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To Get Your Emails Opened, Don’t Oversell … and More Jeweler Questions Answered

Improving email open rates, growing past $1 million in sales, and more.

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E-MAILS

How can I improve the open rate of my email bulletins?

Two years ago, e-mail marketing firm MailChimp.com surveyed some 40 million promotional emails and found those with the highest open rates (from 67 to an amazing 80 percent) were the ones that — surprise, surprise — were the least promotional. Typically, they had short, straightforward subject lines that included the company’s name and told the recipient what was inside (there was no confusing of e-bulletins with commercial messages). Noticeably, the subject lines weren’t too “salesy,” which also helped the sender avoid spam trigger words). Constant Contact, another service provider, recommends you state a clear benefit to opening the message. Emails with an “exclusive” offer in the subject line, such as “Private Event” or “For select customers only,” can generate an additional 24 percent open rate, it says. Of course, you don’t want to be too dry. Your content should be as friendly as possible, and the tone should reflect your personality. Most important, give the recipient something they want. If they’ve opted in and you are responding to their stated interests, you too might be able to get those super-high open rates.

GROWTH

Last year, we hit our long-standing goal of $1 million in sales. Are there any special considerations to be aware of at this point of my business’s growth?

Welcome to the Badlands, says Greg Crabtree, a CPA and small business expert who has been helping entrepreneurs through this stage of their development for 30 years. Despite your impressive growth so far, you’re now entering risky territory where if you don’t have sufficient capital you’re going to either perish or be forced to scale back to a smaller operation. The biggest danger comes from labor expenses. At the $1 million mark it is no longer possible for you to wear all the hats, taking care of sales, marketing, IT, finance, customer service, HR and so on. You will have to hire people to help. But if they aren’t as efficient as you, or take too long to get up to speed, the higher payroll may wipe out your profit. Crabtree’s advice is to hold on to your sales duties so you’ve got a finger on the store’s pulse and to keep an eagle eye on your pre-tax profit margin. If it drops below 5 percent, be quick to make adjustments or you could be in trouble, he says.

PRICING

I understand keystone is pretty much dead, but how do I know I am setting the right prices?

When it comes to hard-to-find items, you can pretty much keep raising your prices until consumers stop buying them, in line with the law of supply and demand. But for the bread-and-butter items that keep most jewelers in business, such an approach overlooks the fact that time is your enemy — which is why the expression is turn and earn, in that order. The real money comes from moving goods, not slapping fat margins on them. That’s why when a certain line takes off, your thoughts should be focused on how to make it move even faster — with advertising, special events, maybe even small price inducements. This is especially so if it’s an item that’s available down the road. There is a caveat: You must understand what the item really cost you (including fixed costs, labor, tax, your own salary, etc). If it’s simply not possible to make the profit you need for a healthy business, move away from that particular item or category.

FAMILY

Our store is three generations old and family owned. The problem is we never formally settled ownership. Where can I find a mediator to help us with this problem?

In most major urban areas there are Centers for Dispute Resolution that have lists of professional mediators who do this type of work although keep in mind that arbitration is binding, says Lauren Owen, a principal at Redpoint Succession and Leadership Coaching. “Google that phrase along with your city or county name and you will find the nearest mediation center,” she says. If that doesn’t work, the JVC’s Jo-Ann Sperano suggests you search for ‘mediation+services’ and ‘family law’ and see what comes up, as more lawyers are now looking for such work.

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

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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