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Productivity

Unlike the wider economy, jewelers reported rising output in their stores. It’s partly due to increased efficiency and use of technology but also reflects the fewer hands doing the work.

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1. Has your store become more or less productive in recent years?

The Big Survey 2023: Productivity

2. If you answered “Less” in the previous question, what’s been the main reason for this decrease in productivity?

Lingering disruption caused by the pandemic
17%
Not having enough staff
31%
Having to constantly hire and train new people
7%
Employees’ changing attitudes to work or working hard
17%
Outside issues impacting operations (supply chain
disruption, volatile metal prices, etc.)
7%
Technology (interruption caused by phones, social media, etc.)
3%
Other
17%

3. What’s your preferred way of measuring your staff’s productivity?

Client feedback
12%
Time-based efficiency (speed of a turnaround
on a repair)
6%
Task-based (e.g. number of rings sized, number of sales calls made)
12%
A financial metric (sales, profit margin or a ratio such as salaries vs. sales)
66%
Other (please specify)
4%

NOTE: Most of the Other responses involved a combination of two or more of the options.

4. On a scale of 1-5, rate the productivity of the following areas of your store over the last few years.

The Big Survey 2023: Productivity

The two big takeaways from this question were that the shop is driving much of jewelers’ productivity gains and that the returns on jewelers’ e-commerce efforts had failed to match expectations in many cases. Websites require constant investments of time and money to keep updated, while customers still want to come in person to see the jewelry they are interested in buying.

“For years, everyone insisted we have a website. Look, it engages your audience like curb appeal on a house, but few people use the website for buying … That may change with the next generation, but then again so will my store ownership,” noted one jeweler. As a result, several of the respondents said they had transitioned their websites to serve an “informational role” instead of supporting online shopping.

Meanwhile, the outsized performance of the shop was being driven by a perfect storm of rising demand and a falling capacity to do the work. Jewelers that can do repairs and custom jobs are closing around the country, while finding experienced bench jewelers only gets harder every year for those who remain in the market. The result: fewer hands are doing more work.

“In 1996 when we opened, there were 14 jewelers in a 30-mile stretch east to west. There are now four of us,” said one jeweler, adding that online sales of jewelry, often poorly made or incorrectly sized, were fueling a flood of work for his shop.

Another related: ‘We are down 50 percent in staffing. We are doing all the work but doing it better than the people we hire to do it, so we are more productive. We are just working our asses off doing it right the first time.”

With many jewelers and store owners in their 60s or 70s, the surge in work was leaving them exhausted. “There is too much to do with not enough staff and everyone (including me) is just overwhelmed,” said one.

For others, the lost opportunities across the store were simply frustrating: “Post-pandemic sales have been beating pre-COVID figures. Average unit sale is up nicely, but we do not have the right workers. Which is unfortunate because we do have an increase in clientele,” said another jeweler.

5. In one word, what do you think is the best way to raise your staff’s productivity?

The Big Survey 2023: Productivity

6. In the last few years, have you had to change your approach to motivating staff?

Yes
42%
No
58%

Among those who said “yes” were the following respondents who elaborated on their answers:

    • Profit share, paid vacation, 401K, living wage, team events … we just keep doing all the things!
    • Over the past year, we’ve dedicated more time to staff meetings and togetherness. Trainings have also been extremely helpful! When vendors visit, we make sure that the staff is properly trained in their product, and that they understand the “story” behind the product. This helps to motivate the sales team!
    • Trying to involve the jewelers who work on custom designs or repairs in the pickup process is a great motivator because they can see directly how their work affects the client. It becomes a goal to make the client cry happy tears, and if a jeweler is successful, we reward them with something like an adult beverage as we close shop.
    • We moved over to commission and a bonus structure. We also give them $1 for every customer from whom they get an email, phone number, birthdate, anniversary date, or encourage a try-on, review, or something added to their wish list.
    • We have started an annual trip tied to store performance.
    • I have found education to be a huge motivator along with professional conventions. My team loves sharing the stories and the knowledge they get from these events.
    • Customers appreciate the details they share and feel confident their items are being handled by knowledgeable professionals.

7. There has been much discussion about worker malaise over the last few years. Have you seen any evidence of such behavioral change among your staff?

Yes
39%
No
61%

Among those who said “yes” were the following respondents who elaborated on their answers:

  • There’s been an increased expectation for paid time off to live life, for caretaking, vacation, doctor appointments, etc.
  • Quiet quitting has been a problem. Employees call out sick and refuse to contact me to let me know when they are coming back or how they are feeling. It makes planning staffing difficult, and it turns the staff against one another.
  • We have interviewed many people and hired seven since January. They have all quit within the first three months. Reason: Moving on to make more money and find an easier job. There is no work ethic.
  • Everyone has gone through periods of burnout, some of which have been significant. But by providing people time off when they needed it (PTO or not) and fostering an environment where people can be honest about their frame of mind, we’ve managed to avoid major retention issues.
  • The attitude of a couple people can steer the whole direction.

8. On a personal basis, what is most likely to torpedo your day and stop you from getting things done?

The Big Survey 2023: Productivity

NOTE: Not all customers who demand your attention are unhappy. Indeed, the chatty, the chronic undeciders, the retired and even an unexpected rush of regular customers can all crater a morning. “Lots of clients coming in. It’s a double-edged sword, but one I will take!” said one jeweler. Such “happy” clients accounted for about a quarter of the Other responses, followed by tech woes, sta needing supervision, incorrect orders, security scans and compliance updates, extreme weather, tiredness, running out of co ee and a squirrel (we assume in the roof). Mercifully, only one person said “surveys.” We should also mention the couple of respondents who said the problem lay closer to home: “Myself! Sometimes I can’t get out of my own way.”

9. Please tell us about an app, software program or other tool that you started using in the last few years that has greatly improved productivity in your store.

We didn’t anticipate three technologies dominating the answers to this question, but that’s exactly what happened. The Edge, built for jewelry retailers as a point-of-sale platform that also tracks inventory, services and some customer-relationship management (CRM) functions, received the most responses — almost 50% more than the next two technologies, Podium and Clientbook, both of which focus on CRM (and online reviews in particular). Podium and Clientbook were mentioned five times more often than the next-highest vote-getter, Google Business. Also receiving multiple votes were Facebook, ChatGPT, Quickbooks, Gem Lightbox, and laser welders. Here were a few other responses we found notable.

  • “Chekkit. Similar to Podium, but much less expensive and better customer service. We have much better interaction with our clients now.”
  • “A virtual assistant. This has changed my life and helped me to accomplish so much, and at a very affordable price of $5.75/hr.”
  • “Instappraise has been a huge time saver and productivity enhancer.”
  • “Loomly to schedule all social media, and Shopify.”

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