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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: January 2010

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A twist on silent auctions, delaying a collector on your doorstep, a reason for saving old wishlists, and a few more New Year’s resolutions.

TIPS: INVENTORY

Buy It Now

At your next store event, set some pieces aside for a silent auction, but also put a “buy it now” price on it, a la eBay.

Ladies Gone Wild

The Lagniappe in West Des Moines, IA, does its clearouts with a heavy emphasis on fun. “Our January ‘Lollapalooza’ Sale was a big hit! Our marketing slogan was “Lagniappe Ladies Gone WILD,” owner Caren Sturm says. The store promoted the event via direct mail, e-mail, print and radio. Each person who walked in received a 20 percent off coupon. “If they were feeling lucky, they could ‘deal or no deal’ with another coupon, which could cut their discount to 10 percent or raise it to 50 percent,” she says. The store reported its best traffic and best sales of any January in its history, Sturm says.

TIPS: FINANCE

High Yield

Extra holiday cash? Auction it to the highest bidder. At MoneyAisle.com, more than 100 FDIC-insured banks compete for consumer deposits through live auctions. It’s free, and you don’t have to commit to investing anything before you see the results of an auction.

Collection Rights

Use your credit card to keep the store afloat last year? Should collection agencies come calling, send the collector a letter requesting verification of the debt. The collector can’t resume collection activities until sending you confirmation.
Learn your rights: www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre18.shtm.

TIPS: MARKETING

Keep Wish Lists

Doing some post-Christmas cleaning up? Don’t throw out the wish lists you collected. They can give you useful insights into what a customer might be looking to add to her jewelry wardrobe in the new year or as a gift for another occasion.

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Mini Museum

 

Every custom shop has its “wall of fame” gallery. Take it a step further and install copies of the best piece you’ve designed in a mini museum in your store.

Best Face

To see an effective use of social marketing, check out Samuel Gordon’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SamuelGordons. When we dropped by in December, it had a Holiday Giveaway video, a Tell a Friend campaign, as well “Tomorrow’s Special, Tonight It’s a Secret. Shhh.” Daniel Gordon got traffic rolling by offering a chance to win a $1,000 gift certificate, Within days he had 600 fans. Today, the Oklahoma City, OK, store has more than 2,300.

TIPS: NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

Check-Up

1. This year, try an exercise that trainer Scott Ginsberg (the Nametag Guy) uses at his workshops. Take a blank postcard and write the one thing you want to achieve in 2010, why it’s important to you and how you’re going to accomplish it. Then take down an old book from your shelves and slide the card between the pages. Last, make a note in your cell phone’s organizer or your Google calendar to remind you to retrieve it in four months. The purpose of the exercise is to provide a check-up on how you’re progressing with your goals. Sounds simple, but the effect can be profound, says Ginsberg.[/dropcap]

Name Equity

2. Did you name your store Jewelry Central or Gold Mart back when it really was the center of the jewelry universe in your local market 30 years ago? Then 2010 might be the year to consider a change. Yes, we know there’s equity in your name, but it’s not worth much on Google. Marketing guru Seth Godin notes a search for “Jewelry Village” will bring up 15,000 matches on the search engine. A name that generic is not much use when the first thing people now do when considering a jewelry purchase is to turn on their computer.[/dropcap]

Waffle-Free

3. No more hiding behind waffling words. They are terms that don’t mean anything and are designed only to give you cover. So no more “sort ofs” and cut way back on the “justs.” Instead, just say what you mean, says Godin.[/dropcap]

This story is from the January 2010 edition of INSTORE

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Gene the Jeweler

When Gene the Jeweler Speaks, His Employees Listen

In this episode of Jimmy DeGroot’s Gene the Jeweler series, Gene has a simple request for his employees. The good news is that they follow his instructions. The bad news is that they follow a bit too literally.

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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

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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

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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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