Thursday, August 2, 2012

STULLER'S BRIDGE EVENT - A Must See for the Jeweler of Tomorrow

Yes, normally I write columns on the subject of marketing, but this one will be a bit different.  What does Stuller’s Bridge event have to do with marketing?  Maybe nothing and maybe everything... you decide!

At Stuller’s invitation, I decided to fly down to Lafayette to their Bridge event which showcases not just tools or mountings, but technologies enabling the jeweler of today to become the “Jeweler of Tomorrow.”

Upon arriving at the Lafayette, LA airport, Stuller employees were waiting to pick myself, my store manager and my goldsmith up and transport us to our hotel room (all of which Stuller had paid for).  These Stuller employees had a big smile on their face, enthusiasm in their voices and bright blue shirts on with the Stuller logo.  Their friendliness was beyond belief and it was very easy to see why Louisiana is one of the happiest places in the USA.

After arriving at a brand new first class hotel and resting for a bit, we were invited to a beautifully appointed banquet room to enjoy some wonderful Cajun cuisine.  Several Stuller employees addressed the group that evening, including Matt Stuller himself.  It was interesting to note that they told us exactly why they had brought us there, what they hoped to show us and how it would benefit our stores.  They demonstrated considerable passion but more importantly showed us how much they cared about the industry and how they could partner with independent jewelry stores to help us grow and become “The Jeweler of Tomorrow.”

The next morning, we were picked up once again by our enthusiastic, smiling friends in the blue shirts and transported to the Stuller facility.  Folks, please understand something, I come from an area that has some of the biggest factories in the world (including a large Google facility), what I saw was a very modern jewelry manufacturing facility (the largest jewelry manufacturer in the USA to be exact) and this building measured 1/3 of a mile long in one direction!  It was absolutely an amazing sight to see and I really appreciated where Matt Stuller had come from after having watched his company grow for the near 30 years I’ve been in the industry.

Stuller served each of us a wonderful Cajun breakfast in their very own cafeteria and then it was off to the races.  Of course, touring the facility was great, but Stuller’s people are probably what impressed me most.  Never once did they try to sell something directly, but instead they showed each of us in this group of 100 jewelry store owners how they could benefit our biz with the latest technology and products.

While there, I met a few of our friends off the Polygon Jewelry Network, Curtis Miller and his lovely wife Mary Margaret who were an absolute delight.  Curtis and I, who are versed in CAD/CAM and other jewelry technologies, were absolutely amazed by the “Jewelry Store of Tomorrow” which was actually set up within the facility.  Modern cases, lighting, flat screen televisions, iPads and various other technologies showcased how the jeweler of tomorrow could interact with their customers.  It actually made each of us rethink how we could operate our business.  One of the biggest lessons I took away is that there is more than one correct model to run a jewelry store.

My staff was blown away with the prototype models that could be offered to our customers and how it could also interact with our CAD/CAM programs.  When Matt Stuller stood up to speak to us again, he mentioned a concept that I found most interesting.  He simply said, “Jewelers today need to start thinking SMOL” (pronounced just like small).  SMOL stands for “Sell more, own less.”  Simply put, with precious metal prices being what they are, why would we want to stock all of these mountings, bands, etc. when we can show customers by using prototypes and then have the mounting shipped overnight for your customer to pick up the next day.

Admittedly, I have not been a big fan of selling prototypes until now.  Once you get comfortable with the concept it becomes quite easy and your customers will love the idea of showing prototype mountings that look and feel like the real thing that can be custom made just for them.

Again, what does all of this have to do with my regular marketing column?  OK, here you go!  Matt Stuller actually didn’t try to sell us a thing, but he and his staff showed us how Stuller’s products and capabilities could easily benefit our stores.  Every employee we met was absolutely “Up” and displayed genuine enthusiasm for their job.  The excitement was quite infectious as my employees came back and started setting the world on fire in our store.  Did I mention nobody tried to sell me a thing? But by using a gentle and genuinely helpful approach, I’m sure much business was done to the benefit of all parties (I made a laser welder purchase while there!)

As one attendee stated, “Why would anyone want to do business anywhere else after having an experience like this?”  Words cannot describe all we experienced while at Stuller, but let me ask you a question.  What are you doing to “Wow” your clients and what are you doing to make “Evangelists” of each by giving them an experience to remember and not just always going for the “Hard Sell?”  I’ll never think the same way about my business after having been to an event like this.  Are you doing things for your customers that would make them say, “After having experienced that, why would I want to go to any other jewelry store?”  Think about it.