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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: February 2007

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Seven fresh ideas to better your business

Check your newspaper office for event photography; don’t forget your library; more.

[componentheading]YARDSTICK OF SUCCESS[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Always Be Measuring[/contentheading]

When asked his one tip for business success, Dial-A-Mattress CEO Napoleon Barragan replied: Always be measuring. Compare this week’s sales against last week’s, test the effectiveness of your newspaper ads, know how many sales are being generated by your mailouts, slip in the odd question about your store’s service as you talk to customers. “In 1998 we started asking all our customers five simple questions. Until we did that, it was hard to know if we were giving the customer what they wanted,” he told BusinessWeek.

[componentheading]KNOWLEDGE KEEPERS[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Visit Your Library[/contentheading]

The public library — nothing there but musty old books and out-of-touch librarians. Wrong. Most big public libraries have sections that provide a tremendous array of resources for small businesspeople including trade magazines, databases and digital tools, as well as traditional reference materials. In addition, they are increasingly hosting seminars and workshops on topics such as copyrights, Internet marketing and e-commerce. Best of all, they have librarians eager to help you find the exact information you need. Google can’t compete.

[componentheading]BOX-OFFICE HIT[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Rent A Cinema[/contentheading]

To make sure his local jewelry industry was prepared for Blood Diamond, Joel Hassler, general manager of Rasmussen Diamonds in Racine, WI, rented his local movie theater for a special screening on the morning of the film’s release. Hassler said he was a little discouraged by the interest expressed by his fellow retailers in the issue. One bright spot, however, was the cost of the rental — a very modest $600 (although that was for an 8 a.m, showing). Top marks to Hassler for his commitment to his trade. And if you’ve ever thought of holding a cinema-related promotion — a sponsored screening, a movie-inspired party — now you know the cost.

[componentheading]IN THE LOUPE[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Give ’em away[/contentheading]

Loupes are a key element in the rarefied atmosphere of jewelry stores, although in reality they are actually very cheap (as little as $2 each when bought in bulk), and they make for a great sales tool. As part of your presentation, briefly teach the customer how to use a loupe and what to look for in a diamond, and then hand over one. Tell him to take it with him should he want to price other shops. With that kind of gesture, most customers will never make it out the door The final trick: Teach your customers how to look for repairs at home, and more shop business is sure to be headed your way.

[componentheading]WORTH 1,000 WORDS[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Record Your Events[/contentheading]

Having an event at the store you want photographed? Here’s something to bear in mind: Starving newspaper photographers are hungry for moonlighting jobs. Call up your local newspaper’s photo department; someone’s likely to jump at the chance to earn extra cash. The work you’ll get typically just the images on film or a disc (print them yourself) is as good as or better than yellow-pages freelance photographers, and the price will often be lower.

[componentheading]HELP WANTED[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Include Your Website[/contentheading]

When you advertise a vacancy in your store, be sure to include your website so that potential candidates can get a quick idea of whether they really want to work there. It saves everyone time when you let prospects “pre-qualify” as well.

[componentheading]THE RIGHT CARD[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Remember Interra[/contentheading]

It doesn’t seem right, does it, the way the highest credit card fees are charged to the smallest businesses? Dee Hock, a founder of Visa International, now wants to set things straight. He’s one of the movers behind the Interra Project, an initiative to link credit and debit cards into a national rebate system that “will reward consumers for purchasing from locally owned and sustainable businesses.” Log on to www.interraproject.org to see how the program is coming along.

[span class=note]This story is from the February 2007 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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