Saturday, February 6, 2016

HOW TO SQUEEZE EVERYTHING YOU CAN OUT OF EVERYTHING YOU'VE GOT

How To Squeeze Everything You Can Out of Everything You've Got
Many years ago as a kid I went on a road trip with my father who was a long haul truck driver.  While traveling up Interstate 40 at a pretty good clip of speed, I noticed an older, compact foreign car pull out in the lane to pass us.  This seemed quite remarkable to my young mind at the time because my father in his big rig was already doing well over 80 miles per hour!  Undaunted the little foreign car with smoke coming out his exhaust and an engine that sounded like it could explode at any minute did pass us and pulled on off into the distance.  My father remarked, "It appears he's squeezing everything he can out of everything he's got!"
Perhaps you and I could take a lesson from this little foreign compact car and apply the same philosphy to our jewelry stores.  Many times while in prayer we often ask for more strength, more grace, more of this and more of that when in reality we've not done the most with what we've already been given.  Can you see how this might apply to you?
Lets take marketing for a minute.  One of things I'm often asked is "How in the world do you find time to do all of the nifty marketing things you do?"  Pretty simple..I take the time to get to my store one day a week when its early and no one else is there.  I then plan out my marketing calendar that week, execute it and then let it go on autopilot.  One example of this is my weekly store emails to my customer database.  Its easy to plan a month's worth of emails using a simple online program like Constant Contact.  Just pick one of their templates, copy and paste a picture in and add the text you want and there you have it!  It only takes 10-15 minutes to do a month's worth and then you're on autopilot..free to get out on the sale floor or do whatever it is you do best!
How about buying inventory?  Another simple thing...pull a report from your store's POS system of what you sold in the last week or month (whichever works best for you).  Then analyze what has sold best for you and replinish it then and there. When it stops selling well...stop ordering it!  Rather than always loading up on inventory at shows, how about replinishing your store's best sellers a little at a time?  I'll bet it'd help your cashflow and if it sold quickly once, it'll probably do it again!
Do you take the time to make sure you've got your "Never Outs" covered?  This can be anything from popular watch batteries to repair stock/findings, etc.  In other words, don't be out of anything crucial in your inventory or your repair shop!
How about add-on sales?  Do you have a counter special set up near your cash register so as to enduce impluse sales?  Of course, this should come after you've already maximized the main sale by offering additional add-on's to it...
Are you leveraging trade associations and vendor relationships to their fullest?  Remarkably, I wasn't taking advantage of my Polygon membership like I should be.  Now I check it out daily for great last minute vendor specials, bargains and closeouts that allow me to make that little bit of extra gross profit that benefits the bottom line.

The real "Bottom Line" is...are you really doing your best to "Squeeze Everything You Can Out of Everything You've Got?"  What would it hurt to get to your store an hour or so early one day a week and to take time to think about the systems that run your business?  I'll bet if you do and you really implement positive changes...you'll be like that foreign compact car and you'll leave your competitors in the distance!
'Til Next Time,
Bill Warren, DDJM (Doctor of Dynamic Jewelry Marketing)
www.warrenmarketing.blogspot.com
goldman86@bellsouth.net
828-729-1020

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Greatest Victories Come After The Darkest Hours

Success in business (and in life) usually comes after some of your biggest trials and tribulations. Each of us must make the choice daily to succeed in our chosen calling of being an independent jeweler. It often seems like the things that worked yesterday are no longer effective today. We constantly need to be learning and improving ourselves and our businesses.
Many years ago, upon opening my store, one of my relatives commented, “That boy is going to go broke!” You see, I had opened in a very small western North Carolina town on a very meager budget with very few resources (perhaps this sounds familiar to your startup). However, my wife and I always moved forward with the belief that success lay in diligent hard work, preparation and the belief that we would be successful no matter what.
Over the years, through the ups and downs of owning an independent jewelry store in a small town, we learned to constantly retool ourselves and to improve on a regular basis. We had great competition that really made us look like “David to their Goliath” whom were much better funded. Hey - competition is often a driving force and it did make us want to be better. We chose not to worry about our competition but to let the competition worry about what we would do next! That in itself is a very empowering belief my friends.
Perhaps as you read this you’re wondering what you need to do to take your business to the next level. Let me offer a few words of advice - become a better marketer first! When you market your store well, you’ll  have the traffic flow and cash flow you need to do the things you want to do. Without customers coming in the door on a regular basis, no business can be successful. When I quit being a jeweler and became a marketer of jewelry and jewelry related services, my store started growing in a very significant way.
What type of marketing should you do? The answer is different for each of us and you’ll have to experiment to see what works best for you. I do recommend developing a strong mailing list of your regular clients and marketing to them often either by direct mail, e-mail or telephone. Your regular customers make up the bulk of your business. Too many jewelers constantly spend their time and money trying to get new clients instead of marketing to the ones they already have!
To acquire new clients, I’ve often used billboards and radio to bring them in my door. We use a combination of direct offers and image advertising to peak their interest. By all means, track each form of marketing/advertising you do to see which is most effective for you.
Of course, we can’t forget digital/online marketing! It is absolutely essential to have an up to date website that is optimized for smartphone users. Many prospects check you out online first, especially the “Millennial” crowd, and most often they do it through their smartphone. Consider allotting a portion of your budget to Facebook and Google Ads, but don’t over do it!
What if you’re struggling to make ends meet and don’t have a lot of money to advertise? In this case, I’d consider doingFREE press releases to local media about your latest service offering. When we acquired a laser welder, the newspaper came to do an article about how “Star Wars Technology” had come to our small town. It was catchy and it brought new clients. Think about what you have to offer that no one else can and call your local newspaper, radio, etc. and ask for them to do a press release. Offer to write it up for them!
You’ll also discover that you constantly need to become a better business person. Buying the right kind of inventory is crucial. Its so easy to load up on inventory at shows, but you really should learn to stock the right things at the right times. Learn what your best sellers are and never be out of them. Make sure you’re not paying too much for your inventory!
Perhaps things in your area are really bad and money is tight! Always keep a bullet in your pocket. Never drain the bank account to zero!  Arrange new financing with your vendors, banker, etc., but above all else - never give up!!! The greatest victories in your business often come after things have seemed their darkest.
Lastly, remember to surround yourself with people who believe in you and your business goals. We all have enough“Negative Nellies” in our life and you surely don’t need it at work. Make sure you have positive, empowered employees around you. Get rid of the negative ones who drag you and your business down!
I don’t know why I felt compelled to write this, but I feel sure it was meant for someone. Remember the comment one of my relatives made about going broke in the story above? As we celebrate our 22nd anniversary in business remember this, success can be the sweetest revenge... that you can take to the bank!
Happy Holidays,
Bill Warren

Thursday, January 22, 2015

HOW TO COOK WITH GAS, TAKE NO PRISONERS & BUILD A WINNING JEWELRY STORE!


Greetings & Happy New Year from the Doctor of Dynamic Jewelry Marketing - Bill Warren!!!

I'm already off to a great start with my first speaking engagement to be at the Ballayntine Resort in Charlotte, NC for the upcoming SJO Jewelers Show to be held on February 1st & 2nd.  I'll be speaking both days at 8 AM on my ever popular topic of "How To Cook With Gas, Take No Prisoners & Build A Winning Jewelry Store!

During this 2 day seminar, you'll learn how I more than doubled my own jewelry store's business in a few year's time using such techniques at:
  • Out of the Box Direct Mail Methods
  • Social Media
  • Email Blasts
  • Voice Blast Technology (My store was one of the first to do this)
  • Private Events
  • Plus much, much more!
Since the SJO Jewelers Group is a member only event, you may need to call Paul Downey at (216) 896-9850 or email at:  P.Downey@SJOrg.com to make sure you're eligible to attend but let me urge you to do so!!!  SJO is a great group to be a part of and you can probably attend for FREE just to get your feet wet so to speak!

As always, feel free to call me at (828) 729-1020 if you have any questions or if I may help you in any way!

Success,

Bill Warren, DDJM (Doctor of Dynamic Jewelry Marketing)
www.warrenmarketing.blogspot.com 
828-729-1020


Saturday, April 19, 2014

HOW TO REINVENT THE WHEEL IN YOUR STORE

Do you ever wonder about ways you can improve your business?  You sit and think about it, but you’re just not sure what to do?  As I write this article, the New Year has recently started and I find myself being reflective about things, but looking forward as well.  Many things we tried in our jewelry store worked well last year, but some of the marketing, strategies and events were clunkers just like any other business has.
The title of this article is “How to reinvent the wheel in your store,” but perhaps it should have been “How not to reinvent the wheel.”  What do I mean by that statement?  Simple - I’m a big fan of the “Modeling Process” or in other words, copying the successful systems, attitudes and behaviors of those I wish to emulate or be more like. Just like you, I have my heroes in the jewelry biz and in the retail world at large.
One of the things I find helpful to stimulate new ideas is visiting other successful jewelry stores to see what they’re doing and to see if I can implement some of the ideas I learn in my own store.  No one, and I repeat no one, has all the answers and we should all keep learning our trade each and every day.  If we don’t do this, it’s my opinion that our business could cease to exist as our competitors locally and not so local, aka the Internet, Blue Nile, etc., move forward with innovative ideas.
Perhaps the best marketing advice I can give to any jeweler seeking to improve their store’s operation is to get out and visit other jewelry stores.  On one recent visit to a store near our vacation condo I saw how this jeweler had integrated a very successful “Estate Jewelry” operation in their store that obviously set their store apart from others in their region.  This made me question myself - why I had never seriously put in a estate jewelry case in our store.  I also noticed this jeweler marketed to his client mailing list with postcards and special offers to those clients who love this type of jewelry.  Duh!!!  Why haven’t I been doing this???
With thanks to David Geller for inspiring me to do this many years ago, I modeled one of his behaviors in that I started sending “Thank You” notes to every customer who made a purchase or had a repair done in my store. With each of these thank you notes also came a gift certificate in whatever amount I deemed appropriate that the client could use on their next purchase.  These days this is quite easy due to the advent of POS systems such as Edge, Winjewel and many others making it simply a “click of the button.”
One of the things I’ve been paying particular attention to lately in other jewelry stores, as well as other retailers, is the use of text marketing where you have a customer send a text message to your service and a special offer, gift certificate or message pops up on their smartphone.  I’m experimenting with this as I write this and think there is some merit to it that we jewelers should incorporate ourselves.
As we continually become a more smartphone dominant society instead of desktop computer or laptop, it also seems very important to make sure our store’s websites are optimized for viewing on a smartphone.  Over the holiday season, it absolutely amazed me how many younger clients came in my store with a picture of a ring from some website that they wanted to purchase in my store.  I was very glad of this, but also kind of ashamed that I hadn’t optimized my own website sooner!  Note to self... hey self, get off your butt and get your website optimized for viewing on the small screen!!!
One more thing - if you’ve not had the opportunity, go visit a Chico’s ladies store.  My wife goes there often. Ok, maybe too often, but watch these folks in action. They are simply some of the best at clienteling I’ve ever seen!  A few days after a purchase, my wife gets a card saying “Thanks” along with a special offer to come in again.  Did I mention they also know her preferences and call her anytime something has come in that she might like?  They also call her anytime there is a special event and give her a FREE gift just for coming in. Plus, they never forget a birthday and send a gift certificate for that as well.  How often do you do this for your clients?  Another note to self... start clienteling like Chico’s does and watch the bank account grow!
Most successful retailers belong to several organizations and often get great ideas, brainstorming sessions and many more benefits simply by being a part of them. I currently belong to four groups, two of which are jewelry specific and two made up of all types of retailers. It never ceases to amaze me the knowledge that is shared and how much I come away with. I suggest you find a group that you enjoy being a part of. Go out and try some until you find the right one.  Like me, you may have to try several. Let some go, but by all means find one you can learn and grow with!!
These are just a few ideas I’ve been thinking about and hey, I really didn’t have to reinvent the wheel either. I just borrowed ideas from others and found a way to apply them in my store.  Can you do the same? I’ll bet you can and probably even better than me! Drop me a line sometime at goldman86@bellsouth.net and let me know what you come with. Maybe we can brainstorm something together! 
Good luck until next time...
Dr. Bill

Friday, February 14, 2014

PERSERVERANCE - THE KEY TO SUCCESS

Twenty years ago my wife and I opened our jewelry store in downtown Hudson, NC.  Like many of you, we got started on a “wing and a prayer.”  I had been running a store in nearby Lenoir, which was a chain operation and had only moved to the area two years prior.  My wife was a hairdresser and like many young couples, we had the dream of owning a business.
Thanks to the customer following I had built up, a little start up money and my wife’s commitment to do whatever, we got our jewelry store going.  Needless to say, things weren’t easy, but from day 1, the good Lord smiled on us and we developed a good trade of our own.
A few weeks into the whole thing, we were ready for our grand opening and that’s when it happened.... we heard one of our local competitors was going to try and knock our grand opening in the head with a huge media blast. Essentially, they were going to make our meager effort look like it got lost.
Fortunately, we have lots of friends in local media and I was tipped off about the whole thing. So I waited and let “the other guy” blow his wad - and he did!  Right after this, we had our grand opening, which thankfully was successful.  What am I getting at by telling you this story?
No matter what, never give up!  Yes, its easy to get frustrated by your competitors, your lack of funds (at times) and all of the many other things that we jewelry store owners face, but let me say this, “PERSEVERE!”
One of the reasons I see so many jewelers being unsuccessful is that they give up on something way too easily; for example, new lines, new marketing, employees or themselves.  Stand tough no matter what you face and meet it head on - you’ll come out stronger on the other side!
Now twenty years into this whole thing, we find ourselves with one of the busiest and largest volume stores in our area.  We often get comments from others like, “How is it that you have this much traffic in such a small mountain town?”  “How do you do well over a million dollars a year in the environment you are in with the economy being what it is?”
All I can tell you is - “PERSEVERANCE!”  We stand tough when others give up and we take on jobs that often other jewelers refuse to do.  Investing in a laser welder, CAD/CAM technology, learning to market our store in different ways has made us successful.  We only have an average size store in a very, very small town that still surprises many readers when they stop by. But as I often say, “This is a jewelry store on STEROIDS!!”
One last word on competitors. I’m a huge fan of the late great football coach Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers.  Good ‘ole Vince would make his players study the moves of his competition until they could almost predict the exact plays they would run and when they would run them.  He also made his players practice the moves and countermoves until it became second nature.
You see, I’m a firm believer that you should study what the large jewelry chains are doing as well as your local competition - shop them, learn their habits, know what they carry!  Then you can develop a plan that differentiates you from your competition.  By all means, make your store stand out in the crowd.
Maybe you are like we were twenty years ago and sometimes feel overwhelmed by people and circumstances. Don’t get caught up in worrying about what others are doing either. Let your competitors worry about what you’re going to do!  Let me encourage you to be like “The Little Engine That Could” and “PERSEVERE.” It’s what those at the front of the pack do!
'TIL Next Time,
Bill Warren

Monday, January 13, 2014

How To Bring In The Bucks When The Bucks Are Hiding!

Here is a short video shot by my friend Jim Ackerman of the Marketing Wizards Alliance a year or so ago. In this video, Jim & I talk about how we've been able to consistently bring in the bucks in my jewelry store using "Out of the Box" as well as "Tried & True" marketing principles.  If these ideas worked for me and allowed me to win a marketing contest and a FREE trip to Park City, Utah...they will work for you!

Watch the video and learn at:

http://marketingwizardsalliance.com/magic-wand-marketing-contest-winner-bill-warren-shares-valuable-philosopy-with-marketing-speaker-jim-ackerman/

Let me know your thoughts...happy learning!

Sincerely,

Bill Warren, DDJM (Doctor of Dynamic Jewelry Marketing)
www.warrenmarketing.blogspot.com
828-729-1020


P.S. - if you'll follow the ideas I've outlined in this video...marketing success could happen to you!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Adapt or Die, The Choice is Yours...

Adapt or die - that’s kind of an abrupt title for an article isn’t it?  Before I get into the meat of this, let me digress for a moment.
Like many of you, I have a deep love for this industry and the independent jeweler.  Perhaps many of you just like me have watched this industry for almost 30 years or longer.  Its been an incredible ride in my own career, that’s for sure. 
When I entered the jewelry biz as a goldsmith’s apprentice in downtown Statesville, NC, the landscape was quite different than it is today.  Some called this time the “good ole days” or the Reagan “Glory Years.”  Things were easier then, that’s for sure!
I remember in the ‘80s when I could place a full page ad in our local newspaper with several sale items such as a gold nugget watch or ring, some diamond solitaire specials and a few other things.  The ad would hit on Wednesday and by Saturday our telephone would have rang off the hook and we’d have sold out of most the items. Yes, back then it was just that easy!
Nowadays, jewelers don’t have it so good.  Many report that newspapers no longer produce results, or at least most don’t (in some unique markets it still works).  One of the comments I most often here is, “What do I do now?  Newspapers don’t work like they used to, discount sales no longer work, what should I try?”  Maybe you’ve felt the same way.
You’ve probably found that it does take quite a bit more technique to make things produce like they should. Simply put, “Jewelers Must Adapt To An Ever Changing Marketplace or Die.”
You see, I’m afraid if many of our friends don’t try to adapt and change, they simply will not be here much longer.
It really pains me to see those who could have a thriving independent jewelry store simply wither away.  Why is this happening?  I think its because being creatures of habit, we (independent jewelers) are afraid to embrace new ideas, new marketing, new lines and in doing so, many are sealing their destructive fate.
Years ago, I stopped by to visit a dear friend and mentor of mine who is now departed, Bob Deitz of Salisbury, NC.  While visiting Bob, I kiddingly asked him about a line of pocketbooks he was carrying in his jewelry store. His answer even way back then, showed what a wise man Bob really was. He said, “Bill, I’ve learned to be happy with whatever makes my cash register ring!”  And let me tell you, this man knew how to make his cash register ring!  I miss you Bob.
I say all of that to say this: “What are you doing today that is different?  What new lines and innovative lines are you carrying today that you didn’t yesterday?  Are you experimenting with direct mail and your own instore customer mailing list?  You do have one, don’t you?  Have you tried social media?  Many report great success. I’ve had great luck with it for sure!  Are you standing still or are you moving forward?”
In our store the key to success has been:
  1. Using direct mail in the form of postcards, letters and other unusual devices loaded with special offers (not necessarily sales) to stay in front of our better customers.  We always send birthday & anniversary cards with a gift certificate and they work!
  2. Radio to push special events and new lines to keep Top of Mind Awareness.
  3. Social Media - Facebook in particular has been very important in cultivating young engagement ring clients.
  4. E-mail - capturing and using clients’ e-mail to send them weekly/bi-weekly info that is important, but also entertaining.... never dull!
  5. Billboards - I can’t begin to say how having a billboard in the right location with the right message has helped grow our biz!
  6. Telemarketing - yes, we call our customers regularly with announcements of special events or something as simple as, “Hey Mrs. Jones, I’ve got something in I think you’d like!”
The important thing is don’t give up!  Keep experimenting with merchandise mix and marketing until you find the combination that works for you.  Please don’t give up...your business depends on it!