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Podcast: Doug Meadows Shares the Ups and Downs of His Life as a Jeweler

It’s a tumultuous story. It’s also a pretty common one.

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JIMMYCAST EPISODE 8: DOUG MEADOWS SHARES HIS UPS AND DOWNS (23:07 MINUTES)


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ON THIS MONTH’S JIMMYCAST, the focus turns to co-host Doug Meadows, who shares an abridged history of his life in jewelry retail.

The interest in Doug’s story is probably not in its uniqueness, but rather its familiarity. In fact, podcast host Jimmy DeGroot says at the end of the show that “I bet you 99% of the jewelers that are listening to this right now, they would have a very similar story in terms of how things came along.”

Listen to this month’s episode to see how Doug’s story compares to your own. (Or watch the video below.)

SHOW NOTES

Doug starts off by telling how his family business — a jewelry trade shop — was impacted by the 1968 Detroit riots (2:50) and a massive fire that occurred shortly after they moved to the Detroit suburb of Plymouth.

For the family, these events were tumultuous. But Doug says, “when you’re a kid, it’s a lot of fun. You get to go see the fire trucks and all this stuff.” During high school, Doug worked in the shop polishing jewelry — not to mention “learning how to clean the toilets and scrub the floors”.

In 1982, he “got tired of the cold and snow” and moved to Georgia (5:40), working at a mall jeweler in a mall across from the regional headquarters of the Ford Motor Company, where various entertaining adventures ensued (6:30). “That was my first introduction to retail-slash-benchwork,” says Doug.

Later, Doug made his first venture into entrepreneurship — taking a tiny, 10-square-foot space to do repairs and custom work within an existing jewelry store (9:50).

Eventually, the store owner decided he wanted to get out of jewelry business to move into fast food. Initially, Doug sorrowed over the prospect of losing his job. But his partner Merle had a different idea. (10:30)

“Let’s buy the store,” said Merle. “How are going to do that?” asked Doug. “I don’t know, but let’s try,” said Merle. They were successful in buying the store, but problems lay ahead. “We were both great jewelers, but we were not great business owners or accountants,” says Doug. “We definitely stumbled. We ended up successfully running the business into bankruptcy. You talk about an emotional mess. It was not fun.”

“But there is life after bankruptcy,” he adds. And Doug shares some of the things that he did to revive his business (12:10), including connecting with a local minister who provided both spiritual and business guidance, as well as partnering with his brother, David, to form David Douglas Jewelers.

Doug also tells of another financial low point (16:20) about 10 years ago, when the state of Georgia sought to collect back sales taxes from many years prior. This resulted in a forced restructuring and his son Joseph being named the owner of the company. In some ways, says Doug, this was a positive event that cleared the decks for the business’s future growth and stability. “I took care of a lot of problems that a lot of jewelers have with succession, and how do you deal with your kids, and it was all decided for me.” He jokes about Joseph: “I hope he has the compassion for his father and takes good care of him in his elderly years.”

He talks about innovations he has tried in recent years, and shares his ultimate love — teaching the lessons he has learned to younger jewelers (21:50).

And Doug and Jimmy promise to talk about “the tractor story” in a future episode (22:50).


Jimmy DeGroot is a jewelry store manager who has been in the business for over 20 years. Now he spends his time training teams around the world at jewelrystoretraining.com and sharing marketing advice through his blog site at jewelrymarketingguy.com. Sign up for training videos here.

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JimmyCast

Podcast: Would Your Customer Drive Hundreds of Miles for a Lab-Created Diamond?

Jimmy and Doug talk with Joy Janssen of e-commerce oriented family retailer Eco Diamond.

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JIMMYCAST EPISODE 7: WOULD YOUR CUSTOMER DRIVE HUNDREDS OF MILES FOR A LAB-CREATED DIAMOND? (31:43 MINUTES)


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WANT TO KNOW MORE about selling lab-created diamonds? In the latest episode of JimmyCast, Jimmy DeGroot and co-host Doug Meadows talk with Joy Janssen of Eco Diamond, a family-owned jewelry retailer based in Little Chute, WI.

In addition to selling lab-created gems, Eco Diamonds is unusual for a family-owned retailer in its emphasis in selling online. (Joy and her husband, Ben, have backgrounds in e-commerce.) While the company has a physical showroom where it takes appointments as well as a limited numbers of walk-in customers, most of its sales are initiated online.

In the discussion, Doug shares his progress along the path of selling more lab-created gemstones (3:40), including a time diamonds made from human remains. Joy talks about the progress of lab-created gem sales she has seen since launching her business in 2011 (6:00), noting that they have grown slowly in the Midwest but are gaining momentum.

She talks about a moment where she became more confident her business would succeed, telling the story of selling a $14,000 diamond to a customer in Washington (9:30). And she explains the thought behind selecting her company name (and URL) over other options (10:40). Later, she explains the visual differences between HPHT diamonds and CVD diamonds (13:40).

Doug wonders how we cut through the propaganda that both sides — marketers of natural gemstones versus marketers of lab-created gems — are throwing at jewelers (15:40).

Doug and Jimmy both share their admiration of Joy’s business, with Jimmy saying that her model would be what he would do if he started his own jewelry store now— mom-and-pop, prototypes, with an online emphasis (20:00).

While the guys make a bit of fun of the quaintly-named (and quaintly-sized) Little Chute, WI, Joy shares one impressive landmark near her store (22:50). She then shares some thoughts on why customers would drive across several states to work on a jewelry design with her (23:30).

Doug speculates on future paths and future sources of disruption in the jewelry business (27:00). He then asks if Joy has any advice for bench jewelers who want to get into lab-created and online sales, and Joy shares her answer. (28:20).

On the subject of innovation, Jimmy recommends a book to read (30:00) called They Ask, You Answer.

Watch the video version of the podcast below.


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JimmyCast

Podcast: When Is It Time to Let an Underperforming Employee Go?

The weird twist: They’re often the top producer in the store.

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JIMMYCAST EPISODE 6: WHEN TO LET AN EMPLOYEE GO? (29:39 MINUTES)


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IN THIS MONTH’s episode of JimmyCast, Jimmy DeGroot and Doug Meadows talk about one of their least favorite things — firing staff.

It’s one of the toughest things a store-owner has to do. But once you determine that someone is dragging your business down, you can’t ignore the issue and need to take action. Says Jimmy: “The predominant situation is one who does not play well with others. This can be anything from people who think they know it all, they’re not coachable, they’re not manageable, they do things their own way. And then there are people who are very much an island unto themselves, and these are sales-stealers, people who in general create discord among the group. Here’s the really weird twist … so often, they’re the top seller, they’re the top producer in the store.”

Jimmy and Doug discuss how you determine whether someone is holding your business back, the steps you should take once you decide there is an issue, and the results you can expect to see once you make the difficult call to end a problem employee’s tenure with your company.


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JimmyCast

Podcast: How Can Jewelry Stores Stop Losing Their Best Employees?

The key ingredients are right culture, right incentives and right training.

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JIMMYCAST EPISODE 5: HOW CAN JEWELRY STORES KEEP THEIR BEST EMPLOYEES? (33:51 MINUTES)


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IN A TIGHT JOB MARKET where the average person seeks to “reinvent” themselves four or five times their career, what does a jewelry store have to do to keep its very best employees long-term?

That’s the focus of the fifth episode of JimmyCast from jewelry store trainer Jimmy DeGroot of jewelrystoretraining.com. Guest Brad Huisken of IAS Training drops in to talk with Jimmy and co-host Doug Meadows about the practices and policies that will give you a better chance of keeping key employees.

For Huisken (who is also a partner with jewelrystoretraining.com), the three key ingredients are right culture, right incentives and right training.

A few takeaways from the discussion:

  • Don’t one-size incentives. If you were trying to decide on a $500 reward and offered your staff five different options — 1.) cash; 2.) paid time off; 3.) a gift the employee wouldn’t typically buy for themselves; 4.) $500 in store merchandise; and 5.) $500 in lottery tickets — there’s a good chance different staff members would select each of the the five options. Says Huisken: “Your goal should be to know your people so well individually that you know what moves them individually.” That will allow you to individualize incentives for each team member.
  • Too many jewelers avoid doing quarterly or even annual reviews with their employees because they’re afraid that a face to face discussion of performance means that they’re going to have to increase that employees salary. Big mistake, says Brad. He says: “I just don’t believe in giving a person a raise simply because they lasted another year. You know, god forbid, you’ve got a person that, all they do is answer the phone, but they’ve been with you for 30 years so they’re making $85 an hour.”
  • The problem is that too many employees end up not knowing how they’re doing, which is extremely demotivating. Says Brad: “I go into so many stores, and I say ‘How you doin’ around here?’, and they say ‘Well, I’m not really sure, I don’t get a lot of feedback. In fact, I’m not sure I’m doing a good job at all.’ And that’s just unfair to the employee.”
  • Instead of raises, Brad and Jimmy push incentives — with a combination of personal and team incentives. Says Brad: “You’ve got to have contests, incentives and games going on all the time, all the time, all the time. I think that creates a fun environment and a fun culture within the organization.”
  • Brad tells a great story of a business that had a chronic inability to sell old merchandise. The owner created a huge incentive — a trip to Hawaii if his employees could sell 15 pieces of dated merchandise per month. His staff rose to the challenge and they earned the trip. When the staff returned from their reward journey, the owner told the staff that from now on, since they had proven that they could sell dated merchandise, they would now be required to sell five pieces per month.
  • At the 26-minute mark, Jimmy gets caught up in the excitement of a discussion about the importance of training and extends a special offer to listeners for three months free training from jewelrystoretraining.com. Brad responds, “Gee Jimmy, I didn’t know we were starting a non-profit organization.”
  • One more incentive to train your people from Brad. Staff training is tax-deductible, “so instead of giving your money to Uncle Sam, you can invest it in your business”.
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