Years ago, boys night out meant finding a place where beer could be ordered by the pitcher, the game was on television, flirting with the waitresses was encouraged, and salads weren’t on the menu.
But, times have changed (or is it just that my boys and I have gotten older?). Now, flirting with the waitress will get you slapped, or even worse, slapped with a harassment suit, and we’ll often call ahead to find out what the soup of the day is. And, the game being on is no longer a big deal. My cable offers dozens of games every night, mostly in sports I don’t care about and some I’m not even familiar with.
But, the basic concept of boys night out hasn’t changed. Leave the girls home, order food that you should be avoiding, maybe play some poker, and then mock your friends who have to leave early. Pretty much the exact opposite of a night at the gym.
My friend Ross has taken this concept, added a twist, and put it to his advantage at his up-scale shop. The third Thursday of each month is boys night out at his store. He invites a handful of his buddies after closing time for beer, pizza, deli, poker, etc. And, here is the wrinkle: each buddy has to bring someone new to the evening!
The night is low key, all the merchandise has already been locked in the vault, there is no selling. The poker is low-stakes, and everybody has a good time. Everyone networks, and each month all the guys make five or six new good friends, who all eventually get invited to the group.
Ross pulled me aside the other night and laid out his strategy. “Look,” he began, “I’m no psychologist, but every month I get a dozen guys to come to my store looking for a fun night. They make friends and business contacts, and leave happy.
“Pretty soon, they start associating my store as a fun place to hang out and relax. They tell their friends how comfortable they are in my store and how they’ve met other nice guys. So, naturally, when they are ready to make a purchase, they feel right at home coming here. It’s no secret that a lot of guys feel intimidated walking into a jewelry store. They have no idea what they are looking at, they can’t believe the prices, and they are desperate for a familiar face. A couple of boys nights out at my store goes a long way to overcome that resistance.”
One of the oldest boys night out used to be The 24 Karat Club’s annual dinner, which has, over the years (and thankfully) morphed into a black tie dinner dance held in conjunction with the SJTA show in Atlanta every August. The event is no longer just for the boys, in fact, the gala is organized by one of the women on our board. At the party, the Retailer of the Year is announced, and various scholarships are awarded to retail jewelers looking to further their education. It’s a definite highlight on the social calendar, and you might ask some of your preferred vendors if they are members of The 24 Karat Club, and if so, how you might be included on the guest list for the next party.
And, if you are planning a boys night out for your store, I’d love to attend! Just let me know what the soup is!