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Getting a Workout at Work … and More Tips For February

Shoot for 10,000 steps a day, however you can get them.





I’m a Type A personality who is getting an “F” in fitness. What are some good at-work ways of getting the old cardiovascular going?

Nutritionist expert Samantha Heller suggests at least 15 minutes of “brisk walking,” be it in the mall or your store’s parking lot. Ideally, 30 to 40 minutes would be better. Set goals for yourself with a pedometer. Shoot for 10,000 steps or more in a day. If walking is a tad boring, put some purpose behind your pace by doing errands on foot when you can. Use stairs whenever possible and walk them frequently. Some admin work that can help get your heart pumping is hand-delivering messages to co-workers rather than instant messaging or emails. And, if you’re so inclined, try some maintenance work to make you and your store look better.


Ad Vices

There are so many types of advertisements out there. Should I advertise my store or my products? What about using the same ad copy as my friend in another market?

What works for your friend may not work for you. Stay away from “category-specific” ads (or institutional advertising), says Wizard of Ads author Roy Williams. “Ads that fit everyone don’t work very well for anyone,” he declares.

As for product ads, while these can be of great benefit, they could also help your competitors who sell the same, or a similar, product. “Independent retailers should question whether or not to take the manufacturer’s 50 cents to run their product-specific ads,” says Williams in regards to co-op advertising. “Are they really paying for half of your advertising, or are you paying for half of theirs?” For long-term branding of your store, the best type of advertising is store-specific, says Williams.

However, he adds a caveat: “To write [store-specific ads] requires intimate, detailed research on the part of an expert ad writer. Rarely will a good, store-specific ad fit another advertiser in the same category.”



Smell Better

Cleaning jewelry stinks. Where can I find a good ultrasonic cleaning fluid that’s odorless?

Our retail contacts provided us with a couple of options. The first is Gesswein Ultrasonic Cleaning Solution (available at Gesswein). Specifically made for ultrasonic machines, it contains no phosphates that thicken with use, so your ultrasonic tank is not damaged. “It’s the very best I’ve ever used,” says Dwight Belew of American Jewelry Co. (Mt. Juliet, TN). “Totally odorless and does a great job. It’s kinda pricey, but worth every penny. The five-gallon bucket, which is a concentrate, lasts a loooong time.” The concentrate ratio is 40:1.

Mike Kmet of North Coast Jewelry (Bow, WA) offers a less expensive solution: “Use Simple Green all-purpose cleaner, and cut it down some with water. Sometimes I throw in some Dawn dish soap. Cheap, no smell, and it works.”


Cashing In

Should the total business that a store does have any impact on how much you pay a person who contributes a good deal of your store’s business? Or is it irrelevant?

Store management expert David Geller provides a good rule of thumb: “If salespeople sell 80% of the day (with the other 20% allowed for administrative work), they should sell anywhere between 8 and 13 times their gross pay.” As an example, if the employee does $250,000 in sales, then he or she should be paid somewhere from $22,000 to $33,000 if the store is under $500,000 in annual revenues. Geller says to remember that the amount a person sells depends in part upon two things over which they have little control. First, store traffic (thus a half-million dollar store has less traffic or chances to sell than a million-dollar store).

Second, the number of opportunities the staff gets to sell. “If the owner gets all of the big sales, leaving smaller sales to the staff, they will be unable to sell larger numbers,” says Geller.


The Great Escape

How can I make planning vacations seem less like work?

In a recent article from Fitness Business Pro, Debra Siena, regional VP of Tennis Corp, says to start by giving at least a four-month notice to your staff. The lengthy lead time allows you to make sure your second-in-command isn’t on vacation as well, and to ask some folks to work a few extra hours. Make sure the person in charge during your absence knows basic day-to-day operations and can assign daily tasks. Develop a team manual, says Siena. “You have to have systems in place so you’re not so dependent on people,” she says. “Empower the whole team so everyone knows these systems.”

The fitness of these systems can determine how long you can be away from your store. If you want to test the waters, take an extended weekend break before taking a week or more off. In the days before your departure, do a series of detailed walk-throughs. Identify key areas that should be closely monitored. And, establish set times when you will call in to get updates on what’s happening in the store while you’re away.



Public Property

What type of jewelers buy from the public, and why? Is it a lucrative way to earn extra money?

Lots of jewelers buy off the street, says store management guru David Geller – always independents. Some buy straight out, and others also take trade-ins. It’s all for a good cause: “This is one of the best ways to get engagement ring diamonds so you can sell lower than your competition.” But be careful not to overbuy, he warns. If you don’t want to buy something, offer a really low price. If the customer accepts, then take it and dump it someplace else, advises Geller. To get rid of slow movers, try an online marketplace like Polygon or eBay, he adds.


OK Computer

What’s the best way to set up a computer workstation to lessen risk of musculoskeletal injuries?

It may look easy, but working at a computer can be a pain in the neck – literally. Aches and pains associated with such work are also called “repetitive strain injuries”; carpal tunnel syndrome is just one example. In order to limit such ailments, your workstation should be set up to allow you to carry out work tasks in comfort, and also to move around easily, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety. The Centre says that an adjustable chair is a must, and an adjustable desk can really help (or a foot rest to help you adjust to the height of the desk top). The Centre also advises the following:

  • Wrists in a neutral position (no bending)
  • Thin, detached, and movable keyboard directly in front of you
  • Mouse close to the keyboard and at the same level
  • Shoulder and hip in line
  • Backrest fits inward curve of spine
  • Arm rest at elbow height
  • Knees slightly lower than hip
  • Seat height just below kneecap
  • Feet flat on floor or foot rest


Benefit Buffet

How can I maximize our company benefits while meeting the various needs of our employees?

One of the most underrated and underused employee benefits available for small businesses today is the “cafeteria” plan found in section 125 of the U.S. Tax Code, says Trent D. Bryson, CFP, president of Bryson Financial Group. Under this plan, employees can withhold a portion of their pre-tax salary to cover certain medical or child-care expenses. “Because these benefits are free from federal and state income taxes, an employee’s taxable income is reduced, which increases the percentage of their take-home pay,” says Bryson.

“And because the pre-tax benefits aren’t subject to federal social security withholding taxes, employers win by not having to pay FICA — or workers’ comp premiums — on those dollars.” Potential benefits under this plan include pre-tax health insurance premium deductions, allowing employees to withhold a portion of their pre-tax salary to pay for their premium contribution under your employer-sponsored health plan; flexible spending accounts, which allow employees to fund out-of-pocket medical expenses that aren’t covered by insurance; and dependent care flexible spending accounts, a similar benefit for children or parents of the employee.


Address Stress

I need to reduce stress levels but don’t want to take medications. Got any natural stress busters?

The American Institute of Stress reports that the leading cause of stress is work. Delegate as much work as possible and find ways to unwind. If you’re a weekend warrior around the house, delegate or outsource there, too. Prayer and spirituality have helped to lower blood pressure for some people. Another way to lower your stress is to let go of your grudges.

A recent study showed that forgiving those who have wronged you lowers blood pressure. About 60 percent of people who are stressed say they don’t get enough sleep. Calm down before hitting the bricks with a soothing shower, bubble bath, or chamomile tea. Vacations are also good stress reducers. But don’t schedule a trip that will make you worry about mo

ey. A low-cost extended weekend should suffice. Also, consider trying yoga. Even one class can cut levels of the stress hormone cortisol. If bending and twisting isn’t your bag, find a yoga class that specializes in low-key hatha yoga or give tai chi a try.

In the great tradition of “saving the best for last”, remember that sex, or even snuggling up to your partner, is a time-honored stress reducer.



She Wanted to Spend More Time with Her Kids. She Called Wilkerson.

Your children are precious. More precious than gold? Absolutely! Just ask Lesley Ann Davis, owner of Lesley Ann Jewels, an independent jewelry store that — until the end of 2023 — had quite a following in Houston, Texas. To spend more time with her four sons, all in high school, she decided to close her store. Luckily, she was familiar with Wilkerson and called them as soon as she knew she wanted to move on to bigger, better and more family-focused things. Was she happy with her decision? Yes, she was. Says Davis, “Any owner looking to make that life change, looking to retire, looking to close, looking for a pause in their career, I would recommend Wilkerson. Hands down!”

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