Professional Jeweler Archive: Moving Ahead

August 2003


Moving Ahead

Are the actions you take to increase sales false momentum, which takes money, or real momentum, which makes money?

You hear this will be a tough year so you cut your ad budget and order less jewelry to conserve money. Then at year’s-end, you’re disappointed your traffic was down and your sales anemic.

“Ever heard of a self-induced recession?” asks Shane Decker, president of Shane Decker Diamond Co., Franklin, IN. Unless you keep your name in front of potential customers and offer exciting products, you will attract fewer customers and sell less jewelry than jewelers who take the opposite approach, says Decker, who presented “Momentum: False & Real” at the recent JCK-Las Vegas Conference Program produced by Charlotte Preston Catalysts, White Bear Lake, MN.

False Momentum

Many times, and especially in a weak economy, jewelers focus on actions they believe will propel their business forward but actually hold it back, says Decker. The actions, which he calls false momentum, are related to:

  • Advertising. You may try to do the right thing and keep your ad budget strong. But you will be disappointed, says Decker, if you don’t combine strong advertising with good sales training so your associates know how to handle the customers the ads attract.
  • Merchandise. Take great care in stocking jewelry that excites your customers. But effective merchandising won’t increase sales if you keep it locked in cases and never let customers start to take “ownership” by handling it, he says.
  • Location. “You can have the most beautiful building in town,” he says. “But what’s more important is how well you communicate with customers once they’ve finished admiring the building.” Eighty percent of all communication is non-verbal, he says, so make sure your associates begin by greeting all customers with a warm smile and positive attitude.
  • Christmas. You count on Christmas sales to end the year in the black. But how many sales do you lose when you get caught up in the “busy-ness” of the season? “Think how much more your sales could be,” he says, if you took the time for add-ons, sell-ups and sales meetings.
  • Repairs. People come to your store twice for each repair. Show them a piece of jewelry, an interesting stone or a “gee-whiz” watch when they drop off a repair and when they pick it up. Remember customers bring repairs to you because they trust you, so price accordingly. “Charge the most in town because you’re the best in town,” he says.

True Momentum

The preceding examples of false momentum share one thing in common: a lack of salesmanship, says Decker. To move a business forward, he says, you should focus on the following areas of salesmanship, or true momentum:

  • Closings. A recent study found closing rates are 12%-18% in mall jewelry stores, 35%-45% in independent downtown stores and 55%-60% in independent free-standing stores. “We’re not closing,” he says. “In 65%-75% of all sales presentations, salespeople don’t even ask for the sale. Sales training is critical to resolving the problem, he says.
  • Add-On Sales. Ninety-five percent of all sales slips have no add-ons. The reason? “Customers stop buying when we stop selling,” he says.
  • Sales from Scratch. When customers come in for one category, plan to show another before they leave. “You won’t believe what I have in the safe” or “Remind me to show you something before you go” will pique their interest and make them feel special. “Customers love it when you show them something unexpected – they like to be wowed,” he says.
  • Exceed Expectations. When you provide top-flight service, customers will talk about you to their friends. Customers referred by friends and family have high expectations, but they also have high closing rates, says Decker.
  • Proactive Salesmanship. What you do after a customer leaves is important. After a week, call to make sure the watch you repaired is OK. Recommend a free service check after six months. Send thank-you cards to everyone who buys something – even a watch battery. Send a card on birthdays. “Don’t try to sell anything with these cards or calls – they’re all about building a relationship,” he says. “You’ll get more from that relationship than you will from any ad.”

– by Ren Miller

Copyright © 2003 by Bond Communications