Part II: Pricing Custom Work

The late 1980s were a difficult time for former jeweler David Geller. He declared bankruptcy on his Atlanta, Ga.-based store, had a lien on his house, and owed creditors $300,000 for a business that generated $800,0000 annually. "I was pricing my products the same way other jewelers do—keeping prices the same or less than those of competitors," he says. But with some help from a friend—a watchmaker and accountant—Geller got back on track. He withdrew the bankruptcy proceedings and set up a payment plan with the Internal Revenue Service, and his friend taught him how to price custom work and repairs, which accounted for three-quarters of his business. Time studies of Geller's bench jewelers also helped: "By studying exactly how much time it takes to perform various procedures, I was able to document and assign prices to 1,850 different duties performed by bench jewelers," he says.

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