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Big Survey

Jewelers Say Moving Inventory and Optimizing Staff Are Among Keys to Profitability

They also cite new tools, online sales and better margins.



WE ASKED HUNDREDS of jewelers who responded to INSTORE’s 2021 Big Survey, “What change did you make in the last three years that had the most impact on your profitability?”

Here are 10 categories of changes they say are working:

1. Getting serious about inventory analysis

  • “Getting rid of aged inventory through discounting and wholesaling and restocking the fast movers. (Basically, following through on all that David Brown of The Edge recommends.)”
  • “Staff has finally taken it to heart and sees the positive effect of reducing aged inventory sooner.”
  • “Fixed our inventory so that our sales staff has all the fast sellers and very little old inventory.”

2. Staffing: Cutting or hiring

  • “Hiring more people who have diamond sales training and experience is the best move I’ve ever made, but I need more and cannot find them.”
  • “Working by appointment only has allowed me to downsize my overhead and increase my closing ratio.”
  • “Cut staff. Fewer people with more responsibilities.”
  • “Hiring more jewelers.”
  • “Added an appraiser.”
  • “Staffing correctly; getting people in the right places.”
  • “Hiring smarter. Hiring a staff that is passionate and also educated.”
  • “Taking the leap to increase staffing costs produced sales that more than covered the cost. I should have done that long ago.”
  • “No employees and my wife and I are handling the business. Only having my jeweler on the premises one day a week and using a local factory for producing our custom jewelry.

3. Rethinking repairs.

  • “We now turn away jobs that can’t be done at a profit.”
  • “David Geller’s book (Geller’s Blue Book to Jewelry Repair & Design) has made a tremendous difference in our repair pricing.”
  • “Ditching repairs as a service that we offer. We never broken even on that stuff.”
  • “Got rid of the thing that caused the most hassle and made us the least amount of money, watch repairs.”

4. Using new tools

The purchase and use of a laser welder, cited most often, but also a 3D printer and CAD software, especially Countersketch and Matrix, and the Edge POS software.

  • “Updated our website in October 2019 to include Podium chat feature. The ability to respond quickly to questions from people visiting the site has been a game changer.”
  • 5. Selling laboratory-grown diamonds.
  • “Lab diamonds have an incredible positive impact on sales and profitability.”
  • “Lab diamonds exploded. One of the best decisions we ever made.”
  • 6. Revising the approach to marketing and online sales.
  • “We made a HUGE cut on print advertising. After the pandemic we cut almost all magazines. We now focus online with Google ads and Facebook ads.”
  • “Increased our website capabilities and packaged online advertising campaigns with email and social media platforms.”
  • “When quoting or emailing a client that their item(s) are ready we send a link to pay in the email. This has turned into so many sales with so many fewer emails back and forth. We get paid faster and it allows for a quicker pickup process as well.”
  • “Rolled out our e-commerce store with online bookings.”

7. Finding ways to increase margins.

  • “Increasing our prices. Valuing what we bring to our customers, especially in custom jewelry design and letting the price better reflect that.”
  • “Buying more from closeout vendors for a higher margin. Just last month we invested in a laser welder, so once we catch up with the learning curve, that should increase shop profitability.”
  • “We’ve been able to discover new vendors via social media, which has allowed us to increase our margins.”

8. Changing approach to acquiring inventory

  • “More buying from the public and building more pieces ourselves.”
  • “Not going to every trade show and getting sold on inventory we don’t need.”
  • “We started doing “Jewelry Swaps” with other jewelry store owners. We would take our aged merchandise and swap it for their aged merchandise. It was fantastic! My sales associates acted like it was Christmas and we got tons of new jewelry in, and I loved it, because it was like it was free; I didn’t owe anything for all the new merchandise since it was all paid for.”

9. Selling more custom bridal

  • “More engagement ring private appointments.”
  • “Finding a designer that makes custom orders with little to no hassle.”

10. Finding ways to ease stress levels.

  • “I quit digging in trenches to compete with every Tom, Dick and Harry on an engagement ring. I just focus on selling the people who want a nice product and want to get it from us. If they’re shopping for a price, they can get it elsewhere. I have no interest in making very little profit just to make a sale. My dignity is more important than that.
  • “Welcome kind and friendly customers only. Life is too short to deal with difficult customers.”
  • “We are trying to be happy no matter what!!! And that has the best impact on everything.”



This Third-Generation Jeweler Was Ready for Retirement. He Called Wilkerson

Retirement is never easy, especially when it means the end to a business that was founded in 1884. But for Laura and Sam Sipe, it was time to put their own needs first. They decided to close J.C. Sipe Jewelers, one of Indianapolis’ most trusted names in fine jewelry, and call Wilkerson. “Laura and I decided the conditions were right,” says Sam. Wilkerson handled every detail in their going-out-of-business sale, from marketing to manning the sales floor. “The main goal was to sell our existing inventory that’s all paid for and turn that into cash for our retirement,” says Sam. “It’s been very, very productive.” Would they recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers who want to enjoy their golden years? Absolutely! “Call Wilkerson,” says Laura. “They can help you achieve your goals so you’ll be able to move into retirement comfortably.”

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