I was hosting a training class recently and I told everyone in attendance that they needed to have something to write with because there would be a test afterwards. Now, when I say, “you need something to write with,” what I mean is get a piece of paper and something to write with. Only 2 out of ten did what I told them to do. Are those other 8 people deaf or something? Nope, it’s just a different world nowadays.
Seven of those 8 people did exactly what I told them to do; they just did it without a pencil and a piece of paper. All but 1 of them used modern technology to take notes. And that 1 holdout that didn’t use technology or a pen and paper failed the test in case you’re wondering.
My point is there are countless new ways to do old tasks. But, are they really better or are they just new? Here’s a few of my observations.
Phone cameras have really become one of my favorite things. Why I can be walking through Walmart and I can secretly take a picture of one of those ‘People of Walmart’ types, and post it online in under a minute. I could probably do it faster, but it takes me a minute to get a minute away from the person I just photographed to discreetly post the picture from the next aisle over. I don’t know why I feel the need to walk away because I assume they dress like that so they’ll end up on that website in the first place. But in the business world they have proved kind of handy.
If you’ve been in this business for a while, you remember customers walking in with a manila folder that was full of clippings from magazines and newspapers that someone had been collecting of things they like and don’t like. Then, those clippings became grainy black and white images on curly thermal paper with a fax cover sheet attached. Then it became pictures that they printed off the internet at work on their lunch break. And now it’s just taking their finger and swiping right, left, up and down trying to find that one picture they took a month ago. “I know it’s here somewhere,” they say as they scroll through the 5,000 pictures they’ve taken since.
One of my customers has played in Willie Nelson’s band since the ‘70s and takes lots of pictures with his phone. He came in recently and wanted a ring made that combined 4 things he’d seen while out on the road. He pulls out his phone to find the 4 pictures he’d taken over a 6 month period. While watching him scroll through thousands and thousands of pictures, all I could think was: “Mickey, remember when you were on that ‘long and lonesome highway, east of Omaha’? Why didn’t you do this then, when you were ‘riding 16 hours and there’s nothing much to do’?”
It’s times like this that I really like that old manila folder with 14 pictures that had notes written on them about what someone liked and didn’t like.
Another thing that came up recently was another jeweler and I were talking on the phone and she said, “Can you believe that some stores still use those old paper job envelopes that have the three part NCR receipts?” I said, “You mean like the ones I use every day?”
She uses The Edge software and was telling me how wonderful and efficient it is. She tells me how it keeps everything organized, and the 100 other things it can do. And, I admit it’s a great product, but it just doesn’t work for me. I can write up a job envelope faster than I can manipulate a computer program to do it for me. My business is primarily a retail custom and repair facility, and that’s information overload that I don’t need personally.
It’s a very popular program because thousands and thousands of other jewelers use it and are very happy with it. I do work for lots of stores that use some type of job ticket software, but they all have one deficiency when it comes to me. I don’t ever get the normal stuff!
If it’s coming to me, most software programs don’t have a section for: “The 6th prong from the right has a crack that’s causing the diamond to sit crooked and gets caught on her jeans when she puts her hands in her pockets (green sharpie). And the undercarriage on the end diamond has a sharp edge that cuts into her finger (see red sharpie mark). And the end tips on one side are worn out where it sits against another band and needs only that side rebuilt (black sharpie). And look on the side and you’ll see where she got too close to someone welding and needs to have that spot smoothed down. Oh, and size it down half a size while you’re at it.” That was a real job that was sent to me, and no, that’s not in any computer program.
One thing I will say though about old versus new, I don’t use phone books any longer. When they drop them off at my house or my store, I put them right in the recycling bin. If I’m lucky, I will see them walking up about to leave it with me, at which point I tell them no, I don’t want it. Then I come in the next morning and there they are on my doorstep anyway. I guess they didn’t want them either!
When it comes to personal cell phone usage at work, I struggle with how to balance their usage. My employees are well aware of my policy of keeping their personal use to a minimum. I’m fine with a quick text to tell someone you’ll get back to them after work. I don’t allow long running text conversations because it’s usually: “did you hear what Kendall said about Peyton, or what they’re doing after work, or on the weekend?” But they’ve figured out a way around it because they’ll use their iPhones to answer company e-mails, update our websites, and to text pictures and information to our customers. At least they say its customers!
Oh well, how is one to cope?
A quick note to all of the bench jewelers out there. With the winter approaching, don’t forget to order the Mary Kay Satin Hands Soap. It’s a great soap for your hands with a moisturizer built in that will keep your hands from cracking over the cold winter months. If you don’t have a Mary Kay rep, use mine, you can contact Venessa at www.marykay.com/vmadrid1, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or Facebook Venessa Madrid Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant.
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, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to email@example.com.