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Tip Sheet: March 2015



One Vail jeweler puts a fresh spin on the term “snow day”.

The 12-inch powder rule

You’re in Vail, it’s a crisp winter morning, a foot of fine powder awaits on the slopes … who would want to go to work or even shop for that matter? It’s a reality the owners of the Squash Blossom fully appreciate with their 12-inch-powder rule, which surely sets a benchmark for employee-satisfaction practices: When the conditions on the slopes are sublime, workers are free to ski some runs in the morning before showing up for their shift. “You do eventually have to come to work, but you can be late it if snows 12 inches overnight,” says co-owner Patti Cogswell.


Fresh set of eyes

The next time you take on a new hire, ask her to jot down every doubt she has about the way things are done at your store during her first month. For most things, the newbie will come to understand why your store does them in a certain way, says former Saks CEO Stephen Sadove. until last year. “But invariably, I find some really good ideas that make you say: ‘Why are we doing it this way?’ I’ve seen little things, big things, waste in the system and a lot of duplication come out of it,” he told the New York Times.

Not so excellent

“Excellent” sounds a notch up from “good,” but it’s not a great word in customer surveys because it’s indefinable, says Forbes blogger Micha Solomon. “Look for something that is based on your customer’s own experience. ‘Exceeded expectations’ is OK as your top rating, or consider calling it something emotive like ‘Loved it!’”

Build Media Ties

Morgan Bartel of Susann’s Custom Jewelers in Corpus Christi, TX, says one of the best things they’ve done has been to build up personal relationships with newspapers, magazines, radio stations and community organizations. “We simply chose to get to know the people at these companies on a more personal level and have received so much help in terms of store marketing. When you build the relationships, others want to help you succeed. Our store has had major spreads in publications all from reaching out to these companies.”


mirror, mirror

Forget wishlists. Mimi et Cie in Pasadena, CA, has a sign in the bathroom that reads: “Your husband just called. He said to buy whatever you want!”


Yes, it’s a store, but your staff should act as if it were a personal shopping service, says Kelly Mitchell, owner of Kelly Mitchell Fine Jewelry in Highland Park, TX. “Busy people don’t have time to come walking through your doors to snag as new business,” she says. “Everyone should be sending out pictures to clients when they see pieces that fit or sending a piece to their office to preview in order to keep business rolling,” says Mitchell. It’s a way of doing business endorsed by Warren Buffett. “[Borsheim] does a huge amount of business in this low-key way,” he recently told shareholders.

Indulge browsers

Amazon and Blue Nile have proved jewelry and the Internet make for a pretty good combination. But there’s still something of a gender gap that makes online shopping unsatisfying for many women. “Too many websites are owned by guys and managed by guys yet we want women to participate,” says retail guru Paco Underhill. “Retailers need to understand that not every shopper is looking to complete a transaction,” says Underhill, who will speak at the SMART Show on April 18. When women buy jewelry, it’s a moment of indulgence. Be sure your website reflects that, Underhill says.


It’s simple: don’t drink and do social media.

tweeting under the influence

It seems obvious, but bears repeating: drinking and tweeting (or any social media posting) make for a combustible combination. “If you’ve had a few drinks, ask yourself if you would be tweeting the same thing if you were sober,” Dennis Wharton, VP of communications at the National Association of Broadcasters, told PR News recently.

Email bankruptcy

Drowning in unread emails? Delete them all and start afresh. The key to this unorthodox move, according to tech blogger Fred Wilson, is to publicly declare email bankruptcy. That is, send a message to all your contacts letting them know you’re trashing all messages before say Jan. 1, 2015. If their message was really important, they’ll send it again. By which point, you’ll be way ahead of the productivity curve.

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



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Tip Sheet

How to Sell More “Spa Treatments” for Jewelry, and More Tips for September

Millennial shoppers respond to education, privacy and transparency.




TIME MANAGEMENTAim for Busy, Not Rushed

How should you strive to feel when working? Busy, but not rushed. Research undertaken by the University of Maryland found this is when people are happiest. And when you’re happiest — meaning engaged and in the flow as opposed to giddy with joy — you invariably do your best work. So, start creating realistic schedules, stop checking email every 15 minutes, take breaks to exercise, and stop letting other people set your deadlines (yes, you could finish the job by tomorrow, but Friday is best for everyone.)

MARKETINGA Time for Pampering

One of the key challenges at this time of the year is how to get customers in the door. The Gem Collection in Tallahassee, FL, does it with a “Spa Treatment” for rings. The treatment, which is recommended annually, includes inspection of stones by hand, ultrasonic cleaning, steaming of the stones to remove excess dirt, refinishing to remove scratches, polishing the ring, and for white gold jewelry, a rhodium finishing, all for one price. “The spa treatment name was used so that the customer feels as if their jewelry is being pampered instead of worked on,” explains co-owner Don Vodicka. “This has raised our repair sales and keeps our customers very happy.”

MARKETINgShout It in Brass

If you buy your diamonds from Antwerp, it’s always a good idea to let the world know about it. Molinelli’s Jewelers in Pocatello, ID, actually has it in brass letters on their wall.

SALESLaying on a Bridal FeasT

Showcases — who needs them? That’s the diamond-selling approach at Siegel’s Jewelry in Paso Robles, CA, where customers are encouraged to sit with staff at a custom-made, long community table to discuss jewelry. “I designed my store with a lot of seating space in order to show diamonds effectively, and to make my employees and customers more comfortable,” explains owner Ken Siegel.

STRATEGY“How” is the Enemy

Something all true entrepreneurs know: “How” is the enemy. “We always want to know how things will happen,” says Claudia Azula, a popular podcaster and co-author of the Power Of No. “But how is the enemy because it blocks the possibilities that open up when we are willing to not know. When you don’t know about tomorrow, all you can do is focus on doing your best today.” Stop thinking, Just go do it.

SALESKeep Me Safe and Prosperous

Buy an engagement ring at Eichhorn Jewelry in Decatur, IN, and you also get a “Keep Me” — an original document that travels with the piece of jewelry. The paper “encourages customers to spend dollars by emphasizing the legacy aspect of their purchase,” explains owner Eileen Eichhorn.

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Tip Sheet

Saving the Boring Jobs for the Office, Watching TV with Purpose and More Tips for July

Plus, how to use questions to make yourself a better listener.




personalDo Down Time With Purpose

Approach this summer with more purpose, recommends Greg McKeown, writing in the Harvard Business Review. “That means if you decide to watch TV, really watch it. If you are having a meal, take the time to enjoy the meal.” Of course it also means making a choice: do you want to spend your summer downtime in front of the tube? We’re going to hazard a guess the answer is no. Go schedule some activities that ensure you fully recuperate this summer.

EVENTSMake It Light-Hearted

Orin Jewelers in Northville, MI, understands that at its heart, shopping for jewelry should be a joyful experience. To support that message, it tries to add a lighthearted touch to city events by doing something fun in the store, say owners Orin and Tina Mazzoni. “Example: when a citywide ban was put on serving wine/drinks to women at the annual Girls’ Night Out, we all dressed as if it were the Prohibition and served root beer and sparkling wine.” How does your fun game compare?

LEARNINGUp Your Reading Game

Want to read more? Try what serial entrepreneur and business author James Altucher does and read about 30 pages of five books each day. Given the average American reads about 250 words a minute, or about a page a minute, that’s two-and-a-half hours. Don’t have that much time? How about 25 pages of three books? That’s little more time than it takes to watch an episode of The Real Housewives Of New Jersey.

PRODUCTIVITYHome Is Where The Creativity Is

Here’s a neat rule to get the most out of your work day (for people in a position to pull it off, meaning business owners): Do creative work at home and boring work, where you may need some compulsion, at the office. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, researchers found that when it came to creative tasks, people were 11 percent to 20 percent more productive outside the lab. For rote and repetitive tasks, however, they were 6 to 10 percent less productive when not in a formal work environment.

SALESIs That So?

In The Patterson Principles Of Selling, Jeffrey Gitomer suggests training yourself to be a better listener by asking a question at the end of your customers’ statements. If you make your own statement, it’s possible you are interrupting. But if you ask a question, you almost have to wait until they’re finished speaking.

SERVICEDon’t Band-Aid A Gunshot Wound

When it comes to repairs, it often pays to look beyond the customer’s specific request, says Bruce Goodheart of Goodheart’s Jewelry in Overland, KS. “Don’t fix one prong when there are 20 other prongs you need to re-tip. You don’t need the headache, and it will show how professional you are. You have a reputation to uphold, and you can’t put a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.”

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Learning to Love PITA Customers and More Tips for June

When starting out, go bold and quirky (just not weird), and the secret to a perfect break.





In his most recent letter to Amazon’s shareholders, CEO Jeff Bezos said one thing he loved about customers is that they are “divinely discontent”. Their expectations only ever “go up,” he said. Eileen Eichhorn, owner of Eichhorn Jewelry in Decatur, IN, said decades working in her family store has taught her something similar about demanding customers: they make excellent references. “Pain-in-the-ass customers send us the best customers.”

STRATEGYBegin With Bold

When trying a new business venture (or even prototyping a new jewelry line), always try the wackier, quirkier stuff first, says Jason Fried, founder and CEO of Basecamp and author of the business bestseller Getting Real. “The deeper you get into a project, the more conservative it tends to get. Stranger ideas are more at home earlier in the process,” he recently wrote on his Twitter feed.

EVENTSBirthday Gifts Welcome

What month was your company born? Throw a birthday party and ask your customers to bring “gifts” of testimonials that you can use in your marketing. Including such third-party recommendations on your website and in your ads is one of the best ways around to convince others that your store is, indeed, the best place to shop, says Entrepreneur magazine’s Idea Site For Business.

HUMAN RESOURCESDivine Your Own Dress

Siegel’s Jewelry in Paso Robles, CA has solved its dress code issues by simply leaving it up to the staff. It’s part of a bigger strategy to emphasize the employees’ individual talents and unique tastes. “We think it is better for them to be different from one another and create a balanced set of skills and talents, than to all offer the same things,” says owner Ken Siegel. “Employees are happiest when they can be themselves and are encouraged to develop their own self in a safe and happy environment.”


First thing to do before slapping a mural on the side of your building? See if the government will pick up part of the bill. Joe Declet of Fins and Skins in Pinellas Park, FL, got tired of telling new customers to look for the “ugly orange building,” so when his lease came up for renewal, he negotiated the right to add the mural. Working with a local artist, he now has a 30- by 50-foot mural depicting a coral reef — and the city offset his expense with a $1,500 grant as part of a beautification program.

MANAGEMENTBreaking Breaks

The most important thing to understand about breaks is that they are not a deviation from performance; they are part of performance, says Dan Pink in his latest business best seller, When: The Scientific Secrets Of Perfect Timing. “And the most restorative breaks are social rather than solo, outside not inside, moving instead of stationary, and fully detached rather than semi-detached.”

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