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Unclaimed repairs


#1

Hello all - I wonder if the unclaimed-repairs dilemma might not be
turned into a marketing opportunity, a la Mr. Geller. Note that I am
a marketing/pr writer and editor, not a jeweler; metalwork is a
hobby. That said, the following ideas came to mind:

  1. It’s safe to assume you’ve already called these folks at least
    once. When things are slow, have someone in the shop call them again
    with an offer to steam clean their rings, etc when they pick up their
    stuff. Or mention your hottest-selling item - a must-see while
    they’re picking up their repairs - and offer a discount (10%?) on a
    purchase if they come in within a set period. Perhaps you can offer
    the employee who hits the phones a small incentive of some kind - a
    percentage of profits on each repair job he or she clears.

  2. Include the names, addresses etc. of all repair customers in your
    client database, perhaps as a subset. Send out a semi-annual
    postcard offering a free gift (e.g., polishing cloth) with all
    claimed repairs.

  3. Write, or have someone help you write, an article about the issue
    of unclaimed repairs - point out what folks stand to lose in
    memories, sentiment, etc, and attach some data that show how many
    things go unclaimed, and the average worth per piece. You can derive
    the data from your own operations. Offer this, with pictures, to a
    local/community newspaper as a feature for the business section. As
    a tie-in, buy an ad and lists the names of those who’ve left repair
    work and not picked it up; put this ad in the front section of the
    paper, not on the same page as the article. Make the ad fun, not
    admonitory - sort of a “we’d love to hear from you” message. Around
    the holidays most community newspapers have special shopping
    sections; this can be a good time to place such an
    article/advertising combination.

  4. Put a stand-alone ad in the paper annually listing the names of
    folks with unclaimed property. Do it during your slowest month. In
    Massachusetts the state lists unclaimed bank accounts regularly (the
    state seizes assets of accounts inactive for more then 3 years).
    Most folks on that list will get a phone call from a (nosy) friend
    and take action - and you get the opportunity to cross-sell or
    up-sell.

  5. Start a new line of jewelry designs based on unclaimed treasures -
    incorporate the oldest bits still rattling around after all attempts
    to locate the owners have failed. Promote it as Treasures Unearthed,
    or some such - it’s an opportunity for another feature article.

  6. Create an Amnesty event - offer 10% off unclaimed repairs more
    than 1 year old. If you price repairs as Mr. Geller suggests (I
    don’t know him, but his posts give the impression of a level-headed
    businessman) you have the room to give a small discount and still
    make a profit on the repair. And the Amnesty event is yet another
    opportunity to cross-sell/up-sell.

A disclaimer: The only concept I have of what it’s like to run a
jewelry business comes from this list. It sounds tough. In my line
of work we try to turn dross into gold, so I’m always thinking in
terms of how to put positive spin on unlovely facts. I hope these
ideas aren’t offensive to anyone. I get a great deal from this
list. Thanks to Hanuman and everyone else for letting me post.

Regards -
Ann Dalrymple


#2

Ann, All of your ideas have some merit to them however we have found
over the last 20 years that while most of our regular jewelry buying,
special ordering customers will bring us their jewelry for repair,
our repair customers do not buy jewelry from us. This is one of the
reasons we feel it is so critical to make money on the repair
business and not treat it like a loss leader. Since I have never had
one of my regular customers abandon any of their jewelry at my shop I
have to assume that most of the ideas you mention won’t serve to
bring the customer back in. The other reality is that in the last 10
years I might have accumulated a grand total of 10-12 unclaimed
repairs (we handle more than 500 per year), certainly not enough to
warrant running ads or other cost inducing promotions.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
617-491-6000
@spirersomes
www.spirersomes.comDr. E. Hanuman Aspler
Webmaster


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#3

Unclaimed Repairs In many states (I know Georgia) you have to wait
one year before you cans ell it. You have to post on the Sheriffs
bulletin board for 10 days you’re going to sell it. We’ve sent
certified return receipt letters. Only required to send it, not that
they receive it.

Sell it for whatever you WANT but if they EVER come back you have to
refund any money you received over your repair charges.

On cheap stuff, I’d suggest getting a deposit. People will come back
for cash rather than junk jewelry.

We found offering a 5% discount to PREPAY up front did GREAT!. Then
who cares?

David GellerDr. E. Hanuman Aspler
Webmaster


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