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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: February 2014

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Tips: February 2014

Fresh ideas to better your business.

BY THE INSTORE TEAM
Published in the February 2014 issue

TIPS management

PLAN AHEAD FOR YOUR ONLINE HEREAFTER
The idea of living on in perpetuity in digital form has some appeal, but it’s actually a headache for your surviving family. “Many of your online accounts — from automatic bill payments to eBay — may remain active after you pass away,” says attorney Hillel Presser, author of Financial Self-Defense. It is not enough, Presser says, to merely provide a family member with all of your accounts, log-ins and passwords, as they may not be legally allowed to access them. Instead, he recommends appointing in your will a digital executor — a tech-savvy person who will be able to close or manage accounts in line with your wishes.

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MAKE ’EM FORGET PRICE
Store consultant Kate Peterson thinks jewelers can learn a thing or two from luxury car dealers when it comes to setting standards for your customer. “The experience is nothing short of amazing. They don’t care if you’re buying top of the line or entry level, the experience is the same,” she says, urging that you make it all about the customer, not about the price, not about the product. “When you understand and communicate real value, the price becomes secondary,” she says.

THERE IS A PLACE FOR NEGATIVE FEEDBACK
Don’t buy into the argument that there is no place for negative feedback in the workplace, says social psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson. Yes, be effusive with praise when someone is learning a new skill — it boosts their confidence and their commitment to the task — but don’t shy from offering “informative” criticism to a seasoned hand. “Negative feedback (e.g., Here’s where you went wrong….), tells you where you need to spend your effort, and offers insight into how you might improve,” she writes on her blog, heidigranthalvorson.com.

TIPS marketing

STRATEGIC FREEBIES
John Jantsch recently recounted in his Duct Tape Marketing blog his surprise at finding a free pair of socks and an energy bar included with the pair of running shoes he’d ordered online. Turns out that these “gifts” were placed in the box by strategic partners. Could you offer free gifts from strategic partners when you complete a custom design? A scarf, a small perfume sample, a coupon for a discounted dinner? And could that strategic partner provide a coupon or free samples from you when they deliver a product? A birthstone for a birthday dinner at a local restaurant, a free charm bracelet from the catering hall that hosts a girl’s 16th birthday bash? The possibilities are vast.

THE DARK ART OF GOOGLE SEARCH
Do you ever input keywords into Google to see how your store ranks? If you do, make sure you actually click on your store’s link: “Every time your business appears in the rankings and is NOT clicked, there is a chance that will actually lower your ranking for that term, since it is assumed your site did not appear to offer what the searcher was looking for,” a contributor told a recent edition of Quirk’s Marketing Research Review.

GOING ONLINE
What’s the biggest mistake store owners make when they start selling online? It’s to think commerce in the cyberworld runs by the same rules as in their brickand- mortar stores. “Too many retail stores blindly upload all of their jewelry and watches onto a website with full pricing detail,” says James Rubinstein, president of RESULTCO a distributor of brand-name watches that also provides virtual storefronts to brickand- mortar jewelers. Allow price comparison only when you can be competitive, advises Rubenstein “This entices shoppers to visit their local store to view selection and gives the retailer an opportunity to capture the sale.”

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TIPS sales floor

ASSUMPTIVE ADD-ONS
Do you struggle closing the deal? Sales trainer Harry Friedman suggests that when you reach the trial close phase of your presentation you attach the words “you” or “your” to the item as a way to give customers automatic ownership of it. He also recommends starting each add-on attempt with “How about ….” His formula can be broken down into five parts: How about (1) this perfectly matched (2) pendant (3) to complete the look (4) of your (5) new ring. So here 3 is the add-on, 4 is the “must have” reason, and 5 the assumed understanding the customer is buying it by giving her automatic ownership.

PLAYING TAG
Price tags that reflect the quality and sophistication of your store aren’t that cheap. It’s why most jewelers are reluctant to scribble on them or attach stickers when they have a sale. Eileen Eichhorn of Eichhorn Jewelry in Decatur, IN, has the answer — generic tags with color dots. “It’s good to use the kind that can easily be attached and removed from an existing tag,” she advises. “Occasionally, instead of tags, we use different color string for distinguishing items. I just think it looks neater.”

LEARN FROM THE PROS
Next time you are at the trade show, notice the displays of your vendors, advises Rick Segel, author of The Retail Business Kit for Dummies. “They have to sell to the most difficult audience there is — retailers!” he says. “Notice how they merchandise their products, what emotion they are trying to convey. And then copy that for your store.”

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CUSTOMER SERVICEIn the Kid’s Corner

Adults needn’t be the only ones who view jewelry stores as houses of goodies. In addition to its well-appointed kids’ corner, Renaissance Fine Jewelry in Brattleboro, VT, provides customers’ children with gift-wrapped presents to make them feel special, too. “They will remember the stuffed animal or the funky handbag they got at Renaissance Fine Jewelry,” says owner Caitlyn Wilkinson.

PERSONAL Go Gray

Worried your relationship with your phone is less than healthy? Switch your display from color to grayscale, recommends Catherine Price in her book How To Break Up With Your Phone. (This is apparently so threatening to phone makers’ addiction business model, it’s hidden five levels deep on the iPhone: go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Color Filters.) Instantly, your phone is vastly duller. Try it for a day.

CHARITY Sell On Site

When you’re asked to donate to local charities, make sure to choose only events that allow you to personally participate, says Dianna Rae High of Dianna Rae Jewelry in Lafayette, LA. This way, you’re building relationships, rather than just donating an item to sit on a silent auction table. For example, when the local ballet asked High to sponsor their annual event, she paid the sponsorship fee and asked if she could set up a small table of jewelry for sale with a percentage of sales going to the ballet. “The women loved it, we sold a lot of jewelry, I met new people, and the ballet received more than if I had just paid the sponsorship,” High says.

STRATEGY Good Citizens

If you refer to potential customers as “prospects” or “targets,” Seth Godin urges you to stop and instead call them “citizens.” His argument is based on the view that the conventional marketing terms don’t reflect the way power has shifted in the marketplace. “Citizens are no longer the weak, isolated pre-consumers in front of a TV set in 1971, with few options. Now, they appear to be holding all the cards. It sounds a bit pretentious, but then, so do most terms marketers use.” You can’t help but become a little more humble and respectful, Godin says, when you use this term.

TIME MANAGEMENTLeave the Mess for Now

If you typically feel the urge to straighten your desk before you can start on meaningful work, The Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman suggests a simple rule: reschedule. “If your job permits it, schedule a daily deck-clearing hour — but at 4.30 p.m., not 9 a.m.,” he says. “It’s time to abandon the secret pride we procrastinators feel in having completed 25 small tasks by 10 a.m.; if they’re not the right tasks, that’s not really something to be proud of.” Instead, Burkeman recommends the timeworn advice to work on your most important project for the first hour of each workday.

MANAGEMENTMore Donuts

Want to add some fun to your store? Take a tip from Sherrie’s Jewelry Box in Tigard, OR, where “you’re never late to work if you bring donuts,” owner Sherrie Devaney says.

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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.”

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

Don’t miss “the right-hand close.”

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SecurityBeware 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.

ManagementWill 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.

ShowroomSign 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.

SalesThe 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.”

PersonalKeep 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.

HiringAsk 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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