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How Were Your Holidays? 20 Jewelers Describe Theirs

These retailers, all members of INSTORE’s Brain Squad, share their thoughts on the 2019 holiday selling season.

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A FEW DAYS AGO, we sent out our January Brain Squad survey, and we had many holiday-related responses in our “Letters to the Editor” section — so many, in fact, that we thought we would break them out and share them with you in this dedicated article. Most seemed to have had a successful 4th quarter, but some were mystified that their results were disappointing, and even those who were successful often mentioned working harder for the extra sales.

  • Our holiday selling season was amazing. My mom, fiancé and daughter all worked to helped us through the season… That part was challenging at times. No explanation needed, LOL. — Elizabeth Saba, Presley Co. Fine Jewelers, San Diego, CA
  • After a slow October and November, the December numbers made up the year. Happy overall. Best wishes to ALL the staff at the INSTORE!! — Mark Rozanski, Goldart, Ottawa, ON
  • We went through 2 seasons of orange barrels in front of our store. A year project took 20 months to complete. We maintained a positive attitude throughout and were rewarded with our best holiday and year-to-date sales ever. — Karen Fitzpatrick, Harris Jewelers, Rio Rancho, NM
  • We played catch up this Christmas and clawed our way to a decent number. I thought after last year it would be easier, but that wasn’t the case. — Rick Nichols, Nassau Jewelry, Fernandina Beach, FL
  • Three more area jewelers closed at the end of the year, making me ever so grateful to still have a vibrant successful business in these times of change. I am excited about the year to come, and feel even more committed to my business and my community. — Jo Goralski, The Jewelry Mechanic, Oconomowoc, WI
  • Holiday sales? Best ever, even at only 15% of our annual. The surprise? The week between Christmas and New Years is always busy, but this year we had everyone on the floor and still couldn’t help them all! — Debbie Fox, Fox Fine Jewelry, Ventura, CA
  • We had a nice holiday season. We had some folks actually being proactive and buying gifts several months early and then we had the very late rush. It’s getting harder and harder to pinpoint the timing of holiday sales though. And as far as jewelry goes, we sold some really nice color stone pieces this season, which is nice and refreshing for a change. — Marc Majors, Sam L. Majors, Midland, TX
  • Doubled our November goal, but didn’t even reach close to our December goal. It just about evens out financially in the end, so no complaints. I guess we just got our hopes up for a huge December, and were disappointed in the outcome. — Jill Hornik, Jae’s Jewelers, Coral Gables, FL
  • Our business felt different this year. We never felt overwhelmed like years past. When everything was over, our sales were up and profits were up. I think this meant the customers that came in were serious and purchased. I will take that over fighting for everything that comes in. I am interested to know if anybody else had the same experience. — Julie Brashier, Julie’s Jewels & Gifts, Greenville, SC
  • In all honesty, our “holiday season” could have been better, but it sure could have been so much worse. We have our health and we’ll be here for years to come. What I have come to learn about change is that it’s coming at such a rapid pace. Buckle up! Michael Cook, Walter J. Cook Jeweler, Paoli, PA
  • We had a solid December, and an excellent November — selling season was very short this year. 2020 has started well! — Allison Leitzel-Williams, Leitzel’s Jewelry, Myerstown, PA
  • Selling season was very good. Less customers, more dollars. Look forward to a new year! — Laurie Cusher, Hyde Park Jeweler, Hyde Park, NY
  • Taking the December issue to the beach to catch up. Somewhat difficult season. Had to work much harder and market more and more events. Business came at the very end. — James Gattas, James Gattas Jewelers, Memphis, TN
  • This was our best holiday selling season yet — so good, in fact, that this husband-and-wife team did not have a spare moment to read the December story on families who work together! Definitely looking forward to catching up on our required reading! — Zechariah Chambers, Chambers Jewelers, Ford City, PA
  • Our holiday season was better than expected. We were coming off the biggest sale in the history of our store (hence being down from 2018) but were very happy with how we ended the year. With all of the change (new owners, new location and showroom, many changes in staff), we were bracing for a lull, but the community has validated all of our HARD decisions! — Jennifer Hornik Johnson, Miller’s Jewelry, Bozeman, MT
  • We had a good season. Many new first time clients, thanks to Google and Facebook. — Sandra Giordanoriper, Sunset Hill Jewelers and Fine Arts Gallery, West Chester, PA
  • If the rest of the year had been better, we would have been happy to only miss last Dec. by $10K … but it wasn’t. — John Hayes, Goodman’s Jewelers, Madison, WI
  • It was our first holiday season in our new store/new location. We noticed a different clientele. SOHO really took off for us this holiday season. We love this line! Gemstone jewelry was also hot for us. Silver jewelry was down. Need to prep better for the change in clientele. — Christine Osborne, Christopher’s Fine Jewelry and Rare Coins, Des Moines, IA
  • Selling season was OK. Late shoppers seem to be the theme anymore. Year was down as was December. Very tough farm/ag economy around here right now due to flooding and poor crop yields and commodity prices right now. My buying was down/in control, so that certainly helped. I was actually quite surprised how strong the last 5 days were to save the month of December. Expectations for this year are really no different unless farming prices and conditions change dramatically. Plan to host / run more “events” in the store to create traffic and new customers coming in. — Tom R. Nelson, Nelson Jewelry, Spencer, IA
  • Christmas this year was very strange. Maybe because Thanksgiving was so late. People didn’t seem to be in holiday mode. The three days leading up to Christmas made the entire month. Now that Christmas is over, people are out buying for themselves. Tons of self-purchases now. There are no absolutes for retail anymore. It is changing too quickly. — Susan Kauffman, Black Dog Jewelers, Lewisburg, PA

Trace Shelton is the editor-in-chief of INSTORE magazine. He can be reached at trace@smartworkmedia.com.

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Sales Truth

Why A Well-Told Proposal Story Could Help Close The Sale

It starts with getting the groom-to-be involved.

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WHY IT IS TRUE: He is in your store to purchase an engagement ring, a totally unfamiliar task for him.

PLAN OF ACTION: Ask him how he plans to propose. If this is something he has not considered, take this opportunity to share several beautiful proposal stories your clients have used. Ask him questions, get him involved, encourage him to share his plan, and help him embellish it in any way you can.

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Shane Decker

You’re Killing Your Own Sales By Talking About the Price

Romance the item and the reason they came in, and you’ll close more sales.

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DURING THE HOLIDAYS, we get into bad sales habits because the sales are so easy and customers are buying price-point items. We sell faster, we sell price and sometimes we don’t even really sell the item. Now that we’re into the new year, it’s time to get back into good selling habits.

The diamond season is about to start. Typically, it runs from April 16 through the end of September (although we sell diamonds all year, which we should). What can keep you from selling as many diamonds as you could? The price.

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Too many salespeople are afraid of the price, no matter which item they’re selling, which causes problems with closing the sale, among other things. When you try to justify the price or the client feels you are apologizing for the price, they start to believe that you think they can’t afford the item. They will feel pre-judged and leave.

Clients are coming in for you to spend their money for them; they’re paying you as a professional to do this. You do not need to decide how much they can spend. Let the client decide that (unless you’re wowing them with a $10,000 diamond while they’re waiting for a battery).

Instead of price, concentrate on selling with romance and knowledge. These two things build confidence in your product. Quality, technical information, craftsmanship, design, difficulty, brand, rarity, size, color, clarity, cut, and other factors all contribute to the value of the product.

That said, you have to understand when technical selling is appropriate, and how much to do. Some clients are not interested in this at all, so do not volunteer technical information if it’s not needed. You don’t need to impress the client, but if they have concerns or questions about technical aspects of the product, it’s up to you to answer any and all questions with authority.

Remember: The more money the item costs, the easier it is to close because the customer can afford it. The less the item costs, usually the harder it is to close. Money is just a tool the client uses to obtain what he or she wants. Always start high and go down — you limit yourself when you start low and try to work up.

Begin the sale with questions that encourage the client to tell you their story and why they’re in your store. And make it about the importance of the item. When you make it about them and the item and you learn to romance the reason they’re here, the price will become insignificant and the client will upsell themselves.

Don’t talk about yourself, and certainly don’t make the sale about price. They’ll forget how much they spend, but they’ll always remember the event and the item.

Millennials are changing the size of the starter set diamond — diamonds from 1.5-carats to 2 carats are selling like crazy all over the country. All of you should be selling big diamonds. Make 2020 the year of big diamond sales and high closing ratios in your store.

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David Geller

What You Can Learn From Insurance Companies to Make More Money in Your Shop

Charging more to every customer helps pay for damages that your store covers.

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REDOS, STONE LOSS and breakage are the bugaboos of any shop. Stuff happens, but who pays for this?

Do you think Allstate pays for a car repair when you wreck your car? No! All Allstate customers share in that repair, which is built into their premiums. We all pay.

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That’s how stone loss, breakage and redos should be paid in every store: by charging more for all repairs to cover these procedures.

Let’s talk profit-and-loss statements for a moment. As a reminder, here’s the breakdown:

  1. Sales minus cost of goods = your gross profit
  2. Expenses are paid out of your gross profit
  3. After paying your expenses, what you have left over is net profit

Let’s say you size a ring and months later the customer comes back and says, “Hey! You sized my ring I had for 12 years, and 30 days later, my 5-pointer fell out. Now take care of it!”

We’ll assume you will give her a new 5-point diamond at no charge. Your cost probably $30. Where on your P&L does the $30 cost come from? It comes out of your net profit.

The typical American jewelry store has a net profit of 5 percent. So, the “Allstate question” is, “Who’s going to pay and by how much?”

It’s simple really: Just divide the cost of this problem (the lost diamond) by your net profit percentage.

$30.00 divided by 5% (“0.05”) = $600.00

Your store will have to do an extra $600 in sales, above and beyond your goal, to have $30 left over to pay for the lost $30 diamond!

The easiest way to get this extra $600 is by charging customers an additional fee for the jeweler to check all stones, tighten any that are loose and guarantee them for one year against loss.

You charge this same fee if:

  1. All stones are loose when ring comes in.
  2. If just a few of the stones are loose.
  3. Even if none are loose, because we are still guaranteeing after we work on the ring that the stones won’t get loose or fall out in the following year.

Sounds like Allstate, doesn’t it?

Here are our current Geller Blue Book prices to check and tighten stones:

  • Up to 4 stones, no charge.
  • From 5 to 20 stones = $34
  • From 21 to 35 stones = $52
  • From 36 to 50 stones = $70
  • Each additional stone over 50 = $1 per stone

The typical store will take in an additional $18,000 to $40,000 with this extra income, whereas typical store losses in a year are less than $5,000.

Like Allstate, you’d make money on crashes. Imagine that.

Is your store in good hands?

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