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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: March 2007

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Six fresh ideas to better your business

Watch out for those good deeds; open up that case; more.

[componentheading]GIFT RAPPING[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Be A Shopping Buddy[/contentheading]

A customer asks you to help choose a gift item for his wife and you think, Gosh, he should know her tastes as well as anyone. Truth is, spouses often don’t, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. The problem stems from a finding that when people know they don’t have the same preferences as their partners or friends they tend to rely heavily on lots of irrelevant pre-stored information rather than trying to recall recent feedback. When a customer asks for your advice, the best course of action might be to suggest he or she try to remember a specific comment the intended recipient made about jewelry. This way, you may avoid selling a gift that never gets worn or worse, comes back as a return two weeks later.

[componentheading]OPEN AND SHUT[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Take Out The Stalker[/contentheading]

Here’s a neat trick when you’ve got a “just looking” customer who seems interested in an item but reluctant to ask to see it. Casey Gallant of Stephen Gallant Jewelers in Orleans, MA, suggests that if the person moves on from the case you go over and open it up and pretend to rearrange something. “For some reason the customer feels they are bothering you just to open the case,” Gallant says. “But when you already have it open they are not too shy to ask to see something. It’s covert and they don’t feel like they are being stalked.”

[componentheading]YO MOMMA[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Fine Talent In The Home[/contentheading]

If you’re trying to keep your payroll expenses down but are still in need of high-quality staff, here are some strategies from allbusiness.com to consider:

Keep an eye out for “Mommy Trackers” — smart women who’ve left corporate positions to start a family or be closer to their children. They can make excellent part-time managers, especially when it comes to areas such as technology and marketing.

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Get referrals from employees — and don’t be afraid to hire relatives of good workers.

[componentheading]NO GOOD DEED …[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Protect Yourself[/contentheading]

What’s the single biggest thing that prompts an IRS employer audit? According to Eva Rosenberg, author of Small Business Taxes Made Easy, it’s when a non-employee is let go or gets sick and files for unemployment or disability insurance. This may have even been a friend you were helping out. But when they realize they need to have been formally employed to pick up government assistance they will often file — and turn you in. To protect yourself you need to be able to prove the person was an “independent contractor.” That means a Form W9 (a request for taxpayer ID), a business card, and maybe even a contract.

[componentheading]ENGAGED BUT NOT WED[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Trump The Rivals[/contentheading]

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In its most recent marketing campaign, the Platinum Guild International (PGI) highlighted a survey from theknot.com that found almost 40 percent of engaged couples buy their bands at a different store from where the engagement ring was purchased. The PGI wanted you to chase up these customers and sell them more of the white stuff. But the finding also suggests that for stores that missed the original sale, marrying couples still make a great prospect. To get leads on these potential customers, check the engagement announcements in your local paper or consider partnering with a bridal-gown business, wedding planner or caterer.

[componentheading]PLAYER STATS[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Start Keeping Score[/contentheading]

Salespeople love to keep score. So why not indulge their competitive nature with stat sheets, ala the NFL. Post weekly reports showing total yards gained (dollar sales), touchdowns (sales closed), conversions (add-ons), turnovers, fumbles and so on. Offer small prizes to keep it fun and lighthearted. Too much rivalry can undercut sales floor cooperation.

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

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