You Can Get There From Here

Say you’re preparing for a road trip. Before packing your suitcase and filling your tank, you have to know where you want to go. You’ll begin by reading up on places you want to visit and consulting a map. The first thing you’ll do with the map is identify where you are, because you can’t determine how to get where you want to go if you don’t know where you’re standing.

The same holds true for business planning. Do you take profitability for granted? Do you prepare a business plan to the best of your ability and hope you’re doing the right thing? Or do you hold your breath every year and hope for the best?

Like a road trip destination, you can’t get to your business goals without knowing where you currently stand. This month, JCK is launching a new financial benchmark survey of the jewelry industry, in conjunction with Business Resource Services, a noted business and financial consulting firm. BRS hosts a perennially popular class at The JCK Show Conference program in Las Vegas, Orlando, and Phoenix. BRS president Steve LeFever draws standing-room-only crowds for his lectures about fiscal fitness, and JCK for decades has enjoyed the reputation of being the industry’s leading source of data. We receive frequent calls not only from jewelers and manufacturers asking for data but also from bankers, investors, reporters, analysts, marketing agencies, and government officials seeking information about the jewelry industry.

Why is it important to provide benchmarks? Like the “You Are Here” dot on a map, benchmarks provide a “you are here” baseline for a business. You may feel your business is successful—and if you’re 100% satisfied with your profitability, return on investment, and work/life balance, then it is successful. But if you’ve ever wondered if there’s a way to do things better, easier, or faster, then benchmarking yourself is the first step toward making those improvements.

Currently, the only business benchmarking study in the industry is the Cost of Doing Business Survey conducted annually by Jewelers of America. The CODB offers a wealth of useful business information, and we often cite its findings in our articles. But because we often get calls asking for data, statistics, and analyses that are not covered in the CODB, we decided to conduct our own survey to gather that information. We partnered with BRS because it has expertise in compiling such data from independent retailers, primarily in the pharmaceutical industry.

Jewelers and druggists have a lot in common. Both industries have a significant—but declining—number of independently owned stores. Both have experienced much change in the past 20 years. Both are increasingly vulnerable to competition from the Internet and large mass merchants. Both offer products that require a great deal of education and professional expertise to sell.

I encourage everyone to participate in the study. The questionnaire, with instructions, is on page 96. Responses will be confidential, and JCK staff members won’t see the questionnaires. They’ll go to the tabulation department at BRS, and JCK will see only the results in total. If you participate, you’ll receive a free copy of the survey results. You’ll also have the option to receive an individual analysis of your own business as it relates to those of your peers.

Here’s to planning the best trip of your life!

hschupak@reedbusiness.com