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 doing FREE 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!