Michelle Shetler and her all-female sales team practically wrote the book on clienteling
It’s not snappy signage or a stylish storefront that lures San Antonio jewelry lovers into Shetler Fine Jewelers—the shop is invisible from the street, tucked into office space inside a five-story professional building. What reels them in are the smart, stylish, and well-connected women who work there, says owner Michelle Shetler.
The retailer, who bought the store from defunct Amarillo, Texas–based jeweler Duncan & Boyd in 2008 after working as its manager for three years, didn’t intentionally assemble an all-female sales force. But she’s seen success in cultivating a shopping environment where clients “feel like they’re talking to their friends.”
Her team prioritizes relationship-building above all else. “We’re an extreme destination, so we have to work hard each and every day to get clients to come to us,” Shetler says. “So there’s no question I have to work with highly energetic women with real clienteling experience.”
How did you end up hiring an all-female sales team?
I don’t exclude men from applying for positions! I’ve just had more women applicants for whatever reason. The longer I’m in the industry, the more I [understand] that there are so many companies and designers and vendors who are strictly male. So it’s interesting that it’s ended up like this for us. Culture fit is super huge for me. When I bring on someone new, my manager will interview them first, then the entire team interviews them to make sure they’re a good culture fit. I interview people last.
What tactics have been successful for you and the team when it comes to drumming up repeat business?
We do a lot of events, especially in the fall. We’ve had what we call Passport Season for nine years now. We send out a booklet that looks like a passport to 6,000 clients. When they open the passport, they have a list of all the events we do in the fall. We bring in new designers pretty much every week. In September, we will have something like 15 events. The first event is a girls’ night out where we have over 100 women come for a superfun party; they get girly drinks and a girly swag bag. It’s always well-attended, and we do a lot of outreach for it in advance: posting on social media and sending emails and texts to VIP clients. If clients bring a friend who’s never shopped with us before, they get a $100 gift card. It’s really high energy around here for the entire four months leading up to the holidays. And it’s been very successful.
What do you consider good clienteling?
We have a POS [point-of-sale] system where salespeople make notes on specific customers—designers they love, big occasions coming up, birthdays, anniversaries. And those notes remain in the event that a person leaves the team. I have a salesperson who is the best at reaching out to her clients. But she was recently in a rut. She said, “My clients are tired of me calling.” I sat down with her and said, “Let’s be really strategic with this.” I make sure we’re not calling the same people every week. People get tired of constant outreach. We do a spreadsheet for each event and make sure we’re inviting clients to events they will [genuinely] be interested in. I pride my team on good clienteling. They do it really well.
What new jewelry categories have you had success with lately?
A lot of our custom jewelry work is bridal, but it’s also repurposing existing gems or jewelry pieces. I have a newish salesperson who has been in luxury retail for 25 years, and one way for her to start bringing her clients into the store has been to work with them on jewelry pieces they’ve had, often things they’ve inherited. It’s a great way for us not to just sell women jewelry, but also offer appraisal and advice and become trusted advisers.