5 Questions for Montica Jewelry’s John O’Rourke

No longer a Southeast Florida secret, Montica Jewelry is determined not to fly under the radar

1. What has been your most memorable sale?

We had a very young lady—maybe 21 or 22 years old—come into the store one time. She was dressed nicely, but everyone was kind of blowing her off because they thought she was a kid. My father-in-law got upset that she was being ignored and went and took care of her. He spent several hours with her, showing her everything and anything she wanted to see. In the end, she ended up spending thousands of dollars with us. You need to treat everyone like they’ve entered your home. That’s what he did with her—patiently and with a big smile—and he was rewarded for it.

2. What advertisement or ­promotion elicited the biggest response, and why do you think it worked?

Every few years they increase the cost of stamps. One of those times, I wrote to all of our clients—a feel-good letter that wasn’t asking for business—saying, “Things in life change, they get more expensive, et cetera.” We enclosed two sheets of three-cent stamps in each letter. To this day I have people who remember that—some of my biggest clients.

3. What has been your single best money-saving initiative?

We worked with an expense reduction analysis company. They looked at our phone contracts, our Internet agreement, our insurance premiums, and lots of other things. The biggest thing they did for us was cut our costs by thousands of dollars in credit cards [fees]. We didn’t know it at the time, but if you accept a card as a debit card, you pay a flat fee, maybe 50 cents or 70 cents on a purchase—not a percentage of the sale. Credit card fees are 1.5 to 3 percent of the purchase price. It taught us to train our sales people to ask customers if they’d like to pay with debit. Now we always ask that question.

4. What was your finest hour in the realm of customer service?

I tell every guy when he comes in, if this is the right woman and she loves you, no matter what ring you end up buying, she’ll love you for it. You can get a ring out of a bubble gum machine. The most important thing is how you present the ring to her. I had an ­excellent sales associate who asked her customer how he was going to [propose], and he said he was planning on doing it at the beach and had this whole romantic story. She offered to film the proposal for him; there was a nearby bench, so she could do it secretly. I thought it was so cool. She did it on her own time, on her own dime. It made me really proud of my team member.

5. What’s the best idea you’ve ever come up with for your store?

To relocate and build the store we’re in now in 2006. The location we were in before this was dead; it wasn’t ­producing. We were experiencing a continuous decline in sales revenue. Our advertising line then was “The Best Kept Secret in Coral Gables.” I woke up one morning and said, “I don’t want to be the best-kept secret.” That was the reality, and moving was key in turning our business around.