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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: July 2008

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MOMENT OF TRUTHGive An Experience

McDonald’s? Customer service? Experience? That’s right. Ken Blanchard, author of Raving Fans, likes to cite the example of a McDonald’s that puts tablecloths and candles out between 4 and 6 p.m. for its elder customers, and brings the food to their tables. That location significantly outperforms competitors during that time period. Blanchard tells the story to underline a fact of business: Products, services and prices can all be undercut or copied. “Organizations will beat the competition with moments of truth in the customer experience,” he says.

HUBBLE BUBBLEBlow Your Horn

It’s a beautiful summer day in the Northwest. People are in the street, diners fill outdoor tables and butterflies and bubbles drift down the street. Bubbles? Yes, they do if you live in Kent, WA, where Steve Saint-Louis cranks up his bubble machine each fine summer day between 11.30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and sends a column of colorful bubbles rolling down the historic block where his store, Earthworks Gem Design Studio, is located. “People actually seek out where the bubbles are coming from, and come into our store,” he says. “It’s far and away our best marketing gimmick.”

FAVORITISMPick One You Love

Trainer Dave Richardson says a great way to lift sales is to ask every associate to pick one “absolutely favorite” piece and commit to showing it twice a day. Why? “Because it’s easy and also fun to talk about a piece of jewelry you really love,” he says. “You may not sell it, but there’s a good chance you’ll sell something,” plus it gives them a way to handle “just looking” customers, he says.

PRAISEWORTHYSend Feedback

If a customer is unhappy you’ll likely hear about it. But satisfied customers are a different kettle of fish. To ensure you don’t miss out on this important feedback, author Andy Sernovitz suggests this approach: Hold an Employee of the Month contest and ask customers to vote. Second, ensure your website’s feedback form is in a prominent location. Invite free-form comments in post-purchase surveys. “You’re not going to get praise from a multiple-choice question,” he says.

FROM THE VAULTSAir Nostalgia

As wedding season is to anniversary season so summer blockbuster season is to movie re-releases. Get in on the nostalgia with DVD giveaways or a movie-themed store event. Among those to look out for this year: Risky Business (25th anniversary), Die Hard (20th), There’s Something About Mary (10th).

INTERVIEW MASTERYAsk Away

Years back, Inc. magazine surveyed CEOs on their best interview questions. Here are a couple that stuck:

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  • What’s the last business book you read? (If they have to think a long time, they probably aren’t that well read.)
  • If I stood you next to a skyscraper and gave you a barometer, how could you figure out how tall the building was? (It’s a trick question. The point is to see how creative people are. According to Inc., one interviewee said he’d find the janitor and offer him the barometer — in exchange for information about the building’s height.)

STRAIGHT TO VIDEOGoogle It

Google Maps (local) (google.com/maps) has a feature that allows you to add a short promotional video to your profile. Just upload your video to YouTube, copy the URL and paste it into your Google profile (go to “photo” tab on the “edit your profile” page and scroll down to “video”). If you don’t have a Google profile — which allows you to list product lines, store hours, credit cards accepted and some product images — get one now!

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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It’s Going to Set Us Up Very Nicely for Retirement

You’ve worked hard all your life. And if you’re like most jewelers contemplating retirement, you’re hoping that your going-out-of-business sale will add to your nest egg — with minimal complications. That’s exactly what Doug and Jacki Friedrich, fourth-generation owners of Friedrich Jewelers Inc., of Vernon, Conn., experienced when they selected Wilkerson to run their sale. “Jewelers who are contemplating a sale should go with Wilkerson because of their experience,” says Doug. And with financial goals “exceeding expectations,” the couple can now focus on enjoying the next chapter of their lives. “It’s going to set us up very nicely for retirement,” says Jacki. “The money’s coming in and we have no complaints. It’s been wonderful.”

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