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Should You Pay a Former Chain Store Employee a Higher Wage, and More of Your Questions Answered

Plus how creative to get in your copywriting for employment advertising.




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I am considering hiring a salesperson from a major chain who wants a fairly high amount of compensation. Will she be worth it?

Despite the frequency with which the service at majors is disparaged, their salespeople do outsell their peers at independents (according to our Big Surveys, the average independent salesperson undersells their counterpart at Kay’s by about 10 percent). Of course, a salesperson working at one of the majors has a huge corporate support system behind her that closely monitors market demand, utilizes a data-rich approach to merchandising and inventory and oversees training programs, not to mention advertising that can bring in the warmest candidates. When it comes to an employee’s responsibilities, the main difference between a chain store and independent jeweler is the amount of freedom and initiative required of the staff member. Does this person give you the impression she is flexible and can think out of the box? Does she “get” your store’s personality and ethos? Does she understand there isn’t always backup if she wakes up feeling less than 100 percent? Vigorously follow up on any references she provides, invest time in the screening process and then go with your gut, with one final word of warning: Don’t agree to pay her “elevated” wage demand if you think you’re going to obsess over her salary. That won’t end nicely.

As a woman boss, I find it difficult to balance my desire to be liked and do my job properly, especially when it comes to disciplining staff or enforcing store initiatives. Any ideas on how to deal with this?

There’s a saying offered in such situations that it’s better — and easier — to be respected than to be liked. And while that’s a useful truism to guide your behavior, it tends to overlook two things: 1) Society applies yet another double standard to overly aggressive women in business, and 2) The very best managers are able to strike a delicate balance of hard and soft. As you seem to appreciate, being a good boss means being able to give tough, clear, fair feedback. You can’t sugar-coat or sit on problems and when something goes wrong or if a person messes up or is underperforming, it’s the responsibility of the manager — man or woman — to take action. It’s important to keep in mind that respect is about more than just being demanding. Workers need to know your heart is in the right place. People will follow a manager and put up with even harsh criticism if they believe your ultimate goal is to bring out the best in them and the store. At the same time, you need to be able to show compassion and be someone your staff can approach with their problems. Win their respect this way, and they will like you as well.

Is it better to advertise seasonally or all year round?

You’re open for business all year round, so you should be communicating with your market all year round. And it’s during the slow “off months” that your advertising really stands out as your dollars buy you a greater share of total voice, and your brand recognition grows. The goal of most jewelers’ advertising is to build awareness and gain that all important top-of mind position so that when a young man finally needs a ring, your store is the first one he thinks of. Keep plugging away. As jewelry industry marketing maven Bruce Freshley notes: “Annual advertising builds annual growth.”

What gemstones react to extended exposure to sunlight?

Many gems do change color with exposure to natural daylight, according to course material from the GIA’s colored stone program. There are a few naturally colored stones that fade once they’re unearthed, while some gem treatments fade with continued exposure to daylight.

The key for the jeweler selling such items is: disclose, disclose, disclose. If a jeweler explains to a client why a fine-quality kunzite is best suited to evening wear, then there’s unlikely to be a problem. However, if the same customer isn’t made aware of any special care considerations and wears the piece on the beach all summer, then the jeweler might have some explaining to do.

Here’s a short-list of gems that fade or change color with exposure to the ultraviolet component in sunlight:

  • Treated emerald. Initially colorless fillers used to lower the visibility of fissures might discolor over time.
  • Irradiated yellow and orange sapphires. These stones rapidly fade back to their original color with exposure to daylight.
  • Dyed green jadeite. Like dyed green chalcedony, it might fade with exposure to daylight.
  • Amethyst. Some stones might fade.
  • Kunzite. Fades with exposure to daylight; don’t leave it in a sunny window display.
  • Topaz. Some naturally colored brown stones might fade.
  • Tourmaline. Although most deep pink, red and dark purple stones are stable, some stones might fade gradually with exposure to light.
  • Zircon. Some heat-treated blue stones might revert to their original colors with prolonged exposure to light.

Does creative language in classifieds — like describing an associate’s job as one for an “obsessed sales ninja” — actually help attract better candidates?

In a traditional business such as jewelry, it’s probably best to be conservative. Studies show such language might work in attracting ambitious young males to companies in the tech industry, but in most other sectors, it turns off older workers, people who also have outside obligations like caring for children or elderly parents, and — if the language is too aggressive — women as well. Sure, you want diligent and skilled people committed to their work to apply, but imply that your expectations are on the extreme side and that the job might regularly spill over into their personal time, and you may lose the best candidates. For most jewelers, a better approach is to go with more technically precise language in the job description and focus your creativity on selling the workplace: “We’re a family-oriented store, in one of the city’s best neighborhoods, that is looking to grow in tandem with our staff. If that sounds like the kind of place you’d like to work …”






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