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Jewelers Tell of Policies That Backfired Horribly

If you’ve tried — and failed — to improve your business with a new rule, you’re not alone.

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I HAVE NO rules. Treat everyone as if it were your mother and I’ll bet you don’t have any issues,” was the advice of one of the respondents to the 2020 INSTORE Big Survey when we asked for examples of policies that had backfired. It’s probably wise guidance. But for those jewelers who have tried to boost business or make people’s lives easier via a policy change or mandate and found it didn’t go as planned, know that you’re not alone. In roughly descending order, are areas jewelers most struggled to impose order via a rule, a dictate, a plea from up top, along with some comments:

COMMISSIONS
  • “Individual commissions. It caused staff to compete for sales and not always work as a team. It cost sales in some cases.”
  • “Commission. It was terrible. It got so bad we let everyone go and started from scratch.”
  • “We had a sales manager who insisted on the up-system. So every mediocre associate they hired got an equal share of opportunities as the strong sellers. They wondered why our average sale, and total number of transactions dropped. Um, next please.”
CELL PHONES
  • “No cell phones. Ha! If we had only known! It did not last long.”
  • “Phones on the floor. With the increase in using Podium in our stores our employees now have phones on the floor to help answer online customers quickly and efficiently.”
ATTEMPTS TO REGULATE WORKERS’ HOURS
  • “If you can’t be “on time”, just don’t come in!”
  • “Allowing our employees to flex time during store hours to run errands. Was totally taken advantage of.”
TRYING TO LOWER COVID RISKS
  • “Curbside pick-up and then finding out after the fact that the person picking up the ring was infected with COVID-19 (and knew it.) Sent our new employee out to deliver a ring and she got exposed. She didn’t get it, but when we found out we had our team member quarantine and get tested. So much for trying to give above and beyond service by delivering.”
  • “COVID related: we went to appointments only, with signs in the door. People pulled, found the door locked, read the signs, and pulled harder! I removed the exterior door handle.”
  • “Masks”
EMPOWERING STAFF
  • “Allow staff to determine their own store closing structure, i.e. who closes what part of showroom.”
  • “Told store manager to stay busy … she got fired.”
GOING DIY
  • “I QC my own work. Returns jumped significantly when I did that.”
  • “In-house accounting. Ugh! Outsource that noise.”
  • “I was not going to hire any lawyer … Don’t be too confident so that you think you can handle everything that comes.”
CUSTOMER SERVICE
  • “The customer is not always right. Not.”
FREE SERVICES
  • “Free designs.”
  • “Including free engraving with any purchase.”
PAID SERVICES
  • “Paid parking. Always a hassle, expected vs appreciated and costs kept climbing.”
  • “Be just like the dentist – Charge for everything. I find it hard to NOT do little things for free! Got to make customers happy!”
  • “Trying to implement a small charge for ring cleaning. Older customers hated it.”
SECURITY
  • “Only one piece out of case at a time.”
  • “No one had a key but me!”
DEBT COLLECTION
  • “Years ago we decided to send notices out the mail to remind clients to make layaway payments. The first time they were sent out a husband intercepted the notice at the mailbox and found out that his wife was going to surprise him with a new wedding band.”
  • “To have my customers pay there bill off each month. Does not work — they need more time.”
  • “In-house credit accounts.”
  • Don’t give credit to anybody!
GOING EASY ON STAFF
  • “Tried to give staff every other Saturday off for quality of family life.”
  • “When I first gave paid time off. I immediately had a girl use 15 PTO days in 4 weeks. She is no longer with us.”
GETTING TOUGH ON STAFF
  • “About 8 years ago we had multiple breakages of gemstones in my shop when they were being set. It was costing me a lot. Fortunately most of them were not clients’ stones, but a few were. I put out a memo saying each jeweler could break up to $1,500 a year at wholesale. After that, THEY would have to pay for the replacements. Needless to say there was mutiny. Then they didn’t want to set anything! I regrouped and we found other ways to motivate them to be more careful.”
MORE RULES
  • “Buy back center diamonds. When the 2008 recession hit we had to pay over retail in cash.”
  • “No returns/exchanges on sale merchandise. Even though we hardly get returns, this move looked tight and inflexible to our clients.”
  • “No Talking about religion or politics! But we just can’t stop the customer’s right now. Eeeek!”
  • “Must have ticket to repair.”
  • “No tattoos. One of our jewelers is covered.”
  • “Name tags.”
  • “Bring your dog to work.”
  • “Opening on Sundays.”
  • “Immediate follow-ups with each purchase. Created awkward situations and returns. Now we wait about one week to follow up and only if we know the circumstances.”
  • “When we opened, we weren’t going to carry any fashion” lines. Now, that is what is keeping us going.”
  • “Get rid of everything over 6 months old.”
  • “Daily case counts. Everyone threatens to quit when we try to implement it over the years

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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