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Buzz Session

The Best Last-Minute Strategies to Drive Holiday Sales, According to Our Brain Squad

Here’s what our brain squad found to be the most effective holiday sales strategies.

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Phone calls, Facebook ads … networking! Hit some of the main holiday parties or hot spots in town. Nothing works as well as socializing and having someone “remember” they still need to come see you, or notice the jewelry you are wearing and start asking about it. — Alan Perry, Perry’s Emporium, Wilmington, NC

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  • We go to six days a week in December. And seven days for the two weeks before Christmas. — Steve & Alice Wittels, Aljan Jewelers Ltd, Mahopac, NY
  • Stock up on low-end, last-minute items. — Cindy Fuller, Fuller Designs, Poplar Bluff, MO
  • I give a free gift with purchase of $450 or more. The free gift is always something young and fresh in styling. — Cathy Calhoun, Calhoun Jewelers, Royersford, PA
  • Avoid staff fatigue by sending salespeople home whenever possible. With an average age of 66 on the floor, the last thing we want is one of our staff nodding off during a presentation. — Bill Elliott, Ross Elliott Jewelers, Terre Haute, IN
  • Last year we teamed up with Jewelex and Collected Concepts for their “Hot Deals of the Week.” This gave us video and excellent footage for online advertising … and best yet, they took care of organization and posting so we could continue to focus on our daily work and selling our jewelry! — Erika Godfrey, Hawthorne Jewelry, Kearney, NE
  • We designate one person to the telephone to call each customer with our special Christmas offer. We have a weekly email to each customer for the Deal of the Week, which we change to the Deal of the Day in December. — Ragnar Bertelsen, Ragnar Jewellers, Vancouver, BC
  • We partner with another local business to give our customers a special sweet treat thank-you! We have tried custom cookies, peanut brittle, and chocolates. This helps spread the news of another small business and makes our customers feel very special. — Linda McEathron, Design House, Waco, TX
  • For the first time ever, we put our ads in movie theaters in a great community, so before the movie, we are on previews! Great audiences and movies run five times a day in three theaters. — Teddie Gause, Gause and Son Jewelers, Ocala, FL
  • Make lists of best clients so you can reach out to them in December if they have not already contacted you. They never mind that you thought of them, even if they are not making jewelry a part of this year’s holiday giving. — Steven B. Goldfarb, Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler, Bellevue, WA
  • Clothing-optional shopping, small lizards roaming our showroom and we promise not to play christmas music in our store. — Cliff Yankovich, Chimera Design, Lowell, MI
  • Phone sales; contacting those customers that are in the 20 percent bracket. — Daniel Rochricht, Wedgewood Jewelers, Woodbury, MN
  • Late hours for sure. We extend our hours and see a lot of evening shoppers. It’s really helped us to be extremely responsive to digital communications as well (i.e., answering Facebook messages, comments, email, etc. as soon as possible) — Chris Wattsson, Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelers, Marquette, MI
  • A sale case full of beautiful older stock, usually priced at 50 percent off. — Brenda Mitchell, Gleim Jewelers, Palo Alto, CA
  • We have found social media pushes targeting a specific category or price point to be most beneficial. Around Christmas Eve, we make an ad geared towards last-minute shoppers (i.e., husbands and boyfriends) and select the demographics that are more prone to find themselves in that category. — Morgan Bartel, Susann’s Custom Jewelers, Corpus Christi, TX
  • Increasing humorous Facebook posts to lighten the mood during this hectic season. Reminding everyone we see that you can never go wrong with a little box from us under the tree! — Andrew Russakoff, Russakoff Jewelers, Skowhegan, ME
  • Constant contact with your client base. Direct mail methods are best (and most economical) in my small community. — J. Dennis Petimezas, Watchmakers Diamonds & Jewelry, Johnstown, PA
  • People want price cuts, so we give price cuts on specific days like Black Friday, an early December Friday flash sale and coupons to our top 20 percent of customers. It’s what they wait for and expect, so we give them several opportunities to shop with us early for a discount. — John Carom, Abby’s Gold & Gems, Uniontown, PA
  • We send a flyer to 10,000 households in our zip code 10-12 days before Christmas, extend our hours a bit and open the Sunday before Christmas. — Rosanne Kroen, Rosanne’s Diamonds & Gold, South Bend, IN
  • Events! There is nothing better than several events that are scheduled throughout the season to create momentum, excitement and a real “buzz” in the store. I believe that you can’t just do one. You need to do several events to capture your market share and keep people talking. — Rita Wade, Wade Designs Jewelry, Rocky Mount, NC
  • We try to keep our best sellers in stock. We picked our holiday catalog from a supplier who can fill our last-minute orders on the best sellers. — Donald Killelea, Killelea Jewelers, Midlothian, IL
  • I try not to do any last-minute strategies, as typically the last 10 days we are swamped with customers. I think the most important thing for my store (and my mental state) is to have a plan of hours, customer contacts and inventory finished way before the last days so all we have to do is focus on the customers walking through the door. — Kristin Cornwell, Cornwell Jewelers, Athens, OH

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 76 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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Gene the Jeweler

Gene Shows His Competitive Spirit ... and It's Not Pretty

In this episode of Jimmy DeGroot’s satirical Gene the Jeweler series, Gene answers a viewer question: “It looks like you have a laser welder in your shop. Should I get one?” Gene suspects he knows who sent the query. He’s not pleased. In fact, the situation brings out the worst of Gene’s competitive spirit.

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Buzz Session

How Weather Affects Jewelry Stores (Hint: Snow Brings Seniors with Watch Batteries)

Our Brain Squad divulges how weather affects jewelry shopping in their markets.

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Heavy storms keep customers at home but also get them rushing over before and after. Sometimes the heavy rain helps us because we know that the people who make the trip out are serious about purchasing. They also get our undivided attention. — Betsy Barron, Love & Luxe, San Francisco, CA

  • If there is a big snow, I can almost promise we will be dead for the majority of the day except for that “one guy” who always has the “Big Truck” and decides today is the day he’s buying “the ring.” As if he is a Spartan heading into battle, he has waited for the worst possible day to drive, but today is the day, and he will be “the man” and rise up to the occasion and battle the weather and prove his love to her by buying her “the ring.” — Travis Piper, Piper Diamond Co., Vincennes, IN
  • Bad weather brings out old people with canes and walkers. — Jim Greenfield, Spritz Jewelers, Champaign, IL
  • Anything falling from the sky is a business downer. If I use the windshield wipers on the way to the shop, it means I will get to spend the day at the workbench and get a lot accomplished. If it is very cold, it means I will have an influx of senior ladies who know it is a warm place to hangout, and if it is a fine spring day, the traffic will be brisk, people will see me outside working on the plantings around the shop and stop, usually with a sale as a result. — James Doggett, Doggett Jewelry, Kingston, NH
  • I don’t think it matters at all. I remember when I started here 40-plus years ago, my uncle and dad would use weather as an excuse for bad business. If it was sunny, people were out working on their yards or at the beach; if it was crappy, who wanted to come out in the rain or snow? If someone needs to pick up their wedding bands or anniversary gift, they are coming regardless of weather. — Eric Ohanian, Leon Ohanian & Sons, Boston, MA
  • We had 1.7 inches of snow from Dec. 1 to Jan. 18, then we got 18-plus inches in nine days, followed by 54 hours of polar vortex. We were supposed to work the vortex, my husband even put a new battery in the truck, but when he let the dogs out that morning, he came back in and said, “No way!” Most folks that can, leave Wisconsin from January to April. The diehards that stay here are not intimidated by weather. We even had folks point out that we were closed during the vortex! — Jo Goralski, The Jewelry Mechanic, Oconomowoc, WI
  • We call rainy days “diamond days.” We tend to be a little slower when the weather is nice and busier when the weather is not so nice. — Joel Wiland, J. David’s Jewelry, Broken Arrow, OK
  • Rainy days seem to lose us customers … and so do really hot days. — Wadeana Beveridge, Community Jewelry, Brandon, FL
  • After the dreary days of winter, our female customers come out when the sun begins to shine to make self-purchases. — Kristin Cornwell, Cornwell Jewelers, Athens, OH
  • Snow on the way? The sky must be falling because we can see a constant stream of people rushing into the grocery store next door. After the threat of bad weather, people are ready to shop again and we are always busy! — Teri Vogan, Vogan Gold & Silver Works, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Suddenly we had days of way-below zero temps. We had to close a couple of times, and then snowstorms! Hasn’t happened like this in a long time. It affected our sales from January into February! Tough to sell, but thanks to Facebook and Podium, we communicated with customers and made sales happen. — Julee Johnson, Julee’s Jewelry, Mankato, MN
  • Can’t figure weather’s effect on our customers. Some days when I figure, “No one is going out in this $%#@,” they show up. I have no handle on this one. — Cliff Yankovich, Chimera Design, Lowell, MI
  • If the sun is out in the winter, customers come in. I still have customers when the weather is not so good. Ice keeps them away. — Laura Pool, Laura’s Jewelry Designs, St. Robert, MO
  • The snow kills business here. As soon as a storm is announced, everyone goes out to the supermarket — you know people MUST stock up on food and provisions lest they be stuck inside for a day. — Marc Altman, B & E Jewelers, Southampton, PA
  • In the Pennsylvania area, snow means grocery, sunshine means outdoor planting, heat means pool, rain means we’re usually busy with repairs. — Judy Stanley, Skippack Jewelers, Harleysville, PA
  • The most beautiful Florida days usually bring shoppers to more pleasurable pursuits than visiting their jeweler. Me too; I’d rather be at a beach, river, etc. — Robert Young, Robert Young Jeweler Extraordinaire, Belleair Bluffs, FL
  • Snow makes people disappear, except when it’s close to Christmas. A few flakes are fine, but any chance it will accumulate, people turn into bears and hibernate until it’s over. — Gregory Fliegauf, Fliegauf Jewelers, Washington, NJ
  • Snow in December (or even November) definitely gets people thinking about the holidays and wanting to start their Christmas shopping … though if we’ve seen a big snowfall, it usually dampens business because clients head to the mountains to ski! Actually, good weather often has an inverse relationship with our business: it seems counter-intuitive, but because we’re such an active and outdoor community, when it’s really nice outside, our clients go hiking, fishing, camping, skiing, biking or boating. That’s why most live here! — Jennifer Hornik Johnson, Miller’s Jewelry, Bozeman, MT

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

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Buzz Session

Best Ways to Give to Charities? Here’s What Our Brain Squad Says

Innovative practices include asking for charitable donations instead of charging for watch batteries.

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  • We get on average five requests a week. With every request, we thank them for thinking of us as we love to give and support our local charities and communities. We ask for a 90-day written notice. This eliminates about 95 percent of requests as they are usually last minute. Most of the charities that we partner with we have been with for years, but each year we set aside a certain dollar amount for the “add ons.” When our budget runs out, we explain how we budget our donations on an annual basis. It’s amazing how well this goes and the people that truly want to partner will go ahead and start working with you for the next year. At that point, anyone associated with that charity sees your involvement and support and you become not just part of their inner circle but the jeweler for the charity, and they promote you. — Joel Wiland, J. David’s Jewelry, Broken Arrow, OK
  • I have given gift certificates. Everyone appreciates them and it gets new people into the store. I don’t set a limit like “$100 off $500.” That’s a turnoff. Every gift certificate has been toward jewelry that’s much more than the face value of the certificate. It gets the name out and that’s important. I’ve given jewelry to charities, but I never see the customer come into the store. — Dale Robertson, Dale Robertson Jewelry, Loveland, OH
  • I think the most effective way of giving back to the community is by actually showing up. Don’t just give a piece of jewelry away; show up to the event and mingle. — Christopher Sarraf, Nuha Jewelers, Plainview, NY
  • I sit on several boards, chaired several events and have been on numerous nonprofit committees. The thought is, do you give time or treasure? I feel time has reaped the most financial advancement. We have given jewelry for numerous charity auctions, but it does not bring people through the door like the time I donate to many organizations. — Patty Gallun Hansen, Dorothy Gallun Fine Jewelry, Cedarburg, WI
  • We keep track of who asks for what, when and how well it was handled on both ends. If it was a good experience and we and the community benefitted, we continue to work with them yearly. We love these opportunities. It gets to the root of what we are trying to be … the neighborhood jeweler. — Ryan “Jr.” Karp, Cornerstone Jewelry, Palos Park, IL
  • We have found that concentrating on two larger fundraisers in a year seems to be successful for us. We will contribute our time, money, and jewelry toward those larger events. For all the additional asks that we receive, we have a donation request form that can be completed. From there, we hand-select qualifying charities that are doing great things in our community. — Allison Leitzel-Williams, Leitzel’s Jewelry, Myerstown, PA
  • We give gift certificates only. It’s a way to get a new customer into the store. — Brian Stubblefield, Hendersonville Jewelers, Hendersonville, TN
  • I give to schools locally and in the nearby area. I also donate jewelry and gift cards to all local fundraisers. — Diana Smires, Diana Smires Jewelry, Columbus, NJ
  • We ask our best customers to host a party in their favorite charity’s honor at our store. We invite the hostess’s besties and our best customers. We donate 10 percent of our entire weekend profits to the published charity (the party is on Thursday — we allow the sale special to run all weekend).
  • The donation is a direct result of the hostess’s effort and her friends’ response to the party invite. The better the hostess/hostesses, the better the party and donation.
  • We are only four years old, but giving back to our community is something many of our seasoned competitors still don’t do. — Elizabeth Kittell, Pretty In Patina, Omaha, NE
  • If it is not too expensive, I will support it. — Steve Wittels, Aljan Jewelers Ltd., Mahopac, NY
  • We have two drawers that are donated items. We give to most charities that request, and most are requesting an auction item, so we just pull an item from this stock (most are older items that just didn’t move or sell). We have a handful of charities to whom we donate larger items or give a gift card. — Kriss Roethlisberger, Ace of Diamonds, Mount Pleasant, MI
  • We give to almost every 501(c)(3) group that requests. Many years ago, we quit selling watch batteries and asked, instead, for donations. People generally give $5 to $20 and we’re raised over $75,000. This money goes to mostly local charities. Customers really like this! — Richard Frank, Goldstein’s, Mobile, AL
  • We judge the charity by what the people that need the help get out of it. There are a lot of groups that want things, but they are not always working the best for the people they say they want to help. Then you get people that just want help their family, and it is all about them. — Mark Brushert, JR Brushert Jewelers, Wausau, WI

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

Continue Reading

Buzz Session

To Pay Commission Or Not to Pay Commission? That Is The Question

Here’s how our Brain Squad members pay their employees.

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  • Commissions only get paid if the employee’s wages plus the commission check is half or less than what the employee brought in for the month. And all bonuses are paid on the profit the employee brings in. It makes it easier for all involved. — David Dumas, Diamonds and Gold, Int., St. Louis Park, MN
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  • I believe in giving commissions for many reasons. I believe it can be used as a reward system as well as helping to establish an “owner mentality,” by encouraging them to develop relationships with customers. — Rita Wade, Wade Designs Jewelry, Rocky Mount, NC
  • We have a living wage guarantee for all employees and it is all the same. Commissions are the opportunity to earn what you deserve. I love paying the bonus because it shows the employee is working for our mutual good. — Russell Criswell, Vulcan’s Forge, Kansas City, MO
  • We do not have commission. We have team sales goals. If we meet our monthly goal then we all get a bonus. This encourages us to work as a team and sell as much as we can, together. — Erica Lorenz, Michael & Sons, Reno, NV
  • They have to make our baseline requirement for profitability before we distribute commissions. They can earn up to 3 percent commission, they can earn a bonus for selling a high-dollar item over $10,000, and the manager can earn additional perks. — Elizabeth Kittell, Pretty In Patina, Omaha, NE
  • No commissions. I pay a fair wage and everyone works as a team. Less conflict and happier customers without heavy-handed sales techniques. — John Hayes, Goodman’s Jewelers, Madison, WI
  • We have a profit sharing program that the sales staff gets monthly depending on total sales. This way, we do not get competition for a big customer. — Michael Halem, Halem & Co. de Sonoma, Sonoma, CA
  • Commission does not work for our store. I prefer to build in daily team incentives. If sales on given days meet or exceed our daily goal, every person who worked on that day receives the same bonus. Our bonuses are usually in-store credit that staff can spend as they wish, or accumulate for something substantial. The only stipulation is that it must be for the individual staff member to enjoy, not for gift purchases. — Laurelle Giesbrecht, French’s Jewellery, Wetaskiwin, AB
  • I don’t pay commissions; I pay monthly bonuses. Most of our sales are custom designs, which require a team effort between the designer, CAD artist, and diamond/gem specialist. We have monthly sales goals, and if we make them as a team, everyone receives a bonus. — Dianna Rae High, Dianna Rae Jewelry, Lafayette, LA
  • We pay commissions to some and not to others. We used to pay commissions to everyone, but that got buggered up so we went to salary only, and when the “issue” no longer worked full-time, we went back to paying commission. Our team is so great at working together that we hear most often, “No, you take it; it was your sale.” We just try to encourage that behavior! — Nicole Shannon, Keir Fine Jewelry, Whistler, BC
  • We pay commissions, but everyone has to play fair. I will revoke if someone is being nasty. — Amanda Lanteigne, Gold-n-Memories Ltd., Steinbach, MB
  • Will never do commissions, they are the worst thing you could do to a customer. — Craig C. Curtis, Belfast Jewelry Belfast, ME
  • We stopped commission when we saw it creating a nasty work environment for sales staff and customers’ needs with the right product being overlooked for the sake of trying to make money. We instead raised the salary/hourly wage and went to performance bonuses and saw a huge improvement in teamwork and getting the client the right solution. — Julie Terwiliger, Wexford Jewelers, Cadillac, MI
  • Employees are motivated by money. We pay between 3 percent and 6 percent commission. — Brian Goff, Goff Jewelers, Staten Island, NY
  • We did salary plus commission for 18 years but switched to salary base two years ago. It has gone well. Our sales staff still has goals, and we review monthly/quarterly to make sure that everyone is hitting their targets. — Valerie Naifeh, Naifeh Fine Jewelry, Oklahoma City, OK
  • We pay by the hour because my staff all do different things. I don’t feel it is fair to pay by commission when one key employee is often handling all the engraving jobs, thus not allowing her to be on the sales floor. We all work together without any competition. I do, however, have several items listed each month that we have a spiff for if sold. — Sue Parker, Nyman Jewelers, Excanaba, MI
  • I’m a sales guy at heart. I’m motivated by money (and lots of other things), so I LOVE to pay my employees a commission. — Travis Piper, Piper Diamond Co., Vincennes, IN

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

Continue Reading

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