The Affluent Gourmet

April 1998

Managing:Your Market

The Affluent Gourmet

John Redmond reaches the affluent the old fashioned way – he has lunch with them

'Whenever two or more are gathered for lunch, John Redmond will be there." So says one of the pioneers of person-to-person selling to the affluent, John Redmond, a jeweler who allowed "let's do lunch" to replace "can I help you" and saw his sales soar.

The Greenville, SC, native traded in a traditional jewelry store presidency for personal selling and now finds he has time for his family, friends and a variety of charitable activities that often involve lunch (where he naturally meets – you guessed it – more rich people).

Redmond enjoys this life-style and shared his views of it recently at a seminar during the JCK International Jewelry Show in Orlando, FL.

Redmond's business is fairly easy to describe. He rents office, conference room and secretarial help from a local office building but spends precious little time there. Mostly, he stops by the bank to pick up inventory and visits clients at their homes or offices. All his business is by appointment, and he's on call day or night to solve a jewelry emergency.

He does have a few rules.

  • "I work only with really nice people."
  • "I sell only really nice jewelry. Nothing commercial, nothing below a quality standard. These people have their bread and butter jewelry already."
  • "I don't need special lighting. People don't wear jewelry in special lighting."
  • "I don't negotiate on prices. And I'm also very careful not to undercut the two other jewelry stores in town."

Redmond has a few pieces of advice for jewelers who want to target the affluent. Money more than two generations old is too old, he learned – they don't want or need any more jewelry. "I like the new rich," he says. "With their money and my taste, there's no limit to where we can go."

Redmond notes some other affluent segments that generally aren't good customers: doctors ("they're better on TV"), really big shots, parents of college students, recent purchasers of other big luxuries (beach houses, airplanes), and friends.

Finding the Affluent
He says there are some overlooked affluent as well. They include:

  • People accustomed to writing big checks.
  • People on the way up the corporate ladder making six figure salaries.
  • Satisfied customers or referrals.
  • "Cash business" people. "A cash-business customer who was looking at a piece of jewelry once asked me where he would get that kind of money. I don't know what possessed me, but I said 'in your bottom right-hand drawer.' Guess what? He had it!"
  • People who don't look rich. "The Hacketts" were a family from the bad side of town that Richmond found when he saw in the newspaper they had sold a $795,000 house.

"They have tons of Redmond's jewelry now," he quips. "As a traditional jeweler, I was so busy keeping shop that I had no time to be involved with my community or church. Now I've developed personal relationships with people I'd never get to know otherwise," he says.

On top of that, he always takes a break for lunch.

Redmond's Rules for Reaching the Rich

When dealing with rich busy people, follow these simple steps, says John Redmond, a personal jeweler from Greenville, SC:

  • Call now. You aren't being a pain. "When I first started, I decided to pace my calls so I wouldn't be calling every Christmas. Then I found out: don't make rules. Call every Christmas. Your customers count on you to call."
  • Suggest. "People don't have a clue what to buy. But you should. Find out what your customer likes and what capability he or she has to spend. Then just show a piece. Don't ask what they want. Just show it."
  • Direct. "Most men need to be told what to buy their wives. The women tell them – but, of course, they don't listen. Men count on me to tell them what to do."

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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