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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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2019 Big Survey: 10 Times When Jewelry Store Employees Left the Job in Dramatic Fashion

Results of the 2019 Big Survey have been rolling in. Here’s a sample.

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WE ASKED SURVEY respondents to share the most epic ways they’d seen someone quit or be fired. Dealing with employees on their way out can be touchy. Sometimes these unfortunate encounters even culminate in award-winning dramatic performances. Read on for the most memorable ways employees have parted ways with jewelry stores:

Top 10 Countdown

The award for best dramatic performance goes to the employees who:

10. Screamed at the top of their lungs, “I QUIT”

9. Showed up in pajamas, had a breakdown, then quit and walked out.

8. Threw rings at the boss while asking for a raise, then quit.

7. Threw a crystal piece through a showcase shelf.

6. Hit the jeweler in the head with a bag of bananas.

5. Threw his key at me.

4. Came in wielding a pipe wrench screaming that we were liars.

3. Ran out of the shop, arms raised in the air, saying “he’s trying to kill me.”

2. Got drunk at a charity event we were sponsoring, hit on one of the ladies and pulled her skirt up. Police were called.

And the No. 1 best dramatic performance goes to:

1. The employee who hired a marching band to quit.

The 2019 Big Survey was conducted in September and October and attracted responses from more than 800 North American jewelers. Look out for all the results in the November issue of INSTORE.

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Wow Your Customers with This Video Messaging App

Jewelers can make online experiences feel a lot more like in-person experiences.

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DO YOU REMEMBER the last time a business did something unexpected for you? Something you truly appreciated? Of course, you do. Those are the moments that imprint themselves on our memories. For me, it was with a video messaging app called Bonjoro.

My Wow Moment

When I signed up for their free trial, I expected to get a video message from them. That’s what they do. And they told me I would. What I didn’t expect was to get a video answer about a tech issue I was having minutes after I emailed them about it. That blew me away.

In the jewelry industry, we pride ourselves on our in-store service and fret about our online marketing. Gone are the glory days with greater foot traffic. Now everyone wants to kick the tires online before they commit to coming in. But what if you could bring your amazing customer service to customers before they ever stepped foot in the store?

Bonjoro to the Rescue

That’s exactly what Bonjoro allows you to do. Bonjoro is an easy to use video to email messaging app for businesses. They make recording and emailing a personalized video to customers almost effortless. And you can even send these videos when they’ll have the biggest impact, like right after they fill out a contact form on your site.

Imagine a prospective customer visits your site. They fill out a contact form with some details about the type of engagement ring they’re looking for. After they press submit, someone on your sales team gets a notification. Once they have a free minute, they pull out their phone and record and send a video in less time than it would take them to respond to the email.

“Hi, Jim! I know exactly the style that you’re looking for, and we have some great options for you. You can see a few of them in the case behind me, but I have a few more that I’d like to pull out and show you. You mentioned that you have a lunch break at noon. Why don’t you stop by tomorrow, and I’ll have them all ready for you? In the meantime, there’s a link to our website’s engagement ring gallery in this window. If you see anything else you like, you can write me a quick message, and I’ll be sure to add it. See you soon!”

An Experience Like No Other

This is an experience most jewelers aren’t going to offer. The enthusiasm and confidence communicated in a video are hard to match in an email response. And the customer has likely never received a response like this from a jewelry store. Just the thought that someone took the time to personally address them with a video will make them more likely to stop in. Plus, they already feel like they know you.

Almost Face-to-Face

Bonjoro is a way to send quick, personalized videos to customers. They’re meant to be mixed into the daily routine and workflow of your sales team. This isn’t the time for high-quality video production or perfect angles. This is much more personal and organic than that.

People online aren’t used to being addressed personally by video. It gives them a personal touch that usually only happens in the store. When you use Bonjoro, the most important thing is to press the record button and talk to the customer like they’re right there in front of you. What a wonderful way to wow your customers!

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Commentary: The Business

Customer Fired for Cause

Her phone manners left something to be desired.

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Laurelle Giesbrecht of French’s Jewellery says her daughter Heidi, now 15, is not afraid to answer the phone despite what happened and calls it “a learning experience.”

WHILE VISITING A great friend and store owner, Laurelle Giesbrecht of French’s Jewellery in Alberta, Canada, we were commiserating over coffee. I have always loved hearing her stories about community involvement or win/win sales interactions. This time, she had a real doozy.

A customer had recently purchased a $300 ring for her daughter and had sent her back to the store for a free sizing. The young girl had decided it was not going to be on her third finger but the much larger first. That meant the ring needed to be sized from 5 to 10. For this, there would be a charge. The girl left the ring.

Laurelle’s daughter, Heidi, was answering phones as her mom finished closing the store. It was the last call before locking up. Heidi asked how she could re-direct the caller and then, holding the phone to her chest, asked her mom if she wanted to take the call. Mom assured her she was doing fine. It brought a smile to her face when she heard her daughter tell the caller that she would pass the message along to their HR manager.

But later at home, the true story emerged. The call had been from the original purchaser of the size 5 ring, and using a long string of vulgarities, she had demanded a full refund. The next day, typically affable Laurelle left a message requesting a return call. When the return call came, Laurelle informed the customer that the swearing she had done over the phone had been directed at her 13-year-old daughter. She added that she would not allow that treatment of any of her staff. After informing the customer that she would process a full refund, she asked for her mailing address so she could mail it. Laurelle calmly informed the customer that she was not to come back to her store.

But the story was not over. The customer ignored the request to not return to the store and instead brought a beautiful bouquet of flowers with a neatly written card. She wanted to personally deliver them to the 13-year-old child who had listened so intently to her vulgar language. This customer knew that the depth of her apology could only be appreciated by a face-to-face meeting between an embarrassed adult and precocious child!

If there are lessons here, they are written between the lines.

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