JCK 5: Diamond Gallery of Naperville

When not chasing down postmasters, Kevin and Jackie Lydon run a low-stress operation

1. What was your most memorable sale?

Two years before our No. 1 customer’s 50th birthday, we began working with her to find an awesome yellow diamond ring. She was a breast cancer survivor and had a new outlook on life. During an unrelated business trip to Los Angeles, we ended up in the wrong office building, a block from our regular supplier. My wife suggested we look around and, surprisingly, we found the perfect ring. We presented it to her and her husband at a restaurant with a dozen yellow roses at the table. She loved it. Everyone started crying their eyes out.

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

A longtime customer recommended us to a friend in Phoenix who wanted to buy a pair of earrings for his wife for Christmas. I found the perfect pair and sent the earrings via USPS overnight express. The package needed to arrive in Phoenix the next day, and then quickly be forwarded to nearby Prescott before 2 p.m. the following day to allow the customer to drive to Phoenix for their Christmas celebration. To make sure the package arrived on time, I called the postmaster in Prescott. He told me he’d take the package to the customer’s house using his own car. The postmaster arrived at the house at 2:15 p.m. and no one was home. I called the customer and told him the postmaster was at his door waiting for him. The postmaster worked with me via phone to make sure the package got redirected to Phoenix. It was a shipping mess, but the package arrived just in time.

3. What nightmare scenario did you turn around to save the day?

The [Zack’s Jewelry] owner was looking to sell his business to us after we had worked there for 26 years. When he was suddenly hospitalized with throat cancer, he changed his mind and sold the store to his two children. At 50, we had no jobs. It was October 2004, and we had to move fast to make something of the upcoming Christmas season. We drove around town and found a vacant Helzberg store with most everything intact—lighting, vault, security system. We secured a monthly lease, found rental cases, and made it through the holidays with the help of trusted vendors and loyal customers. Our former boss saw his sales drop 60 percent in our absence…and [soon] closed up shop. We leased the same store with our new name in March 2005, moved back in, and haven’t looked back since.   

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

Being one of the first jewelers in our market to use prototypes. This decision combined with using Gemvision, along with digital design, made us realize that final product sales aren’t as important as customer service with an emphasis on custom designs. The whole process got us thinking about how to improve customer service across the board, especially with after-sales follow-ups. It’s cheaper to retain your existing customers than to spend the money attracting new ones.

5. When you walk through your door, what do you like most about your store?

I feel at peace—and I get that same remark from customers because of our low-stress approach to sales. This comes from the right staffing. Our philosophy is we can teach the industry to anyone, but you can’t teach sales, attitude, and people skills.