Tom Losonci is president of Madison Jewelers, Fairfield, Conn., a full-service store that specializes in AGS- and GIA-certified diamonds and is known for expertise in bridal jewelry. The company works with many high-profile designers and brands, and also sells estate jewelry and custom-designed pieces.
What are your best sellers? Loose diamonds and diamond eternity bands, as well as three-stone rings, earrings, and pendants. Our strength is diamond merchandise, particularly bridal, which accounts for about 50 percent of our business. About 70 percent of our bridal business is in white metal, and a good portion is in platinum. As far as designers, we do very well with Michael B., Tacori, and Martin Flyer.
What has been your most successful marketing program? In terms of advertising, we do a combination of outdoor billboard and radio. We push our expertise in bridal and run ads on eternity bands. We’re very big on store branding; we make sure all our marketing has a uniform look, including the Web site.
We run an annual three-day diamond event in April that has been tremendously successful. We have about $5 million in loose diamonds on hand in every shape and size, and we have people come in for one day and pick their own stones to match to a three-stone or eternity setting. We also give away a three-stone ring, but [customers] have to be in the store to win. We do the event in conjunction with a local radio station [WEBE 108] and it draws a tremendous crowd.
In association with WEBE 108’s annual April Kidfest event, we also sponsor two Easter Egg Hunts during the three-day program—one for the kids, followed by another for the adults—in which one winner in each hunt will win a voucher for a 0.50 ct. diamond. We donate a portion of the proceeds to a local charity that benefits autistic children.
The pick-your-own-diamond/three-stone-ring giveaway is phenomenal—we have generated $150,000 in sales in one day. And our Easter Egg Hunts do very well. We hold them on a Saturday, and we typically do 30 percent to 35 percent over our average Saturday.
What has been your best money-saving initiative? We realized a 35 percent to 40 percent savings in advertising expenses by concentrating on the two mediums most effective for us: billboard and radio. Next year, we’ll be doing some TV advertising in conjunction with Hearts On Fire, but billboard and radio really work for us and that’s where we put our advertising dollars.
What has been your most successful strategy for increasing sales? We focus on customers that have purchased things from us over the last three years. Our salespeople will call them, inviting them in for a free jewelry cleaning. We also send postcards reminding customers about anniversaries. The postcards really work.
We also sponsor different charity events in the community. One is the Swim Across the Sound marathon, which raises money for cancer care and cancer awareness. There is huge community participation in this event. We are the only jeweler that has gotten involved. Typically, people participating in the event will come into our store and buy their jewelry from us—they patronize the merchants who are involved. They also promote us through word of mouth.
What has been your biggest business challenge—and what have you done to resolve it? Our biggest challenge is competition with retailers selling diamonds on the Internet. Also, we’re in close proximity to New York City and all the diamond dealers, and we’re constantly competing with people who give major pricing discounts on diamonds. We try to educate the customer that when they buy from us, they are buying exceptional quality and customer service. We only sell AGS- or GIA-certified stones, and we promote ourselves to that end. We don’t compromise to a certain price point.