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Star-Studded Breitling Summit Makes Waves in Southern California

All attention was on the new watches. And then Brad Pitt walked by …

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Brad Pitt and Georges Kern

AS HE SLOWLY WALKED past my table, he glanced at my face, catching my eye. Blushing, I quickly lowered my head, wishing desperately he hadn’t looked at me. Never in my life had I seen a man so beautiful that I became almost ill being in his presence. I felt, for a lack of a better term, “unworthy” to have been anywhere near someone so biologically perfect.

No, this is not the beginning of the sixth chapter of a Jackie Collins romance novel (however, I highly recommend 1969’s The Stud). It’s exactly what happened to me last week at the Breitling Summit at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills when Breitling Ambassador Brad Pitt joined retailers and members of the press for an outdoor dinner.

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When I received the email invite from the brand asking if I’d like to attend the summit, I was thrilled. The first part of the event was to be held in the prestigious Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, and as if that wasn’t reason enough to hop a flight across the country, the summit would end with a full day at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore, a 20-acre property containing a wave machine that creates 6-to-8-foot surfable waves for 2,100 straight feet. Oh, and did I mention there’d be watches to see, too? Yeah. Plenty of those were on hand. Read on.

The Summit started on Tuesday afternoon with Breitling CEO Georges Kern re-introducing the brand’s three “worlds”: air, land and sea. When Kern took Breitling’s helm in 2017, he made clear that the brand’s image was going to change. There would be less focus on some things that, frankly, turned a fair number of people off to the brand (scantily clad women in aviator-themed jumpers, anyone?) and more focus on design, quality and making a positive impact through partnerships.

In an instant, Kern was off and running, talking about the purpose of the summit and the worlds in which the brand lives before being joined on stage by a handful of the brand’s ambassadors. Audience members were treated to a greeting (via video) from astronaut Scott Kelly – the first member of Breitling’s “Aviation Pioneers Squad” – before watching a film featuring Rocío González Torres, a commandant in the Spanish Air Force and the first Spanish woman to log 1,000 hours at the controls of an F­18 fighter jet, as well as world champion drone pilot Luke Bannister, who not only joined Kern in person, but who also gave a drone demonstration, including how to take a group selfie by drone. The presence of these “air” world squad members was the ideal segue to the introduction of Breitling’s Avenger collection of aviation-related timepieces. Also introduced during the “air” segment of the presentation was the brand’s new Aviator 8 Mosquito, a watch inspired by the famed de Havilland Mosquito, a plane constructed almost entirely of wood.

Moving on to the “sea” portion of the opening remarks, attendees were introduced to seven-time world champion surfer Stephanie Gilmore, who talked about her hopes for the upcoming Summer Olympics in 2020, where surfing is a competition for the first time. We were promised a demonstration by the Australian along with surf legend Kelly Slater at his surf ranch the following day (which did not disappoint). Shortly afterward, Breitling introduced both the Superocean Outerknown and the Outerknown ECONYL Yarn NATO Strap Collection.

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Guests were then invited to a “touch and feel” by the brand in the gardens of the Four Seasons. High tables were covered in multiple versions of the new novelties with Breitling representatives available to answer questions. It was here I realized just how different this event was from many of the press events I’d attended in the past. This wasn’t just for press but was for everyone who would have anything to do with Breitling: store owners, watch buyers, managers, sales associates, etc. Across the room I could see Lisa Bridge, president and CEO of Ben Bridge Jeweler, along with the company’s watch buyer. At the same table as Bridge stood Slade Lewis of Lewis Jewelers in Houston, TX. And two tables over was Sara Beth Brown Prendeville, vice president at Brown & Co., which has two locations in Georgia.

When I asked Sara Beth how she felt the new collections would do in her store, she was optimistic.

“I think the new collections are sharp and will do very well in our Atlanta market,” she said. “Breitling holds a special place in my heart. It is nice to see the brand making moves, and the variety of new ambassadors is impressive.” When prompted for feedback about the summit, Prendeville said, “I was impressed with the professionalism of the summit presentation as well as the diversity amongst the brand ambassadors who were in attendance to support the brand. To my knowledge, Breitling is now supporting a unique variety of interests that no other brand has touched on.”

The afternoon quickly became evening and after a press conference and dinner (al fresco) with Brad Pitt, attendees turned in for the night in order to be ready for three-and-a-half-hour trip north to Lemoore in the morning.

Since announcing its departure from Baselworld, Breitling has brought a feeling of true intimacy to its events. Show booths can be cold at times (literally and figuratively) which may not be the best way to make a brand or its products memorable. In Lemoore, we stood – donned in bathing suits, covered in sand, and ever-so-slightly sun burned – taking in our surroundings and talking time. Retailers and press folks mixed with sales reps and marketing heads, which is the way it should be, because we all need to know what is going on in the worlds of the others. In order to keep my finger on the pulse, I make sure to pick the brains of the people at the stores in order to get their takes on how products are selling in their areas of the country. In Lemoore, I wasn’t alone in that thinking, because at any given moment, one could look up from the beautifully prepared gourmet lunch or from a glass of California wine and see the CEO of Breitling moving from group to group, asking questions and telling stories.

Breitling has yet again arrived, and brought with it a big, beautiful squad. But this isn’t just any squad. It’s a squad made up of impassioned people who are at the top of their respective fields. It’s a squad that cares about the planet, and what they can do to play a part in keeping it healthy. And it’s a squad that’s very much on a mission.

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Barbara Palumbo is a watch and jewelry industry writer, journalist and speaker. She manages the blogging websites Adornmentality.com and Whatsonherwrist.com.

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The Difference Between Closes and Statements, 7 Lead-In Lines and More Sales Advice

Here’s how to make closing sales easier, says Shane Decker.

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HAVE YOU EVER made something that should have been easy difficult? Maybe you overthought it, or you were afraid to try. Or you were worried what someone else would think.

Salespeople tell me all the time, “I tried that and it didn’t work.” But my observation is that people often try something once, fail at it, and then give up. They’ve proven to themselves that something new does not work.

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You have to want to make the effort and put in the time and practice to build new habits, especially when it comes to what I call “needle movers.”

Needle movers are actions that put money in the cash register immediately. The three big needle movers are closing, adding on and wowing clients. These should be easy, but we make them hard because of fear, lack of experience, or lack of selling skills.

It’s time to get over that fear of change. Have your team write 10 new closes, and make sure they’re not statements. For example:

Statement: “That is a beautiful diamond.”

Close: “She’s going to love wearing that beautiful diamond, and you’re gonna be glad you gave it to her.”

Then have them write 10 lead-in lines for add-on sales. Do not say, “Can I,” “May I” or “Would you like?” Clients can say no to all of these. Examples of lead-in lines to create add-on sales are:

“We have what matches.”

“This is part of a set.”

“She won’t wear this without the matching.”

“Tell me something else she’s always wanted but you haven’t purchased yet.”

Then, have your sales team write 10 lead-in lines to create a sale from scratch. This is what you say to a client when they’re waiting for a battery or repair. Examples include:

“Guess what’s in the vault?”

“Gotta show you my favorite.”

“Guess what just came in.”

These must be said with passion and enthusiasm. They allow you to wow the client and change their experience while they wait. Remember: You have to do something to make something happen. Clients buy on impulse all the time.

Practice with your team and make these phrases come naturally. Start all of these presentations with a lead-in line, and the rest will happen by itself. Clients do not get mad when you show them something gorgeous.

But you have to hold yourself accountable, and there has to be consistency. For some reason, it’s easier to fall back on old bad habits than keep good ones. Winging it doesn’t work. Practice with each other over and over until the simple truly is simple.

Creating is better than waiting. Get comfortable with your sales skills. Be the sales associate your client wants you to be.

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What You Can Learn About Jewelry Retailing From Airbnb

Rather than creating an average experience, consider what an 11-star experience would look like.

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AIRBNB IS A hotel alternative tech startup that has been on a meteoric rise over the past decade. That’s great for them, but what does it have to do with your jewelry store? A lot, actually.

Let’s take a close look at Airbnb’s creative process, break it down, and translate it so it can work for you in your store.

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Focus on delighting your customers. Think in terms of providing an experience rather than just selling jewelry. You might consider Airbnb as simply a hotel alternative, but they are successful because they’re so focused on the experience they provide. Here’s what Airbnb advises: “Hand serve your customers. Win them over, one by one. And don’t stop until you know exactly what they want.”

To create the experience their customers wanted, they asked them! They got to know their users. They asked them with openness and genuine curiosity what they wanted so that they could hit the mark in what they offered. People will share their opinions with you — all you have to do is ask, and then act on what you hear.

Shoot for 11 stars on a 5-star scale … then rein it in. Airbnb’s design process encourages you to let your imagination run wild. Don’t ask, “How do I make this better?” Instead, ask how you might completely blow someone away. Dream really big, and then think about what’s feasible within that dream. It’s much easier to be creative if you take away all the limits.

In Airbnb’s world, a 5-star check-in experience would be, “You knock on the door, they open the door, they let you in.” Getting creative, an 11-star experience would be “I’d get off the plane and it would be like The Beatles arriving: There’d be 5,000 high school kids cheering my name with cars welcoming me to the country. I’d get to the front yard of your house and there’d be a press conference for me.” With 11 stars, Elon Musk would meet you at the airport and say, “You’re going to space.”

Translating that to jewelry retailing, a five-star check in would be simply greeting the customer. An 11-star check in would be showing up at your customer’s house in a limo or helicopter, champagne and treats for the ride over, the store is closed to the public, and every piece they’re shown fits their taste and budget exactly.

You’re probably not going to pick your customers up in a helicopter, but experiment and aim for the sweet spot within your grand ideas. Pull some pieces aside if you know a customer is coming in. Auction off a special after-hours shopping party with drinks and light bites for the winner and their friends. Create a unique and memorable experience, and your customers will connect with you and want to come back.

Iterate like a great tech company. Experiment and see what kind of response you’re getting. Some ideas will work, and others won’t, and that’s totally okay — you need to find the right combination for your business. Set goals, then pay close attention to what’s working and what’s not. You won’t know if you’re succeeding unless you measure the results of your efforts. Adjust what you’re doing and see how things change. This all boils down to a process of continuous improvement and iteration.

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Here Are Three Ways to Beat Online Retailers

These are services that they simply can’t offer … but you can.

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HOW DO YOU fight online competition? By focusing on the things that they simply can’t do, namely service.

Here are three areas where you can use the service aspect of your business to your advantage and increase your service revenue stream.

Watch Batteries and Watchbands

I’m constantly amazed at how many jewelers either don’t sell watch batteries and watchbands or don’t take full advantage of the opportunity. I don’t know of another business that you can walk into and receive immediate service to fix a problem without an appointment. Yet, we jewelers do it all the time. When your customer has a problem that you fix on the spot, you’re adding value to the transaction. Start your standard watch batteries at $15 to $25 installed with a one-year warranty and never look back.

In-Store Repairs and Adjustments

So many people purchase watches online that need to be sized or adjusted. Some of them are so poorly made that they’re ridiculously hard to adjust or too large to size normally. There’s nothing wrong with charging $20 or $25 to fit a watchband to your customer’s wrist. They didn’t purchase it from you, and you’re certainly under no obligation to help them, but you’ve chosen to provide great customer service, so make sure you’re well compensated for your time and effort. This also applies to in-store repairs like closing jump rings, installing lobster claws, spring rings, etc. These are services that your customers can’t do themselves. Make sure you charge for your time, even if it’s only $5 or $10. It all adds up, and no one should work for free, especially when it wasn’t purchased from your store. We use the money generated from these adjustments to throw a great employee holiday party at the end of the year.

Custom Design Appointments

Most customers have no idea what goes into the preparation of a custom design project, whether it’s counter sketching, wax carving or actually doing a CAD. They come in with an idea that they want you to bring to life, and of course they want to know how much it will cost. By charging at least $100 for an initial consultation, which can be applied to the finished piece, you will immediately separate out those people that are simply information seekers from those customers who are serious and ready to start the process. If you’re not charging for that initial consultation, you’ll be taken advantage of time after time, as they will use your ideas and go somewhere else if they’re not satisfied with the price. By committing to pay you something up front, they are invested in the process and have an incentive to stay with you.

I’ve only listed three types of in-store services that will generate more income for your store, but there are many more. It’s important to keep in mind that your customer can’t go to Amazon or any online retailers to have these services done; they’re either not offered at all or are too prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to ship back and forth. They can be done offline by you, day after day, for a substantial profit.

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