Mid-America Jewelry Show Seminar Tips, Part 2

In part two of the Mid-America Jewelry Show’s educational seminars best tips blog, find out Terry Sisco’s “Five Keys to Achieving Superior Performance in the New Era of Tech Savvy Consumers.” Plus: highlights from the well-attended panel discussion on gold buying.

Terry Sisco, president of ExSellerate, was the keynote speaker on the Columbus, Ohio show’s opening day. His 90-minute keynote started with a discussion on staffing. Then, Sisco questioned audience members on why retailers make it a practice of selling diamonds with grading reports but don’t obtain a “people certificate” when hiring sales associates.

“A behavioral benchmarking and assessment process provides independent verification that the candidate can actually do what they claim in the interview,” said Sisco, laying out the first of five key plans.

Terry Sisco, president of ExSellerate

Terry Sisco, president of ExSellerate

No. 2 is creating a personalized developmental plan for each employee, including the top performers, associates looking to improve on the previous year’s sales figures, and the staffer who’s just entering the race.

Developmental plans, like the ones offered by ExSellerate, seek to identify strengths and weaknesses of a staff member to provide specific training to bring a person’s skill sets to a desired level. This is done partly through mentoring or coaching with other staff members. As with most development plans, goals, time frames, action steps/methods, evaluation are required.

Sisco’s third key is training staff on today’s skills, not outdated pre-Internet skills. His final two keys: Converting payroll dollars into marketing dollars—by training associates to be proactive (e.g., calling customers to get them in the store, especially for an important event, versus waiting the customer to come in); and, finally, creating a culture of accountability.

The gold-buying panel was once again moderated by Patrick Pugh, owner of Pugh’s Diamond Jewelers, in Zanesville, Ohio.

Patrick Pugh, owner of Pugh’s Diamond Jewelers

Patrick Pugh, owner of Pugh’s Diamond Jewelers

The key topics retailers discussed most were precious metals dealer’s licenses, the Patriot Act, and compliance issues for both.

As gold prices continue to rise sharply, retailers are quickly arriving at the 25 percent threshold of their business that is composed of precious-metal buying from the public, which requires them to apply for a precious metals dealer’s license. This Ohio law got many Buckeye State store owners talking about compliance with state laws once the license was granted.

“Most jewelers do a good job self-policing their gold buying,” said Pugh. “But they should know that once the license is given, there’s a greater degree of compliance that must be met.”

Jewelers are responsible to know the laws of their respective states and operate within those laws and within any local ordinances as well, panel members stressed.

Increased gold-buying activity has also been getting the attention of federal agencies. The IRS is checking for compliance with federal tax codes and the Patriot Act.

Suzan Flamm

Suzan Flamm, Jewelers Vigilance Committee assistant general council

According to one retailer on the panel, a store owner friend who was audited by the IRS in recent months was told by an on-site agent that the Internal Revenue Service has “hired several hundred new agents this year specifically to look in to the jewelry industry,” according to an audience member. Other retailers had heard of similar IRS-related incidents involving other retail jewelers.

Suzan Flamm, Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC), assistant general council and a gold-buying panel member, also had some tips on complying with local laws and the Patriot Act compliance.

“Those buying gold from the public must be sure to be compliant with all relevant federal and local laws,” Flamm told audience members. “First, be certain to have an Anti-Money Laundering Program in place, as required by the U.S. Patriot Act, if you are buying and selling precious metals and stones at a level of $50,000 a year or more. Use the JVC Patriot Act Compliance Kit, available on the JVC website, to quickly implement a Program. Also, make sure that you have a second-hand or precious-metal dealer’s license, if required by your local government. And know your local laws and comply with all regulations regarding the identification of sellers, holding periods, and reports of purchases to law enforcement.”