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Smooth Seller: George Emmett

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Vail Smooth Seller syas: “This is jewelry. It’s not like buying insurance…

it should be fun.”

[h3]George Emmett [/h3]

[h5]A.E. Betteridge; Vail, CO [/h5]

[componentheading]BIO[/componentheading]

GEORGE EMMET
Age: 35 
Years in jewelry sales: “Since birth”
2005 sales: Undisclosed 

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[dropcap cap=F]or George Emmett, the jewelry business is “more or less a birthright.” His grandfather opened a jewelry store in Dallas back in 1946, and when George came along he tagged along at his heels every chance he got. Emmett managed his family’s small store for a year before following his then-girlfriend (now wife) to Colorado. When he arrived, he didn’t have a job, so she hopped on his computer, printed out his resume, and turned it in at Gotthelf’s in Vail. They called and asked Emmett to come interview. Emmett says of his career in the jewelry industry: “It chose me, I didn’t choose it!”[/dropcap]

A.E. BETTERIDGE
Location: Vail, CO 
Employees: 7 (Vail store) 
Opened: 1897 (Vail store, 1978)

Since 1978, Gotthelf’s My Jeweller has epitomized the Vail Valley’s reputation for the good life. Over the years, Gotthelf’s grew to include three locations in Colorado. In 2005, Gotthelf’s merged with one of the country’s most-respected jewelers — A.E. Betteridge Jewelers (Greenwich, CT), currently owned and operated by A.E. “Terry” Betteridge III.

[componentheading]INTERVIEW[/componentheading]

• I don’t like to talk about my past sales totals. I don’t want to seem arrogant, and I’m a little superstitious. You start talking about how great your game is, and then the fat cat won’t hunt. When you get too boastful or comfortable, you miss a step somewhere and your performance starts to slide.

[blockquote class=orange]You’re only as good as your last sale.[/blockquote]

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• Salespeople are often villainized in movies and books. But in our store, we’re not low-pressure, we’re no pressure. People feel good when they come into our store. They’re in a world-class ski resort, and they want to buy a piece of jewelry that tells the story of the visit and the place. So we run a very finesse type of business.

• If I’m feeling bad, my customers are going to see it and empathize a little. I level with them. I just say, “I’m sorry, I don’t have my A-game today, but I’m going to do the best I can to help you find what you’re looking for.”

• My favorite type of customer is somebody who’s extremely successful but hasn’t lost their sense of reality. I like people who are as approachable as someone you’d meet at a party, someone you’d play golf with or ride bikes with. We’ll often take our customers out and be their tour guide, spend time with them outside the store to show them all the little nooks, crannies and hideouts of the area that only locals would know. They make it fun for me, too.

• A person’s clientele reflects their personality. If a salesperson is stodgy and sophisticated, their clients will be, too. People tend to like to work with someone who is like they are. I tend to be a little more fun-loving, so my clients are as well. I always tell people: “This is jewelry. It’s not like buying insurance…

it should be fun.”

• If I wasn’t selling jewelry, I’d like to write comedy, do some stand-up. I would do some voice-overs in a comedic animated series. I’d have to say that’s my real dream. I’ll be sitting around with friends and do some comedy bit, and they always ask me, “Why aren’t you in comedy?” Comedy is my passion.

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• The most impressive salesperson I’ve ever known was my grandfather. He was a true romantic of his time, a product of the 1920s. He used humor to sell; I got that from him (he was named George as well). People would walk out of his store smiling, giggling, and whispering, “Isn’t he great?” He never rubbed anybody the wrong way, and I wanted to be just like him.

• I know a sale is clinched when the customer still has the piece a month later. It can take a while for those things to cure. For instance, it may be a gift that’s the wrong shape, color, size, etc. After I make my follow-up call, if the customer is still happy and has no remorse, then it’s clinched. If not, I’ll buy it back. I never want to stick a customer with something they don’t love.

• Our team is like a family. Really. We spend as much time together as we do with our real families. We spend time outside the business going to movies, bike riding, or fishing to make sure we have that level of closeness.

• To a brand-new jewelry salesperson, I would say “have fun.”I always ask, “Do you have a general interest in jewelry and timepieces?” If so, you’re going to enjoy talking about it. If it’s just an inanimate object and you have no passion for it, then you’re not doing the customers a good service.

[blockquote class=orange]No one puts their own goals above the customer’s experience.[/blockquote]

• The thing that bugs me most is when customers assume that because we’re in Vail, our jewelry will be overpriced. I can’t blame them too much — if I was somewhere that charged $12 for a hamburger, I might think the jewelry prices were higher, too.

• To know the real George Emmett, you’d have to do some tequila shots and play a round of golf with me. I prefer not to carry a title. I tell people I’m “just George.”

[span class=note]This story is from the September 2006 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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