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How to Work On the Business, Not In It … and More Tips for May

Plus safer jewelry shipping, and the broadcast media you should be using.

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MANAGEMENT

I keep reading I should be working on the business, not in it. But just how do I make the change?

The secret is in attaching a value to your time and using this to guide your decisions. First work out what your time is worth. If your sales target is $1.5 million a year then divide this number by 2,250 (assuming that you’ll be working 45 hours a week, 50 weeks a year). Now you know the only way to reach your sales target is if you’re involved in activities and/or decisions that generate $670 per hour for the store. This figure alone should make you drop the squeegee and call your neighbor’s kid to see if he wants to make some extra money cleaning windows.

Second, do a daily tracking report of all your activities in 30-minute increments for several weeks. With this log you will be able to see what is sucking up most of your work hours. You may well find that more than 50 percent of your time is being consumed by trivial and unproductive work. Lastly, prioritize what’s important and start delegating a few tasks each month. Then it’s time for the fun stuff: focusing on marketing campaigns, big sales and the new products and relationships that generate the big bucks.

PROMOTIONS

I’d like to send out a monthly newsletter to my customers, but to be honest, an interesting mailer that won’t get immediately trashed looks like too much work. Are there shortcuts?

Go directly to Google, also known as shortcut heaven, and type in “jewelry” or “fashion” and “free reprint articles.” Within seconds, says Frank J. Rumbauskas Jr. author of Never Cold Call Again, you’ll have a mass of jewelry-related content to choose from that will make your newsletter a worthwhile read and you a fashion consultant in the eyes of your customers. Second, find a professional mailing service like www.aweber.com, which, for about $20 a month, will automate the entire sending process, giving you access to newsletter templates as well as managing follow-up and taking care of CAN-SPAM compliance.

MAILBOXES, ETC

What’s the safest way to ship jewelry?

Jewelers Mutual offers this five-step guide: 1. Pack the jewelry in a cardboard box marked with the return address and tracking number; 2. Place this parcel in a larger box from the delivery service or in a sturdy, unmarked shipping box (no smaller than a shoebox); 3. Surround the inner box with packing material; 4. Seal the outer shipping box with gummed, reinforced-paper mailing tape or pressure-sensitive shipping tape. Write the tracking number on the box. (Disguise address information so there are no references to jewelry); 5. Require a signature on delivery, using registered mail whenever possible.

COMPUTER SECURITY

The media is full of stories about hackers attacking big corporations. As a small-business owner do I have much to worry about?

If cyber-crime had a color-coded alert system a la terrorism it would be glowing a warm red. According to industry estimates there were an average of 33 million attacks a day last year and the figure is growing. And while it’s true hackers prefer the big game — less than 1 percent of industrial hacking is targeted at small business, according to cybersecurity firm Symantec — the impact on mom-and-pop businesses can be far greater. To reduce the likelihood of attack, pass credit-card data directly to a processing company rather than storing it on your own store PC. Another imperative is to install firewall software on every computer, and keep the antivirus software current. If you have a wireless network, you should use the latest wireless data encryption standard, called Wi-Fi Protected Access. And employees should have access only to the systems they need to do their jobs. Sadly, it is not unusual for the crooks to be current or former employees. Finally draw up clear policies about not downloading suspicious e-mail attachments and free software. 

ADVERTISING

When you buy broadcast media, how do you decide what station to buy and what program?

Contrary to popular belief, says marketing expert Ellen Fruchtman, you should not purchase your media based on what you watch or listen to, but rather on what your target customer is watching and listening to. And, the best way to assess that information is to utilize Nielsen and Arbitron research. These ratings are available only to subscribers who are typically actual broadcast stations and agencies and the data can be quite expensive. Neilsen and Arbitron research will tell how many viewers or listeners there are for each station and show. Then you factor in the cost to determine the effectiveness of buying each program. A highly rated show is good only if the price is reasonable. That leads us to Cost Per Point (CPP). A CPP is the cost to reach 1 percent of the demographic you’re looking to reach. The lower the CPP the more effective use of the dollars. Then common sense comes in to play. A show may be highly rated but not suited for your brand.  

PUBLIC RELATIONS

I’ve tried sending press releases about my store to my local newspaper but with no luck. What am I doing wrong?

It’s probably a lack of research. It’s so easy now for anyone to bombard a newsroom with blind press releases, which inevitably get trashed by the first gatekeeper. You need to do your homework on the Internet, advises Jeff Crilley, the author of Free Publicity. Find out which reporter covers small business or fashion or whatever your angle is and pitch them your story. Then it’s a matter of following up with the press-release basics: Short catchy headline, engaging first paragraph and then the “who, what, where, when and how” details of why your event is newsworthy. “As you write that first sentence, you should be able to imagine your favorite TV anchor reading it word for word,” says Crilley, an Emmy Award-winning TV reporter.

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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