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David Geller

Why Going Old-School Could Help Solve Your New-School Problems

People are looking for real human connection.

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2020 HAS BEEN a year to remember; maybe it is time to go back to 1974! You know, before the internet, cellphones and streaming TV. Wow, what a crazy idea.

Why in the world would I propose this? To enhance the basic human connection. By the time you read this, most of the country will be “open” but still far from mass hugs and crowded restaurants. It’s what humans want and need. During shelter in place, many of you did something you haven’t done in a long while:

  • Called customers on the phone
  • Sent handwritten cards and notes
  • Met people outside of your store curbside, excellent service at its best
  • Met them inside the store, just you and them. Made real connections
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Make it continue. Yes, electronic everything is here to stay, but look at what is happening to the retail landscape. Every industry including ours has companies now failing. Consumers have bought more online than at Christmas. But there’s no human connection online, and we crave that. So what am I suggesting? Deep-six Facebook/Instagram/website? Not at all! Enhance the experience, and go boldly where most other stores never go!

Human connect!

1974 was the year I started my shop, about 50/50 trade work and retail. Within three years, we went 100 percent retail. From the very first day, we sent every single customer a thank-you card. Battery customers as well. My old company is still going strong, and up through the last day I owned it (December 1999), we sent every customer a thank-you in the mail.

The number of transactions grew so large that we segregated sales into two groups. Sales under $249 received a postcard addressed by the computer from me. Sales over $250 received handwritten notes from the salesperson that helped them.

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Every single customer. We demanded the staff get mailing addresses, and they did. In December 1999, we had over 18,000 on our mailing list!

Yes, we did traditional advertising, but in addition, once or twice a year, we sent out direct mail to our customer list. For any event, this was the biggest bang for the buck.

If you send out an email blast, you’re a star if you have a 25 percent open rate! That means 75 percent of the customers never clicked and opened your email. Would you like a 90% open rate? Send out postcards as part of your advertising plan.

Postcards have a 90 percent open rate. You have to look at them before tossing them in the trash. Postcards work, and the larger the size, the better. Advertise whatever you want: graphics, color and a call to action.

Call clients on the phone. It’s great for repairs and custom. Don’t file the envelopes away just yet; set them aside in a box, and a week later, call the customer to make sure everything is “A-OK”. No one does this, but you will, and you’ll be remembered and talked about.

Start an honest-to-Betsy wish list and contact the person who needs your help!

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Stores that ask customers “what do you want for your next piece of jewelry” get an answer 75 percent of the time, and you know how to pull the other 25 percent out of them. One store I visited asked every customer:

  • What’s next of your jewelry wish list?
  • When do you want it (birthday/anniversary/Mother’s Day/Christmas, etc.)
  • Who do I contact?

Each salesperson kept their list, and a few weeks before the coming occasion, hand-wrote a note saying something like this:

“Hi Mr. Davis. Your wife Marilyn was in a few months ago with a repair, and she casually mentioned that she just loved our diamond and emerald tennis bracelet (see picture attached). I believe your anniversary is coming up July 7th, and this would be a perfect gift. It’s still in the store if you’d like to see it, or we can ship it to your office. Just give me a call. Thanks! Sally @ the Jewelry Store.”

I asked the associate how many men bought after receiving the letter. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Within six months, 90 percent of the men I wrote will buy what I wrote.” Honest.

Tough times calls for tougher people. Make this your new normal and you’ll stand out in the crowd and be standing for a long time to come.

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David Geller is a 14th-generation bench jeweler who produces The Geller Blue Book To Jewelry Repair Pricing. David is the “go-to guy” for setting up QuickBooks for a jewelry store. Reach him at [email protected].

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