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Smooth Seller: Craig Husar

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This Wisconsin “Smooth Seller” strengthens himself by boldly confronting his fears.

[h3]Craig Husar[/h3]

[h5]Lyle Husar Designs; Brookfield, WI[/h5]

[componentheading]Smooth Seller Profile[/componentheading]

[dropcap cap=T]reasure hunter … gemology instructor … aspiring airplane pilot. Sounds a bit like Indiana Jones, but then you throw in top-notch salesman and jewelry-store president, and you’ve got Craig Husar. He’s never carried a whip, but like Jones, has lived his life in the pursuit of the extraordinary, facing down his fears along the way. He had a fear of public speaking, so he took a position as a gemology instructor at the GIA for two years. He had a fear of drowning, and became an exhibition director and diver on the crew of Mel Fisher, helping him to recover $500 million in gold and silver artifacts from the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha near Key West. Then Husar was in a plane crash. Afterwards, he began to earn his pilot’s license. In 1998, Husar brought with him a wealth of experience and confidence when he returned to Lyle Husar Designs, the business in Brookfield, WI, that his father built. Since his return, the store’s volume has increased by over 600 percent. And this year, Husar’s personal goal is to sell over $1.2 million. Dr. Jones, eat your heart out. — TRACE SHELTON [/dropcap]

[componentheading]Smooth Seller Interview[/componentheading]

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[blockquote class=orange]Any time you can overcome a major obstacle in your life, it helps you realize that anything is possible. [/blockquote]

• It’s difficult growing up in a family business and not knowing if your success is based solely on your family’s past success. By going out on my own and doing the things I did, it gave me the confidence to believe I could be successful on my own merits. That’s what allowed me to come back into the family business years later, and have that sense of accomplishment under my belt.

• How could anyone not love this business? It’s sexy. It’s filled with stories of romance, passion and adventure. Some people are simply better storytellers than others. I believe that I am a great storyteller, perhaps it’s something I learned from my children. The more exciting you make the story, the more interested they are. It’s really simple. Thrill your customers. Give them something to remember. Tune in to what’s important to them and exceed their expectations.

• Customers are like diamonds — no two are ever alike. I find something interesting about every customer and take great strides to not place them into any “type” or “category.”

• My selling style has always been educational. I’m more of a teacher than most. Several years of Hearts on Fire University have changed my focus from gemology to romantic storytelling.

• The most memorable sale of my career? A 30-carat fancy vivid yellow diamond ring was requested by a client. Unable to locate a secure shipping method, I chartered a private jet and flew the gem personally to the appointment. This event helped to inspire my pursuit of a private pilot license for future deliveries.

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•  If I weren’t selling jewelry, I’d probably be treasure hunting with my family aboard a private yacht. I spent four years working with Mel Fisher in Key West, FL. The ship he found was the Nuestra Senora de Atocha. She was lost during a hurricane in 1622. The?team?recovered over $500 million in gold, silver and emerald artifacts. I still wear my first “Piece of Eight” coin.

• Our business benefits tremendously from teamwork. Clients love it. The sales team working in symphony with the design and repair team is music to my ears. It’s all about memorable customer service these days.

• I think my father was wise to push me away from the business in 1991. A common trait I see among successful second-generation owners – they’ve left the business, and now have a deeper appreciation for what it takes to run a successful business.

• Three of my biggest inspirations were Glenn Rothman of Hearts on Fire, Alan Friedman and Shane Decker. Every one of them is passionate about diamonds – in very different ways of course. But that passion was contagious. If you’re thrilled, excited, and passionate about something, people listen to what you say.

• Most salespeople are unable to focus on one presentation at a time when customers are waiting. The key is to truly be present in the conversation you’re having at that moment, and not lose focus on the customer in front of you.

• It’s OK to give people space. A lot of salespeople think they can’t leave the customer. I think it’s highly important to give them some personal space. As long as you’re able to pick up the conversation right where you left off, it makes sense.

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• When there are no customers in the store, I brainstorm marketing strategies, train and educate our staff and make sure the store is in perfect condition. My father and I are very particular about how everything looks in the showroom. We want every customer to feel like they’re the first ones to see the store.  

[blockquote class=orange]Always walk a customer to the door as you would at your home. It’s polite, shows respect, and it just feels right. [/blockquote]

• Probably the mistake I make most frequently is believing that when a customer says, “That’s all,” that they really mean it, and not exploring the opportunity to add on to the sale. You always have the opportunity to either plant a seed, or even sell something by asking if there is a birthday, anniversary, or other occasion coming up. A lot of customers are only thinking about that one occasion — they’re not thinking about all the other events in their lives.

• The biggest thing I came away with from working with Mel Fisher is not to be afraid to dream big. Put yourself out there. He pursued this shipwreck for 17 years, against all odds, and his battle cry was “Today’s the day.” Every day that I show up in my showroom, I think, “Today’s the day that a new adventure will begin.”

• During my four years of traveling with the Atocha exhibit, I got to see 85 different stores. I spent time with each store owner and got to know how they ran their business. It was like a four-year degree in how to run a jewelry business. So when I came back to the family business, I was armed with that knowledge.

[span class=note]This story is from the August 2007 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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