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Upping the Game: Why Dubai Watch Week is the Perfect Example of How to Run a Fair

A key factor: There’s no pressure to buy or sell.

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WATCHMAKING CLASSES TAUGHT by Swiss masters. Luxury hotel rooms at the new Waldorf Astoria. Daily gourmet breakfasts. Seven limited-edition timepieces being released. Three-course lunches in a Cipriani pop-up. Thirteen education panels featuring world-renowned speakers. An international press squad representing over 45 media titles. And Jean-Claude Biver dropping knowledge and signing books. Any one of these would be enough to raise the level at most watch-related trade shows or fairs, but when you combine them and place them into a setting like Dubai, the result is almost unfathomable. Unless, of course, you lived it, which is exactly what I was privileged enough to do just over a week ago.

For the third year in a row, I was invited by the team at Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons and Dubai Watch Week to attend a horological event they were organizing. Two years ago, it was to visit the third edition of Dubai Watch Week in Dubai as a member of the press. Last year, it was an event they were holding in London in collaboration with Christie’s Auction House called “Horology Forum.” I was asked to be one of five panel moderators for that event; an honor which I never thought could be matched. That is, until this year when again I was invited by DWW to moderate the final panel, entitled “Hot Potato.” Each of my experiences has been extraordinary.

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The No. 1 characteristic that separates Dubai Watch Week from any other watch fair (or jewelry event, for that matter) is that there is no pressure to buy or sell. In the U.S., the closest we have to that experience is the American Gem Society Conclave, which I’ve often compared to Dubai Watch Week on an education level. But in terms of pulling in a worldwide audience that includes watch brands, retailers, collectors, journalists, scientists, speakers and skilled artisans, there is no other fair that can hold a candle to this one, and the other watch fairs know it.

In 2017, I left Dubai thinking to myself that I had just left the most organized event I’d ever attended. In my mind it was flawless, leaving very little room for improvement, and yet when I stepped onto the impeccably pristine grounds of the DIFC this year I was flabbergasted. It was not just grander from a visual standpoint, but the program itself read like perfection. Panel topics at the “Horology Forum” covered everything from how smart watches are affecting today’s watch sales, to what really happens when you’re put on a waiting list for a watch, to how women come to power in fields largely dominated by men, to how industry outsiders (like award-winning actor Aldis Hodge and quantum physicist Michael Biercuk) are finding their place in the watch community. Attendees were also treated to events held in the “Creative Hub,” where several watch brands discussed their histories and where some even released new limited-edition timepieces in conjunction with Dubai Watch Week. Watchmaking classes were taught in a separate pop-up venue, as well as classes on watch design, dial painting, engraving and more. Christie’s even had its own auction room on premises where one could attend talks on topics such as the restoration of timepieces and why vintage Patek Philippes are so sought after. And, because DWW gets it, there was a children’s program. Yes … an actual children’s program! Because let’s face it, kids will eventually determine the success of the watch industry, both as future buyers and as future artisans, so why not teach them how special watchmaking is now, right?

As the days turned into nights, the festivities didn’t slow down. There were cocktail events by Tudor, Grand Seiko, Ulysse Nardin, HYT, Bell & Ross, Roger Dubuis, Girard Perregaux and others. Oh, and if you tired of any of those, Chopard pretty much had its own nightclub set up, complete with a well-known Dubai D. J. and plenty of industry personalities.

These days, as an almost-47-year-old woman, I feel that the older I get the harder I am to impress. I’ve done a lot in my life, and I’ve seen even more, so when something comes along that is special – truly special – I sit up and take notice, and often will do my best to tell the world about it. This is exactly what Dubai Watch Week makes me want to do. Everyone from their smiling security guards, to their wonderful public relations and press teams, all the way up to Hind Seddiqi – the director general of Dubai Watch Week – went out of their way to make sure that every person in attendance was taken care of, and that everyone had an experience unlike any other. Hind and her entire team succeeded in accomplishing that, yet again, which makes me wonder how the 2021 edition could possibly get any better. Although, seeing what the DWW organizers have been capable of so far, I’m sure it will be otherworldly.

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Barbara Palumbo is a watch and jewelry industry writer, journalist and speaker. She manages the blogging websites Adornmentality.com and Whatsonherwrist.com.

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Sales Truth

Why A Well-Told Proposal Story Could Help Close The Sale

It starts with getting the groom-to-be involved.

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WHY IT IS TRUE: He is in your store to purchase an engagement ring, a totally unfamiliar task for him.

PLAN OF ACTION: Ask him how he plans to propose. If this is something he has not considered, take this opportunity to share several beautiful proposal stories your clients have used. Ask him questions, get him involved, encourage him to share his plan, and help him embellish it in any way you can.

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Shane Decker

You’re Killing Your Own Sales By Talking About the Price

Romance the item and the reason they came in, and you’ll close more sales.

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DURING THE HOLIDAYS, we get into bad sales habits because the sales are so easy and customers are buying price-point items. We sell faster, we sell price and sometimes we don’t even really sell the item. Now that we’re into the new year, it’s time to get back into good selling habits.

The diamond season is about to start. Typically, it runs from April 16 through the end of September (although we sell diamonds all year, which we should). What can keep you from selling as many diamonds as you could? The price.

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Too many salespeople are afraid of the price, no matter which item they’re selling, which causes problems with closing the sale, among other things. When you try to justify the price or the client feels you are apologizing for the price, they start to believe that you think they can’t afford the item. They will feel pre-judged and leave.

Clients are coming in for you to spend their money for them; they’re paying you as a professional to do this. You do not need to decide how much they can spend. Let the client decide that (unless you’re wowing them with a $10,000 diamond while they’re waiting for a battery).

Instead of price, concentrate on selling with romance and knowledge. These two things build confidence in your product. Quality, technical information, craftsmanship, design, difficulty, brand, rarity, size, color, clarity, cut, and other factors all contribute to the value of the product.

That said, you have to understand when technical selling is appropriate, and how much to do. Some clients are not interested in this at all, so do not volunteer technical information if it’s not needed. You don’t need to impress the client, but if they have concerns or questions about technical aspects of the product, it’s up to you to answer any and all questions with authority.

Remember: The more money the item costs, the easier it is to close because the customer can afford it. The less the item costs, usually the harder it is to close. Money is just a tool the client uses to obtain what he or she wants. Always start high and go down — you limit yourself when you start low and try to work up.

Begin the sale with questions that encourage the client to tell you their story and why they’re in your store. And make it about the importance of the item. When you make it about them and the item and you learn to romance the reason they’re here, the price will become insignificant and the client will upsell themselves.

Don’t talk about yourself, and certainly don’t make the sale about price. They’ll forget how much they spend, but they’ll always remember the event and the item.

Millennials are changing the size of the starter set diamond — diamonds from 1.5-carats to 2 carats are selling like crazy all over the country. All of you should be selling big diamonds. Make 2020 the year of big diamond sales and high closing ratios in your store.

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David Geller

What You Can Learn From Insurance Companies to Make More Money in Your Shop

Charging more to every customer helps pay for damages that your store covers.

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REDOS, STONE LOSS and breakage are the bugaboos of any shop. Stuff happens, but who pays for this?

Do you think Allstate pays for a car repair when you wreck your car? No! All Allstate customers share in that repair, which is built into their premiums. We all pay.

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That’s how stone loss, breakage and redos should be paid in every store: by charging more for all repairs to cover these procedures.

Let’s talk profit-and-loss statements for a moment. As a reminder, here’s the breakdown:

  1. Sales minus cost of goods = your gross profit
  2. Expenses are paid out of your gross profit
  3. After paying your expenses, what you have left over is net profit

Let’s say you size a ring and months later the customer comes back and says, “Hey! You sized my ring I had for 12 years, and 30 days later, my 5-pointer fell out. Now take care of it!”

We’ll assume you will give her a new 5-point diamond at no charge. Your cost probably $30. Where on your P&L does the $30 cost come from? It comes out of your net profit.

The typical American jewelry store has a net profit of 5 percent. So, the “Allstate question” is, “Who’s going to pay and by how much?”

It’s simple really: Just divide the cost of this problem (the lost diamond) by your net profit percentage.

$30.00 divided by 5% (“0.05”) = $600.00

Your store will have to do an extra $600 in sales, above and beyond your goal, to have $30 left over to pay for the lost $30 diamond!

The easiest way to get this extra $600 is by charging customers an additional fee for the jeweler to check all stones, tighten any that are loose and guarantee them for one year against loss.

You charge this same fee if:

  1. All stones are loose when ring comes in.
  2. If just a few of the stones are loose.
  3. Even if none are loose, because we are still guaranteeing after we work on the ring that the stones won’t get loose or fall out in the following year.

Sounds like Allstate, doesn’t it?

Here are our current Geller Blue Book prices to check and tighten stones:

  • Up to 4 stones, no charge.
  • From 5 to 20 stones = $34
  • From 21 to 35 stones = $52
  • From 36 to 50 stones = $70
  • Each additional stone over 50 = $1 per stone

The typical store will take in an additional $18,000 to $40,000 with this extra income, whereas typical store losses in a year are less than $5,000.

Like Allstate, you’d make money on crashes. Imagine that.

Is your store in good hands?

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