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End of Year Thoughts

End of the year thoughts

For most of us this has been a year to live in “infamy”. With the
crash of the stock market in 2000 and September 11th and a poor
economy this year, for many the past two years has been a duzy. Next
year looks to be a rebound year for many. Over the past year after
seeing posts from stores, talking to hundreds on the phone and
visiting many I’ve come to some conclusions. These are just my
thoughts; yours obviously could be a lot different.

For a few couple of years we have taken too much for granted. Now
the rest of the world isn’t just “crazy over there”, it’s here as
well. But as a nation that’s come together I can say that in our
"craft" we are gift makers for the world, starting and maintaining

I have always felt teary eyed every time someone did a great job of
singing God Bless America, as when Celene Dion did in September for
the N.Y. fund raiser. I had always thought of the Afghani’s as people
who just loved war and to fight. This morning on T.V. they showed the
new president being sworn into office in Afghanistan and they also
showed grown men with tears in their eyes as the Afghani’s heard for
the first time in 30 years their national anthem, which was banned by
the Taliban. I felt moved as well. I sincerely hope the Afghani
people know and appreciate who we are and what we’ve done for them.
We’ve given them the greatest gift they could ever receive. Their
freedom and the start of a democratic government.

This coming year will be shaky in the first part but very soon we
will be seeing a rebound in the economy. The stock market shows it
and usually when a recession is announced it’s more than half over. I
know some jewelers in some towns with a 14% unemployment rate where
two main mills closed. They will feel it longer than others.

How can the rest of us participate in the recovery? Here are some
thoughts from my travels. 20 thoughts for us:

  1. The people least affected by the down economy this year has been
    those who have advertised all year. It’s been proven that if you
    advertise all year you’ve got the greatest punch at Christmas. That
    those who only spent advertising dollars at Christmas saw much of it

  2. You should increase your advertising and marketing dollars to the
    public (where you get new business) and to your customer base (where
    you get repeat business).

  3. Send out newsletters and postcards to your customers 4 times year
    to keep your name on their lips and ears. Go to for some pricing of both. Newsletters can be
    printed on your own.

  4. Start having bi-monthly sales meetings for 1 hour and train on
    product knowledge and selling.

  5. Reorder each week items that sold last week that were less than
    4-5 months old.

  6. Do everything in your power to get rid of or dismantle items you
    own that are over 1 year old.

  7. Run a report of your sales for the last 90 days by item. Get a
    feel of the price ranges in items you sold. When you go to the shows
    to buy new items, don’t buy what you and your wife like, but price
    ranges in items that your customers purchased. You probably bought
    too high end. Put silver in your store. It’s a great markup, has a
    great turn and gives people who want to buy something at YOUR store a

  8. Plan at least twice this year for a private party with
    invitations and such. Virtually everyone did well with them. One
    store I visited did $35,000 from 6-10 on a Friday night. They rented
    a limo just to sit outdoors. Marketing.

  9. Send out thank you cards to every customer, even for batteries.

  10. Install some type of commission or bonus system. If you have
    NONE you’re missing the boat.

  11. Invest in technology. No one I ever spoke to regretted a laser
    machine or the Cad-Cam programs. There are many out there, we have
    used Gemvision. The use and practice of any of them will enhance your
    business and set you apart and will make you a lot of money.

  12. Invest in a point of sale program and a good accounting program.
    Use them.

  13. Learn how to crunch the numbers BACKWARDS. This is looking at
    the business from what you want from it and working backwards to how
    much profit and sales you’ll need.

  14. If you’re thinking about moving, your most important choice is
    the location. Yes I know you know that BUT when I say “location” I
    mean that the location is visible from the street. Your signage and
    building are GREAT advertising. Being in a busy shopping center with
    a grocery store doesn’t promise you anything as people go shopping
    and go home. If your sign is seen by passing cars, it’s worth
    thousands in advertising. I’ve seen more stories of more stores
    moving and increasing sales 50%. But remember its not the sales
    increase itself, it’s what’s left over.

  15. If your store is open 6 days, take a day off in the middle.
    Don’t overwork. Take a vacation.

  16. Let your employees take responsibilities in the store so the
    store can start to run without you.

  17. If your store is older, renovate this year. A new coat of pait
    and carpet can uplift the customers, your employees and you. It’s a
    reason for a grand opening sale.

  18. Did I mention getting rid of old merchandise?

  19. Raise your prices: repairs and merchandise markup. If your
    markup was 2.5, change it to 2.6. No one will notice but your
    accountant. A good reason to polish everything and retag. When
    figuring your cost for merchandise, include in the jewelry cost its
    share of postage, a ring box and something for sizing. On
    semi-mounts, add in at LEAST $100 to the retail price for a head and
    set so you make money on both.

  20. Review your profit and loss statement once a month.

I wish all of you a happy and glorious new year. That it will be
happy, healthy and a prosperous one. I have enjoyed my time sharing
with you and receiving back from you. This is a wonderful community.

Here to a fabulous 2002!
David Geller

I think Mr. Geller’s thoughts are excellent but I take a few
exceptions and would like to send them along as an addendum.

  1. You should plan on spending money for advertising based on the
    amount of business you WANT to do not on the business you actually
    do. If you plan on spending 5% of your gross on advertising you
    should spend 5% of the amount of business you want to do (if you want
    to do one million in sales next year instead of 750,000 spend 5% of
    one million).

  2. If you are a custom jeweler it is not necessary to dismantle or
    get rid of old merchandise as it can lead to orders for similar
    items. I have a few rings still that are more than 10 years old but I
    regularly take special orders off of them with other stones (or the
    customer’s stones). They have paid for themselves many times over
    just by being great samples. Of course if you have designs that are
    old AND you can’t take orders off them it may be time to scrap them.

  3. Putting silver in your store, if you don’t carry it, is a double
    edged sword. While it is a high markup item, it will still cost you
    time to make the sale and the same time might be better used selling
    one more expensive platinum or white gold piece. We found that when
    we dropped silver items from our line people’s perceptions of us
    changed. They began to realize that we were a fine jeweler and not
    some hippy dippy type of custom jeweler. I think perhaps this advice
    is more geared towards chain or guild type stores than the smaller
    operations that most Orchidians seem to run. Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
    Spirer Somes Jewelers 1794 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge, MA 02140
    617-491-6000 @spirersomes