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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: September 2009

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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]

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[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 lifehack.org 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.

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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, lifehack.org 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.

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[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]

[contentheading]Visualize[/contentheading]

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.

[componentheading]UNDERDOGS[/componentheading]

[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]

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Make Sure You’re Part of Your Charitable Giving, And More Tips for May

You’ll get to meet more people and feel better about your involvement.

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CUSTOMER SERVICEIn the Kid’s Corner

Adults needn’t be the only ones who view jewelry stores as houses of goodies. In addition to its well-appointed kids’ corner, Renaissance Fine Jewelry in Brattleboro, VT, provides customers’ children with gift-wrapped presents to make them feel special, too. “They will remember the stuffed animal or the funky handbag they got at Renaissance Fine Jewelry,” says owner Caitlyn Wilkinson.

PERSONAL Go Gray

Worried your relationship with your phone is less than healthy? Switch your display from color to grayscale, recommends Catherine Price in her book How To Break Up With Your Phone. (This is apparently so threatening to phone makers’ addiction business model, it’s hidden five levels deep on the iPhone: go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Color Filters.) Instantly, your phone is vastly duller. Try it for a day.

CHARITY Sell On Site

When you’re asked to donate to local charities, make sure to choose only events that allow you to personally participate, says Dianna Rae High of Dianna Rae Jewelry in Lafayette, LA. This way, you’re building relationships, rather than just donating an item to sit on a silent auction table. For example, when the local ballet asked High to sponsor their annual event, she paid the sponsorship fee and asked if she could set up a small table of jewelry for sale with a percentage of sales going to the ballet. “The women loved it, we sold a lot of jewelry, I met new people, and the ballet received more than if I had just paid the sponsorship,” High says.

STRATEGY Good Citizens

If you refer to potential customers as “prospects” or “targets,” Seth Godin urges you to stop and instead call them “citizens.” His argument is based on the view that the conventional marketing terms don’t reflect the way power has shifted in the marketplace. “Citizens are no longer the weak, isolated pre-consumers in front of a TV set in 1971, with few options. Now, they appear to be holding all the cards. It sounds a bit pretentious, but then, so do most terms marketers use.” You can’t help but become a little more humble and respectful, Godin says, when you use this term.

TIME MANAGEMENTLeave the Mess for Now

If you typically feel the urge to straighten your desk before you can start on meaningful work, The Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman suggests a simple rule: reschedule. “If your job permits it, schedule a daily deck-clearing hour — but at 4.30 p.m., not 9 a.m.,” he says. “It’s time to abandon the secret pride we procrastinators feel in having completed 25 small tasks by 10 a.m.; if they’re not the right tasks, that’s not really something to be proud of.” Instead, Burkeman recommends the timeworn advice to work on your most important project for the first hour of each workday.

MANAGEMENTMore Donuts

Want to add some fun to your store? Take a tip from Sherrie’s Jewelry Box in Tigard, OR, where “you’re never late to work if you bring donuts,” owner Sherrie Devaney says.

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How to Become an Idea Machine, and More Tips for April

One tip involves a jeweler who allowed a client to pour his own gold.

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Strategy Be an Idea Machine

Write down 10 ideas a day. “Do it for six straight months and see what happens. It actually turns into a super power,” says serial entrepreneur and author James Altucher. To collect his ideas, Altucher buys 1,000 waiter’s pads at a time from restaurant supplies websites (10 cents a pad). “They’re great for meetings because I have to keep concise lists, and they’re always good conversation starters.”

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Management We Are Family

Leitzels’ Jewelry in Myerstown and Hershey, PA, has a cool rule to reinforce the store’s culture: Every day, each team at both its stores must include a Leitzel family member. “We take pride in every aspect of the business and build relationships. It is easy to overlook how cool it is to be a family-owned and operated business,” says third-generation co-owner Allison Leitzel-Williams.

Customer service Pour It On

The trend of customers wanting to be intimately involved in the creation of a piece of jewelry can be considered either an annoyance or an opportunity. Collins Jewelers in Dallas, GA, opts for the latter view, starting with taking the customer out to lunch to go over their renderings and then involving them in every step of production. “One customer wanted to pour his own gold, so we made that possible and he was ecstatic,” says owner Marty Collins.

Productivity Take an Unwanted Break

According to a recent Columbia University study, the key to getting the most out of work breaks is to stop even when you don’t feel like it. “Participants who didn’t step away from a task at regular intervals were more likely to write ‘new’ ideas that were very similar to the last one they had written,” the authors explained in Harvard Business Review. So, “if you’re hesitant to break away because you feel that you’re on a roll, be mindful that it might be a false impression.” It’s notable, too, that the “break” in each case merely involved switching tasks. A change, it seems, really is as good as a rest.

Community Show Your Spirit

Communion season, which often takes place after Easter to around Mother’s Day, can be a nice opportunity for a jewelry retailer that is involved deeply in its community. Orin Jewelers in Northville, MI, is one such business, sponsoring a host of activities in support of groups from USA Hockey to the local hospital. They also sponsor, as well as make custom jewelry for, the Catholic high schools in their area.

Management Bad News First

When you’re delivering good and bad news to employees, always give the bad news first, says Daniel Pink, bestselling author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. Pink acknowledges this often feels counterintuitive, as many bosses hope that by starting out positively, they will cushion the bad stuff. “The reason has to do with endings. Given the choice, human beings prefer endings that elevate, that have a rising sequence rather than a declining sequence,” he says.

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

Don’t miss “the right-hand close.”

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SecurityBeware 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.

ManagementWill 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.

ShowroomSign 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.

SalesThe 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.”

PersonalKeep 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.

HiringAsk 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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