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The Problem With Great Expectations and More Tips for October

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Use your leisure time productively

 

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 edition of INSTORE.

Customer Preservation

Nothing quite says the personal touch like home cooking. Valerie Jean Fairchild, owner of Fairchild and Co. in Santa Fe, NM, stays in touch with clients by sending them her peaches and apricot preserves in the weeks ahead of the holiday season. “Clients appreciate the genuine article of a home-made gift instead of a gift purchased from a catalog,” Fairchild says.


The importance of saying 'I don't know'

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Do what Sheret Jewelers did and work with your fellow downtown retailers for a holiday shopping event.

A Very Merry Main Street

A great shopping quarter is much more than the sum of its parts. Sheret Jewelers discovered that when it teamed up with the other merchants in Springville, NY, for what is now an annual holiday event called A Very Merry Main Street. “We were not expecting to be as busy as we were,” co-owner Elise Rose says. “People who normally may not stop in are often surprised at just how awesome our downtown is.”


Designer Q&As

The Squash Blossom in Vail, CO, believes the relationships it has been able to foster between its clients and the designers it represents has been a key to its success. To bolster those ties, it introduced a new column in its email newsletter called “How well do you know …?” The spot features 10 Q&As with designers. “The response has been wonderful,” says owner Patrice Cogswell, adding that column “has extended our knowledge of them beyond the basic biographical information available anywhere” while providing information that is engaging and often surprising.


People Like Wish Lists

Still have doubts about the value of wish lists? Here’s a statistic to help sway you: More than 90 percent of shoppers say they’d spend more on a gift if they knew it was exactly what the recipient wanted, according to a survey done ahead of Valentine’s Day by mobile gifting company eGifter, which hosts online gift registries and wishlists for retailers. Two in three would spend at least $20 more, and one in three would spend at least $50 more, it found.

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Shine a Light

Why just let male customers slump in a sofa watching TV? Get in some gear that’s likely to catch their attention during the commercial breaks. It was such thinking that prompted Forest Beach Designer-Goldsmiths in Chatham, MA, to add William Henry Knives and something few people expect to find at a fine jewelry store — top-end SureFire Flashlights.


Truth in Purchasing

Truth in advertising? What about truth in purchasing? Over 30 years of running a jewelry store have taught Slade and Cindy Lewis that not all customers tell the truth, whether it’s out of shyness, embarrassment or just general cautiousness. “So we try to get to the real stories by using laughter, humility and comforting them that we will be fair no matter what the ‘true’ story is,” say the owners of Lewis Diamonds & Timepieces in Webster, TX.


“Buy” Should Pop

Nothing on Amazon.com happens without a reason. Why the orange and yellow “Buy” buttons? “They offer clear contrasts against the site’s white background, which means a higher click-through rate, says Benn Parr, author of Captivology: The Science Of Capturing People’s Attention.

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Two Clicks and You’re Out

It takes more clicks to be removed from an email list than it once did, the online marketing firm Responsys says. In a study of 100 large online retailers, the firm found that the proportion requiring three or more clicks to unsubscribe had grown more than fivefold since 2008. And the proportion letting users opt out with a single click shrank to 3 percent, from 9 percent, over that period. Chad White, the research director for Responsys, told the New York Times it was safest to let customers leave with two clicks or fewer. “Everything’s being measured against that one click on their report spam button,” he said.


Clear Avatars

If you use a mug shot as an avatar for a text service such as Whatsapp, Twitter or in a forum, make sure it’s of a decent size, says prolific tech blogger Guy Kawasaki. “When people click on your avatar, do they get a nice, in-focus picture? Or is it an out-of-focus, pixelated, and red-eyed calamity? Your avatar is the window into your soul, so for crying out loud use a decent picture, minimum size: 400 x 300 pixels,” he recommends on American Express’s Open Forum.

 

 

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Tip Sheet

Make Sure You’re Part of Your Charitable Giving, And More Tips for May

You’ll get to meet more people and feel better about your involvement.

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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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Tip Sheet

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.”

Podcast: When Is It Time to Let an Underperforming Employee Go?
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Podcast: When Is It Time to Let an Underperforming Employee Go?

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Podcast: This Advertising Copywriter’s Last Minute Pitch Changed Everything

Podcast: Millennial Gem Trader Dave Bindra Steps Into ‘The Barb Wire’
The Barb Wire

Podcast: Millennial Gem Trader Dave Bindra Steps Into ‘The Barb Wire’

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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Tip Sheet

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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