Columnists David Brown Are you ready for Grand Final time?

Are you ready for Grand Final time?

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Whenever I ask a jewelry retailer what the most important time of year is for their business, I get a look as if to say “you must be kidding right?”. Even a ten year old will tell you that most retail stores, but particularly jewelers, have their busiest time in the lead up to the year end.

However, if I ask that same jeweler how they are preparing for their biggest month of the year there is normally a reaction somewhere between a puzzled expression and a shuffling of feet. Most jewelers take very little time to prepare themselves for their most profitable period - the month that often decides whether the business will make a profit for the year or not.

By comparison, ask them if they could imagine their favorite sports team approaching a grand final with the same effort as they put into the regular season, then they will respond with of course not. A team playing in a final will hone their training to specifically meet the strengths of their opposition, they will often take a special training retreat in the week leading up to the final, make publicity commitments to bolster fan support, and bring in specialist advisors and mentors to help the team prepare mentally – and all this is before they even set foot on the field! The result is a final usually played at a level of skill and intensity that you would not see during a mid season fixture – with all that extra physical and mental preparation those athletes are pumped!

So the thought of the typical jeweler approaching the Holiday Season with the same level of intensity as they approach June leaves me shaking my head at the missed opportunities.

So what should the typical store be doing now as the festive season approaches, to make this Holiday season “one out of the box?”

Review aged inventory – Now is your best opportunity to quit these items outside of sale mode. Why? Because the sheer weight of numbers coming through your door means even the ugliest item has someone walking in who will love it.  Get those old pieces re-ticketed and re-boxed. Make sure their price reflects current market value. Most importantly, talk to the staff about this product and how important it is to be showing it. Many old items often have nothing wrong with them other than the staff don’t like them. Start showing it to people and it will eventually go. Offer incentives to the staff to see these items go – it’s in their interests to not have to keep cleaning them again!

Carry spares – This is not referring to the tendency of some jewelers to buy all items in lots of 35! Instead I’m talking about the bread and butter items you can’t do without, but which your vendors may not be able to cater to in December. Look at anything on your reports that has a fast seller status of 6 or more – these items are likely to sell so fast in December that you will miss sales without a spare. I even know a store that kept three of the same $1495 diamond ring, which was their best seller, as they knew there was a good chance of selling four in December and they weren’t prepared to risk not seeing it happen

Plan your marketing – and I don’t mean wait until the newspaper or radio salesperson walks through the door in a month’s time then scratch your head about what you are going to do! I mean really plan. What product lines are your best sellers? What mediums are available for contacting your customers? What is your marketing budget? What additional evenings will you put on during the Holiday period? What other retailers target customers similar to yours that you could be jointly promoting with? What will it take to make your store the shop of choice for Holiday shopping this year?

Concentrate the staff on the job at hand – You wouldn’t send your sports team out onto the field without knowing which way they are playing, who’s in what position, and what tactics are required to take the opponents down –yet retailers do this repeatedly in December. Talk to your staff about your Holiday targets and goals. Share with them the budgeted target and how you plan to get there. Make sure they understand the importance of keeping the store presentable at all times. Talk about the good sellers and how they can be kept in front of customers, fine tune their customer approach, make sure the rosters are in place with back ups wherever required. The average customer has over 10 people to buy for at this time of year! Simply telling your staff that can open up a whole world of opportunity for the smart salesperson.

Review your procedures so you can cope with demand – Aside from extra staff there may be the need for spare repair books, extra wrapping paper and computer rolls, even an extra POS terminal. Make sure all these things are considered well in advance.

Get your best salespeople on the floor - seems obvious, but its amazing how often retailers see December as the opportunity to let their new staff “have a go”. This period is too important to leave for novices. Would you let your linebacker “have a go” at kicking during the super bowl? Of course not, you get your specialist to do it and I would bet money you would get them having some extra training leading up to the final. Before the World Cup soccer final, teams playing in the final will get members of their squad practicing their penalty kicks leading up to the game even though these players would never take a penalty or practice their kicks during the season. Why? Because they know if the final is a draw these players will be called on to find a result through a penalty shootout so they need to practice. Your staff are the same. Make sure your best staff are “taking the penalties” (i.e. selling the diamond rings) and that they get the training and practice (and opportunity) they need leading up to the big occasion. Your other staff are there to support them and complete the other less important tasks.

Record and measure your activities – It’s easy to forget a lot of decisions, processes and marketing initiatives you put in place at this busy time of year. The result is next year you find yourself reinventing the wheel. Record all your marketing initiatives and store policies in a journal so you can easily refer back to them later. The biggest crime of marketing is not that retailers often get it wrong; it’s that they fail to learn from their mistakes or measure their successes. They will often give up on a good idea or continue with a bad one when some simple data collection will show them whether or not their initiative bore fruit. Database mail outs are a case in point where often the store does nothing to measure the effectiveness of how many of the letters or vouchers were brought back in. How then, do they know if the promotion was successful? They don’t, so they rely on a hunch instead.

There are many more activities than one article can focus on to make this December your best one ever. If you want assistance with planning your Holiday trade contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

David Brown is President of Edge Retail Academy, a management company which works with jewelry retailers to increase their profit. If you need assistance in getting your fast selling inventory to work better for you contact David at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit the website at www.retailedgeacademy.com.

 
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