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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: June 2013

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Tips: June 2013

Fresh ideas to better your business.

BY THE INSTORE TEAM
Published in the June 2013 issue

GENERAL

SHINE A LIGHT
Ever dropped a diamond in the workshop and then gone through the maddening frustration of not being able to find it? Slam no more phonebooks, because Jerome Hutchison, owner of Golden Buffalo Fine Jewelry in Riverton, WY, has a nifty tip to help. “We turn out all the lights and shine a flashlight across the floor. We’ve found every one we’ve dropped that way. Keep your eye open for twinkles,” he told his local paper, The Ranger, which recently ran an account of his jewelry salvaging efforts.

POWER OF ONE
Changing employee behaviors is one of the toughest things to do as a business owner or manager. People generally like the status quo. The secret is to start small, one step at a time, says Morten T. Hansen, writing on the Harvard Business Review blog. “People need clear direction. If you bombard them with eight values or 12 competencies you want them to practice,” you will be met with inertia, he says. A better approach is to focus on changing one behavior at a time.

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THE COLOR PURPLE
If you saw footage of the Christie’s New York “magnificent jewelry sale” in April you may have noticed that many of the pieces were displayed on pale purple neck forms or bathed in mauve light. There is nothing new about purple’s associations with royalty and wealth (it has to do with how difficult it was to originally produce the dye needed to create purple garments). And display artists today still believe that it is the color most likely to persuade customers to open their wallets. It certainly seemed to work at the Christie’s auction: it garnered over $81 million with almost half that spent on one gemstone, the Princie Diamond. (Check out this month’s Cool Store to see another take on purple.)

SALES

LISTEN HERE!
With the rise of the Internet, the role of salespeople has changed from product expert to sales facilitator. But the idea of what makes a good associate seems to be stuck in the past; business owners still invariably hire gregarious, back-slapping extroverts, Daniel Pink, author of To Sell is Human, recently told NPR. “We have this idea that extroverts are better salespeople. But if you look at the correlation between extroversion and actual sales performance — that is, how many times the cash register actually rings — the correlation’s almost zero,” he says. “Why? … They’re just spending too much time talking. … They don’t know when to shut up. They don’t listen very well; they’re not attuned to the other person; they sometimes can overwhelm people.” Listening is the first skill in selling.

DON’T SWEAT
The Price Cutters That job you lose to the jeweler who undercuts you down the road? Sometimes the loss can pay off for you in the long run, says Sam Parker on JustSell.com. “When the lowest priced product or service doesn’t meet the expectations of a customer, a deeper appreciation of the price/value relationship is developed.” Bottom line: Know the value you provide.

THE FUZZY-WUZZIES
According to new research done by the University of Utah, people will typically spend 10 percent more as soon as “fuzziness” is introduced into the equation. It’s part of the reason people lose financial discipline when using plastic and when they have multiple spending and checking accounts. When the total isn’t a precise figure, it’s easier for your brain to justify spending more. It also underscores why it’s so important to have a specific open-tobuy when you go to trade shows.

MARKETING

PIN YOUR DOCUMENTS TOO
Yes, Pinterest is image based, but that doesn’t mean there’s no play for the written word. Indeed, it’s a great place to pin your newsletters, says Tamsin Fox-Davies, senior development manager at Constant Contact. Writing on the email marketing company’s blog, she explains how to do it: First, pick out a key image from your latest newsletter and pin it to one of your Pinterest boards. Then, and this is crucial, link it back to your archived newsletters. “It will give you extra exposure and some nice SEO benefits, too,” Fox-Davies says.

BLUE RIBBON STRATEGY
Tiffany & Co. broke tradition this year by providing sneak previews of items featured in its 2013 Blue Book to its Facebook community. Social media analysts lauded the strategy as a neat way to provide unique content to fans over an extended period of time, build buzz and reach new potential customers.

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FIRST RESPONSES
If you’re using social media for marketing, what should you say following a tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombings or the devastating storms that lashed the Northeast last year? Sometimes, nothing at all, says Marsha Friedman, CEO of EMSI Public Relations. “Gaffes can occur with the most innocent of intentions in any media content, marketing or not,” she says. If you want to post something but are unsure what to say, take a look at what other businesses are sharing, and how online users are reacting. “You may decide to just say nothing for a day or two, depending on the nature of the event,” she says. One thing to note: If you use automated posts scheduled through a site such as HootSuite, turn them off immediately. “If people don’t find them insensitive or silly, they’ll likely conclude your messages come from a robot — not a real person — which is just as bad,” Friedman says.

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SPONSORED VIDEO

Gene the Jeweler

When Gene the Jeweler Speaks, His Employees Listen

In this episode of Jimmy DeGroot’s Gene the Jeweler series, Gene has a simple request for his employees. The good news is that they follow his instructions. The bad news is that they follow a bit too literally.

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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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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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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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