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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: September 2009



Fresh ideas for your store.

[componentheading]PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Generate Hate[/contentheading]

Originality is good, but execution is better. Lucian Lee, owner of Hale’s Jewelers in Greenville, SC, says the humble gift certificate saved his holiday season last year. In truth, this was no ordinary gift cert but a mini catalog mailed first-class in a clear cellophane envelope so it stood out in the mailbox. Inside was a $500 gift certificate toward any purchase over $1,000 with an expiration

date of Dec. 24. Hale says the redemption rate was over 10 percent and generated comments such as “I hate you. Why did you send this to my wife.” James Porte, whose company Porte Marketing Group prepared the program, says it underscores a simple marketing truth: Presentation is everything!

[componentheading]WELL FED[/componentheading]


[contentheading]Donate to the Expired[/contentheading]

Here’s another lesson in how the little things can generate huge rewards. Nancy and David Fine Jewels in Millburn, NJ, pays a part-time worker to walk the nearby streets and top up expired parking meters. A note is slipped under the windscreen wiper saying, “Dear Millburn-Short Hills Shopper, Your meter was expired! We fed your meter and saved you from a $25 ticket. Please return and shop in downtown Millburn. Diamond wishes, Nancy And David.” Goodwill aside, the initiative has generated customer spending of more than $72,000, say store-owners Nancy and David Stone.

[componentheading]GIVING GAINS![/componentheading]

[contentheading]Prepare to Receive[/contentheading]

Any way you look at it, 2009 will not go down as a normal year. So why not take some contrarian approaches to life and business? Here are four from based on the idea that giving is the best way to receive.

1. Lacking confidence? Give it away! Find someone you know who is lacking in self-confidence and give him a boost.


2. Short on creative ideas? Give them away. Suggest creative ways to increase their profits.

3. Cash shortage? Give some away. Consider giving money to a friend or family member to help them out. It’ll refocus your thinking.

4. Stuck with a problem? Help others first. Think of someone with a similar problem and think of a way you could help him. When you help others, help will always come back to you, assures.

[componentheading]BIAS CHALLENGED[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Find the Balance[/contentheading]

Being a successful jeweler requires two skills that often aren’t complementary: craftsmanship and salesmanship. Store owners who are heavily task-focused — that is, love to tool away at the bench — don’t tend to be great at relationships. Yet those with too strong a bias for human contact often have a tough time getting things done. Neither inclination makes for a good business, says David Peck, head of business coaching service Leadership Unleashed. “Locate your bias and then challenge yourself to try more of the other — when you do, you will likely discover new ways to lead your small business,” he says.


[componentheading]JEWELRY FAIRY[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Dress Up[/contentheading] When a customer couldn’t be there to deliver the ring he’d bought as a gift for a particular date, Diamonds ’n Dunes in Kitty Hawk, NC saw a chance to step in and help him out in memorable fashion. Co-owner Eileen Alexanian dressed as the “Jewelry Fairy” and delivered a box filled with shipping peanuts, a bottle of store-branded champagne — and down at the bottom — a “gorgeous” tanzanite ring. “The guy has been a hero ever since,” says Eileen, adding that the story has been a great word-of-mouth builder.

[componentheading]EYES ON THE PRIZE[/componentheading]


Got a salesperson who’s in a slump? Get him visualizing his goal with some specific questions, says sales trainer Jeff Goldberg in a column for the New York Enterprise Report. If you know he’s saving up for a new car, remind him that his next sale is going to take him that bit closer to owning it. Follow up with questions about the color he’s thinking of, and how he thinks the car will look in his driveway. “By helping Bob visualize his goal as already having been achieved he was able to get turned on again, even though he had hit some rejections,” Goldberg says.

[componentheading]NET BUSTERS[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Explain the Difference[/contentheading]

The Internet turns 40 next month. So you’d think that by now we’d all be pretty knowledgeable about online shopping. But that’s not the case, says Kate Peterson of Performance Concepts. Most customers have little idea of what a drag it is to buy jewelry online — how many diamonds are not available, that you have to pay before you see a stone, that your credit card is frozen and you can wait weeks for your credit to be freed up, etc. Finding a gentle way to explain this while highlighting your advantages will often ensure success, says Peterson.


[contentheading]Remember the Little Guys[/contentheading]

When negotiating with a vendor or another potential business partner, make it a point to win over “the associates,” writes Harry Beckwith in What Clients Love. “Top Dog doesn’t need reminding she’s top dog, but ignore the subordinates, and they’ll take offense and think of you as a shameless bootlicker.” If you can get the associates on your side they’ll argue in your favor when you leave the room.

[span class=note]This story is from the September 2009 edition of INSTORE[/span]



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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The Best Question to Ask Job Candidates and More Tips for March

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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.

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

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.

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.”

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.

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.




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

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?





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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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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