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Jeweler’s Vow: ‘I’m Not Measuring People’s Fingers for Free Anymore!’

But then he broke the vow for the very first customer he tried to charge.

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OVER THE LAST FEW years, the internet has continued to drag business away from most small brick-and -mortar shops and jewelers have been particularly hard hit.

I get amazingly frustrated with people who come in and purchase a beautiful custom-made engagement ring from me and then come in six months later and are wearing a $150 ring they bought online next to it as a wedding band.

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There was a time when if I sold an engagement ring to someone, I had a wedding band job coming not long after.

Most of the reason people (OK, let’s face it, I’m talking about millennials) shop online is because of price. They don’t really care about the quality or whether something is hand made, ethically made or much of anything else as long as the price is low enough. Unfortunately, what this has meant is that I have a steady stream of people bringing in shoddily made junk they bought online that almost immediately fell apart and they want me to fix. Of course, they’re mostly in shock when I tell them it will cost them more to have me fix it (if it’s even possible, which more often than not it isn’t) than they paid for it.

I also get a steady stream of people who want me to size new rings they just bought online thinking that it will be cheaper for me to size them than to send them back (it isn’t). Or they bought it from a company that won’t actually resize something for them. Eventually I simply started refusing to do this work. If the only thing I’m good for is repairs, then I will be out of business sooner rather than later. If they have worn it for a year or two, I don’t have a problem with it, but a new ring should be sized by the jeweler they bought it from free of charge in my book.

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But what has also gotten more and more common is that I have a series of people coming in to get their fingers measured for size so that they can buy a ring online.

Now, understand that I am a one-man shop. I make all the jewelry I sell. I do the selling, the repair work, the appraisals, the cleaning, just about everything.

The only thing I don’t have to handle is keeping the books, which my wife, Kathy (who works another full-time job), takes care of. Every time someone comes in to ask me to size their fingers so that they can go online and buy something cheap, I have to stop whatever I am doing and measure their fingers. I could be finishing up a $5,000 job or a $300 repair, but instead I’m measuring their fingers so they can shop somewhere else.

I recently had another young man come into my shop and ask to get his finger measured. As I do all the time now, I asked where he was getting the ring (since it was pretty obvious by his complete disinterest in what I do that he wasn’t getting it from me). He was, as they usually are, incredibly vague: “Well, I’m still looking around and I’m not sure.” (This was after he told me he was getting married in a month.) I did my best and brought out a few rings with my unique look and got him to actually try one on. He looked at the price tag and immediately said, “Oh, if only I had that much to spend on a ring.” By this time we both knew he was just wasting my time. I asked him how big the wedding would be. He said, “Well, about 150 people, and we’re having it on the Maine coast.” So, $30,000 or $40,000 for a wedding, but no money for a wedding band. I measured him and sent him on his way.

But after he left, I decided I wasn’t going to do this for free anymore. It’s not worth my time to help internet jewelry companies do their job. I can’t pay my rent that way. That night, my wife and I decided I would charge $25 to measure someone’s finger — refundable if they buy from me. It’s still not enough given how precious my time is, but I figured if nothing else, it would deter enough of them that I’d be better off.

The next day, a young woman called me and asked if I sized people’s fingers. I said, “Yes, but I charge for it.” She asked how much, and when I told her $25, she said, “That’s not so bad; I’ll be by in awhile.” I congratulated myself on 1.) holding the line and 2.) having someone decide it’s worth it to pay for the service. A few hours went by and I was beginning to think she had called around and found someone who would do it for free (success either way — I wasn’t going to have to spend any time doing it). And then a young woman rang my bell.

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When I let her in, she told me she was the person who had called about getting her finger sized. She came into the store and went to one of my benches and sat down as I pulled out my sizers and mandrels. She then started looking at her hands and said, “I’m not sure which finger to get measured.” This was a first for me. Usually they know where the ring is going, and it’s usually the ring finger on the left hand. And then she started to cry.

She apologized for being so upset and proceeded to tell me that her fiancé had died suddenly two months prior and that his mother was having a ring made up for her with his ashes in it and she didn’t know where to wear it. I expressed my sympathies as best I could and suggested she do the right hand ring finger, and she agreed. I measured her finger for her. She offered to pay, but needless to say I couldn’t take any payment from her. So much for my first finger-sizing charge!

But this is the reason I’m a jeweler after all. Because there is so much meaning attached to so much of it. She isn’t the first person who has broken down weeping (sometimes in joy too) in my shop, and she probably won’t be the last.

But the next time a guy comes in and tries not to admit he’s buying his ring on the internet, you can be sure he’ll be charged!

Daniel Spirer owns Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers in Cambridge, MA and has been selling handmade jewelry on the same block for 37 years.

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Why You Need to Talk to Your CPA ASAP

A conversation and some planning today can minimize your tax burden tomorrow.

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A CONVERSATION WITH YOUR CPA now can help minimize your tax burden later.

With the end of the financial year fast approaching, now is a good time to start thinking about your end-of-year financial results. No one wants to pay tax, and certainly no one wants to pay any more than they must. Tax evasion is a criminal act that will see you finish up in court. Tax minimization, however, is a perfectly legitimate way of keeping your tax to the most you’re required to pay.

Too often businesses wait until the financial year has ended, determine their financial result, then wonder how they can reduce their tax bill. This can be a little like closing the gate after the horse has bolted. Many tax minimization strategies can be implemented before the end of the financial year, and now is a good time to talk to your CPA about some possible approaches.

Much of this strategy can revolve around the expenses you might be planning to claim. Larger investments in assets can often have their cost apportioned over several years, and there can be an advantage, if you are planning to make this investment, in undertaking it before the end of the financial year.

Another aspect to discuss with your CPA is how income is allocated. It’s important to take advantage of different tax rates for owners and partners in a business. Again, this decision sometimes needs to be made before the financial year has ended to avoid making retrospective decisions that may be frowned upon by the IRS.

Before you talk to your CPA, try to have a handle on how your financial year is going, as this will make a difference to what they may recommend. Your accountant will want to know how the year is tracking and what performance you are budgeting on for the last month of the year. Obviously, some constructive estimating, especially around the busy December period, will be needed. Your CPA will then be able to best advise you of what actions will help your financial year-end before the 31st of December.

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Shane Decker

The Most Important Part of Your Sales Presentation Happens After the Sale

Go the extra mile for your client if you want to see them again.

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HOW DO YOU FEEL about a movie that ends poorly? No matter how good it was before then, a weak finish leaves you feeling dissatisfied.

Jewelry presentations are the same way. Clients tend to remember the first 30 seconds and the last 30 seconds more than the middle of your presentation. And yet, all too often after the purchase is made (or repair taken in), the salesperson turns and walks to the back, allowing the client to leave the store on their own.

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The way out is as important as the way in. We have to treat the client as a guest who is coming into our home for one of the most important events of their lives. Not only that, but the client should feel even more important walking out than they did when they came into the store.

When everything is done, always walk the client to the door. Open the door for them, give them two of your business cards, and ask them to give one to a friend.

Even when you have other clients waiting for you, always walk each one out. Others will see this service and expect the same. Many times as you’re walking the client out, they will stop and look into a case they didn’t look into on the way in. This allows you to start another presentation, put something on a wish list, plant a seed for a later purchase or even put something on layaway.

Selling on the way out is easy. The client is now in a spending mood, and obviously they love you or they wouldn’t have given you their money already. It also allows you to give suggestions about service and other events you have coming up.

Sometimes, the client may have other important things they want to talk about on the way to the door. They’ll start by saying, “By the way…” This allows you to build rapport, get information that allows you to do more effective clienteling, and become even more of a friend.

So make the client feel that your store is the most awesome place to shop. Not just because of the merchandise, but because there is not any other place to shop in their area that compares to the professionalism, politeness and experience that your team delivers.

People get ho-hum service everywhere — but don’t let it happen in your store. It’s up to us to break the cycle. Make the exit even more awesome than the entrance. And remember: Always thank them for coming in!

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How to Make Your Social Media SEO-Friendly

These three tips can help drive more traffic to your website.

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LET’S FACE IT, attracting customers today is not just about advertising. It’s a combination of many things, including social media and driving traffic to your website and your store. SEO is as important in attracting and driving traffic as is your ad copy and where you place your ads. Social SEO refers to the idea that social media links and interaction play an important part in your website’s search rankings. Basically, SEO is all about optimizing content, whether it’s on your website or on a social media platform—to appear higher in search rankings.

1. Optimize your social media profiles. The key to an SEO-friendly social media profile is to be as descriptive as possible.  Always fill out the “About” or “Information” sections of any social media platform. Use words or phrases that describe your business and are also terms individuals would use to search for your business. For example, to optimize your Facebook Page for local searches, it is important to include your address, city, state and zip. Always include links from your social channels back to your business’s website (and links from your website to your social channels). The “Category” field is often overlooked on Facebook Pages, but is important for Facebook mobile searches. Check to make sure your business is listed as the correct category while editing your basic information.

2. Optimize your social media content/updates. To optimize your social content, always include some of the relevant search keywords you determined for your business in your Facebook updates, tweets on Twitter, pin descriptions on Pinterest, etc. It’s important to remember to share content from your website or blog socially to give it an SEO boost. Use your business’s name in your social posts. This helps Google associate the keywords you use to describe your business with your business’s name.

3. Build links by making your content shareable. A key factor in SEO is link building. Simply put, this means having good website-to-website relationships through links. When you have more quality sites linking to your website (inbound) and you are linking to other quality websites (outbound), Google will determine your website to be more authoritative.

“Likes,” comments, repins, retweets, etc., all play into the weight given to your links. If you create content people want to share, you can create more inbound links. Content doesn’t always have to be a new blog post; content can refer to tweets or Facebook posts as well. By posting engaging social content, you’re improving your SEO value.  Another way to increase shares is to add social share buttons to individual pieces of content on your website or blog.

Keep in mind that improving your SEO takes time, and changes don’t happen overnight. Always be as descriptive as you can and keep your information up to date.

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