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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: April 2010

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Set ‘Office Hours’

Do you really want to listen to the voice of the customer? Here’s a way: Set “office hours.” State on your website and maybe your receipts that for say a two-hour period a week, customers can call a number and talk to you directly about your store, a service or a product. William Taylor of Fast Company says the idea is inspired by the college ritual that gives students access to lecturers.

Get Green Smart

April 22 is Earth Day, which means a green tip is in order. To be efficient, here are two: 1) Leave plenty of space around radiators; putting furniture or cases in front of a radiator causes it to work harder to warm the room. 2) Switch to recycled and/or biodegradable paper and note the fact, using soy- and water-based inks, in your store correspondence.

The E-mail Answer

What you knew: That attending to e-mail can be a time suck. The answer? Clean up your inbox when you’re at your least inspired, advises Donald Wetmore, author of The Productivity Book.

Fix that Smile

Find a small mirror and place it next to the phone in your store so you can check you’re smiling before answering calls. It will ensure there’s a smile in your voice each time you talk to customers, writes Don Taylor in Up Against the Wal-marts.

Diamond Service

Service test: An 8-year-old boy walks in with $50 in his little palm and his heart set on getting his mother a diamond ring for Mother’s Day. Do you laugh out loud, suggest a piece of crystal or do what Maine-based Day’s Jewelers did last year: Offer him a silver band and set it with a diamond (melee found in the shop)? The sale didn’t result in much of a margin but it puffed up the chest of a young boy and had his aunt raving about the service they’d received. In short, a lesson in how to create a testimonial.

Frame It in Pearls

Shake up your window displays! Pam Levine of Levine Design suggests draping chains and pearls in your windows, even hanging them from the top of the frame in swags. “Eye level is eye-catching,” she says.

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Ounce of Prevention

Jeweler Travis Piper’s favorite “special” question to throw at a job candidate is: How many grams are in an ounce? “If they say ‘I don’t know’ or something like ‘31 grams’ then I’m OK. If they confidently answer ‘28 grams’ then that raises a huge red flag for me,” Piper mentioned in a recent post on instoremag.com. The reason? “Drug dealers/users weigh marijuana in ounces avoirdupois and not troy,” the owner of Jewel Craft Jewelers in Vincennes, IN, explained.

The Flip Side

A lot of stores print their return policies on the back of receipts, which can be a great service. But make sure if you have any conditions in your return policy to post it in a place customers can see before the purchase. Once they have that receipt in hand, they’ve already paid for the item, after all.

Double Gifting

Here’s a great tip from Eve Alfillé, owner of Eve J. Alfillé Gallery and Studio in Evanston, IL, for someone buying a custom-designed gift. “I offer to wrap the selected gemstone together with an attractive mini-sketch of the future ring, all in the gift box. This way, I explain, she will have a gift twice: first the surprise of the gem and the sketch showing what is to come, and later, the ring itself.”

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Celebrate Your Retirement with Wilkerson

For nearly three decades, Suzanne and Tom Arnold ran a successful business at Facets Fine Jewelry in Arlington, Va. But the time came when the Arnolds wanted to do some of the things you put off while you’ve got a business to run. “We decided it was time to retire,” says Suzanne, who claims the couple knew how to open a store, how to run a store but “didn’t know how to close a store.” So, they hired Wilkerson to do it for them. When she called, Suzanne says Wilkerson offered every option for the sale she could have hoped for. Better still, “the sale exceeded our financial goals like crazy,” she says. And customers came, not only to take advantage of the going-out-of-business buys and mark-downs, but to wish a bon voyage to the beloved proprietors of a neighborhood institution. “People were celebrating our retirement, and that was so special,” says says.

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