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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: September 2007

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Seven fresh ideas to better your business

Broken eyeglasses could be quick cash; check your postal times; more.

[componentheading]MENTIONABLES[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Make ‘Em Talk[/contentheading]

For the last few years, every business-advice book and consultant has touted word-of-mouth advertising. But apart from typically inane advice like “do it through a relentless focus on excellence,” few have suggested how you can really generate it. Made to Stick authors Chip and Dan Heath come closer with their “105 percent rule.” The 5 percent refers to the little things that will make you stand out from the crowd and which should be part of any product or service design process. In a Fast Company column, they cite several examples, including: Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, OR, whose voodoo-doll-shaped doughnuts bleed jelly when stuck with a pretzel pin; and Innocent Drinks, a British smoothie maker that hires grannies to knit little woolly hats for its winter drinks (so the bottles don’t catch a cold). Now that’s giving ’em something to talk about.

[componentheading]PERSUASIVE BREW[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Gain Influence[/contentheading]

Your brilliant new marketing strategy for the holidays is a sure winner but your staff just can’t see the big picture. What to do? Drug them … with caffeine. A moderate dose of caffeine (about two cups of coffee) might make them see your side, according to research published in The European Journal of Social Psychology. The study found that in addition to boosting alertness, caffeine increases the ability to be influenced. “It’s most effective in the morning, so for the sake of argument, deliver that java early,” advised Working Mother, citing the survey.

[componentheading]SPEEDY DELIVERY[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Best Time To Go Postal[/contentheading]

The best way to avoid those long lines at the post office is to find out when your local branch opens (generally between 7-9 a.m.) and get there about 30 minutes later. USPS spokes-person Monica Suraci told Real Simple there’s often a crowd at the door when post offices open, which usually fades by mid-morning. Avoid lunch time and the end of the workday.

[componentheading]THE VISION THING[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Offer A Fix[/contentheading]

Got a fancy laser welder that’s not getting as much use as it could? How about offering to fix customers’ broken eyeglasses? “It’s a great customer service for someone who is in an emergency situation,” says the Tidwell family, which owns Bell Jewelers, in Murfreesboro, TN.

[componentheading]VIRTUAL REPUTATION[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Build Your Image[/contentheading]

Believe it or not, Google Maps does have a more important function than allowing you to gaze at rooftops — it serves as the search giant’s local directory. Recently it started showing user reviews in its business listings, so recruit some of your best customers to sing your praises. It’s a simple process: Just surf to your store’s listing, click on the “write a review” link that appears in the bubble and you’re in business. If you haven’t already listed your store in Google Maps, do it now at www.google.com/local/add.

[componentheading]TOUCHDOWN[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Make It A Game[/contentheading]

While doing research for Tip Sheet, we inadvertantly strayed into the Philadelphia Inquirer’s sports archives, where a story about Terrell Owens’s acrimonious move from the Eagles to the Dallas Cowboys caught our attention. Asked before the start of last season how he’d handle Owens — widely viewed as a non-team player — Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said the key to dealing with high-performing but high-maintenance individuals is to appeal to their competitive side. “Show them the carrot. Make everything a game. And don’t sweat the small stuff,” he said. Parcells has since left the team, and the Cowboys had a mediocre season, but Owens did top the league in touchdown receptions and delayed potentially season-ending surgery on a finger to help his team-mates. Got a superstar on your sales team who needs some direction? Show them the carrot.

[componentheading]EXPERT TESTIMONY[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Solicit Stories[/contentheading]

For a creative format for a testimonial web page, check out www.zippostories.com from famed lighter company Zippo. Click on any lighter on the page and you read a different customer’s Zippo tale. You could, as Zippo does, let website visitors fill in their own stories about their experience with your products. Or take it a step further and use the actual piece one of your customers bought. Then take it another step further, and include story, pictures, and even video with each testimonial. Get your webmaster to work! (You may want to reserve the right to edit the stories though.)

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

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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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