I think one general formula for recession situations is quantity
vs 'quality' (as in platinum, expensive gold, etc). You need to
sell more 'inexpensive', nice looking articles instead of a few
I would like to politely disagree with this, or at least suggest
that people consider it more broadly. The less expensive an item is,
wether it’s due to less expensive materials or less involved labor,
the more competition there is, since it becomes within reach of more
lower capitalized makers. You will be putting yourself directly in
the fray with goods made overseas, or south of the border in the US.
You will also be competing with all the hobbyists willing to under
price their work due to ignorance, and all the online sellers who
don’t hold any goods, just take orders and pass them on to
manufacturers. I think that it is imperative that you continue to
compete on the basis of quality and service. When money is tight,
people don’t always think “cheaper”. Sometimes they thing “smarter
value”. Cheap jewelry is an impulse buy for Wal Mart shoppers.
I think you have to be more creative. Try these:
Advertise that you will re-use clients materials like gold and
diamonds at a savings to them. Of course, you have to be a skilled
artisan to do that.
Offer customers discount for referrals, and make it big enough to be
Sell the engagement and woman’s wedding band in gold, offer the guy
one done in stainless or palladium, but make it something handsome
and well made. I don’t know about platinum, but there will be
customers who will pay for it whatever the price, but the average
customer won’t be able to afford it, I’m guessing. Not to say there’s
no point in giving them the price in case they’re interested.
Carry a line of silver with gold accents, but don’t make it cheap,
just “less expensive” than your gold lines. Solid sterling with no
gold is real hard to get a margin out of. People will perceive that
the addition of a little gold places the article in a different class
Don’t mark up the gold with a straight percentage. Calculate what
margin you’d like to make, forget this “keystone” habit. That worked
with mass produced crap. Don’t sell the labor cheap, but don’t expect
to be able to continue doubling your material costs, unless you are
certain your market will bear it.
Go over all your business expenses and shave them down. Order less
often to save shipping costs. Turn out lights and computers that
aren’t in use. Dial down the thermostat and wear a sweater (but keep
the showroom warm even if you have to use space heaters). Shop for
the best deal on phone service. Bag lunches instead of ordering out
(hey, that fast food’s not good for you anyway). Walk to work, or
park where it’s free and walk the rest of the way (we all need
exercise). Grow more of your own food, buy in bulk and freeze it or
Fact is, our personal finances, as business people, will need to be
well managed if we find we are unable to get as much money out of our
businesses. We may have to cut back on the “lifestyle” a bit, but for
God’s sake, don’t start thinking about laying of workers. That’s
about as dumb as selling of your tools. Might be a time when you
don’t have a choice, but make sure that’s the case first.
Best of luck, all.
David L. Huffman