Kathy Corey, Day’s Jewelers, Maine and New Hampshire

1. What is your single best money-saving initiative? In 2007 we made a significant investment in a new Web site platform that ultimately allowed us to cut $600,000 from our promotional budget by eliminating traditional forms of advertising during 2009. To support the new site we hired a full-time in-house photographer and two copywriters to increase the number of jewelry pieces online. Currently we have 8,200 SKUs online at www.daysjewelers.com with a goal of reaching 10,000 by year’s end. In addition to doubling online sales over the last year, the site continues to drive customers from our online store to our brick-and-mortar locations.

2. What one advertisement elicited the most response and why did it work? In October 2008, we launched a free Chamilia bracelet event in our South Portland store. Every customer who came through our door received a free sterling silver Chamilia bracelet, valued at $50—no strings attached and no purchase necessary. We teamed with a local radio station for this five-day event. Jeff [husband and president of Day’s Jewelers] and I went on air Tuesday morning announcing that we wanted to do something special to give back to the community, given the rising price of fuel and heating oil and the tough economic environment. This was the only advertising that occurred. Within a day, the news became "viral" in the community. Anybody who received a free bracelet was telling their friends and family about this incredible offer. We showcased over 4,000 beads for customers who wanted to purchase beads for their bracelet. Customers who entered our store for the free bracelet were asked to give us information, for warranty purposes, including name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. We gave away 4,500 bracelets, generated $60,000 in bead sales and acquired information from 3,000 new customers.

3. How do you differentiate your store from the competition? We focus on not just meeting but exceeding customer expectations with every visit to our store. I know it sounds like a cliché, but we are very meticulous in tracking our customer service initiatives. For years, each month we’d place calls to over 200 customers to ask them about their store experience at Day’s Jewelers. For the last four months we’ve been handing out four-question customer surveys on a small business card format. Customers who complete the survey are eligible for $10 off their next purchase. The new survey method is working well so far. The challenge for us is continually surpassing customer expectations for customers who have already had a better-than-expected store experience. We’re a very transparent company, so customer service monthly surveys are posted on our intranet.

4. What ambitious goal do you have for your store and what would it take to achieve it? Given today’s economy, our ambitious goal is to sustain our sales target till the end of the year to satisfy our banks and shareholders. The sales target goal for this year is in itself ambitious in this economic environment, when flat is the new up. To achieve this we’re focusing on building sales with more in-store events and targeting our top customers. We’re also looking more inward at our own staff and the resources we already have at hand. Now more than ever, employees are empowered with the ability to help provide solutions to company challenges.

5. What’s the best idea you’ve come up with for your store? Our Christmas Ladies’ Night event has really become popular for our stores. All six Day’s Jewelers stores host a Ladies’ Night on the second Thursday of November. We try to give a little something back to the ladies for spending time in our stores simulating a spa experience with massages, manicures, drinks and hors d’oeuvres. In 2008, each of our stores brought in 300 to 500 ladies who stayed in the store for roughly three to four hours. In keeping with the spa theme last year, we cleaned customers’ jewelry in our "jewelry spa." The ladies’ night is all about self-purchases and completing wish lists. A men’s night is scheduled the following month. That’s when our staff becomes "personal shoppers" for the gents.

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