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How to Sell Millennials, Handling Big Returns and More of Your Bridal Questions Answered

Remind them that they should be looking to buy diamonds, not paper.




How to Sell Millennials, Handling Big Returns and More of Your Bridal Questions Answered

What’s the best way to deal with those millennial customers who show up with a photo of the diamond on their cellphone?

Welcome them warmly, praise their choice of diamond and advise them in your sagest, reassuring voice that they should be looking to buy diamonds, not paper. The truth is they already know that. It’s why they are in your store. It’s why Warby Parker, Amazon, Blue Nile, Indochina, Bonobos, and so many other online retailers are snapping up brick-and-mortar space. There are some items people need to try on or see in person. And once you’ve got their attention, take a lead from the playbook of Phil Pancer, owner of Ring Leader Fine Jewellers, in Pickering, ON: “I let them know that I can get diamonds on consignment and I’ll pick three of them to show them. One is the one they want with the specs that they picked out, and the other two are ones that I picked out that have slightly different specs but are considerably less money. Nine time out of 10, they pick what I have brought in.”

A client bought a $10,000 engagement ring six months ago, but he decided not to go through with the wedding and wants his money back. What should we do?

Consult your store’s policy manual … and if you find a blank entry under “Returns,” give yourself a kick. This is one of those issues all jewelers will face in their careers and should be prepared for. If it’s a client with whom you want to stay on their good side, offer them a store credit for the same value. The other non-money-losing options are to offer to take it on consignment, offer to take just the diamond back (and brace for the tough talk over value), or, if it’s a custom job, commiserate. Six months?  Really, is there any other product in the world people will wear close to their body and expect to get a full refund after such a long period of time? His demand is unreasonable. Stick to your guns. 

I just lost my third huge diamond sale in a matter of months. Should I be worried about my sales techniques?

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 advisors or other staff, you may well learn one of those lessons that only failure seems to teach.

I am going to redo my bridal showcases for this upcoming season. How do I proceed to get it right and not waste my limited remodel funds?

Put the job up for bid. Contact several display firms and give them the challenge of accomplishing your display goals within your budget. “Quality firms are usually happy to help. But ask them what they suggest, don’t just tell them you want to order some trays,” advises Larry Johnson, owner of Larry Johnson Consulting  and author of The Complete Guide To Effective Jewelry Display. “Take advantage of their expertise,” he advises.

I’m trying to bring a little heat on a one-stop chain store whose “fine jewelry” is always on sale. Its diamond earrings are not $1,000 studs marked down by 70 percent; they are really  $300 earrings selling for full price. Am I wasting my time trying to get the state attorney general to take action? 

Our view, which is shared by the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, is to go for it — you’ll be doing all independent jewelers a favor if you do. In most cases, price advertising is governed by local and state laws, which require the merchant to have offered the “on sale” goods for a set number of days at the regular price before they can be described as “on sale.” The challenge for regulators in establishing a violation of these local and state laws is to prove that the item was in fact offered for the requisite number of days at the regular price. Of course, an advertiser who daily claims these items are on sale would be hard-pressed to establish that they were ever offered at the regular price. Legal compliance is always a worthy effort.

With more expensive goods, is it smarter to be focused on gross margin dollars or to try to maintain a target profit margin?

It is true that as you head up the price curve, you have more flexibility to give in a little on a request for a price break; as the old adage says, “you can’t bank percentages; you can only bank dollars.” And trade groups like Platinum Guild International include such thinking in their standard advice for retailers. That said, the real issue for most retailers is that they give in too easily on requests for discounts, cautions David Brown, president of the Edge Retail Academy. “Most salespeople capitulate far too easily and too quickly,” he says, adding that his group works with sales associates to teach an array of tactics to fend off bargain hunters’ initial forays and to provide alternatives to discounts such as value-added offers. There are also other factors at play that could affect your decision on whether to accept a lower profit margin, such as your store’s location or the level of local competition, Brown says. “But when a storeowner has exhausted all of our negotiating strategies, we tell them not to let the client leave and take their money to the opposition,” he says.


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Time to Do What You've Always Wanted? Time to Call Wilkerson.

It was time. Teri Allen and her brother, Nick Pavlich, Jr., had been at the helm of Dearborn Jewelers of Plymouth in Plymouth, Mich., for decades. Their father, Nick Pavlich, Sr., had founded the store in 1950, but after so many wonderful years helping families around Michigan celebrate their most important moments, it was time to get some “moments” of their own. Teri says Wilkerson was the logical choice to run their retirement sale. “They’re the only company that specializes in closing jewelry stores,” she says. During the sale, Teri says a highlight was seeing so many generations of customers who wanted to buy “that one last piece of jewelry from us.” Would she recommend Wilkerson? Absolutely. “There is no way that I would have been able to do this by myself.”

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