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Who Should Be on Your Board, Where to Set Your Store Temperature, and More of Your Questions Answered

Plus how to gauge how your staff is feeling about their workload.




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I feel our advertising is not resonating with younger customers anymore, that perhaps it’s too “hard sell.” Any ideas?

It’s definitely a good idea to thoroughly review your advertising mix and the channels you are using on a regularly basis. Millennials as a group consistently tell surveys they don’t care for most commercials, especially loud and boastful one. They hate being “yelled” at. But then, that is what consumers have been saying for decades, and the evidence still indicates the opposite: Intrusive ads — be they billboards, loud radio spots or annoying YouTube interruptions — are still effective. And like the rest of America, Gen Y grew up with and accept advertising as a natural part of the media mix. We say this not to encourage you to be annoying, but to keep in mind that for all the talk about changes to the media landscape and advertising, much stays the same. Your ad needs to make an emotional connection (and Gen Y does seem to respond better to understated humor) and then give the listener a path to act on. Keep changing things up, keep testing (A vs. B), and keeping getting your message out there.

How can I get genuine insights into how my team is feeling about their workload or the way we do business?

Try scaling questions. Here’s an example: If an employee seems overwhelmed, ask how stressed they are feeling on a scale from one to 10. Should they answer 8, use these scaling questions to zero in on how you can help:

  • What could move you from an 8 to a 7?
  • How would a 10 look? How about a 1?
  • What keeps the score from being worse?
  • When was the last time the score felt good? What was different about that time? How can we apply that today?
What’s a good temperature for the store when it’s hot like this?

It would seem like there should be one ideal temperature that’s not too cold, not too hot but just right. Yet that Goldilocks zone is tricky to achieve, and like so many things in life, it’s because of relativity. A setting of 70 degrees Fahrenheit might feel perfect in winter. However, during the summer months, it may feel frigid for a customer coming in from a 95-degree scorcher outside. As a result, retail environment experts recommend raising the temperature in summer to around 74 or 76 degrees and lowering it to between 68 and 70 degrees in winter. Such a target suggests many jewelers may be aiming too low: A poll we ran of INSTORE Brain Squad members indicates that nearly two out of three jewelers set their thermostats between 70-72. Where some stores go awry is basing the temperature on what’s comfortable for the staff — they do, after all, have to work in the store all day. And they’re probably wearing pants or long skirts, long-sleeved shirts or blouses, and maybe even a jacket. Customers coming in, on the other hand, may not be wearing much more than shorts and a t-shirt. That results in an uncomfortable shopping experience that discourages browsing. The answer to such a mismatch is to adjust your dress code. The customer may not always be right, but her comfort should come first.

I’d like to set up a board of advisers for the store. Ideally, what sort of people should I invite to join it?

It’s an Olympic year, so let’s aim high. Your dream team would probably look like this:

  • An industry vet.
  • A truth teller … Devil’s advocates can be boring, but as you consider plans and potential, you need someone who will challenge assumptions and ask, “Yes, but what if …”
  • A cheerleader … This could be a loyal customer or anyone who appreciates what you do and gives you heart.
  • A change shaper … Someone with a finger on the pulse of technology and business trends.
  • A networker … Someone with connections who knows what’s going on in the ‘hood.
  • A numbers person … Optimism is great, but sometimes it simply doesn’t stand up to financial scrutiny.

Be willing to get out of your comfort zone — maybe even invite someone with a contrary business model. Offer to join other people’s boards, too. You’ll likely get back as much as you put in.



When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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