By: Suzanne Courvisier-Mathis President/CEO of Diamond Staffing Solutions Inc.
As most all of you know, we will frequently shop in your stores around the country. As economic times changed, so has what we identify as areas of opportunity for improvement, and although some of these opportunities remain the same we have in the last few months seen some items that need particular attention. Listed below are some areas of improvement that we believe will be helpful to you owners, managers, and regional managers.
1. Texting: Although we’ve seen much improvement in this, there is still far too much going on in some stores today. We often find people are so involved in texting, they are not aware of clients in the store. This will cost you sales, and poses a tremendous security risk.
2. Lack of Product knowledge: This remains a constant in our shopping; it always amazes me what people think you do not know, and how they “guess” or give miss-information. When a consumer is educated this can ruin your store’s credibility immediately. Clients would rather be told they don’t know and will find out, than having them guess or give false information. We find this consistent in many mall jewelers. This reflects directly on your store’s management and district managers.
3. Not being greeted within 10 seconds: There is an un-written rule for jewelers that clients (no matter who they are) should be greeted within 10 seconds of entering a store, even if everyone is busy. Yet we are amazed at how many stores we walk into only to find the staff chatting among one another, which they feel is more important than saying hello, or if everyone is tied up, not looking up and saying someone will be right with you.
4. People gathered in the back or in a corner: We find this is particularly abused when we shop jewelers during off hours. First, it’s a security risk to not have someone up front; second, it is extremely offensive to not have a sales “professional” to not care if you are there to look at a nice piece of jewelry. As someone who spent 30 years in retail jewelry, some of the largest sales were made in off hours, yet time after time sales people and managers are so busy talking among themselves they sometimes forget they are there to “sell jewelry.”
5. Inappropriate attire: We work in fine jewelry, so we should look like we are there to sell it. Yet sometimes associates look like they are working in a convenience store. We are in the image business and no matter what your shape or size; there is an un-written standard that clients expect if they are purchasing a nice piece of expensive jewelry. We find his especially prevalent among younger associates, who perhaps have not been trained in appropriate professional attire. If you do not have a dress code, you may want to consider creating one. The standards are set by the leaders in the store. If managers do not dress for success nor will their staff.
6. Security Risk. We are AMAZED at what little attention is paid to securing jewelry. Cases left open, keys left in doors, whole trays of jewelry taken out, turning away from us with jewelry in our hands, showing very expensive pieces of jewelry with little to no attention of their surroundings, too few people in the store. This comes back training. You are a sitting duck for a robbery, as we all know in most cases your store is cased well ahead of time. You are begging for a switch, grab and run, or smash and grab. Although you are insured, no one wants to go through that, so make this part of your weekly meetings and associate training, and make part of your training on what to do if you get robbed, who to call with numbers readily available to all associates. Robberies frequently occur because of neglect, when the intruder knows you are at their mercy, and untrained sales associates make their job a piece of cake.
7. Our manager or owners are not here and they make those decisions: Empower your people to make important decisions, or have someone in your store at all times who can. Clients are at your store to purchase today, not wait while you reach someone’s approval, or company policy.
8. Too busy to look up: Time after time, we have walked into stores only to be un-noticed by managers and associates doing paperwork, counts, or on the phone with their supervisors. We have even startled associates who were so enthralled in what they were doing they did not know we were there. Your doors are open to sell jewelry. Paperwork and supervisors can wait. The most important thing you do all day is help clients, which help ring the registers and keep your doors open. Mall store are particular offenders of this. There is not a piece of paperwork or person on the phone who is more important than the client who is there to buy jewelry.
9. We can’t honor that sale today it ended yesterday, or we do not discount:
This is something we just don’t understand. Honor the sale and get the merchandise out of the door. If you let that client walk there is about a 98% chance you will never see that person again. They will walk right across the street to your competitor who will give them a discount. That “company policy” will cost you a lot more than the one client, it will cost you the nine friends they tell and the nine they tell. If they ask for a little discount give them 5%. All clients are looking for is to know you care about them and their business enough to not let them walk. Yet we see it happen all the time. It cost you more to have that jewelry sit in your showcase than it does to give them a small discount or honor the sale.
10. Not getting the jewelry in a client’s hand. Although clients may say they are “just looking” we almost never see associates take advantage of one of their two greatest assets: jewelry and the client. We never understand why associates will mindlessly follow around a client and never get a piece of jewelry in the hand of a potential buyer. The only thing that is standing in the way of a potential sale is glass and their inability to create the desire by getting that beautiful ring on their hand, pendant on their neck, or bracelet or watch on their wrist. Even if you have a passive client in the store, you never know when it will turn into an opportunity now or later. If they are taking time to look at your jewelry they owe it to your client to show them what is in the showcase. This comes back to lack of training in many cases, or lack of drive by the sales associate. Lack of training is an easy fix lack of drive is not so simple.
11. Lack of Sales ability: Perhaps it is the old school in me; however we almost never see true sales skills utilized. Creating the desire, assuming the sale, asking for the sale, turning the sale over and going for the add on sale. If your people do not know how to sell it’s your responsibility to teach them the basic selling skill and product knowledge they need to sell jewelry. You owe it to them, and your clients.
The take away from our resent visits is that there has been a marked improvement from 2009. Please note that all the opportunities presented above have a very easy solution called training and more training. Our professional advice to you is to invest in training. If you are an owner and you do like to train, hire someone who specializes in it. There are many very good people in our industry who have wonderful programs. If you have a manager in your store or stores, this should be their responsibility, not an optional skill and they should be held accountable for it. If they do not know how, invest in getting training for them, and in the future when hiring your next manager, consider this as a leadership must have.
Some of the bad habits above are learned behaviors which are based on the standards and disciplines from the leadership, or the lack thereof.
Set the standard high, you owe it to yourself, staff and business. If your sales people are not meeting their expectations find and hire others. Hire a mystery shopper and let your staff know they will be shopped and give them a list of standards to which they will be graded. This sometimes is just enough to keep them on their toes. Make sure you communicate with your staff the seriousness of what you are doing.
Last: Please take the information that you have read as our effort to help you improve. If we are seeing these things rest assured so are your clients, and in the end it will cost you clients which equal revenues.
Suzanne Courvisier-Mathis is president and founder of Diamond Staffing Solutions Inc., one of the jewelry industry’s leading placement firms. Diamond Staffing Solutions is an official AGS sustaining member. Please contact Suzanne personally 603-437-2629 or 877-396-6377