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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: August 2008

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GOING POSTAL, ON THE CHEAPPay Less

All mail is not created equal, so if you’re paying equally for all of it, you’re probably paying too much. Go to usps.com/businessmail101 for a primer on the different classes of mail and the many discounts available. One example: For flat non-letter-size mail, such as your holiday-season catalog, presorting by Zip code can save you up to 30 percent on postage, and you can save a further 10 cents per pound by dropping it all off at a bulk mail center. And remember, never send a letter if a postcard will do — postcards cost almost 40 percent less to send than first-class mail.

ROLE REVERSALHave a Sit-Down

From Seth Godin’s The Big Moo: Do what entrepreneurial hotelier Chip Conley does at his Joie de Vivre properties. Make it a habit to sit down with your new hires at about the three-month point. But don’t give them a performance review — ask them to give your operation a performance review. After three months, their eyes are still fresh enough that they’ll be able to see things you’re missing. And they’ll have been on the job long enough to know how things work. Chances are good that they’ll have a few great ideas to contribute, Godin says.

Paper, Scissors, StockBuy in Bulk

This year, do your office-supplies shopping all in one place. Office superstores offer online order management, free delivery for orders over $50, and loyalty rewards programs. In addition, Officemaxcommercial.com and Staplescontract.com are free programs that work like managed-travel programs, helping customers track and reduce office-supply spending through efficient ordering and discounts for volume buying. Office Depot offers similar services through bsdofficedepot.com.

CYBER ANNOYANCEStop Pop-Ups

If you want to annoy someone with your website, have it sprout all sorts of pop-up windows when it loads. Then, if you really want to annoy a potential customer who finds your site, make sure the window resizes itself automatically to fill the poor sap’s screen. You’re sure to drive your customers to the competition’s site that way. Let your Web designer talk you into it. If that’s what you really want. Your competition will thank you for it.

HAWKEYESize ‘Em Up

Gene Spath, owner of Spath Jewelers in Bartow, FL, says he watches every customer who enters his store like a hawk. “When I make my first approach to a customer, I’m thinking about what kind of jewelry they already have on so I can get a good sense of their individual style and what kind of thing we carry that would be a good addition to their collection.”

HIGHLIGHTERShowcase A Designer

Feature a jewelry designer, vendor or brand each week with a photo and bio or description, and display it on an easel near the entrance. It’s a traffic builder, says retail consultant Rick Segel. Photos are highly effective when used in signs, and the description will slow people down long enough to read it. Place one sign in the threshold and a smaller version near the designer’s product.

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LOGO A-GOGOBetter, Not Bigger

Are you one of those store owners who always asks your designer to blow up your logo bigger? To fill that annoying white space with more text? Anyway, here’s what those designers think of you.

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Abe Sherman is the CEO of BIG - Buyers Intelligence Group. BIG designs solutions for the merchandising challenges facing retail jewelers and manufacturers. BIG utilizes a data analysis tool, Balance to Buy, to help consult with clients and customize their individual experiences and results.

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Retirement Made Easy with Wilkerson

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