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Smart Managers: David Runnels

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Benold’s Jewelers, Austin, TX

 

[dropcap cap=D]avid Runnels, 35-year-veteran store manager for Benold’s Jewelers in Austin, TX, sold a 5.25-carat Lazare Kaplan diamond for $276,000 in August 2010 — the largest sale in the company’s history. The average sale in the store, which specializes in bridal, is about $2,800. “This customer had purchased several Kaplan stones before, but this one takes the cake — in the middle of a recession,” says Milton Doolittle, who has owned the business for 24 years. “David is the cornerstore of the store.” — Eileen McClelland[/dropcap]

[componentheading]INTERVIEW[/componentheading]

EDUCATION: The first time I waited on the 5-carat customer in 2000, I told her all about diamonds, educated her about quality and told her about Lazare Kaplan being so well cut. She bought a 1-carat Lazare Kaplan diamond and has been trading up ever since.

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THE SECRET: I keep a 5-carat diamond in the store all the time. How many customers have ever seen a 5-carat diamond? If someone comes into the store and wants a battery, while they’re putting the battery in, I’ll say, “I’ve got a really good buy on a 5-carat diamond.” If I put one on your hand, what are you going to do? You will be amazed and you’re going to tell lots of people. That’s free advertising, right? Well, it’s amazing how many I have sold just by doing that.

BIG SPENDERS: Selling big pieces is actually easier than selling small pieces. A person who comes in and wants to spend $300 on his wife — and all he has is $300 — can be more challenging. It’s not that we don’t have the merchandise, but that man wants to make sure he gets the best value for $300 and he will want to shop around, because $300 to that gentleman is a lot of money. If it’s a large piece of jewelry, often it’s an impulse sale.

IMPRESS FIRST: When you’re waiting on customers, show the big items first. You can’t judge a book by its cover. You can’t see their checking account. You’re not making them mad. They enjoy seeing them, and if they can’t afford them they will tell you so. If they can afford it, you’ll make a sale.

[span class=note]This story is from the December 2010 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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