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Tip Sheet

The Best Tips of 2017

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There’s no qualitative way to grade tips. What works at one store, may prove ineffective at another. What represents a fresh approach in one market, may be old hat in another. Still, as a publication that provides itself on finding and sharing good ideas, we’d like to think we stumbled across a few that are worthy of repeating in a year-end list. Here are out 12 best tips of 2017:

Best tip to start the year: Put a buck in a jar.

Want to easily save nearly $1,400? Take Lifehacker.com’s 52 Week Money Challenge. You simply start by putting $1.00 in a jar or account and adding a dollar to the deposit amount each week. So in week 3 you’ll be putting in $3.00 and by week 17, $17. Of course by the end of the year, the amount will be $52 but by then you’ll have built it up so much momentum the sacrifice will be easy. And in a matter of days you’ll have $1,378 of free money to put toward a credit card bill or new laser welder.

Best tip to end the week: Strike Friday off your Work Calendar

If at this time of year you find yourself wishing there were more hours in the day, or more days in the week, try proceeding as if there were fewer. That’s the advice of Laura Vanderkam author of 68 HOURS: YOU HAVE MORE TIME THAN YOU THINK. Vanderkam doesn’t schedule any work on Fridays. She doesn’t take Fridays off. She just pretends, for planning purposes, that the day doesn’t exist. That way, when projects inevitably overrun, and unexpected tasks rear up, there’s a bucket into which the overspill can flow.

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Best tip to get your inventory in shape over a year: The 10/12 Rule

Move, liquidate, scrap, close out or re-purpose. Ten percent of your oldest jewelry should be targeted for such action every month for 12 successive months and “you will be your own hero,” says Dennis Petimezas, owner of Watchmaker’s Diamonds & Jewelry, Johnstown, PA. “An old, old, old, war-horse exec within the industry told me this six months ago. I’m doing it, and it feels GOOD. I am seeing results already.”

Best tip to energize staff: Go with the employee’s plan

When an employee comes to you with an idea, particularly if he is suggesting a change to a plan you made, adopt this useful bias: if the plan is at least 60 percent as good as yours, go with the subordinate’s. He or she will execute it twice as well, just through feelings of ownership, write Timothy Saint and Nicholas Smith, two former Marine lieutenants in a Business Insider post titled “11 Business Lessons from the Battlefield.”

Best tip to get buy-in: Invite all staff to meet the sales reps

The next time a sales rep for a wedding brand – or ANY jewelry line – calls about dropping in to show you their latest goods, see if the meeting can happen at a time when nearly all sales staff can attend. When you involve nearly everyone in selection, you usually ensure it will do better if you decide to purchase this line.

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Best Tip to Get your staff on the same page: Read this

Maintaining service standards is one of the hardest things in management. As Armen and Ara Darakjian, owners of Darakjian Jewelers in Birmingham, MI, have found out, “One bad experience can ruin a guest’s past 10 perfect experiences.” To literally keep everyone on the same page, the Darakjians started a store book club that meets every Friday to discuss a chapter of a selected work. A recent selection: Selling Luxury by Robin Lent.

Best tip to go beyond yes: Yessify Your Yesses

There is always a better answer than a mere “yes,” says author Dale Dauten, author of The Gifted Boss. He gives the example of asking a number of auto repair shops if they repair Lotuses. Most say “no,” a few say “yes,” but then one says, “Absolutely, we specialize in imports and the shop’s owner drives a Lotus.” Who do you think got the business? So the next time somebody asks you if you do custom, find a better answer than just “yes.”

Best reframing tip: Guilt is Good

The feeling of guilt doesn’t get much good press these days. But business author Mark Forster urges you to see it as a signal, as it tends to attach itself to stuff that really matters. Attack your most guilt-inducing tasks, and you may find, without intending it, that you’ve attacked the most important ones too, he says in Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management

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Best tip to elevate your restroom: TP your bathroom with quotes

Want a ultra low-cost way to add personality and romance to your bathroom? Tack pages of your favorite poetry up on the walls. For Liz Lambert, owner of the hip Hotel San Jose in Austin, TX, this was a cost-saving idea that eventually became one of the hotel’s most popular features. (Extra tip: If the pages start disappearing, it could be a sign that you’re not stocking enough toilet paper.)

Best rethinking of an old tip: The Rule of $100

There’s a widely held belief in retail that “dollar off” discounts are more effective than percentages. But Jonah Berger, author of the business bestseller “Contagious,” adds a proviso: When setting a sale price, remember the “Rule of $100,” he says. For prices under $100, use a discount percentage (25% off!). For prices over $100, use a straight dollar figure ($250 off, regular price $1,000!). It’s premise you should investigate with some A/’B testing.

Best self-improvement tip: Learn to say “I don’t know” more often.

Too many people in business — and politics, and elsewhere — act as if they know the solution to a given problem. Sure, no one wants to look like an ignoramus — but it’s hard to learn anything if you pretend you already know the answer, says economist and FREAKONOMICS author Stephen Dubner, Second benefit: Once you know what you don’t know, you can start running experiments and gathering feedback. “These don’t have to be complicated or expensive. Real randomized experimentation is one of the most basic, useful tools in figuring out how to solve a problem in any sphere,” he told Forbes.

Best tip of 2017: Ask This Question

It’s striking how much of what passes as modern management advice was prescribed by Peter Drucker half a century ago — batch similar tasks, forget multi-tasking, use stop-doing lists, look for the systemic problem in crises — and this little gem, which we came across recently. According to the management guru, the one question that will trigger more improvement than any other in your staff: What do I do that wastes your time without contributing to your effectiveness? “Ask it without coyness, he urged.

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Wilkerson Testimonials

Cleaning House for a New Generation

At Komara Jewelers in Canfield, Ohio, Wilkerson handled all the aspects of its retirement sale just as owner Bob Komara’s children took over day-to-day operations of the business. They’d used other companies before, says Brianna Komara-Pridon, but they didn’t compare. “If we had used Wilkerson then, it would have been so much better.”

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Tip Sheet

The Best Question to Ask Job Candidates and More Tips for March

Don’t miss “the right-hand close.”

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Security
Beware Social Thieves

Going to Basel? Beware of who you tell, what you post, and how you move. “Skilled gangs of robbers monitor social networks, and, based on information that the exhibitors post, the robbers have attacked, robbed and even burglarized hotel rooms that the exhibitors were staying at,” Itay Hendel, CEO of Israel-based ISPS, which specializes in theft prevention for the jewelry industry, says in a statement.

Management
Will Do, Not to Do

When making your daily to-do list, don’t pick 20 things you hope to do and that you think will add up to one day’s work: you’ll overestimate your capacities. Instead, pick the three or four most important things and really commit to doing them, even if you think they’ll take you only a couple of hours, suggests Luciano Passuello at litemind.com.

Showroom
Sign Language

When you go to a jewelry show, you ask your vendors what’s new, right? Of course you do. Consultant Larry B. Johnson, author of The Complete Guide to Effective Jewelry Display, says the best way to draw customer interest from regular clients is to put a whiteboard on an easel (total cost: $79) just inside your door with all of your new products written on it.

Sales
The Right-Hand Close

Owners are uniquely placed to provide a blessing to close a sale, but knowing when to intervene can be tricky. The sales associates at Linnea Jewelers in La Grange, IL, signal such situations by shifting the piece to their right hand (a technique recommended by sales trainer Shane Decker). Owner Denise Oros will then step in to provide the reassurance that’s often needed with a line such as “Great choice! I got that stone, pearl, etc. in Tucson, it is a one-of-a-kind, she will love it! You really have an eye for the finer things.”

Personal
Keep Vacations Short

There seems to be a belief that a “proper” vacation requires at least a week off. But as the American psychologist Thomas Gilovich told the Boston Globe recently, “If you have to sacrifice how long your vacation is versus how intense it is, you want shorter and more intense.” That’s because we remember and judge our experiences, whether good or bad, not in their entirety, but according to how they felt at their emotional peak and at the end.

Hiring
Ask How They Prepared

Anand Sanwal, the CEO and co-founder of fast-growing tech company CB Insights, has an interesting take on the best question to ask a job candidate: “Tell me how you prepared for this interview.” Not only does the reply likely reveal a lot about how the person’s commitment to the position — do they care? — but it will hint at their work ethic and their analytical capabilities, he says.

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Tip Sheet

How to Become an Idea Machine, and More Tips for April

One tip involves a jeweler who allowed a client to pour his own gold.

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Strategy Be an Idea Machine

Write down 10 ideas a day. “Do it for six straight months and see what happens. It actually turns into a super power,” says serial entrepreneur and author James Altucher. To collect his ideas, Altucher buys 1,000 waiter’s pads at a time from restaurant supplies websites (10 cents a pad). “They’re great for meetings because I have to keep concise lists, and they’re always good conversation starters.”

Podcast: How Can Jewelry Stores Stop Losing Their Best Employees?
JimmyCast

Podcast: How Can Jewelry Stores Stop Losing Their Best Employees?

Podcast: A One of a Kind Family Heirloom is ‘Vaporized’ … and a Jeweler Goes Above and Beyond to Replace It
Over the Counter

Podcast: A One of a Kind Family Heirloom is ‘Vaporized’ … and a Jeweler Goes Above and Beyond to Replace It

Podcast: Using Social Media to Win Customers and Lower Your Intimidation Factor
JimmyCast

Podcast: Using Social Media to Win Customers and Lower Your Intimidation Factor

Management We Are Family

Leitzels’ Jewelry in Myerstown and Hershey, PA, has a cool rule to reinforce the store’s culture: Every day, each team at both its stores must include a Leitzel family member. “We take pride in every aspect of the business and build relationships. It is easy to overlook how cool it is to be a family-owned and operated business,” says third-generation co-owner Allison Leitzel-Williams.

Customer service Pour It On

The trend of customers wanting to be intimately involved in the creation of a piece of jewelry can be considered either an annoyance or an opportunity. Collins Jewelers in Dallas, GA, opts for the latter view, starting with taking the customer out to lunch to go over their renderings and then involving them in every step of production. “One customer wanted to pour his own gold, so we made that possible and he was ecstatic,” says owner Marty Collins.

Productivity Take an Unwanted Break

According to a recent Columbia University study, the key to getting the most out of work breaks is to stop even when you don’t feel like it. “Participants who didn’t step away from a task at regular intervals were more likely to write ‘new’ ideas that were very similar to the last one they had written,” the authors explained in Harvard Business Review. So, “if you’re hesitant to break away because you feel that you’re on a roll, be mindful that it might be a false impression.” It’s notable, too, that the “break” in each case merely involved switching tasks. A change, it seems, really is as good as a rest.

Community Show Your Spirit

Communion season, which often takes place after Easter to around Mother’s Day, can be a nice opportunity for a jewelry retailer that is involved deeply in its community. Orin Jewelers in Northville, MI, is one such business, sponsoring a host of activities in support of groups from USA Hockey to the local hospital. They also sponsor, as well as make custom jewelry for, the Catholic high schools in their area.

Management Bad News First

When you’re delivering good and bad news to employees, always give the bad news first, says Daniel Pink, bestselling author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. Pink acknowledges this often feels counterintuitive, as many bosses hope that by starting out positively, they will cushion the bad stuff. “The reason has to do with endings. Given the choice, human beings prefer endings that elevate, that have a rising sequence rather than a declining sequence,” he says.

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Tip Sheet

A Low-Tech Loyalty Program and More Tips for February

From bench training to personal expectations, this advice provides holistic assistance.

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TrainingTake Your Bench Live

Live feeds from the bench have been used by jewelers to build showroom ambience and by sales associates to close sales for more than a decade. But there’s a second benefit that’s often overlooked — as a training tool, says Jude Dutille, owner of Dutilles Jewelry Design Studio in Lebanon, NH. Dutille has a camera at his work bench to “provide micro-visuals of what he is demonstrating,” be it stone-setting, fabrication, or hand-engraving to his staff of goldsmiths (all of whom are trained in-house “from scratch”).

Podcast: How Can Jewelry Stores Stop Losing Their Best Employees?
JimmyCast

Podcast: How Can Jewelry Stores Stop Losing Their Best Employees?

Podcast: A One of a Kind Family Heirloom is ‘Vaporized’ … and a Jeweler Goes Above and Beyond to Replace It
Over the Counter

Podcast: A One of a Kind Family Heirloom is ‘Vaporized’ … and a Jeweler Goes Above and Beyond to Replace It

Podcast: Using Social Media to Win Customers and Lower Your Intimidation Factor
JimmyCast

Podcast: Using Social Media to Win Customers and Lower Your Intimidation Factor

ServicePass The Buck

A neat — and cheeky — way of dealing with overly demanding customers from a fellow independent retailer in the vision business: BJ Chambers of Carrera Optical in McQueeney, TX, told INVISION Magazine she keeps business cards of other optical shops on hand and gives them to problem patients and suggests they “go visit.”

ExperienceProtect The Window View

Yes, the job market is tight and you might be short of staff, but hang those flyers on a local bulletin board or near your counter, not on your storefront window as some retailers are doing. “Your front window is your customers’ first impression of your store,” says merchandising expert Tom Crossman. “Don’t make it a messy one.”

PersonalExpect Less

The problem with high expectations is they often result in future disappointment. Meanwhile, low ones tend to make you glum in the present, given there’s not much to look forward to. The answer? Stop expecting, says Jason Fried, who has written several books on work. “I used to set up expectations in my head all day long. But constantly measuring reality against an imagined reality is taxing and tiring, [and] often wrings the joy out of experiencing something for what it is.” Expectations also keep you mentally living in the future and deflated when events don’t measure up — even if what does happen is actually pretty good. In 2019, don’t expect … so much.

IncentivesLow-Tech Loyalty Program

Two-thirds of consumers shop more frequently and spend more at retailers with loyalty programs. But if all the recordkeeping seems like too much of a headache, you could do what Maxwell & Molly’s Closet, a pet-grooming business not far from our office in New Jersey, does: Spend $200 and earn 5 percent off all purchases for life. People appreciate simplicity.

MarketingFind Your CPP

When plotting a mass medium campaign, be sure to speak with the TV or radio channel’s consultants on how to best utilize your budget and determine what the “cost per person” you reach is, advises J. Dennis Petimezas, owner of Watchmakers Diamonds & Jewelry in Johnstown, PA. “What may be the most expensive on a cursory review may be the smartest choice if you do your homework,” he says, adding that any consultation should be at the station’s expense. “They can afford it, so don’t take no for an answer.”

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