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How to Cover the Absentee Epidemic in Summer and More of Your Questions Answered

And what to do with a chain store superstar who seems to have flamed out once they came to work for you.




How to Cover the Absentee Epidemic in Summer and More of Your Questions Answered

We try to ensure everyone gets their fair share of vacation time during popular periods, but I’m seeing a flurry of requests for weekends off in late July and August, some of it non-paid time off. How do I keep everyone happy and the store functioning smoothly?

We trust you’ve clearly communicated your minimum staffing levels and blackout periods and everyone understands them, although we also appreciate that at many stores, that still means the owners are typically left to fill in to cover gaps. One solution might be to make working summer weekends more attractive. Perhaps hold sales contests over the period offering generous rewards that your associates wouldn’t want to miss out on. For example, for a limited time, you could pay very high commissions for moving old merchandise (which is still usually cheaper than offering discounts to customers). On the procedural side, lengthen the period for advance notice for all requests for time off to give yourself more time to arrange cover. See if some form of remote work is possible, so your staff can squeeze in some work while they are away. And finally, boost your cross-training, so that existing staff can do things like cover admin tasks, post marketing messages to social media, correspond with vendors, etc.

We are moving our store a couple blocks and are thinking of having a company come in and do a relocation/closing event. But we fear it will harm our business. In 14 years, we’ve never had a big sale with lots of discounts. I’m wondering if I should do the event myself to control the impact.

The key here is an appreciation that such an event requires a huge amount of planning and preparation. If you feel confident in your promotional abilities, then you may want to run it yourself, but if you haven’t done events like this before, you’d be better off bringing in a competent outsider. There is a lot more involved to this than sticking a huge “Sale” banner above the store and cutting prices. You’ll need to check local laws regarding what constitutes a “closing sale,” then prepare a marketing plan that includes contacting everyone in your customer database as well as placing ads and doing the creative. Then there is working out your financials to ensure everything is marked to at least replacement cost, plus identifying your “super specials” (perhaps by color code) and segregating and removing the items that aren’t on sale. There’s also the issue of whether to bring in memo goods. You may also need to hold a pre-event for your best customers to give them first shot at the discounts, as well as prepare staff and maybe even arrange to get some temp help. And then we start to get into the infinite details like what you will tell customers who ask, “Hey, why don’t you just take your inventory with you?” Done well, such a sale can raise a tremendous amount of cash to support your move. But don’t make the mistake of trying to wing it.

I just lost my third big diamond sale in a matter of months. Why?

Without knowing the details of the sale, that’s hard to judge. When you lose a big sale, especially one you’ve possibly worked weeks on, it can be tempting to try to immediately banish it from your mind. But a better strategy, says sales trainer Dave Richardson, is to heave its offending carcass onto the cold slab of the morgue and call a sales inquest. “You want to examine what mistakes were made, what possibly could have been avoided, what you could have done differently, and how you could have reacted to certain comments and objections brought forth by the buyer,” says Richardson. Perhaps there was absolutely nothing you could have done to save the sale. But if you review it with advisers or other staff, you may well learn one of those lessons that only failure seems to teach.

I recently hired a sales associate with a great track record for producing at one of the majors. But in our market, he has underperformed. What could have gone wrong?

Few people work well in all kinds of environments. Some need a highly structured and predictable environment. Some work best in a big organization and flounder when they move to smaller ones. And the reverse is equally true. His record of high-volume sales suggests he’s got the attributes to be successful, but the challenge facing you is to figure out what allowed him to be a star in his old environment and replicate that the best you can in your store. Tell him you want to see him performing at his best. Delve into what support he’s missing. And then start experimenting.

An old customer is re-marrying her ex-husband, and he has bought her a new ring from us. She recently confided to me that she prefers her old ring (also bought from us). What should I suggest?

It sounds like she was endowed with a slow temperament (she really should have said something to hubby before he laid out the cash). But luckily, God also granted her two hands. Suggest she wear both.




When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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