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Is a Gold-Buying Permit Enough to Make Me an Essential Service, and More of Your Questions Answered

Plus, what to do about the low-ballers showing up in your store.

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Gen Z seems to be reaching the age for engagement ring buying. Is there anything to keep in mind when dealing with them?

You’re right, Gen Z are no longer just kids. At an age of roughly 8 to 23, many of them are or will soon be your engagement-ring customers. They are amassing money and influence, so this is a good time to be thinking about them, not just for engagements, but all jewelry sales. According to a study by marketing agency The Smithee Group, this next generation of customers is particularly interested in aligning with brands they can identify with and is interested in sustainability, diversity, ethics and, having grown up in the Great Recession, finding real value in purchases. “If you want to connect with them, make sure you are upfront about your business practices and up to date on technology,” says Smithee Group CEO Ben Smithee. They have no patience for slow-loading websites, for example. “The good news is that 81 percent say they prefer to make purchases in brick-and-mortar stores, but they expect a high-level experience once they arrive,” he says.

Is there any legal argument a jeweler can make to stay open if they are not categorized as an essential service by their local government (I’m in Miami-Dade county)? Is it enough to have a permit to buy gold?

In a word, no, especially if you are in Miami-Dade. Miya Owens, who is the Jewelers Vigilance Committee’s resident expert on this issue, says that based on the JVC’s “research and instincts,” jewelry stores are generally not considered essential businesses under most state and local laws related to coronavirus closures. She noted that yes, many businesses have sought to argue they are financial institutions under AML laws or because they buy gold or secondhand goods and thus provide cash to consumers (akin to banks and other financial institutions, which are considered essential). “(But) as with most things COVID, local rules govern, and some local governments agreed with the financial institution argument and allowed jewelry stores to remain open, while most local governments did not designate jewelry stores as essential,” she says. In your case, being in Miami-Dade, you’re out of luck. The local government “explicitly includes jewelry stores in its list of non-essential businesses,” Owens says. For those elsewhere, check with your local county or mayor’s office.

These tough times seem to be bringing out the low-ballers. Is there a better way than chasing them out the store?

Sales trainer Shane Decker has a term for such customers: “bogeys”. And just as on the golf course, the best approach is not to hurl clubs but to keep your cool. When a “bogey” says something like, “I love your $6,000 ring, but I only have $3,000,” reply with, “$3,000? That would be a great down payment; let’s put the rest on layaway (or financing).” Or you might try, “That’s a great payment for starters. Surely you have a Mastercard or Visa, and we’ll just apply the balance.” Won’t work every time, but at least you’ll have a better chance of making par.

I’ve directed a bunch of work to a neighborhood bridal shop, but so far, the owner, whom I met at our local Chamber of Commerce, hasn’t given me any leads. How do I force a little reciprocation?

Read the fine details of The Golden Rule, and you’ll note a rather annoying disclaimer: You have no right to demand anything back. Just have faith that if you give selflessly, you shall ultimately receive far greater rewards. Networking expert Andrea Nierenberg says the same sentiment lies behind her own Golden Rules of Networking:

  • Offer to help others sincerely. People can tell the difference between an opportunist and someone doing a good deed.
  • Share information. If you know something that can help someone, pass it on. (Ed: So join the Brain Squad now!)
  • Respect other people’s time; it’s a precious commodity for everyone.
  • Always convey appreciation. Give a little gift or write a simple note of thanks. Either way, do it consistently.
  • Follow up, follow through, and keep others in the loop. Find a good reason to stay connected, even when there is no news.

“One of my favorite sayings is, ‘Give without remembering and receive without forgetting.’ Put this into action, it will come back to you in better ways than you ever imagined,” Nierenberg says.

When do you ask a customer about his or her budget?

If you have to ask, do it late in the presentation, says sales trainer Dave Richardson. Any earlier, and you limit the range of pieces you can show him or her. You also make it harder to work in an add-on. “If he shares his budget with you, at least now you know,” Richardson says. “But in the end, budget is really only relevant to the romance and value you build into the item.”

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