I'd like to respectfully put in my two cents on some of your
suggestions. I see some things differently on some points. I've been
running my shop for around 10 years. I have a dozen accounts, some
large, some tiny, and I earn about what I did when I worked as an
But when it comes to trade work, it is PRICE sensitive.
Actually, David, I haven't found that to be the case. Most of my
clients are far more concerned with quality, and are happy to pay a
little more if the work is done right.
After a few years of doing a chain store's work, they gave HIM the
list they were going to pay:
I avoid the chain stores. Their management style is not that of a
sustainable business, they are in the race to the bottom. When they
offer you a price list, tell them to take it to your competition and
put him out of business.
You can't make living for less than $7.
I have a $10 minimum, and that's wholesale. It costs me, in wages
and overhead, more than $7 just to process a job through our system,
even if we don't do anything but clean and check it. If they don't
like it, I give them names of really cheap jewelers so they can go
back and re-learn the lesson of "you get what you pay for".
You should guarantee your labor. You cannot guarantee stone
loss above a 10 point diamond.
I don't guarantee all jobs, just most of them. There are some that
will present too much risk, or the customer won't pay for the better
repair, or it's a bad piece of jewelry to begin with. As for stone
setting, I guarantee most, and some I don't. It's a case by case
thing, but I know I guarantee far more stones against breakage and
loss than most jewelers, because my selling point is "you get what
you pay for". People trust me to set the really expensive, risky
stones, and sometimes I do it at their risk, sometimes at mine, and
it's not cheap, but they know what I can do so I get the work. But, I
think if you are going to call yourself a setter, and you can't
guarantee the work against defective workmanship, you're not ready
to sell that service. I can't imagine telling someone, "sure, I'll
set that 1 carat diamond in a new platinum head, but I won't
guarantee it won't fall out". But I do suggest that they call their
insurance agent and make sure it's covered against loss.
You'll have to knock on people's doors to sell this "relationship"
you want with them.
I thought this too at one time. I've never gotten a single account
by cold calling. Start building a network, especially with other
in-store jewelers. Of course, they won't give you work unless you are
better at some things than they are and can help them. It's going to
take a couple years to get known in the area, then they will start
approaching you. Meanwhile, yeah, go ahead and drop in on them, but
don't leave them a price list unless they are going to give you work.
But do a little research on all possible new accounts. Find out if
they are looking for a new trade shop because they didn't pay the
YOU SHOULD SET THEM UP FOR BILLING. Getting paid within 30 days
is a must.
Tried that, I offer net 15, at net 30, the cash flow problem made my
hair fall out. New accounts should be payment due upon receipt, then
after a while, if they aren't slow pays, longer terms. If you offer
them 15, they'll pay you in 20, if you offer them 30 days, you won't
see any money for 6 weeks. Yes, if you can get them to pay with a
credit card, great, but it's not likely they are going to pay you
before they get the work in their hands.
I did an analysis for a 90 store chain on their trade shop prices.
Compiled 88 trade shops last year in what they charged, the high,
the low and the average and then made a column for what I THOUGHT
they should charge. I'll send it to you offline from Orchid.
I'd sure like to see that too, and in return, I'll send you anything
I've got that you'd like to see, price list, policy, etc. And thanks
for all the
And to Mary D. I don't want to discourage you, but I wouldn't
suggest anybody start a trade shop unless they were very, very
experienced with repairs. It's the most demanding work I've ever
done. Why don't you go over to the Advance building of the Greenfield
Plaza in Southfield and ask around. That's where all the trade shops
are, and there are quite a few of them.
David L. Huffman