'Booking' Future Profits
Don't wait 'til next fall to think about improving 1999 holiday sales
BY CHRISTINE ANZELL AND JACK LEVENSON
Almost a quarter of your annual sales are compressed into the few weeks
leading up to Christmas. No wonder the end of the year is such a critical
time for this industry. Read the following conversation to learn how one
jeweler ensured good year-end results (also check a related story you can
pass on to your sales associates on page 111).
"So how was your season?"
"A little soft; we were disappointed. How about yours?"
"Really? I don't know what I did wrong. We were staffed, had lots
of well-priced merchandise, placed newspaper ads, ran gift-with-purchase
and purchase-with-purchase promotions, had a sale and two trunk shows. I
thought we covered it all."
"How many customers did you call?"
"What do you mean?"
"How how many customers did you call? How often did you have your
associates go into their records, call their customers and give them a reason
to visit your store?"
"I, uh, I really don't have excellent records on my customers. And
the salespeople don't have the time or motivation to do that
"That's where you missed the boat. We began a program last January
that paid off for us in spades and at minimal cost. I'd read about
the big department stores Nordstrom, Neiman's providing their
sales associates with client recordkeeping books and the authority to use
the phone whenever they had an opportunity to drive sales."
"And so I started last year by furnishing my people with client
books. We met to discuss how to use them, and they worked like a charm."
"What's the gimmick?"
"There's no gimmick. Look. We all have virtually the same merchandise,
the same pretty gift boxes, the same credit plans. What makes one jewelry
store stand out from the others is customer service. That along with
the right item at the right price is what today's fine jewelry shopper
Step by Step
"So we set up this program. It's really pretty basic: first, I made
sure all my sales associates had personalized business cards. We talked
about the importance of being an entrepreneur; they work on commission,
so their income is really in their own hands. We also talked about the importance
of networking with friends and other community members after hours. Do these
people know what we do for a living? They should. We talked about the 'Card
Within a Yard' rule (present a business card to everyone who comes within
a yard of you), and I empowered them to write something on the back to make
it seem special: 'free inspection and cleaning' or '10% off next purchase.'
"Then I presented each associate (and myself, by the way) with a
personal client recordkeeping book. It's like a planner, but it's set up
to retain information on customers, including their names, addresses, phone
numbers, occupations, hobbies, birthdays, anniversaries, tastes, ring sizes,
wrist sizes. There's a place for purchase records, inspection and cleaning
records, 'wish list' items and personal notes. They keep this information
on the customer and the people the customer buys gifts for. As all those
folks who received business cards begin to drop by, we ask for information
for our client book."
"You mean even if they don't buy anything?"
"Yeah. 'While we're installing your watch battery, Mrs. Smith, let
me take some information from you for my client book ...'"
"How do you make sure your people are gathering this information?"
"I continually remind them about what a valuable resource they're
creating. I also collect and review their client books each week, complimenting
those whose records are developing nicely and counseling those who need
some encouragement. It all takes about a half-hour per week."
"It seems kind of cumbersome; aren't there software programs that
make this kind of record keeping easier?"
"I have the software; it's great for maintaining a mailing list
and even looking up purchase records in a pinch. But as far as driving
sales, it accomplishes nothing. The client books help to make each sales
associate a 'business owner.' And when a customer comes into the store,
the sales associate simply flips open this professional-looking book and
turns to the information she needs."
"OK, so now you've got all these books with all these names. How
do you turn that into sales?"
"Imagine it's a slow week in January. We just start calling our
"Don't they get annoyed?"
"No. This isn't cold calling; we're not selling subscriptions or
insurance. We're calling someone we know and who knows us to
take less than a minute of their time and give them a reason to stop by
in the next few days."
"Oh, I get it. 'Hi, Mrs. Jones. This is Joe Skeptical down at Joe's
Jewelers. I am having a very slow month and was wondering if you'd come
down and buy something so I can mail these vendor checks that have been
sitting on my desk for the past two weeks.'"
"Not exactly. The idea is to get them excited and make them want
to get out of their recliner, fire up the ol' Buick and head on over. It's
called driving your business and here's where the entrepreneurial
ones really show their stuff. I've heard them call with all kinds of great
reasons to generate a visit (to see a list of those reasons, please turn
to the sales associate version of this article on p. 111).
"And it works?"
"The proof is in the bottom line. We had more traffic, sold more
items and had a higher average ticket last year than ever. The customer
comments were complimentary, and there was a genuine feeling of warmth and
friendship when the folks visited the store."
"Sounds like you're onto something."
"I haven't reinvented the wheel. But I was concerned about the incredible
growth of competition from the Internet, television shopping, warehouse
clubs and the big-box discounters. So I've learned how to take some of the
downtime we all have each day and turn it into productive time. You know,
here it is January. If you get your folks on this program in the next few
weeks, I have a feeling, you'll be telling this story about yourself next
Christine Anzell and Jack Levenson have spent a combined half-century
in fine jewelry retailing. For information about their copyright jewelry-specificClient
Record Keeping Book orSales Training Manual, call them at (800)
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.