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Smooth Sellers

Smooth Seller: Gene Spath

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“Talk to customers as if they were close friends” says Bartow, FL “Smooth Seller”.

[h3]Gene Spath[/h3]

[h5]Spath Jewelers; Bartow, FL[/h5]

[componentheading]PROFILE[/componentheading]

[dropcap cap=G]ENE SPATH, 53, didn’t start out life in sales or even in jewelry. He was a plumber in the Chicago area. Today Spath and his wife, Tina, own Spath Jewelers in Bartow, FL, a 2,300-square-foot store with 10 employees. “How did I get into the business? My father-in-law came back from Miami with a suitcase full of gold chains and said he was quitting his job and was going to start selling jewelry.  I thought he was crazy. Now 22 years later I am standing in my own store believing I was right.” The family caught the jewelry bug, and almost on a whim, they picked up and moved to Florida 22 years ago. They joked that if it didn’t work out they could work at McDonald’s. But Spath transformed from tradesman to smooth seller, making that career in fast food completely unnecessary. — EILEEN MCCLELLAND [/dropcap]

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[componentheading]INTERVIEW[/componentheading]

• I work with my family and we thrive off each other’s success. I have learned so much from my son and daughter it amazes me.

I get to work early because I think it helps to minimize the stress.

[blockquote class=orange]I do a lot with trial closes. If a customer has answered positively to each question I ask, I know the sale is in the bag. [/blockquote]

My favorite annual promotion is our canned food drive to raise food for those in need. It’s great because the whole community really gets involved and contributes. Last year we donated over 5,000 pounds of food to the local service center. It is also a great way to bring new people into the store. They see the signs and want to know what they can do to help.

Teamwork is essential. At the end of each month, we award bonuses according to the overall performance of the store rather than commission to just one individual.

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It’s important to keep in mind that any work that you leave undone when you’re not operating at 100 percent is just more work you are going to have to do later. That factor is usually motivation enough to get through the day when you’re sick or you’re tired, or you really don’t feel like being at work one day.

[blockquote class=orange]Talk to customers as if they were close friends. That puts them at ease and makes the selling process smoother. [/blockquote]

When the store is packed with customers you have to keep focused. This is the time when you’re more prone to make mistakes. The best advice I can give is to follow through on your actions. Don’t move on to the next task if you haven’t thoroughly completed the one before it.

[blockquote class=orange]The mistake I catch myself making most frequently is not selling an add-on. [/blockquote]

My favorite type of customer is one who is appreciative of my hard work. It seems this is a fading trait in our industry. Many people almost expect us to perform miracles when it comes to jewelry repairs or custom jobs.

I really enjoyed the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. You have to be above the standard if you want your customers to notice you. I always remind myself that the killer of doing things great is just doing them good.

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I think everybody at some point or another goes through sales slumps, and if you haven’t yet, don’t worry, they are coming. However, I always try to stay positive. I don’t expect every day that the store is open to be the best day ever. If I can look at myself and say I did my best, then I am truly satisfied, regardless of what the numbers say.

[blockquote class=orange]I am a big advocate for people continuing their education. If you do not learn new things, how do you expect to grow? The moment you allow yourself to become stagnant, is the moment you set yourself up for failure. [/blockquote]

Favorite opening line? I always use the customer’s first name when they come into the store and proceed to ask them how they are doing. When they ask me the same, I answer, “Can’t complain. Nobody will listen.”

My favorite piece of jewelry is a necklace with the Chicago Water Tower on it. It reminds me of where I come from and to always stand tall. Keep moving forward even when the flames of disaster are all around you.

I always thank my customers for their business, which I think is a dwindling practice. I always try to remind myself that the people who come into the store can spend their money anywhere, but I am truly gracious when they choose to spend it with me and my company. 

[span class=note]This story is from the July 2008 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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