The Retailer’s Perspective: This really happened

“Do you make jewelry?” said the young couple that walked into a jewelry store a couple of months ago.

“We do,” the owner said.

Then we all know what happens next. Out comes the smart phone that’s full of pictures from websites you’ve never heard of before. There’s black rhodium, there’s champagne diamonds, there’s the ‘Stones I’ve Never Heard Of-ite’s’, there’s about a thousand micro pavé set yellow diamonds and a thousand micro pavé set blue diamonds. There are halos with split shanks and halos with cathedral shanks. But, none of them are “perfect.” And this couple insists on perfection, and here they are, right in front of you. Oh joy of joys. Let’s get this party started.

Since every single ring they showed was created using CAD/CAM, you kind of know where to start. First you’ve got to get the couple to verbalize how they want to marry those 40 rings they just showed you into one. Then you’ll need to get with your CAD artist and you try to make heads or tails out of your notes because now your head hurts from hearing, “O-M-G, this ring is gonna be so dope,” about a thousand times just to get to this point.

So, you and the CAD artist have a lengthy discussion and come up with an approximate estimate for what it’s going to take to create this collaboration. Then, you make the call to deliver the bad news. Since you could clearly see the price of every ring they showed you (that was probably built in some third world country), they are about to be hit with sticker shock.

You’ve got your pre-canned responses ready, like; “the rings you showed me were mass produced in a third world country, your ring is going to be a one-of-a-kind,” “the rings you showed me were built using child labor,” “the rings you showed me won’t look near as good in person as in the picture.”

You go ahead and make the call and it goes to voice mail - because, well, no one answers their phone anymore. You leave a message informing them that you have some numbers to go over with them. About 30 seconds after leaving the message, your customer calls you back and says; “O-M-G, I totally forgot to tell you that I found 3 more totally ‘RAD’ new rings that I want to incorporate into my ring.” Ugh.

When the young couple comes in, you smile like you mean it, you say thanks for coming in, and you patiently look at the pics of the new “RAD” designs which look exactly like the 40 other “dope” designs that you started with. Then you get down to brass tacks. You tell them that before you discuss these changes, let’s talk about the piece we agreed on the other day first. Then you drop the bombshell on them about how much it’s going to cost. They say, “But the ones we showed you on the internet were only like $1,200. Why is this one 5x the price?” You’re ready for that one… and the next one… and the next one.

Being a professional, you overcome all of their objections. You bring them over from the dark side and make them see the light. They understand, and completely agree with you and are ready to proceed - right after we talk about these 3 new ideas. If you’ve done this a few times, you know that right here is where you’ve got to reel the situation in and get it under control. If you haven’t been here before, this is where you screw up big-time.

The first thing I do is pull a number out of my butt so high that they will abandon the idea of changing their original “original idea.” Once that’s accomplished, you agree on the price, the deposit and the payment terms. Money changes hands, and the job is on.

About a week later, an e-mail arrives with the final rendering of this masterpiece. You send it over to your customer and within 30 seconds your phone rings. Of course we all hope that the person on the other end of the line says, “That’s so perfect. It’s everything I dreamed it would be. I wholeheartedly approve.”

But, since I’m writing this story, you know that’s not going to be the case. The customer says: “I didn’t think it would be that tall. I didn’t think it would be that wide. Why aren’t there stones all along the inside of the ring too? This is nothing like what I ordered.” Ugh. You’ve got a long 4-5 weeks ahead of you.

So, everyone knows what happens between now and the end of the job. The hurt, the happiness, the anguish, the joy, the disappointment, the elation, the heartache, the changes, the calming down of the crying girlfriend, the serious discussions with the boyfriend reminding him about all of the approvals that he signed off on to get this far. Then finally, the finished ring arrives at your doorstep and it is exactly what they ordered. You call them with the good news, and then this happens:

“We’ve decided to just save our money and buy one of the rings we saw on the internet and we just want a refund.”

And yes, this did just happen. What’s your next move? How do you convince them to live up to their end of the agreement? You’re no rookie so there were approval steps all along the way. They’ve already paid you thousands of dollars, but they still owe you thousands of dollars. Now they want to back out and get their deposit back. Also, remember that you’ve already paid your supplier for their one-of-a-kind Frankenstein that you’ll never be able to sell to anyone else because it’s hideous.

One of your colleagues out there is going through this right now. She called me and asked me what I would do. I said, beats the heck out of me, let me ask my readers. So, help a sister out here and give her some advice about what she should do. E-mail me at the address below and let me know what you would do in this situation.

And, you want to hear another crazy story I heard this week? A guy comes into a store and is looking to purchase a 1.5 carat diamond for an engagement ring. He is one of those customers that from the start you can tell he is going to be a hard sell. He’s the type that spends way too much time on the internet confusing himself into becoming an expert on diamonds.

The store owner makes some calls and has 4 or 5 diamonds sent in to show him. He comes in and he looks and he likes. But, because it’s such a large purchase, he wants to explore all of his options and just needs a little more time to shop around. We’ve all heard that before so no big deal. Then, about a week later, this happened:

“I like one of your diamonds, but I also like one from your competitor across town. I’d like for him to come into your store, with his diamond, and let me compare them side by side and get his opinion on both diamonds.”

Yep. That really happened to one of your colleagues just this week. My answer was, “Oh, hell-to-the-NO!” But, then again, this wasn’t happening in my store. My personal opinion is just because he’s spending $15,000, doesn’t mean I’m making $15,000. Nope, I’d have to walk away from this sale and move on to greener pastures. What would you do if this happened in your store?

I bet you didn’t think you were going to have homework today, did you? Both of these situations just happened and these jewelers called me to ask for advice. Now I’m asking you for the answers. How would you have handled both situations?

Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide. If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, or send e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.