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Here’s How We Make This the Best Time of Year at My Store

Warm conversation and delicious food and drink make the season jolly for customers and staff alike.

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This story was originally published on INSTOREMAG.COM in November 2016.

SITTING AROUND A TABLE with extended family, laughing, telling stories and celebrating is something I cherish during the holidays. I enjoy the entire process, from planning the menu, shopping for ingredients and cooking with my kids, to greeting family as they arrive and making sure everyone feels right at home. Even cleaning up the quiet house after guests have left gives me the time to reflect on just how lucky I am.

This time of year, my team and I take this recipe for a joyful celebration and apply it to our store, making it the most fun and rewarding time of the year.

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Over the course of the last several months, we have carefully selected our menu of beautiful jewelry. We’ve worked with our vendors to select the highest quality ingredients, ensuring the sweetest holidays for our customers.

Our hostess welcomes our customers new and old, just like family. Coats are taken, warming beverages are offered (sometimes coffee, sometimes whiskey), often hugs and stories of their recent adventures are shared. They are our BBK extended family. We’ve been with them through ups and downs, new relationships, babies, new jobs and new homes. They’ve been with us too, through business booms and through slimmer years, and for this we do everything we can to make them feel appreciated.

Just as in a crowded kitchen, our team dances around each other while presenting gift ideas and wrapping the perfect packages. There is always laughter as customers and associates mingle. Often, customers share with us how important BBK is to their holiday celebrations. We have customers tell us, “It’s just not Christmas without a Becky bag under the tree!” I even once had a gentleman thank me for bringing his wife’s memory back: “She did things last night she hasn’t done in years!” After all the work we put in to build relationships and connect with our customers throughout the year, these stories make us glow!

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This is all an analogy, but of course there are very real meals involved at BBK. My team works hard, and we play hard too. I’ve learned that nothing bonds them like food and the occasional drink. Nearly every day in December, our break room becomes a huge family dinner. During this month, there isn’t much time for everyone to cook at home, so I look forward to making special lunches for the team. It’s a small way I can give back to them for all the hard work and energy they give me and my customers throughout the year. Taking the time to celebrate a little every day, especially during the most hectic days, keeps everyone motivated and excited.

Dec. 24 (closing time), the team gathers together on the sales floor and makes a toast to a very successful season and year. Lemon drop shots, of course! Our team favorite.

And just as when family has all left after any big holiday celebration at home, while locking up the store I take just a minute to peek back in the door after everyone has gone and realize just how lucky I am.

Becky Beauchine Kulka is the owner of Becky Beauchine Kulka Fine Jewelry in Okemos, MI, voted one of America’s Coolest Stores in 2005.

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David Geller

Why David Geller Says You Should Sell Lab-Grown Diamonds

You’re a merchant, so sell the customer what they want.

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ONE OF THE JEWELER pages on Facebook has been discussing whether a store should stock and sell lab-grown diamonds. The dad says no, while the millennial son says, “I think we should try it.” The reader vote is split about 50/50.

Can we talk about making a living here for a moment? And selling consumers what they want?

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Customers want to know their options and make their own decisions. Be their personal shopper.

I started in 1974 as a trade shop. I used to do work for a store at our mall, Wellington Jewels. I sized the gold rings they sold and set stones.

What stones? Strontium titanate. It’s a diamond simulant that has colors like an opal. Hardness on Mohs’ scale? About 5.5! But sparkle, oooh weeee!

The store was mostly black walls and showcases, with bright lights to make the stones pop. They made great money, and these are diamond look-alikes with the hardness of an opal. The mountings were 14K gold with real melee diamonds. They didn’t sell much fashion, which I told them was crazy, because a woman can only buy so many engagement rings.

I became friendly with the store manager and she agreed. So I ordered a dozen at a time in fashion mountings from a catalog, furnished the mountings and diamond melee, and she gave me center stones, which I set. They’d sell most of each dozen I gave them within five weeks.

So let’s talk profits on this product. All merchandise was quadruple markup.

They gave a lifetime warranty on these stones. If the stone scratched or chipped or fell out, they’d replace them for 50 percent of the price (so they still made keystone).

This was junk compared to lab-created diamonds. Remember: a lab-created diamond will last as long as the human does.

What about resale value? Well, they can’t get their money out of what they spent on your natural diamond, so try lab-created, make a better margin and keep that young person from buying it someplace else.

When you quote a price to a customer for anything, you may be thinking, “They aren’t talking. Maybe I should come down on the price. OMG I need to make payroll this Friday.”

They may be thinking: “Darn, my student loan note is due at the end of the month. Maybe I should opt for a lab-created diamond. I can’t tell the difference and we need to save for a house.”

Be their personal shopper, make a customer happy and make some money!

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Editor's Note

These Are The Three Factors Driving Revolution in the Jewelry Industry

All three are technology-based.

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WHEN A BUSINESS REVOLUTION arrives, there’s no stopping it. Your only options are to ignore it and die a slow death, or join it and learn, quickly, how to do business within the new paradigm.

Three powerful pistons are driving revolution in the jewelry industry. The first is e-commerce. Some retailers have complained of manufacturers going direct to consumers, but many are now learning to compete in the online space as well. We just started judging this year’s crop of America’s Coolest Store contestants, and we are impressed not only by how many of the applicants sell online, but also by the quality of their websites. Read about retailers doing e-commerce right in our story, “E-Commerce For Everyone,” beginning on page 74.

The second piston is the lab-grown diamond phenomenon. The category continues to gain traction among consumers, and largely driven by consumer demand, not marketing. Read about Soha Diamond Co., a retailer who sells only lab-grown diamonds and gemstones, in our “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution” story starting on page 63.

The third piston is social media, which offers retailers the opportunity to engage local consumers for very little monetary investment. Social media is where the people are; it’s just a question of how to reach them, and then how to interest them in your jewelry and your store.

A revolution is on your doorstep, whether you like it or not. Will you join it or be left behind?

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • During slow times, take photos of all waxes not already in your CAD library and add them. (Manager’s To-Do List, p. 46)
  • Use an aggressive commission to incentivize salespeople to sell old items. (Ask INSTORE, p. 108)
  • Present customers’ kids with gift-wrapped presents to make them feel special. (Tip Sheet, p. 98)
  • Match the percentage of marketing dollars spent on a department with its store performance. (David Brown, p. 112)
  • Make a list of all verbal buying cues and have staff practice their question closes for each. (Sales Truths, p. 112)
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Dave Richardson

24 Verbal Buying Signals Your Sales Staff May Be Missing

Do this exercise to improve your team’s closing ratio.

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WHY IT IS TRUE: The customer will say things that indicate they are ready to buy, but many salespeople talk right through these cues.

PLAN OF ACTION: During a meeting with your staff, write these verbal buying signals on a flip chart and ask your staff if they can think of any to add to the list.

  • Do you take credit cards?
  • I really like it.
  • I think she’ll like it.
  • Do you have a warranty program?
  • Will you gift-wrap it?
  • You provide an appraisal?
  • What if she doesn’t like it?
  • What time do you close tonight?
  • Do you have it in white gold?
  • Will you be able to size it for me?
  • If I buy it, when can I pick it up?
  • I really like the feel of it.
  • I really like the way it looks on me.
  • Can I put it on my store credit?
  • Can you engrave it for me?
  • You have a layaway plan?
  • Since I can’t take until it is sized, do you deliver?
  • Does it come in a box?
  • How can I care for it?
  • Do you have the matching earrings?
  • Can I borrow a calculator?
  • If I buy the ring, will you pay the tax?
  • What is your return policy?
  • What do you think?

Then, divide your salespeople into groups of two or three and have them write the appropriate closing question to each one of the verbal buying signals. Then you can compare the results.

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