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:
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
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).
Send out newsletters and postcards to your customers 4 times year
to keep your name on their lips and ears. Go to
www.printingforless.com for some pricing of both. Newsletters can be
printed on your own.
Start having bi-monthly sales meetings for 1 hour and train on
product knowledge and selling.
Reorder each week items that sold last week that were less than
4-5 months old.
Do everything in your power to get rid of or dismantle items you
own that are over 1 year old.
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
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.
Send out thank you cards to every customer, even for batteries.
Install some type of commission or bonus system. If you have
NONE you're missing the boat.
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.
Invest in a point of sale program and a good accounting program.
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.
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.
If your store is open 6 days, take a day off in the middle.
Don't overwork. Take a vacation.
Let your employees take responsibilities in the store so the
store can start to run without you.
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.
Did I mention getting rid of old merchandise?
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.
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!