Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Adapt or Die, The Choice is Yours...

Adapt or die - that’s kind of an abrupt title for an article isn’t it?  Before I get into the meat of this, let me digress for a moment.
Like many of you, I have a deep love for this industry and the independent jeweler.  Perhaps many of you just like me have watched this industry for almost 30 years or longer.  Its been an incredible ride in my own career, that’s for sure. 
When I entered the jewelry biz as a goldsmith’s apprentice in downtown Statesville, NC, the landscape was quite different than it is today.  Some called this time the “good ole days” or the Reagan “Glory Years.”  Things were easier then, that’s for sure!
I remember in the ‘80s when I could place a full page ad in our local newspaper with several sale items such as a gold nugget watch or ring, some diamond solitaire specials and a few other things.  The ad would hit on Wednesday and by Saturday our telephone would have rang off the hook and we’d have sold out of most the items. Yes, back then it was just that easy!
Nowadays, jewelers don’t have it so good.  Many report that newspapers no longer produce results, or at least most don’t (in some unique markets it still works).  One of the comments I most often here is, “What do I do now?  Newspapers don’t work like they used to, discount sales no longer work, what should I try?”  Maybe you’ve felt the same way.
You’ve probably found that it does take quite a bit more technique to make things produce like they should. Simply put, “Jewelers Must Adapt To An Ever Changing Marketplace or Die.”
You see, I’m afraid if many of our friends don’t try to adapt and change, they simply will not be here much longer.
It really pains me to see those who could have a thriving independent jewelry store simply wither away.  Why is this happening?  I think its because being creatures of habit, we (independent jewelers) are afraid to embrace new ideas, new marketing, new lines and in doing so, many are sealing their destructive fate.
Years ago, I stopped by to visit a dear friend and mentor of mine who is now departed, Bob Deitz of Salisbury, NC.  While visiting Bob, I kiddingly asked him about a line of pocketbooks he was carrying in his jewelry store. His answer even way back then, showed what a wise man Bob really was. He said, “Bill, I’ve learned to be happy with whatever makes my cash register ring!”  And let me tell you, this man knew how to make his cash register ring!  I miss you Bob.
I say all of that to say this: “What are you doing today that is different?  What new lines and innovative lines are you carrying today that you didn’t yesterday?  Are you experimenting with direct mail and your own instore customer mailing list?  You do have one, don’t you?  Have you tried social media?  Many report great success. I’ve had great luck with it for sure!  Are you standing still or are you moving forward?”
In our store the key to success has been:
  1. Using direct mail in the form of postcards, letters and other unusual devices loaded with special offers (not necessarily sales) to stay in front of our better customers.  We always send birthday & anniversary cards with a gift certificate and they work!
  2. Radio to push special events and new lines to keep Top of Mind Awareness.
  3. Social Media - Facebook in particular has been very important in cultivating young engagement ring clients.
  4. E-mail - capturing and using clients’ e-mail to send them weekly/bi-weekly info that is important, but also entertaining.... never dull!
  5. Billboards - I can’t begin to say how having a billboard in the right location with the right message has helped grow our biz!
  6. Telemarketing - yes, we call our customers regularly with announcements of special events or something as simple as, “Hey Mrs. Jones, I’ve got something in I think you’d like!”
The important thing is don’t give up!  Keep experimenting with merchandise mix and marketing until you find the combination that works for you.  Please don’t give up...your business depends on it!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Let's Have A Party Instead of a Sale

Let’s turn the party music up, break out the food and drink and have some fun shall we?  That is what many of your customers are waiting for you to do!  It seems like so many retailers simply have one boring sale event after another to the point that big store sales are no longer effective.

The big question I often get from other jewelers is…”What works to get customers in the door?” Simple…instead of throwing another “Sale”, how about throwing a party? Ok, I’m not referring to a beer bash (I can see some of you snickering now), but by having an event/party that has nothing to do with price!

What??? I’ve lost my mind you’re thinking…ok,ok, hold on a minute!  This past weekend, we invited some of our best clients into our store to preview some new jewelry lines.  That in and of itself didn’t stand out but the other things we did caused this to be a “Talked About Event!”  

Our clients enjoyed music from a local keyboardist who was playing light jazz music.  They also got to enjoy great finger foods and drink while they looked around at several new items/lines that we’d brought in.  While doing so, we asked their opinions on the new lines, what they’d like to see and what jewelry they already enjoy.  The atmosphere was kept light and no pressure.

Did we do business?  You bet we did! Sales were quite brisk and our clients loved having “First Pick” of the new jewelry lines.  Even more importantly, we planted seeds for the future and our clients left many items on their “Wish Lists.”

Perhaps the thing I’d like to get across is this…independent jewelers need to be thinking about what makes their store’s fun!  You see most store’s either don’t do “Sales” or the “Sales” they have are the same type every other retail jeweler is doing.  

Yes, fun in your marketing is what cuts thru all the clutter.  Fun is what makes you stand out in crowd.  Fun is what gets your store talked about in the local community.  Having fun in your store is what makes for a healthier, longer career and happy employees.  The bible says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  That’s pretty good medicine for each of us if I do say so myself.

By the way, I’ll be giving a seminar at the SJTA Atlanta Jewelry Show on Saturday, August 3rd at 1:45pm.  The title of the seminar is “How To Find Riches In The Niches Of Your Jewelry Store’s Mailing List”.  I’d love to meet each of you as we learn about how to do better direct mail marketing…see you there!

Monday, April 8, 2013

How To Recognize A New Client & Get Them Back In Again!

Question: How many times have you visited a business for your first time, made a purchase and in a week or so, received a welcome letter or packet from that business? 
Answer: Probably not too often!
Perhaps one of the things we do in our store that I value as a customer relationship builder most is sending that new client something to recognize their first visit and purchase at my establishment.  I’m not referring to the “Thank You Note” which my customer also gets, but something sent separately.
Many jewelers have the means through their POS systems to send thank you cards, birthday & anniversary announcements, special sale event notifications, etc., but how often are they recognizing and mailing to these new clients to get them into their “Marketing Funnel?”  Certainly most of us have a marketing funnel - or at least I hope so.  What I mean by this is that you should be sending your customers special offers, notices of events & other things at least six or more times per year.  Friends, if you’re not doing at least this much, I’m afraid you’re being left behind in the race!
Angie, my lovely wife, loves to shop at a clothing store called “Chico’s,” and from the get go I noticed something different about this company.  When she made her first purchase, she got a welcome letter along with a special offer from the management at Chico’s.  Did she use it?  You bet she did - and many other offers that they’ve sent her since that time. Geez honey, could you slow down on my pocketbook just a bit?   Chico’s even leaves her messages on our answering machines saying something like, “Hi Angie, we just wanted to thank you for being a new client.  Because you’ve made your first purchase at Chico’s, you now qualify for a special offer of xxxxx.”
If a large clothing company like Chico’s can take the time to do something like this for their new clients, don’t you think you and I can do it in our jewelry stores?   This testifies to the power of marketing to your new clients.
You’ll be amazed at the results you’ll get when you start developing marketing & offers to this new group of clients. I know I was!!  Some jewelers have asked how I go about doing this, so here is my formula:
  • Every Monday morning using my Edge POS system, I pull a report showing names and addresses and phone numbers of every new client who purchased from us the week before.
  • Each of these new clients will be sent a special offer that I devise whether that be a gift certificate, simple letter telling them about our services and lines offered or a combination of each.
  • Personally, I put an expiration date on each a month out so that the customer has time to use it and not feel overly rushed back in.
Please take the time to track the return of these customers to your store as well so you’ll know how effective your marketing has been.  Let me also say this, you can be as simple or as fancy as you’d like with this.  I’ve seen jewelers use simple gift certificates they’ve printed from their own computer using Microsoft Word or Publisher and I’ve seen fancy colored brochures and guess what… I’ve seen both be very effective at getting the customer in for a repeat sale!
If you’d like to see what I’m currently using to drive new customers back in my store, I’d be willing to share it with you.  Simply drop me an e-mail requesting my new customer brochure at: goldman86@bellsouth.net  and I’ll e-mail a PDF file for you to see and get some ideas for starting your very own “New Customer Welcome Pack”. Trust me… this works and you’ll reap huge dividends from it! 
Now, my prescription for you is, don’t let this idea sit around for long. Do it today because your store’s profit line will thank you tomorrow!

Monday, March 4, 2013

"Modeling" for Success

Thinking back to your childhood, you probably remember those special people who occupied “Hero Status” in your mind.  My personal favorites were usually Marvel Comics’ characters such as Spiderman and Iron Man. Undoubtedly, you had yours.  As you got older, you found those certain people that you looked up to as Role Models. Perhaps you patterned your dress, speech, habits and ethics after these people.  This in its simplest form is what is known as “Modeling.”
How can Modeling help someone in the jewelry industry?  Modeling comes from the neurolinguistic field which borrows somewhat from hypnosis.  It says that if you can pattern after your hero as a young person, then you can Model the habits of people, companies or industries now. 
Maybe you’re a bit like me - a people watcher at heart.  You see, I often study the habits of successful jewelers and the companies they operate.  Yes, success most definitely leaves clues and it’s up to you and me to find and Model it!
I would suggest that as sales people we look to the example set by other sales people and follow it.  In my career, Ralph Timmerman of Camelot Bridal has been a great Model of success for me and is one “Sharp Cat” I often try to emulate in my sales approach.
As companies go, you and I probably started our own retail jewelry stores because we wanted the degree of freedom afforded one who owns their own company, plus all of the other perks that go along with it.  That being said, I think it’s time each of us independents take a look at the marketing operations and methods of such jewelry chains as Kay’s & Zales. Don’t have a cow!!!  I’m not suggesting you lose your Independent Jeweler identity and start copying what the majors are doing, but at least take a look at them and see if there is something you could learn and Model.
Yes, the major jewelry chains drive demand and styles in our industry, and in a way, I’m very thankful to them for it.  How many of you have piggybacked items in your own inventory that the major players have made popular? How many of you have made lots of money because of the trends formed and pushed by these major players? 
Amazingly, for all their faults, the major chains have a great many things we could learn from and Model.  They got to be major chains for a reason didn’t they?  Here’s a list of suggestions for you to consider, Model and implement in your jewelry store:
  • Go to one or many of the major chain’s websites and sign up for their weekly/daily e-mails.  Watch how they market to you. They’re pretty sharp, and I’m sure you’ll find more than one idea you can use in your e-mail marketing!  (You do e-mail your customers, right?)
  • Visit a successful independent jeweler in a different area and see if they’ll let you look over their shoulder a bit. Model the good ideas you find.
  • Join a mastermind group to find new and fresh ideas to Model.  I’m currently a member of five groups, three of which are jewelry specific and the other two include retailers of all types.  Often I’ve discovered the best ideas in groups such as these, and best of all, these groups are dedicated to the success of their members.
  • Lastly, visit one of the chain stores to see how they price point their jewelry and how their counter displays look.  You might also want to take a look at store layout. The big boys spend lots of money studying this and it wouldn’t hurt to Model this for ever increasing benefit in your store.
So there you have it!  Think about the things written above and let them sink in.  Then pay a visit either online or in person to a few places and see what ideas you can Model in your store today!
"til next time,
Bill Warren, DDJM (Doctor of Dynamic Jewelry Marketing)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Don't Wait For Your Money!

Don’t Wait For Repair Money – Get Paid Now!

Have you ever looked at your finished repair box and found it busting at the seams or running over?  Do your employees get tired of calling the same customers over and over again to remind them to pick up the repair they left last year?  Does it frustrate you that your goldsmith or outside tradeshop gets paid now but you have to wait for payment months or even years in some cases?

This is probably a scenario that plays out in many jewelry stores across the land…at least until now!  Yes, I’ve felt the pains of frustration from this very thing.  Probably like you, I take no joy in selling my customer’s repaired jewelry to recoup my costs either (not counting the bad will generated if the customer does ever return to pick it up).

 While looking at my overly full repair box and trying to get paid for repair work done months ago, a simple idea occurred to me.  Why not ask for payment in full up at the time we take it in?
Here’s a few ways that you could go about getting paid in advance at not having to worry about collecting payment from those forgetful jewelry & watch repair customers:

1.       Simply “Ask” if they’d like to go ahead and pay now…many folks will without even giving it a second thought!   You may also say something like, “Would you like to go ahead and get this out of the way today or when you pick it up?”

2.       Offer a discount of your choice if they go ahead and pay for the repair service now!  Yes, many clients still like to a discount no matter what the amount!  If you’re using the Geller blue book prices (you are aren’t you?)…then a small discount should be no problem!

3.       Offer a “Freebie” for early payment!  Perhaps you might say, “Mr. Customer, because you came in today, you qualify for a FREE gift of bottled jewelry cleaner if you pay upfront!” 

Your jewelry store is probably a lot like mine and so I predict you’ll get similar results that I have after trying the above ideas.  Slightly more than 60% of the customers asked for upfront payment did just that without one problem!  The rest of the clients in no way seemed offended when we asked but said they didn’t bring enough money or would need to wait until payday…which was just fine by me!  60% pay upfront was certainly much better than no money upfront and in these times…just like you, I have to watch my cash flow very closely.  Needless to say, this little exercise really helped out and improved our cash flow immensely.  Wouldn’t David Geller be proud?

Until Next Time,

Bill Warren, DDJM (Doctor of Dynamic Jewelry Marketing)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

One of the best companies to come along in a long time that will help your mail stand out is http://www.3dmailresults.com/ 

The use of objects that make your direct mail "Bulky" will increase your chances by 300% of hitting your client's "A Mail" pile instead of file thirteen.

I highly recommend this company and use them quite often for my jewelry/gift store.  Take time to check them out...

Good Luck,

Bill Warren

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Year's Resolutions for The Independent Jeweler

New Year’s Resolutions For The Independent Jeweler
So…you’ve made it through yet another holiday season, paid the bills (hopefully), reviewed what worked and what didn’t and are ready for a fresh start in 2013!  Maybe you’ve had a wonderful season and wouldn’t change a thing for the coming year or perhaps you’re like a lot of jewelers I’ve talked with and are left scratching your head, wondering what to do for 2013.  Here are a few ideas:
·         Start collecting customer info to use in direct marketing including name, addresses, telephone numbers, email address, birthday & anniversary dates, children’s info

·         Get actively involved in social media most especially Facebook (I recommend a personal page for yourself and a fan page for your business)

·         Use the email addresses you’ve been collecting and start sending a weekly email blast to your clients with specials, new arrivals, repair specials, etc.  In case you’re afraid you might offend a customer, know that the larger jewelry chains send daily emails to their clients!

·         Have your staff as well as you make a point to reach out and contact at least 5 customers per day via telephone just to say, “Hello” without a hard sales pitch.  People like to know you’re human and not just trying to sell them something.

·         Make a commitment to send every customer who makes a purchase a thank you card or note along with a gift certificate for them to spend later (you choose the amount).

·         You’ve put it off for years, but this year is the time to get involved in local community civic affairs so that you can meet people and they can get to know you and what you are all about…it reaps benefits!

·         To increase your average ticket sale, train and retrain your sales force to develop a process of upselling or adding on to each transaction…it’s the quickest way to get to a higher ticket sale overall!

·         Increase the amount of times you touch your customer list (you do have one?).  Agree to touch everyone on your list via telephone, direct mail or email at least six or more times per year.  In my store, we reach out to our clients in some form almost monthly.

·         Host more events for your store rather than just another sale.  Events create buzz in the community and allow for more profit than when you just do another sale.

·         Look at what your customers are requesting as well as buying.  Do you have the right inventory and enough of it?

·         Remember to reorder your fast selling items weekly, not monthly…you’ll make more money if you do!

In the last week, many jewelers have told me about their holiday results and they’re both good and bad.  Amazingly, the one thing I noticed above all was that those who promoted their store actively thru the entire year, did better than those jewelers who only did it once in a while. 

My friend George Prout with Gems One and I have been exchanging emails discussing the changes taking place within our industry.  One thing is for sure, today’s jeweler simply cannot afford to sit on their duff because they won’t make it much longer.   

The piece of pie is getting smaller for each of us and I plan to get my store’s fair share…how about you?  The ideas above are only a few things that you can do today to impact your business in a positive way…think about it, meditate on it and then put them into implementation!  Your staff will thank you and more importantly, your thicker pocketbook will thank you!

Until Next Time,

Bill Warren, DDJM (Doctor of Dynamic Jewelry Marketing)