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Should I Get a Buzzer, and More of Your Questions Answered

You had a great holiday season, now a salesperson wants a pay raise. What to do?





I’ve got a sales associate with really bad breath. How do I break the bad news to him?

“Your breath smells” is almost as tough to hear as it is to say, but the issue at hand is also a stone-cold sales killer. As the manager, you have no choice but to grasp this malodorous nettle. Have the conversation in private, assert that the person probably isn’t aware of the problem, use gentle but accurate language (“your breath is rather sharp”), express concern that it may be related to a deeper health issue, share that you may have had oral health issues yourself in the past, and offer them paid time off to go see a dentist. And with that, the person can hopefully leave your office with some dignity and a plan to seek medical attention.

I’m thinking of installing a door buzzer but am worried it will deter legitimate casual shoppers. What’s your view?

Elie Ribacoff, president of New York-based Worldwide Security Network, recommends you do install a buzzer system, saying the capability to lock your door is a great asset. He notes, however, that it doesn’t have to be used all the time. “It can be used selectively or randomly to keep crooks guessing and to bolster security when needed, such as during set-up and closing, as well as on days when there is less staff, for special events, etc.,” he says. There is also other action you should take to ward off robberies, including installing burglary-resistant laminated glass and frames and getting strategic in spreading out high-end watch and loose diamond merchandise among several showcases.

I’m looking to do a customer survey to help guide our planning this year. Do you have any tips?

Surveys! As the Brain Squad will attest, you’ve come to the right place for advice. Keep it short and focused on the areas that matter to your store’s performance. Mostly use multiple-choice questions to make it easier for both your survey-takers and yourself when it comes to collating the data, balanced with the odd open-comment question to allow people to elaborate on their input. When it comes to sending it out, avoid busy times of the year and weekends, and be generous with your thank-yous and incentives — be it a free coffee or, better yet, a nice gift certificate requiring no minimum purchase.
Survey software companies like SurveyMonkey make it easy to create functional online surveys you can email to your customers (the services are typically free for the basic, heavily branded version). If you’re fairly adept with Microsoft 365, there’s also a survey tool that can be accessed through Microsoft Forms, which is as powerful as any comparable dedicated service.

When we opened our store, my father put up some assets with the bank and gave personal guarantees to cover credit accounts with various vendors. How do we get these guarantees off the table now that I’m established?

If you’ve paid your bills promptly for three to five years and have audited statements to show you’re profitable, this is probably the right time to try taking your relationship to a more trusting level. Your vendors may still be wary, so sell them on the benefits of your efforts to install more businesslike credit arrangements: greater borrowing power, faster growth and more business for them. One way to be more persuasive is to bring along your CPA to make your case. If they still resist, hint you’ll take your business elsewhere.

One of my salespeople has asked for a big raise. I agree that she deserves more and would like to keep her, but her demands are too high. What kind of counteroffer should I make?

One packed with commissions and incentives, says Suzanne DeVries, president of Diamond Staffing Solutions, Inc. DeVries says the fact that you feel the salesperson wants more is an indication that your store is probably operating on a flat-scale salary system, or if there is a commission system, it doesn’t pay enough. On a properly structured commission system, a storeowner won’t get such complaints. If the salesperson sells more, they make more. And so do you … everybody wins.
In sales, people tend to judge themselves by how much they make. But as David Russo, VP of Human Resources at SAS Institute, notes in The Hidden Value, “A raise is only a raise for thirty days; after that, it’s just your salary.” Money by itself doesn’t motivate high performance. You need a structure that supports performance on an ongoing basis.




When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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