26 Money-Saving Tips for Jewelers

Respondents to a recent

JCK

retail panel survey supplied the following money-saving ideas:

Tip: Whenever possible, pay bills with credit cards that offer air miles or other rewards. Use the miles to attend jewelry shows or for leisure travel.

Hint: The key to making this work is never to spend more than you can afford and have a good credit rating. Make your payments on time to avoid high credit card interest rates.

Source: Graham Rees, Rees Jewelers, Glen Allen, Va.

Tip: To save money on postage, order supplies such as remounts and findings in large quantities.

Hint: Do this only for items that aren’t style-dependent.

Source: Graham Rees, Rees Jewelers, Glen Allen, Va.

Tip: Do light manufacturing in your store. Assemble some of your own pieces, including pendants.

Hint: Savings in the diamond category can be substantial and will increase your markup. Remember, however, that this could mean paying a bench jeweler’s salary and benefits (if you can’t do the work yourself), necessary insurance for a bench jeweler, and other labor or overhead expenses.

Source: Toby Joseph, Joseph’s Jewelers, Des Moines, Iowa; and Sylvia Bruce, Southwest Silver Co., Auburn, Calif.

Tip: Buy lots of diamonds for stock.

Hint: With a solid inventory, you can afford to skip mediocre deals and wait for good ones. “To have the freedom to walk away from a price that isn’t quite right is how you buy well, and buying well is how to make money,” says Richard Wilson.

Source: Richard Wilson, Wilson Diamonds Inc., Orem, Utah

Tip: When feasible, cut out all the middle people: Get the best quality and prices by going to the sources.

Hint: Sometimes what you save in dollars is lost in time. Remember, a gold wholesaler can ship a single piece overnight; a factory in Italy can’t.

Source: Jon Allison, Allison’s Custom Jewelry Inc., Sidney, Ohio

Tip: Buy in bulk. The savings add up and will increase your markup.

Hint: Get three quotes for any quantity purchase, including items like ribbon and light bulbs. Be sure to buy only items you know you’ll use.

Source: Toby Joseph, Joseph’s Jewelers, Des Moines, Iowa; and Sylvia Bruce, Southwest Silver Co., Auburn, Calif.

Tip: Ask vendors for favorable return policies. Also consider using vendors who match your purchases with memo goods.

Hint: Favorable terms can make life easier for retailers who have to stand behind slow-moving products. Vendors who match purchases with memo keep your inventory full without the added obligation and additional interest.

Source: Joel McFadden, Joel McFadden Designs, Greenfield, Mass.; and Maureen Hoyt, Optional Art, Sarasota, Fla.

Tip: Take advantage of quick-pay discounts or try to negotiate them.

Hint: Time frames for quick pay can vary from 10 to 30 days.

Source: Morgan Brothers Jewelers Inc., Portsmouth, Ohio

Tip: Watch your petty cash.

Hint: Be sure employees have receipts for all petty-cash purchases.

Source: Richard Kern, Churchill’s Jewelers, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Tip: Use overnight services sparingly. Ship non-express merchandise by ground instead of air. Make two-day delivery your standard for special-order pieces. Stay stocked with basic items, such as diamond stud earrings, so you don’t have to reorder overnight.

Hint: Don’t assume that customers want items the next day. Get specifics on special-order merchandise, use regular delivery, and schedule appointments for customers to view items.

Source: Laura Stanley, Stanley Jewelers, North Little Rock, Ark.; Hy Goldberg, Safian & Rudolph Jewelers, Philadelphia, Pa.; and Kate Peterson, consultant, Performance Concepts, Plainfield, N.J.

Tip: Hire an agency to buy radio and TV advertising.

Hint: Many times, stations pay the agent’s commission. You could double spots for the same amount of money. Check your local phone book for media representatives or sales and marketing solutions companies.

Source: Dan Decker, D&F Decker Diamond Jewelers Inc., Ebensburg, Pa.

Tip: Negotiate better advertising rates.

Hint: Make counter-offers, and treat ad reps the way your hard-bargaining customers treat you on price.

Source: Lon Hardy, Riddles Diamond Centers, Inc., Minot, N.D.

Tip: Limit purchasing of office and business supplies to one person.

Hint: This helps eliminate frivolous spending.

Source: Jay Heiseler, Neustaedter’s Fine Jewelry, St. Louis, Mo.

Tip: Use pouches instead of large boxes for “hard to wrap” items.

Hint: A green felt pouch with a store’s logo stamped in gold costs $1, (Presentation Box Co., Pawtucket, R.I.; (800) 556-7390); alternative packaging—a large box—costs $7.50.

Source: Kelly Trainor, Jewel of the Isle, Nantucket, Mass.

Tip: Reuse all incoming jewelry-sized registered-mail boxes for sending registered mail.

Hint: The savings add up. “There are opportunities for savings regarding back-of-the-store items that customers don’t see,” says Jack Kreuter.

Source: Jack Kreuter, Jack Kreuter Jewelers, Richmond, Va.

Tip: Watch heating and air conditioning costs.

Hint: During the winter, keep the heat low in the showroom; customers frequently keep their coats on.

Source: Steven Bartle, Bartle Jewelers, Muckwonago, Wis.

Tip: Wherever possible, switch to compact fluorescent lighting.

Hint: Use fluorescent lights in back offices, bathrooms, and other places that customers don’t see.

Source: Steven Bartle, Bartle Jewelers, Muckwonago, Wis.

Tip: Whenever possible, use toll-free phone numbers. For toll numbers, consider a cell or digital phone service that offers free long distance.

Hint: Most suppliers have toll-free numbers. JCK subscribers should consult their Jewelers’ Directory for listings.

Source: Steven Bartle, Bartle Jewelers, Muckwonago, Wis.

Tip: Seek out firms that offer co-op ad dollars. Also, see if suppliers will chip in for the cost of displays, cases, and catalogs.

Hint: Companies will consider these ideas for good customers. To get credit quickly, mail the following to suppliers after ads run: a copy of the invoice, the invoice number on a copy of the ad, and the date the ad ran.

Source: Krista Buyck Birchmore, Gudmunason & Buyck Jewelers, Columbia, S.C.; D. Stapp, Stapp Jewelers, Billings, Mont.; Scott Cusson, Brinsmaids Inc., New Canaan, Conn.; Michael Genovese, St. Louis, Mo.; and Susan and Tom Light, Light’s Jewelers, Hattiesburg, Miss.

Tip: Use trade-outs or bartering for radio or TV ads.

Hint: Donate paid-for merchandise to be used in promotional gift baskets offered by local radio or TV stations in exchange for airtime.

Source: Jerry Horn, J. Michael Horn Jewelers, Hammond, La.

Tip: Consider hiring part-time employees.

Hint: This limits overtime wages paid to full-timers and saves on health benefits. Also consider job sharing, where you schedule two people to fill the hours of one full-time person.

Source: Michael Freed, Palmers Jewelry, Kokomo, Ind.

Tip: Locate your store in a “power strip center” (a strip mall bounded by larger stores, such as Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, or Kohl’s).

Hint: Stores in power strips don’t have to follow the hours of the bigger stores. Rents can be cheaper than malls and comparable to downtown sites, but with consistent volume and profit.

Source: Alan Meltzer, Arts Inc., Canton, Ohio

Tip: Work on the floor instead of staying behind the desk.

Hint: It’s nice to buy from the owner. “No one looks out for your store like you,” says George Baker.

Source: George Baker, Bakers Fine Jewelry & Gifts, Virginia Beach, Va.

Tip: Put aside 2% of each day’s cash sales in a “rainy day fund.”

Hint: Once funds start accumulating, money is available for new equipment, taxes, and staff bonuses.

Source: Pat Gilmore, Dunbar Jewelers, Yakima, Wash.

Tip: Establish an open-to-buy in each category of merchandise.

Hint: Use a computer program or a mathematical formula to figure out what’s selling in each category, determine a figure to spend, and then go shopping.

Source: Bruce Watters, Bruce Watters Inc., St. Petersburg, Fla.

Tip: Be frugal with your stationery.

Hint: Cut old letters and junk mail into squares for use as scrap paper. Use plain envelopes instead of letterhead for bills and employees’ paychecks.

Source: Lynn Hupp, J.L. Hupp Jewelers Inc., Fishers, Ind.; and J. Hayes, Goodman’s Jewelers, Madison, Wis.