Clients call on Brad Lawrence for everything from $500,000 rings to emergency travel needs
1. What one advertisement elicited the most response and why?
In 2007, I ran a very successful free Pandora bracelet promotion. In five days, we gave away 2,000. Of that number, only 28 customers left with just the bracelet. We did $100,000 worth of bead business. Though it was a no-obligation giveaway, people needed to go through five stations before leaving with their free jewelry. The first was a greeter who welcomed customers with a Pandora catalog. The next associate showed each customer the silver bracelet being given away. Another staff member discussed possible upgrades to the [free] bracelet. Once the bracelet type was decided on, we did a fitting and went in to bead discussions. On average we sold three beads.
2. What was your most memorable sale?
Last year one of my top customers purchased a $500,000 three-stone diamond ring sight unseen. He was away on a business trip and wanted to create a spectacular gift for his wife. This sale was memorable for many reasons—first, that he had such tremendous trust in me and my staff to create such a high-end custom ring without seeing it. But he did have very exacting specifications: The stones had to be D color, internally flawless emerald-cut diamonds with GIA-issued grading reports. The 5 carat center stone was easy enough to source. But the other 1.75 carat stones, which needed to match the center stone’s every detail, were the real challenge.
3. What was your finest hour in the realm of customer service?
In 2005, a customer who is a surgeon had an urgent need to be with his son who would soon be coming out of surgery in Chicago. He asked if we knew any way to get him to Chicago in a hurry. I own a twin-turbo propeller plane, so I arranged for him to be flown to Chicago. When he visits the store, he usually mentions the help we offered his family.
4. What nightmare scenario did you turn around to save the day?
Our safe is on a timed lock that shuts at closing on Saturday and doesn’t reopen until Monday morning. The only way to override this feature is to flip a switch Saturday afternoon before closing. In 2006, when Christmas landed on a Monday, I forgot to flip that switch to open the safe on Christmas Eve. I didn’t realize what I’d done until I arrived at the store Sunday morning—with roughly 60 percent of our inventory locked in the safe, along with our repairs and custom work. We rearranged all the jewelry that was left in the cases to make it look like we had lots of finished jewelry on hand. The plan actually worked—we had our best Christmas Eve day ever. We had to ask some customers to come back the next day…[but] we served coffee and doughnuts and no one complained.
5. When you walk in your door, what do you like most about your store?
Our custom display cases use alternating light gaboon wood and dark cherry wood. None have interior lighting; all the jewelry is illuminated using overhead lighting. And different flooring choices—such as earthy cork flooring for the men’s jewelry area—separate the store by departments. I wanted to create a store that was very different from other jewelry stores—not just in this area, but in the country.