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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: March 2009

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Fresh ideas to better your business.

 

PICTURE PERFECT
PARTNER UP When you link up with someone outside the industry, especially in a marketing venture, you’re likely to be offering your customers something they can’t get anywhere else. Weston Jewelers in Weston, FL, did that last year when they teamed up with local photographer Andrew Duany to offer free studio portraits for their Mother’s Day customers who spent more than $1,500. The store ended up giving out 96 gift certificates and generating some great buzz with the mom and daughter portraits. “It was a win/win for (the photographer) because we paid for the advertising. All he had to do was donate ‘sitting time.’ Everyone knows if someone loves the portrait they are not going to stop at getting one print, and that is how it became profitable for him,” says Paul Slutsky, Weston’s VP for marketing. “Today, advertising is all about partnerships and this seemed to be a natural.”

Catching Creepers
SIMPLIFY If you’re like a lot of small businesspeople, your profit-and-loss statement is long and detailed and not particularly informative. “I can’t tell you how many profit-and-loss statements I’ve seen that have about a million different expenses listed in alphabetical order — in dollar amount only. What’s that tell you?” says Laurie Owen, a business coach at Business Resource Services, and an Instore columnist. Owen recommends giving your P&L a spring makeover. Consolidate expenses and group them into like categories, such as salaries and benefits, marketing expenses, admin, etc. Then, next to the dollar amount, list the expense amount as a percentage of sales. You now have what is known as a “common-sized statement,” Owen says. It helps you see when an expense is increasing as a percentage, and not just going up because your sales are increasing.

Brand Buzz
TRACK IT Seen an intriguing new line, but don’t know if you can trust your own taste? Log on to eBay. With some 80 million active users and more than 5 million new listings each day, eBay’s a pretty good — and free — way to track brand buzz. “Our data reflect consumer trends,” eBay’s pop-culture expert Karen Bard told Brandweek magazine. “Therefore, it can be useful to marketers who are trying to gauge the likelihood of a product’s popularity.”

No-Brainer Marketing
E-SIGN IT OK, folks, this really ought to be a no-brainer, but we get enough e-mails from jewelers (and you know who you are) that have no e-mail “signature.” This is simply a few lines of text (preferable to a photo or HTML) at the bottom of every e-mail you send that give your name, your store’s name, its location, phone number and perhaps your store’s slogan. We spend the time and effort tracking down your store and location because it’s our job. Do you want to make it that much work for your customers, too?

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Pain Reliever
SEIZE THE MOMENTS Squint for the silver lining around the cloud of recession, and you might see more time on your employees’ hands for training and professional development. “Often when times are tough, that’s precisely when there is enough breathing room in the daily work flow to give your people the chance to better themselves,” says BV Krishnamurthy in Harvard Business Review. If nothing else, he says, seeing this downturn as an opportunity can reduce the mental anguish.

Traffic Driver
BLOG ON In the world of search — meaning driving traffic to your website — bloggers are king because of the weighting Google gives to frequently visited links. For Goldsmith Jewelry in Orlando, FL, that made blogs an ideal recruit to assist its Valentine’s Day promotion. The jeweler offered any bloggers who wrote anything about Goldsmith the chance to win a pair of $1,500 diamond earrings. “The only requirements were that the blogger write about Goldsmith Jewelry and that they mention the contest,” says Don Lair, the store’s VP of e-commerce. “It could be positive or negative, and would still be a valid entry.” Lair contacted close to 1,000 bloggers by e-mail and received 75 entries directly. Another 2,000 unique visitors were referred directly to the site by the postings on the blogs that entered the contest. The best pay-off though was how it boosted traffic to the store’s website — up 400 percent.

Best Free Advice
RENEW EARLY AND OFTEN Renew your subscription to Instore if it’s due to expire sometime soon. Instore, the best source of free advice out there. But don’t tell your personal trainer we said that.

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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

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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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