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Best of the Best: Godwin Jewelers’ Ability To Turn

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Godwin’s Jewelers uses this mantra to get to $2 million in annual sales

THREE SHORT YEARS AGO, Ronnie Godwin’s store in rural Bainbridge, GA, was limping along. It had too much aging inventory, cash flow was inconsistent, and while the business was still turning over almost a million dollars a year, generous discounting and generally low prices for shop services meant margins were thin.  

Today, Godwin’s Jewelers is a case study in how to run a successful store. Sales have surged to more than $2 million, the store has added an assortment of big name designer labels, its customer base is growing, and perhaps best of all, the gross profit margin is up 10 percent from where it stood in 2003. 

Godwin’s secret? The 7-Eleven formula: Turn and earn.  

?We really began focusing on inventory management and fast-selling product,? says Godwin. ?You gotta keep the bread and butter products in the store all the time.? 

Godwin was raised in the jewelry business but three years after buying the 40-year-old operation from his father in 2000 it was evident his business skills needed sharpening, so he brought in coaches from Las Vegas-based consulting firm Focus Management Group. 

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?POS programs are not easy to comprehend,? Godwin says, adding that the consultants taught him how to properly track best-selling items and price-points as well as how to keep on top of other issues including payroll and the customer database. 

Godwin opted for the consultants at the recommendation of jeweler friends he met through the Independent Jewelers Organization, which he credits for two other steps that have helped fuel his store’s turnaround ? buying trips to Antwerp, and adding Hearts on Fire diamonds to the inventory (again at the urging of an IJO buddy). 

?Hearts on Fire was a very scary move. The required minimum buy-in in 2004 was $60,000 to $70,000, which was humongous for us.? The pay-off though has been nothing short of ?incredible,? he says. The Antwerp buying trips are marketed aggressively, along with a host of other sales events including trunk shows, through email, hand-written notes, and radio and local newspaper ads. 

Godwin says his goals for 2007 include intensive training for his staff and a rethink of some lower priced categories, which he feels his store failed to capitalize on over Christmas. ?Some of that product can be very profitable,? he says.

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