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Tips and How-To

Tim Ottmann





TIM OTTMANN HAS owned the Gem Gallery in Reno, NV, for 21 years, and rarely has he experienced any type of wardrobe malfunction. This would be the week it had to happen. (See the Nov. 1 entry).  

Ottmann opened his full-service business as a one-man, 600-square-foot store in 1986, and has made three moves since, each to a larger location. He now employs eight people, including a wax carver, an appraiser, a custom designer, goldsmiths and sales staff. He moved to his current 3,500-square-foot freestanding location in March 2007.  

Ottmann works five or six days a week, often from 8 A.M. to 6 P.M. Until recently, he was doing all of the custom design work. But after 10 years of searching, he hired a goldsmith to help with design, freeing up his time to meet customers. Still, he is involved in all aspects of the business, including event-planning and doing live radio commercials.  

Ottmann’s best advice for preserving sanity? Go to lunch. That’s right: Just get up and walk out. Every day. ?I do take lunch. I used to eat in the lunchroom but absolutely could not stop the staff or customers from interrupting me, so I usually take that full hour to sit down, eat and get away! This keeps me from getting cranky in the afternoon.? 

THURSDAY, NOV. 1, 2007


8 A.M. We have a Pandora Trunk Show from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. today, and as luck would have it, I arrive only to have my wife tell me my pants are torn in the back. Yes, noticeably. So while she fixes the tear, I sit in a pair of athletic shorts that I keep in the office, beginning this daily monologue. 

10 A.M. I check and answer all e-mails, and make some notes about an idea that came to me in the middle of the night to bring in more customers. We plan to call all customers who had appraisals done over five years ago and encourage them to have updates. We’ll also suggest some routine cleaning and checking, providing some repair income in the process. I think we will have some sort of offer as well ? maybe a gift certificate toward any purchase at half the amount of the appraisal, hopefully bringing in some sales. 

12 P.M. Two hours into the trunk show we are disappointed with the turnout. We mailed 800 post cards, but only six people have come in for Pandora so far; I hope we’ll have a wave after work. 

6 P.M. Only eight Pandora sales, 33 total charms sold. However, a few other nice sales close out the day over daily goal. Although the Pandora event was not successful this time, we know what needs to be done differently next time. The postcards really need to emphasize the free bracelet offer in very large print, and it should be an evening or weekend event, so that more working women can attend. A quick trip to the bank, a meeting with my head gemologist on the appraisal update idea ? which he really liked ? and then closing finishes the day. 


8 A.M. In early to check e-mails, and the IJO channel. 


10 A.M. Being FRIDAY, we are usually busy with folks picking up repairs. I sort out repairs taken in yesterday, distribute them to the goldsmiths, and check on the custom work due. We are building up the number of one-of-a-kind pieces for the upcoming season. I want two to three finished each week until Dec. 1. I’ll also get a few more design ideas sketched out for the last two weeks of this month. 

12 P.M. Looks like medium traffic today, sales good. A few residual Pandora sales and two custom approvals. 

2 P.M. We are putting the finishing touches on our Men’s Night, which follows Ladies Night. Ladies Night is an event for ladies only, to enjoy soft live music, chocolate, champagne and wine. They select items for their wish list, and we send them home with a rose and a small discount for their significant other, to be used before Christmas. On Ladies Night, we also raise money for a local charity with a ?Balloon Pop.? Ladies buy as many balloons as they want for $20 each, and inside are lots of wonderful prizes, ranging from dinner at local restaurants, to loose gems, to floral arrangements and wine. All money raised stays in our community. For Men’s Night, we have some libations. Last year we had a taco bar and music. We thought about having a football game, but I don’t want to get cable in the store for just one day. Most guys don’t care about that ? give them a couple of beers and a meal, and tell them what their wives want for Christmas. They are done with their shopping and that makes them happy. There have been times when guys try to crash Ladies Night. I’ve got my teenage sons guarding the door, and when we turned them away a couple have gotten a little irritated. So this year we’re giving them gift certificates to a local sports bar, so they can wait there. 

6 P.M. Well, another day finished, we made goal again! I am taking the weekend off. 


Had a wonderful weekend, took a nice drive in the mountains with my wife on Saturday, very relaxing. Sunday was house- and yard-work. Took my oldest son to the college fair. And, my NFL team (The Packers) won again; that always sets the tone for a great day! 



8 A.M. Looks like we had a very quiet Saturday. However, we are still ahead of goal for the month. 

9 A.M. I plan to spend the morning going over reports, to make sure all of the most popular categories from the last year are full. 

10 A.M. Another quiet day, as Mondays usually are. I spend a good hour speaking with Mike Buley from Jewelry Ads That Work going over our marketing plan for the season. Looks like we are in good shape with only a couple of tweaks planned. Also touch on next year’s plan. 

2 P.M. I finish one more custom design, my favorite part of the business. 

4 P.M. It seems we are ready for Christmas! No holes in the inventory based on sales last December, plus cross-checking with this year’s sales. I am taking an ?early out? today to watch Monday Night Football with a customer, who invited us over to his house. The plan is to ?press the palms? with his buddies, hand out a card or two, and cultivate. 


8 A.M. After our weekly management meeting, all final details for Christmas promotions, events, and Ladies Night are done, and the preferred customer list is completed. 

11 A.M. Morning meeting with our sign guy, we are adding a few vinyl window signs.  

3 P.M. We are about halfway through putting up Christmas decorations, and begin stuffing the Christmas cards, while it is still not too busy. 

Looks like one more slow day, only a special order keeps it from being a real dud. Read today the forecast for the season is predicted to be slow, as they usually say, but I believe they, (the economists) will be proven wrong. Gold hits $820 an ounce today, not sure if that is good or bad, we’ll see. 


8 A.M. -12 P.M. The usual morning routine, e-mails, re-orders called in, and then our weekly staff meeting. We discussed the upcoming events, and asked the staff for ideas on the Men’s Night. 

2 P.M. Business is a bit better today, many repairs taken in, a few bridal customers.  

4 P.M. Another early out. This is the day I spend a little extra time with the kids, cook dinner, and hang out, help with homework. 

8 A.M. We’re a little short staffed today, so it should be busier for me.  

10 A.M. I have two lengthy phone calls with marketing experts, trying to find better ways to capture the bridal market in our area. Also get some good input on the special thank-you gifts for our top 200 customers. 

2 P.M. Finalize the contents of our ?fun stuff? for a local event. We are providing some neat little gifts for a group of 108 ladies who head out on ?Black FRIDAY,? the day after Thanksgiving to begin their holiday shopping. This event is put together by a local wine shop. The shop provides a Mimosa and a snack, then they head out in two buses for shopping at small local malls, have lunch, snacks on the bus, and wine! We are a free standing store, so we could not get included as a stop. So we will drop off our fun stuff bags as they leave for their adventure. Most of the items will of course, have our logo on them. 

6 P.M. Almost made goal today, not quite. Boy, this sure has been a tough year. 

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