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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: May 2009

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A PLACE FOR COOL HEADS

BUY SMART S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A restaurants and a member of the Forbes 400, says one of the secrets of his success was: “Don’t get overexcited by what you are doing.” Reason: You’re likely to borrow yourself into debt, give yourself sleepless nights worrying about how you’re going to meet repayments and generally make life miserable for yourself and family. What’s that got to do with Vegas? Everything. Our No. 1 show tip every year is: Buy smart, buy based on your data and best sellers, and leave just a little left over to splurge on your hunches. Such advice made Cathy a billionaire.

Press Play
BE A PUNDIT We can see the intro now: “Jewelry purchases may not be on top of most people’s minds right now, but Janie Johnson, just back from the world’s biggest jewelry show ….” Before you leave, get in touch with your local newspaper and promise to come back with something interesting from the wider world about recession-era
fashion trends.

Serious Business?
READY A STORE CV Prepare a portfolio to present to prospective vendors. Inside should be a letter of introduction that contains information about your store’s history, the demographics of your market, other brands you carry, and your business’s credit ratings. Also, include marketing and promotional campaigns you’ve carried out and copies of magazine articles that mention your store or staff. (Another reason to join the Brain Squad, hint, hint). And if you really want to go the extra yard, prepare a detailed report of your inventory. That should tell the vendor you’re serious.

No Bluffing?
TELL THE TRUTH Deception tactics, such as bluffing or falsification, may do more damage than good in the vendor-negotiation process. Lying is not only unethical, but it can be difficult to maintain. While being honest, be careful not to give away your bargaining power. It’s not necessary to tell everything you know, but when you do tell… tell the truth.

Profits All Around
COMPROMISE Just like the retailer, the vendor must make a profit to stay in business. Vendor relations should be treated as collaboration rather than conquest. As you negotiate a good deal for your retail business, consider the outcome for the supplier.

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Phone Smarts
GO HIGH TECH Whether you just don’t like taking notes, or your pen runs dry during a meeting with vendors, your phone could come to the rescue. In addition to using its camera to take photos of merchandise (always ask first), a high-resolution camera will allow you to take snapshots of brochures, notes, displays and other documents. If you want to take that to another level, services such as Qipit or Scanr allow you to convert those pictures to a clearer PDF form. You can save the images online or deliver them as e-mails or faxes back to the team in the store to get their feedback.

Trend Spotter
SHARE THE WISDOM On your return, mail or e-mail a trends report to customers based on your show buying. The Jewelry Information Center offers its retail members two seasonal trends reports that they can customize and use to send out to customers, with a headline something like: “Hottest Trends Straight From the Las Vegas Jewelry and Watch Shows.”

Post-Show?
RE-EVALUATE Just because you ordered it at the show, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it. After the show, go over your orders, reevaluate them and adjust them if needed. Vendors understand this is just good business.

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VIDEO HIGHLIGHT

Wilkerson Testimonials

Texas Jeweler Knew He'd Get Only One Shot at a GOB Sale, So He Wanted to Make It Count

Most retailers only have one GOB sale in their lifetimes. This was the case for Gary Zoet, owner of Shannon Fine Jewelry in Houston, Texas. “Wilkerson has done thousands of these sales,” says Zoet. “I’ve never done one, so it’s logical to have somebody with experience do it.” The result exceeded Zoet’s expectations. Wilkerson took care of everything from marketing to paperwork. When it’s time for you to consider the same, shouldn’t you trust the experts in liquidation?

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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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Security
Beware 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.

Management
Will 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.

Showroom
Sign 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.

Sales
The 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.”

Personal
Keep 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.

Hiring
Ask 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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Tip Sheet

A Low-Tech Loyalty Program and More Tips for February

From bench training to personal expectations, this advice provides holistic assistance.

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TrainingTake Your Bench Live

Live feeds from the bench have been used by jewelers to build showroom ambience and by sales associates to close sales for more than a decade. But there’s a second benefit that’s often overlooked — as a training tool, says Jude Dutille, owner of Dutilles Jewelry Design Studio in Lebanon, NH. Dutille has a camera at his work bench to “provide micro-visuals of what he is demonstrating,” be it stone-setting, fabrication, or hand-engraving to his staff of goldsmiths (all of whom are trained in-house “from scratch”).

Podcast: Michael O’Connor, Jewelry’s Perfect Spokesman, Visits ‘The Barb Wire’
The Barb Wire

Podcast: Michael O’Connor, Jewelry’s Perfect Spokesman, Visits ‘The Barb Wire’

Podcast: A Jeweler Learns the Internet’s Weaknesses, and His Own Strengths
Over the Counter

Podcast: A Jeweler Learns the Internet’s Weaknesses, and His Own Strengths

Podcast: How to Find Good People and Avoid Employee Nightmares
JimmyCast

Podcast: How to Find Good People and Avoid Employee Nightmares

ServicePass The Buck

A neat — and cheeky — way of dealing with overly demanding customers from a fellow independent retailer in the vision business: BJ Chambers of Carrera Optical in McQueeney, TX, told INVISION Magazine she keeps business cards of other optical shops on hand and gives them to problem patients and suggests they “go visit.”

ExperienceProtect The Window View

Yes, the job market is tight and you might be short of staff, but hang those flyers on a local bulletin board or near your counter, not on your storefront window as some retailers are doing. “Your front window is your customers’ first impression of your store,” says merchandising expert Tom Crossman. “Don’t make it a messy one.”

PersonalExpect Less

The problem with high expectations is they often result in future disappointment. Meanwhile, low ones tend to make you glum in the present, given there’s not much to look forward to. The answer? Stop expecting, says Jason Fried, who has written several books on work. “I used to set up expectations in my head all day long. But constantly measuring reality against an imagined reality is taxing and tiring, [and] often wrings the joy out of experiencing something for what it is.” Expectations also keep you mentally living in the future and deflated when events don’t measure up — even if what does happen is actually pretty good. In 2019, don’t expect … so much.

IncentivesLow-Tech Loyalty Program

Two-thirds of consumers shop more frequently and spend more at retailers with loyalty programs. But if all the recordkeeping seems like too much of a headache, you could do what Maxwell & Molly’s Closet, a pet-grooming business not far from our office in New Jersey, does: Spend $200 and earn 5 percent off all purchases for life. People appreciate simplicity.

MarketingFind Your CPP

When plotting a mass medium campaign, be sure to speak with the TV or radio channel’s consultants on how to best utilize your budget and determine what the “cost per person” you reach is, advises J. Dennis Petimezas, owner of Watchmakers Diamonds & Jewelry in Johnstown, PA. “What may be the most expensive on a cursory review may be the smartest choice if you do your homework,” he says, adding that any consultation should be at the station’s expense. “They can afford it, so don’t take no for an answer.”

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Tip Sheet

The Negativity Board, Clients in Advertising and More Tips for January

Why don’t you hold your opinions first and ask theirs?

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management

Hold Your Peace

According to Simon Sinek, author of the business best-seller Start With Why, the typical business meeting follows this pattern: the manager outlines the problem, says what he thinks, and then asks staff for their opinions. But by then it’s too late, says Sinek. The direction of the discussion has already been set. The ability to hold your opinions has two benefits, he says: “One, it gives everyone else the feeling that they have been heard. And two, you get the benefit of getting to hear what everybody has to think before you render your opinion.” Yes, you can ask questions, but otherwise just sit back and take it in.

marketing

A Path Less Traveled

It’s not just shopping review sites that will drive traffic in your direction; travel websites can help too, especially if you’re in a holiday or gemologically significant destination. “I am so excited,” Stephenie Bjorkman recently posted on her Facebook page after TripAdvisor added her store, Sami Fine Jewelry in Forest Hills, AZ. “This is huge for our Arizona amethyst and American Gem Collection,” she noted.
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personal

Getting Better Every Day

If you’re still scratching around for a guiding principle for 2019, consider this one from Gretchin Ruhin, author of the best-seller The Happiness Project: “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” That applies not only to the life’s work you build on a daily basis, but also the things you spend your money on. Do you really need that huge SUV if you only ever drive to work and home?

management

Wipe It Clean

New year, new slate. That’s also the thinking behind the negativity board at Di’Amore Fine Jewelers in Waco, TX. “This board is designed to prevent any negative mindset throughout the day,” explains store president Monali Pandya. When one of life’s curveballs causes a nosebleed, “we encourage staff members to feverishly write any negativity on the board.” Much like an Etch-a-Sketch, once the negative thought has been written, it is “shaken off” with the victorious push of a button.

marketing

Locators, Locators, Locators

Reaching new customers is a constant struggle, and marketing is expensive. In response to this, EyeStyles Optical and Boutique, an independent eyewear retailer in Oakdale, MN, targets vendors that drive traffic through store locators. “The more store locators you can be found on, the better your ability to reach your customer,” owner Nikki Griffin told INVISION Magazine.

advertising

Go Real

Figuring young, 20-something models didn’t represent their brand and demographic, Onyx II Fine Jewelers in Watertown, CT, opted for real customers in its ad campaigns. “It’s a chance we took, approaching clients with this idea, not sure they would be interested in partaking,” says brand manager James Michael Murphy. But the outcome has been “wildly popular” he says. “They love it and everyone wants their chance to be in a campaign.”

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