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How to Handle Repairs of Jewelry Purchased Online … and More October Jeweler Questions Answered

One jeweler sends customers away, telling them “Your jeweler is online.”

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REPAIRS

What do most jewelers do with people seeking repair and other services for goods they purchased online?

Jewelers around the country? That made this a question for our Brain Squad, most of whom said they accept such jobs and “charge accordingly.” To be sure, there were a few who refuse to have anything to do with online-bought goods. (One said he sends such customers away with the rebuke “Your jeweler is online.”) But for most jewelers a new face in the store is an opportunity to educate a potential client on the true value that a brick-and-mortar jeweler provides, and to let them know that services such as sizings and cleaning are often free for their regular customers. One thing to note is that several jewelers stressed they would not guarantee their work on jewelry bought off the Internet. “I always put ‘NO GUARANTEE’ on the repair invoice and verbalize this when the piece is left for repair. It is the perfect opportunity to show them my pieces are built like brick houses,” said Elizabeth Breon, owner of Coast Jewelers in Florence, OR. Ultimately this is a time-is-money issue, albeit one that is complicated by the fact that many jewelers don’t charge repair prices that reflect their true costs. Sometimes it is because they see their shop as a service center for their own sales, and sometimes it is simply because they don’t dare charge higher prices.

CONSUMERS

We don’t seem to be seeing much in the way of impulse buying. Everyone must justify a purchase (major anniversary, birthday, engagement). Any solutions?

According to our Brain Squad, you’re not alone: This is a trend that’s being seen across the country. More than 41 percent of jewelers said they too were seeing fewer impulse purchases than in previous years, while 31 percent said there was little change and 28 percent said they were witnessing more as the economy improves. That last number suggests there are impulse buys out there to be had, you’re just going to have to work hard for them. Management consultant Kate Peterson recommends you start by looking at your range of price points and selection. “Do you have new, exciting, fashion-focused pieces in the store, or are your clients still seeing the same stuff you’ve been serving up for the past several years?” she asks. Next, she says, you should give a nudge to your staff, who might still be stuck in recession mode. “Are they working hard to suggest self-purchase and ‘just because’ items to every client?” To get things going, call a meeting with your team. Talk about what’s out there, and about their own perceptions. Set goals, provide the information and tools to support active client development, and hold everyone on your team — yourself included — accountable for results. “The business is out there. If you’re not getting it, someone else in your community very likely is,” Peterson says.

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FINANCE

With interest rates looking like they are heading up again, should I refinance my business loans?

With the average independent jeweler carrying about $97,559 in debt (2012 Big Survey), even a 1 percentage point reduction (after subtracting any related costs) would provide big savings over time. But, and there is always a but, you need to remember that a business loan is not like a 30-year home mortgage that a lender can easily close on if you default. With a business loan, the bank is betting on your ability to run your store profitably. That means to change your lending agreement you’ll have to persuade the new bank — all over again — that you and your business are good for the money. It also means the new lender will scrutinize your payment record, look into the state of the jewelry business in your market and possibly demand you come up with a personal guarantee. Finally, before making any decision, you should assess your relationship with your current banker. An understanding, streetwise and flexible banking relationship can be worth more than a point of interest.

LIGHTING

How much energy will I save if I switch to LEDs from what I am currently using?

If the LED is being used to replace a halogen light source then you should see energy savings of more than 75 percent, while for metal halides you should enjoy about 50-75 percent savings, says Howard Gurock, president of LED light producer Econo-Lite. If the LEDs are replacing standard fluorescent lights, then there is likely to be little in the way of meaningful savings, but the quality of the light will be much better, Gurock says.

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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