast: Aleah Arundale Tells Why She Created Jewelers Helping Jewelers

Podcast: Jenny O Calleri Takes on Her Biggest Challenge Yet — Store Ownership
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Podcast: Jenny O Calleri Takes on Her Biggest Challenge Yet — Store Ownership

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.

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Tip Sheet

How to Build Holiday Traffic, Keeping Your Staff Healthy, and More Tips for December

One jeweler keeps a “wellness box” in the store.

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MANAGEMENTThe Power of Appreciation

To be sure, salespeople like performance-based pay incentives, especially when the fish are biting, but to ensure that the drive and focus of the holiday season extend into the new year, don’t overlook the power of appreciation, says Wharton professor Adam Grant. “Extrinsic motivators can stop having much meaning —your bonus gets spent, your raise in pay feels like your just due, your new title doesn’t sound so important once you have it,” he told The Wall Street Journal last year. “But the sense that other people appreciate what you do sticks with you.” So, give the people what they want, and what they want is compliments and pizza, he says.

HealthPrep a Flu Kit

Flu activity typically starts to pick up around now. This year, be prepared with a “wellness” box in the back of the store. The medicine kit at Toner Jewelers in Overland Park, KS, includes EmergenC, cough drops, Vitamin C drops, pain medicine, alcohol wipes, Lysol and more, says manager Alisha Moore. “Temperatures vary so much at this time of year that someone is always sick.”

MarketingPet Appeal

It can be hard to tell what is most important in the lives of millennials, but pets are certainly up there. Gold Casters Fine Jewelry in Bloomington, IN, had the field covered last year with a clever marketing offer in which customers were invited to come in for a photo session with Santa. “Two days with dogs, bring your dog in for a picture with Santa. One week for children,” explains manager Georgena Kincaid.

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Customer ServiceChristmas Hit List

As the key holiday selling period approaches, Natasha Henderson, owner of Saxon’s Fine Jewelers, Bend, OR, prepares her “hit list.” “It’s a chalk board and I write down the customer’s name as I see a piece of inventory that will fit their significant other or even for a self-purchase. I also include clients that I am just going to call and make sure they know I am available and have specifics in mind for them,” she explains.

MarketingBlogs That Work

December is the most popular month for would-be grooms to pop the question. If you don’t have a blog post titled “32 Places to Propose In and Around (Your City)”, you should, a la Reis-Nichols Jewelers in Indianapolis, IN. instoremag.com/indianapolisproposal

ProductivityDo Breaks Better

The most important thing to understand about breaks is that they are not a deviation from performance; they are part of performance, says Dan Pink in his latest business best-seller, When: The Scientific Secrets Of Perfect Timing. “And the most restorative breaks are social rather than solo, outside not inside, moving instead of stationary, and fully detached rather than semi-detached.”

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Tip Sheet

How to Engage Clients in Conversation, Being More Productive, and More Tips for October

It’s also a good idea to hold store sales prior to December.

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HUMAN RESOURCESBonuses? Let them Eat Cake

Bonus season is on the way in many parts of the country. If that includes your business, something to think about: When unequal rewards are given out, there will be less dissatisfaction if they aren’t actually countable, says Kellogg Management professor Neal Roese. Research showed people who received less cake than counterparts weren’t as dissatisfied as those receiving less cash, focusing more on what they received rather than what they didn’t, he writes in Kellogg Insights.

4 Dead After Jewelry-Store Robbery Leads to Police Chase and Shootout (Video)
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4 Dead After Jewelry-Store Robbery Leads to Police Chase and Shootout (Video)

Truck Slams Jewelry Store in $200,000 Burglary — Watch the Video
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Truck Slams Jewelry Store in $200,000 Burglary — Watch the Video

Video: How to Achieve a $100,000 Day in Your Jewelry Store
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Video: How to Achieve a $100,000 Day in Your Jewelry Store

SALESFlip the Script

Instead of asking your customers small-talk questions, such as “How’s work?” or “How are you?” try big talk, says Judi Holler, author of Fear Is My Homeboy and a speaker at the recent Jewelers of America National Convention. She recommends questions such as, “Are you working on anything exciting lately?” or “What was the highlight of your day?” It will make you memorable to your customer. You’ll engage your customer more personally and learn something new, too.

PROMOTIONSAvoid December Sales

Don’t plan a big sale for December, says Deric Metzger, owner of DeMer Jewelry in Carlsbad, CA. Customers have depleted their holiday funds by then and you’ll have no time to complete a custom order should you get one. His advice? Get in early. “We offer our final sale of the year in October (and advertise it as such) to give people a jump on the holiday season,” he says. “It relieves the stress of the last-minute rush for them and us. Plus it eliminates most of the haggle-over-every-dollar attitude that frantic shoppers seem to get the closer it gets to the end of the year.”

EXPERIENCECreate a Virtual Storefront

Include a photo of your storefront on your website, along with text-based directions. It makes it easier for shoppers to find your store and eases threshold resistance, participants at the recent Stuller Bridge Conference heard.

PERSONALRekindle the Joy

Do one thing every day that you loved as a kid. “This is usually the fuel that can power your life,” writes entrepreneur and business author James Altucher on his blog.

PRODUCTIVITYThe Decision Hour

Once a week, spend an hour making choices. A lot of things masquerading as “things you have to work on” are really decisions you need to make, notes Steve Chandler in his book Time Warrior. Many can be made instantaneously; the notion that you need to gather more information is often an avoidance technique. Make it a game: challenge yourself to make as many decisions as you can in an hour, and see how many items you can nuke from your list. It’s weirdly energizing, he says.

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Tip Sheet

How to Sell More ‘Spa Treatments’ for Jewelry, and More Tips for September

Millennial shoppers respond to education, privacy and transparency.

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TIME MANAGEMENTAim for Busy, Not Rushed

How should you strive to feel when working? Busy, but not rushed. Research undertaken by the University of Maryland found this is when people are happiest. And when you’re happiest — meaning engaged and in the flow as opposed to giddy with joy — you invariably do your best work. So, start creating realistic schedules, stop checking email every 15 minutes, take breaks to exercise, and stop letting other people set your deadlines (yes, you could finish the job by tomorrow, but Friday is best for everyone.)

MARKETINGA Time for Pampering

One of the key challenges at this time of the year is how to get customers in the door. The Gem Collection in Tallahassee, FL, does it with a “Spa Treatment” for rings. The treatment, which is recommended annually, includes inspection of stones by hand, ultrasonic cleaning, steaming of the stones to remove excess dirt, refinishing to remove scratches, polishing the ring, and for white gold jewelry, a rhodium finishing, all for one price. “The spa treatment name was used so that the customer feels as if their jewelry is being pampered instead of worked on,” explains co-owner Don Vodicka. “This has raised our repair sales and keeps our customers very happy.”

MARKETINgShout It in Brass

If you buy your diamonds from Antwerp, it’s always a good idea to let the world know about it. Molinelli’s Jewelers in Pocatello, ID, actually has it in brass letters on their wall.

SALESLaying on a Bridal FeasT

Showcases — who needs them? That’s the diamond-selling approach at Siegel’s Jewelry in Paso Robles, CA, where customers are encouraged to sit with staff at a custom-made, long community table to discuss jewelry. “I designed my store with a lot of seating space in order to show diamonds effectively, and to make my employees and customers more comfortable,” explains owner Ken Siegel.

STRATEGY“How” is the Enemy

Something all true entrepreneurs know: “How” is the enemy. “We always want to know how things will happen,” says Claudia Azula, a popular podcaster and co-author of the Power Of No. “But how is the enemy because it blocks the possibilities that open up when we are willing to not know. When you don’t know about tomorrow, all you can do is focus on doing your best today.” Stop thinking, Just go do it.

SALESKeep Me Safe and Prosperous

Buy an engagement ring at Eichhorn Jewelry in Decatur, IN, and you also get a “Keep Me” — an original document that travels with the piece of jewelry. The paper “encourages customers to spend dollars by emphasizing the legacy aspect of their purchase,” explains owner Eileen Eichhorn.

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