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[BizTalk] Ways to cope with what's coming?

Well, we don’t know for sure what’s coming or just how tough things
may get but maybe we should pool our experiences and thoughts.

Some thoughts from me…I’m not being doom and gloom, just thinking
out loud.

Sales will drop. It’ll be tough to sell anything. Cash will be King
so be prepared to alter your prices and/or terms when needed. Get a
jump on the competition. But sales are only half of the equation.
Costs are the other half. Look at reducing your overhead somehow.
Maybe delay certain purchases. In other words…Conserve Your
Capital. Don’t be bled nickel and dime. Don’t just watch your
cashflow…manage it.

Credit is going to be hard to come by. Remember that even if you’re
successful in getting a bank line of credit that the bank can call
the note whenever it wants. Don’t count on being able to finance
things for the term you originally expected. I would look to trade
credit. Even then I would use it very sparingly, but you will have
more flexibility if/when you wind up in arrears. Stay in touch with
your creditors. When you’re silent for too long they start getting
nervous. Don’t duck the calls. Suppliers who have been around for a
long while might be more willing to accept late payments as long as
the payments do come. 500 bucks a month for ten months is way better
than waiting til you accumulate the five grand.

Take a look at expanding your service department if you have one. Or
start one if you don’t. Things like appraisals, repairs. Restyling of
customer owned goods gives the client an opportunity for a new look
at a lower price. People are still willing to invest in what they
already own. Yeah, service can get you through, and build your base.

Not everyone is suddenly broke. Gift occasions will still happen.
People may change their habits to suit conditions. You should change
to accommodate. Tailoring your price points is something to consider.

I hope to see an avalanche of good suggestions and ideas here, Folks.
I know a lot of you have been thru hard times and survived(me too).
Tell us how you did it!

I noticed the metals market today and called a friend who is a coin
dealer and from whom I get 24kt. coins for making jewelry and asked
him what was going on? He said “The world is going crazy”. He said he
has never seen a 20% change in silver in in one day.

This last week has been great for me, repairs, custom diamond
wedding earrings and two wedding bands, and a diamond and emerald
anniversary band and a custom st= erling ring with a custom cut black
onyx and tiger-eye intarsia cab (I make what they want a=s long as I
get paid well).

I don’t know why, but I am not worried, this is just another
challenge. The good news is I did not lose much in the stock market,
the bad news is I have never had enough to invest. However I have
capitalized my business, and I have supplies and tools to work for a
long time without making purchases of stones or metals. However,
Charlie Rose just said it was the worst week for the stock market
since 1933.

Next week will be interesting!

Richard Hart G.G.
Jewelers Gallery
1505 S.Pearl St.
Denver, Co. 80210

I’m with Richard on this one. We actually have had a great week and
that doesn’t even include today’s sales yet. I’ve taken in a number
of engagement ring orders (one very large one paid in full up
front), am working on a couple of anniversary presents and in the
last two weeks have sold pieces for or taken in orders for 6
Christmas presents. September was flat but we’re currently running
well ahead of last October’s figures. Foot traffic is definitely off
a bit but it hasn’t actually seemed to impact sales. Frankly, the
same rules apply as always, in my book. Service the heck out of the
customers, make them your friends not just a sales object, produce a
well made product and you’ll do ok. Will everyone’s business grow
like they used to? Maybe not, but frankly, unless your business has
been in the dumps for the last few years, most people would probably
be happy to just make what they made last year. With the price of oil
dropping daily, I think there is going to be a huge drop in the
inflation rate which should help to keep your costs down. People are
always going to get engaged and married. They are always going to
have big anniversaries and birthdays and other significant events in
their lives that they need marked by a pretty bauble. It’s just up to
you to figure out how to get them in the store and sell them

Does this mean I’m spending wildly on inventory? No, but frankly
I’ve been far more cautious in my buying since the beginning of the
year because I was concerned then about the direction of the economy.
I’m much more willing to pull apart designs that aren’t selling and
reuse the stones in other pieces that are. Two months ago I pulled
apart a pair of diamond studs (not plain ones) that had been in my
cases for a couple of years and weren’t going anywhere. I’ve sold
both diamonds in rings to customers since then. I am being cautious
about buying gems that aren’t something I can put right out and I’m
certainly not increasing my total inventory. On the other hand I just
spent $3000 on six strands of superfine Keshi pearls that came my
way. One strand sold before I could even get it strung up. Two went
to my wife. The other three will absolutely sell this Christmas (big,
big look for reasonable dollars).

Here’s my take on the economy as a whole: No matter what, someone is
always making money somewhere. All those brokers who are taking a
bath on their personal stock portfolios are making money on every
transaction when their clients sell off their stocks (in my belief,
somewhat foolishly). When short selling is allowed again there will
be a bunch of people who will make money with that. People like
Warren Buffet are buying up highly undervalued companies right and
left. Apparently psychiatrists are seeing a big uptick in business
talking to stressed out brokers. A lot of people didn’t have any
money in the market or are so young that it doesn’t matter if their
retirement fund takes a nose dive for awhile. There will always be
some business for those people willing to do what it takes to get it.
So just get out there and do what it takes.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC

I hope to see an avalanche of good suggestions and ideas here,
Folks. I know a lot of you have been thru hard times and survived
(me too). Tell us how you did it! 
  1. Coupons - go online and look if you have time.

  2. Bicycle whenever possible or practical

  3. Thrift store shopping for gently used items

  4. Bartering favors with neighbors

  5. And last but not least, calling people when paying late.

We’ll get through this and prosper again, just don’t know how long
it will be.

Margie - trying not to look at my retirement funds dwindle again.

As an end of the day addenda to my earlier posting today on this
topic, I ended up finishing my week with so much new business today
that in the last week I have done what I did in the entire month of
September. I’ve basically done what I did last year for October
already and I have so many orders to work on that it is going to be
pretty easy to get my numbers way up from last year. Maybe the
general public has decided it’s better to just get out and spend
their money before they lose it all!!!

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC

There will always be some business for those people willing to do
what it takes to get it. So just get out there and do what it takes.
So well put Daniel…it’s all about personal responsibility…so much
negativity these days in the news, and the victim mentality is
running rampant. I think we are all feeling the pinch, and
understandably uncomfortable for whats ahead. I will never give up
the desire to create and the priviledge it is to be able to design
and support myself with my two hands…thanks for the inspiration
this early in the am!

Emily Keifer
Emily Keifer Fine Jewels

The sales that have gone missing in my business are the middle
priced “pot-boiler” sort of things that are pretty quick to make and
used to be easy to sell. Too bad for me because this is where I
usually make most of my money.

The sales that are carrying my business for the past few months are
the higher end custom jobs. Last week when things were very scary, I
had 2 very good sales that were 85% of the weeks sales, for a better
than average week. These pieces are a lot more work to make, but they
are also a lot more fun to work on.

My strategy for coping with what is ahead is to turn over orders as
quickly as I can so that I can move on to working on these same
sorts of pieces made on speculation. I want a good inventory for
whatever sales opportunities come my way. Fortunately I have a good
supply of materials so I will not need to make too many purchases to
keep busy. My cash flow is as tight as it has been in a long time, so
if I can get good sales from materials already in inventory I should
have no problem keeping the bills paid. My overhead is low in this
very rural village and the fixer-upper house I bought in 1985 was
paid off long ago. My daughter has only one more semester at college
to pay for. If my debt and expenses were not so low I would probably
be in a huge panic right now.

My advise to other people in business, for what it is worth, is use
any down time to remake your business into what you really hoped it
would be when you started. The wrong thing for a craftsman to do is
assume you have to make a cheaper product to compete. You still have
to give good value, but you cannot compete with the lower end of what
is out there in the mass market. If we are retailing, our advantage
as craftsmen and artists is that we have an increased perceived value
in the minds of our customers because we can give them such a direct
access to the creative spirit. At the low end this can be draining,
but for higher end work it is well worth cultivating the personal
relationships. This is just as important in hard times as when things
are flush.

Stephen Walker

Margie, you’ve hit upon something intrinsic to the self employed. A
significant business cost is what we pay ourselves. Our own
expectations put a financial demand on the business. Sometimes, for
the health of the business an owner has to sacrifice. Its good to be
in a position to be able to adjust one’s own economics when called

The sales that have gone missing in my business are the middle
priced "pot-boiler" sort of things 

Similar thing happening here. The 4-6 hundred bread n butter jobs
are scarcer these days, and more of a challenge to land.

The sales that are carrying my business for the past few months
are the higher end custom jobs. 


I also do a decent repair business. Earlier this year things were so
busy I was toying with the idea of actively dissuading small
repairs…the $25-100 things. But I was reminded that there were
times I would have been quite happy to have them, so I canned the
idea. I’m glad I did! With repairs, your customer gets two exposures
to your inventory, you get two chances to sell. And cash flow is
useful too.

While I’m not ‘worried’, I am concerned. Past performance is not a
guarantor of the future, particularly during upheaval. This economic
event is quite different from previous recessions. Its not just a
matter of how long and how deep but also WHO is severely effected.
This is something I certainly cannot predict. Can I count on my
regular Christmas customers showing up? What’s the best way to remind
them to come in without giving some false impression? Alotta
questions running thru my head these days, no answers yet, hence
this thread.

What are the new buying patterns? Right now, I’m not going to
heavily invest in any single sector until we see what we will see.

I was at a recent juried craft show and I saw tons of people. They
want to get away from all the bad news and get inspired by our goods.
Buyers are however being more selective about their purchases,
probably buying less, but buying for quality and uniqueness more than
price. I made several pieces that were smaller and maybe more simple,
so that I would have a nice range of prices, but what really sold
were pieces that had meaning and real interest.

So if you create it, they will come…

You just have to step up your game and put your best creative foot


I went to someone's website, and was somewhat disappointed to find
a gem identified as a "cubic zircon". 

It would be either zircon, which is a natural gemstone, or cubic
zirconia, which is man made. Just a simple mistake on a web-site.
However, it is misrepresentation, intentional or not.

Richard Hart G.G.
Jewelers Gallery
1505 S.Pearl St.