I added to the subject “Please Read” as I wanted those not interested
in this thread to read what I’m posting here, I heard a valuable
lesson this weekend from my 90 year old uncle about what you folks
are responding about this thread. The lesson is at the end of this
But first, after reading many of the responses I’ve seen a common
theme here. The people who dislike custom have 3 main reasons why
they don’t like doing custom work. They may have a single reason why
they hate it and some (they may not know it) have more than one.
COMMON THEMES WHY YOU HATE CUSTOM:
You don’t have the skills to do custom.
You don’t have the patience or selling skills to take in custom
You under price it and there fore once you know in your mind
From this minute on I'm now losing money or working for free or
working for a really small per hour wage" you then, I hate this".
The only things you can do to alleviate this is: a. Take classes and
learn the areas of custom you need complete your skill set.
b. Hire others who have skills you don’t (I did this as I’m not a
good wax carver).
c. Job out the work to others who can do the things you can’t do.
There is absolutely no reason to want to say “Oh, we don’t send
anything out, it’s all done in house.” That’s silly. The customer has
said “I want what I want”. So your job is “Get’r done”.
PATIENCE or SELLING SKILLS
This is something typically in your dna. Bench people "typically"
are not good sales people. Have friends, family, co-workers critique
you honestly. What is honestly? I’ve read many threads here about how
you sell, what you say or why you tell a custom customer what you
need to do the job. Mostly what I’ve read was “me, me, me”. You
mention price as if it’s the main reason customers shop and its not
number 1. Just look at the closing ratio you have when you sell a
custom piece versus selling from the showcase.
Showcase closing ratios are about 30-40% while custom closing ratios
are easily double that. Why? Because people buying custom are as
passionate about BUYING it as you are about selling it.
Have your friends, family and others tell you after listening to you
sell if THEY WOULD BUY FROM YOU. Does what you say sound stand
offish? Does what you say entice them to buy?
I taught my staff to sell after learning proper technique from Harry
Friedman. Go to his website and buy “No Thanks, I’m just looking.” I
adapted it easily for custom and repairs:
In addition I have read “Hey, we charge $75 an hour and it will take
ME 4 hours.” First off repairs bring in over $100 an hour so $75 an
hour to do more difficult work is insane. Why do you folks charge so
little? Because you just can’t come to the point to say these 3
little life changing words:
One Hundred Dollars.
Mentioning price should be a “whisper” to the customers ears, not a
shout. That’s a shout.
It could also be you should have someone else sell it and you stay
at the bench.
Almost anything is worth doing in our industry if it pays well. Most
of you know the ONE THING that would make being a jeweler a truly
IF YOU COULD DOUBLE YOUR SALARY
Our motto was:
“The only two things we can’t fix is a broken heart and the crack of
If we fixed or MADE something it had these 3 criteria’s:
It HAD to be priced where we’d make a profit and it had to be the
same percentage profit margin or hourly rate no matter if it was
gold, silver or platinum.
The customer knew what it would look like at pickup.
If it was non guarantee able they would be informed about this up
The part about had to be priced at the same hourly rate was simple.
We paid all 5 jewelers on a 100% commission basis. They demanded
(rightfully so) that a silver job or platinum job pay them their same
hourly rate (on the average) no matter what. They didn’t want to get
job “A” and get paid $25 for an hour and get job “B” that pays $16 an
hour just because I didn’t have the courage to charge correctly.
When I went to our commission system it completely reversed our
company’s poor cash position because commission guaranteed the
COMPANY a profit. But then I had to start thinking about paying the
jewelers correctly. Having them quit was devastating for the company.
So I stared thinking of my jeweler’s welfare FIRST when I priced
jobs and also when I made our price book! If they were paid well and
fairly then the company ALWAYS made money. Always.
It didn’t run off customers. Having more money come in allowed us
Have a nicer place. Customers are impressed with a nicer place.
They felt confident.
Hire better people, both in the shop and on the sales floor.
Better paid people are smarter. Sorry it’s true. You can have Sally
paid $12 an hour and she’s a bump on the log. Give her a substantial
raise PLUS add in training and the same bump is a rock star.
Make’s doing grunt custom and repairs easier to swallow because
you’re making good/great money.
NOW THE STORY I LEARNED FROM MY 90 YEAR OLD UNCLE THIS WEEKEND:
This past weekend my Uncle turned 90. At the luncheon for 45 people
his children gave a “This is your life” story. After marrying my Aunt
here in Atlanta 1951 they decided as a couple that they wanted to be
together for the rest of their lives and so they were going to open a
business together. They’d be their own boss and be able to be with
each other every day.
They were going to open a coin operated Laundromat. Big demand at
that in the 1950’s, many folks didn’t have the washing machines we
take for granted today.
My aunt’s father escaped the Nazi’s and left behind a very lucrative
business in Europe that spanned many countries. He knew how to make
money and sat my aunt and uncle down and said these important words:
“Do not make a life for yourself and your children counting coins.
Get into a business where your average sale is much higher.”
So they decided to sell wholesale costume/fashion jewelry and
accessories. They traveled the world buying these things and had many
salesmen on the road selling. I had 3 Uncles, now down to one. This
aunt and uncle were definitely the most successful in terms of money
and family. They always took 2 trips a year and traveled all over the
Custom design has a MUCH higher average sale as well as a much
higher closing ratio.
Custom has these money making points:
Higher average sale. Easily double to quadruple that of showcase
sales. Typical sales from the showcase is $150 to $400 while custom
is $700 to $3000 60% of the time.
Higher closing ratio than showcase sales by double to triple,
although a little less than repairs. Showcase closing ratios
typically are 30-40%; custom is 65-80% while repairs are 90%.
All of this means making a lot more money with fewer HOURS and
many times less PEOPLE to bring in the same dollars as repairs.
It also takes much less investment in inventory as most custom
jobs work like the card companies “Just in time” material shipping.
Custom inventory for a store can be $5000 - $25,000. Typical
inventory investment for the showcase is hundreds of thousands of
dollars, many cases millions of dollars for many stores I visit.
Embrace what will “set you free”.