A jewelry store’s standing in its market is hard earned. Once established, it fosters sales growth, expansion and above all else – trust. That reputation serves a business very well when the decision is made to conduct a cash raising event.
Whether it’s a transition to the next generation, a moving sale, store closing, going out of business or retirement sale, cash raising events are an essential component to these and other business transitions. The store’s reputation is “pivotal” to the success of such events, according to Chuck Frey, founder and president of Charles Frey & Company Inc.
“I learned this in the first sale I was a part of,” says Chuck. “A well planned and managed ad campaign, along with an organized and realistic approach to merchandising and pricing, made the sale a financial success. But it was the store’s reputation that packed the location and created the line out the door. That idea has only become more ingrained in my mind over time. Reputation is especially important when transitioning to the next generation. We can use a weaker sale theme in a store with a good reputation and generate a strong response. That’s not always true the other way around.”
Chuck speaks from experience. With over 40 years in the industry, more than 30 years conducting sales for jewelers, and 25 running his own business, Chuck has crisscrossed the
country working with jewelers of all types.
A geology major with a degree from The City University of New York, one of his favorite areas of study was crystallography. In the late 1970s he answered an ad in the New York Times placed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The Institute was looking for diamond graders to help meet the demand caused by the diamond investment craze of the time.
Chuck worked for the GIA for many years and then was hired by Bayless Sales Innovations out of Texas. Bayless eventually merged with Silverman Jewelers Consultants of Long Island. When the Silverman family left the business Chuck made the decision to open his own cash raising event company offering his services specifically to independent jewelers.
“As a former site supervisor and national sales manager for two nationally-known jewelry store event planners I was intimately involved in all aspects of planning, staffing, managing, advertising, merchandising, as well as implementing all manner of sales including, but not limited to, retirement, going out of business, moving, consolidation, stock reduction, passing the torch transitions and Chapter 11 reorganization sales,” says Chuck.
The cash raising event business has evolved over the past 30 years. The approach to advertising, pricing and discounting have changed. Newspaper ads, once the focal point, have given way to social media. Radio, TV and cable have become more localized and regionally specific. The word “sale” has become diluted. Successful promotions for these events must be linked to a strong and believable theme and a sense of urgency to drive customers in.
After 25 years, and more than 1,200 retail jewelry clients and sales under his belt, Chuck outlines the following basic steps to planning and executing a successful cash raising event. Start by identifying the goals and reasons for conducting the sale. Then define the type of event and theme that will meet that goal. The next step is to determine the timing of the sale. As the saying goes, timing is everything. Taking advantage of seasonality, whenever possible, is desirable.
Sometimes timing is dictated by issues outside of the store’s control, like leases, health issues and financial needs. All of these can be dealt with. Steps three and four are to research any local codes that may have a bearing on how the sale can be conducted, and creating a realistic projection. The projection should be based on the stores historical sales and expense data and detail expected results, costs, how much of the stores owned inventory will be converted into cash, and most importantly how much cash remains for the owner after all expenses.
The need and use of fill-in inventory on consignment is important. Some stores have “years” of inventory on the floor and need little or no fill-in inventory to have a successful sale. Other stores absolutely need fill-in inventory to meet the full potential of the sale they are considering conducting.
The projection and fill-in discussion is vital to good planning and can be extremely important when planning a family transition. Step five is one of implementation. This includes creating an appropriate ad campaign and publishing it in advance of the sale, sending the on-site supervisor, the fill-in inventory that may be necessary, and initiating the plan.
“Visiting the store is essential and can be done at any time during this process,” says Chuck. “Discussing, planning, creating the projection, and visiting the store is done in a confidential manner and should be at no obligation or cost to the jeweler.”
Some store owners want to incorporate a give-away or contest to help generate additional traffic and excitement. “What we find is it’s somewhat store and local specific,” says Chuck. “The contest that would excite customers in one town may be a non-starter in a different environment. In some cases it generates lots of additional traffic with few additional sales. Some stores feel they need to confirm to their customer base, after a transition, moving, consolidation or stock reduction sale, that all is well and that the business is continuing. We find ‘after-sale’ promotions are received well by both the store owners and the customer base for this purpose.”
This year will go down in history as one for the record books because of COVID-19. “The majority of stores we’ve spoken to, that have been able to reopen normally, are reporting strong sales, in some cases record months. The cash-raising-events we have been able to conduct have performed extremely well.
“It’s anybody’s guess what the future will bring,” says Chuck. “A resolution to COVID should stimulate the economy back to a greater level of normal. What we are hearing everywhere is people want to get back to business. Customers want to buy and are going to the stores they trust the most.”
To learn more about Charles Frey & Company call 888-688-1881 or visit charlesfreyco.com.