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Smooth Seller: Patty Frey

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This most powerful weapon of this “Smooth Seller” from Chicago? Her charming personality.

[h3]Patty Frey[/h3]

[h5]Steve Quick Jeweler; Chicago, IL[/h5]

[componentheading]PROFILE[/componentheading]

[dropcap cap=W]ant to turn your child on to jewelry? Try letting her wear your 4-carat diamond ring around the house. That was one of many things that made Patty Frey fall in love with jewelry at an early age. But it was her mom’s party-planning business that taught Patty how to sell it. As a party coordinator, Louise Frey had to begin by finding out what her customers wanted out of their big bash, and then help them figure out how to create an amazing experience. Young Patty learned passion and creativity from her mom but got her strength from her father, who regularly withstood the world of stock trading as a commodities broker. After graduating college with a liberal arts degree, Patty went to work for a local retail jewelry chain in 1988, staying there seven years before moving on to traveling estate-jewelry trunk shows. In 1997, she went to work for Steve Quick Jeweler, quickly moving up to the store-manager position one year later. Today, after 10 years at the store, Patty continues to help make Steve Quick Jeweler one of the most successful retail jewelry operations in Chicago. — TRACE SHELTON [/dropcap]

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[componentheading]INTERVIEW[/componentheading]

My secret weapon for selling is my charming personality. It’s rated sparkling/quirky. Like an unusual but really great champagne. Think Mad Dog and Cristal. 

There’s always such a great feeling when you’re selling something that makes people happy, like jewelry does. The idea of creating a memory with a customer is one of the reasons I enjoy the business. I mean, it’s not that exciting to sell a car.

[blockquote class=orange]When I come through the door at work, I turn my switch to “On.” I’m always upbeat, especially on the phone. (Shane Decker preaches this). I know why I’m there, I realize what is expected of me and most of all what I expect of myself.  [/blockquote]

My biggest day was $100,000. We were having our 20th anniversary sale/party last October. I sold many items too many to remember. It was a crazy night. Champagne and hors d’oevres … and lots of jewels.

Sometimes I think it all happens in spite of me. Last week a good customer tried on a necklace and asked my opinion. I said, and way too loudly, “It’s hideous.” Everyone including Steve (Quick) heard it. I got daggers stared at me. But once again my honesty got me through and I ended up selling an even more expensive necklace. We have so much fun and our customers enjoy the atmosphere.

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The most memorable sale of my career occurred when a longtime customer came into the store looking to replace a very important sapphire ring. He had no intention of buying anything. We had just received a stunning three-stone diamond ring. I loved it. I brought the ring out from the safe just to show him. I knew he would appreciate such a fine ring. Then we got into a deep discussion about yellow diamonds. He was just as excited as I was. Next thing I knew, he fell in love with the ring and we were wrapping up it up for his wife. Price tag — $64,000. 

[blockquote class=orange]In January, we had a couple in purchasing commitment rings. They had different ring sizes and I needed to know the engraving instructions. The words “pitcher” in one ring and “catcher” in another. Trying not to blush, I had to ask who was the “pitcher” and who was the “catcher”.  [/blockquote]

Part of the Steve Quick Jeweler experience is serving gourmet cookies by one of the finest bakeries in Chicago, always serving refreshments including a fully stocked bar and personalized SQJ water and keeping boxes of Altoid mints on our counters. 

Being sincerely genuine and honest is my only policy. 

Taking a customer’s old jewelry memories (good and bad) and re-creating them into a wonderful new and exciting piece of jewelry is always very rewarding.

[blockquote class=orange]Our philosophy is “Even if you can’t make a sale, make a friend.” Believe me, we have gone over and above to make and keep our friends. I recently calmed down a nervous engagement ring customer by offering him a selection from our bar. He accepted the drink and said he would buy the ring if I had a shot with him. I don’t really like tequila but I drank it — I took one for the team. [/blockquote]

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As store manager, I am constantly encouraging the benefits of teamwork. We set team goals with extremely generous rewards. Unlike other stores I have managed, we all have duties outside of sales. Every one of our staff has responsibilities that contribute in an important way to our success. We have such a terrific team right now that they would probably “get it” without our help, but it never hurts to encourage teamwork. 

Hands down, my favorite annual promotion is our Spring Fling in May. Think of combining Christmas and a huge inventory reduction sale into one month. We take our 150 oldest items and move them. It’s like Christmas, but better weather and a trip to Las Vegas thrown in at the end. 

Disappointing customers is about the only thing that stresses me. We do high-concept, high-quality custom design work. When we get close to a major event in a customer’s life and our shop is behind, or something isn’t quite right, it throws off my chi … it’s a bitch. Usually I’m very lively and energetic, but that throws me into a tailspin.

[blockquote class=orange]We are encouraged to wear the store’s jewelry at work every day. It’s like owning the world’s largest jewelry box.  [/blockquote]

The telephone is my most effective tool. You can e-mail, website, flyer and advertise your heart out. But you can only connect on a personal level by picking up the phone and talking. We have wish lists and of course I keep a personal customer book with notes on what my customers want and when their next big event takes place. I think the difference between good and great in our business is as simple as calling on them when it is appropriate and suggesting a great gift idea.

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

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