Better Business: Are we being served?

27 Nov 2019

Beautiful jewellery and the latest timepieces are, naturally, the main focus of a jewellery store – but it’s the little extras that can really make the difference between a wonderful, and a ho-hum, business, says Belinda Morris. 

Here’s a joke. A man walks into a jeweller’s shop and asks if he can have the battery in his watch changed. The jeweller says ‘no, sorry’ and sends him down the road to Timpson. He never sees that (potential) customer again.

Hmm, not very funny really, but that’s observational humour for you – not everyone gets it. You could swap watch battery for watchstrap and it still wouldn’t be that amusing. But this stuff happens… a lot. Jewellers up and down the country are helping to make multiples like Timpson very successful indeed – they’ve made millions by offering the goods and services that by rights the high street jeweller should sell.

The tide is turning on this nonsensical situation however. Increasing numbers of independent retailers are realising that to survive in these tricky times (and to steal a march on e-tailers) they have to up their service game. Creating a great experience means more than Nespresso coffee and inspirational imagery; it also means going the extra mile to provide potential customers with what they need.  

Ear Piercing

Recently ear piercing has been luring customers into stores. Once upon a time many jewellers routinely offered this service, but the practice fell out of favour with those who regarded it an onerous chore. No longer. The packed Inverness piercing system stand at IJL is testament to the renewed interest in this service.

David Rodger Sharp of the eponymous jewellers in Henley-on-Thames is one happy retailer who had his ear bent (sorry) on the subject.

“When the team first suggested it during one of our strategy meetings I wasn’t too keen, as I didn’t think it was particularly ‘luxury’ or in-demand. It wasn’t as straightforward as I’d expected – we had to apply for a premises license and individual operator license and have a council inspection.

“But once we had those, the amazing team at Connoisseurs and Inverness provided in-store training. The girls had already been booking appointments and before we even had the equipment to pierce we had 15 booked.

Ear piercing at David Roger SharpInverness ear-piercing at David Rodger-Sharp

“Claire at Connoisseurs is a legend. The team pestered her fairly regularly – she arranged a new chair as required by the licensing team and a cabinet for storage. She really went above and beyond expectations to ensure we could begin quickly. We started piercing in September and a month later had pierced around 40 ears.

“I thought it would be lots of 12-year olds and it’s been surprising – I’m delighted that many of those having piercings are actually our target market: 30 to 50-year old females.

"Many didn’t even know our shop existed until a recommendation for piercing.

“We’ve been able to engage with clients in an entirely new way, deliver our strong marketing message and provide a service that wasn’t available in the town. We’re seeing clients peruse the store and identify wish lists for Christmas. It’s all very encouraging. Our preference is for second and cartilage piercings and we’ll only pierce ears of children if they are old enough to ask for it and show excitement.”

Other Little Extras

“We offer many other add-on products and services: watch batteries, cleaning products, watch straps, valuations, repairs…” says Nigel Oliver, area manager at TH Baker.

“These services are vital to building long-term relationships, creating confidence and building our customer base for the future, as well as driving footfall, profitability and servicing a generation who don’t use the internet.”

Helen Molloy, director at Forum Jewellers in Broadstone, Dorset, is a happy retail customer of Connoisseurs cleaning products and Lox Earring Backs. “Connoisseurs are very easy to sell as we’re confident about the product and use it ourselves in store,” she says.

Morellato Rally watch strapswatch straps

“Each item is self-explanatory. Customers are amazed by the Diamond Dazzle Stiks as there’s nothing else like them. Some return to replace used items and others come in having been recommended. They also buy them as gifts, especially at Christmas as it makes the perfect stocking filler. When we attend a wedding fair now, we offer all the brides to-be a free ring clean and they can’t believe the difference it makes.

Connoisseurs Dazzle Stik

“Offering a lower value service item brings customers into your store, not once but usually twice – they leave watches for batteries to be replaced, then return to collect them. There are many benefits, like increased footfall – no-one likes walking into an empty shop. We often hear: “oh I never shop in there, it’s too expensive”, yet one of our best-selling items is the £10 Diamond Dazzle Stik and Lox Earring Backs. When they come in for this service they realise this. Customers get a real understanding about us, and our customer service, giving them piece of mind and building trust. They then have the confidence to leave a cherished item for repair or purchase a higher priced item.”

Valuations

“Valuations are a frequently overlooked revenue stream for retailers, sometimes even perceived as the ‘necessary evil’ of retail services, but this doesn’t have to be the case,” explains Julian Cousins FGA DGA FIRV, vice chair of the NAJ’s Institute of Registered Valuers.

“A professional valuation service will not just keep your existing customers happy but can also bring in plenty of new ones. With the IRV continually promoting the expertise of its members, insurers are increasingly requesting updated valuations from their policyholders and for those valuations to be from an IRV.

Image courtesy of Shirley Mitchell FIRVImage courtesy of Shirley Mitchell FIRV jpg

“A great way to provide the service is by having an independent IRV come and do your valuations for you; not only can you promote a highly professional service, but it will be guaranteed to pass the scrutiny of the insurance industry and HMRC (for probate valuations), and be a no-cost, outsourced addition to your existing services. Don’t forget the opportunity for spin-off repair work and general gem testing, plus the added footfall opportunity of a valuation day! Frankly, retailers not providing valuations on this basis are really missing a trick.”

Peter Richard Cheer FGA DGA MIRV of Studleys in Wells, Somerset, is regularly quizzed on valuations by customers, with single item limits and jewellery cover being two aspects that he finds to be the least understood by the public. He answers the latter here:

How can I ensure that my jewellery is properly valued?

"You need to have it valued by a qualified valuer who is a member of the NAJ’s Institute of Registered Valuers (an IRV valuer). A valuation produced by such a person provides an accurate description of each item and a measure of its quality in terms of the type of precious metal, the size, colour and clarity of any diamonds, and a description of other stones, as well as an up-to-date replacement cost. These valuations will also include a photograph. Such a valuation is the most powerful protection against inadequate replacement. Only by supplying your insurers with an up-to-date, professionally prepared insurance schedule can you substantiate the value and quality of your jewellery.”

He adds: “the rigorous and invaluable training involved to become an IRV valuer gives the retailer professional expertise that is unparalleled by any other qualification in the industry.”

Insurance

TH-MARCH-LOGO-blue

Insurance broker TH March offers two particular schemes for retail jewellers – MarchGuard and March Insurance Solutions. Birmingham Jewellery Quarter-based Diamond Heaven uses the latter – a scheme whereby jewellers hand referral cards/leaflets to their customers with their own unique agency reference number on it. TH March arranges the policy once the customer has been referred to them (rather than a policy arranged by the jeweller immediately once the item has been purchased).

“March Insurance Solutions has no limit, as we arrange the cover ourselves, which is more suited to Diamond Heaven’s customer base due to selling engagement rings and the value involved in these sales,” says THM sales director Simon Dawe.

“Having jewellery insured is something a lot of people overlook. Some may add it to their house insurance or have no form of cover at all,” explains Nick Carter of Diamond Heaven. “We wanted a robust insurer we could recommend to our customers and TH March provided just that. It’s a pretty successful scheme – we have a good portion of our customer base signed up to it. We’ve had incidents where a customer’s jewellery is lost or stolen; every time getting the item replaced is simple and straight forward for both us and the customer.”

MarchGuard, is a point of sale product which TH Baker has been selling for over two years. “Having previously worked for a multiple jewellers I recognised many benefits to offering this type of product to our customers – increased units per transaction, increased margins and profitability, guaranteed repeat custom on all repairs and replacements – which make us the jeweller of choice for every customer who makes a claim,” explains area manager Nigel Oliver.

“It’s an exceptional product at an exceptional price, that fits our customers’ needs and ensures peace of mind and creates a positive experience in difficult or emotional circumstances,” he adds.

“If the item is accidently broken or lost or stolen, we’ll repair or replace at no cost to the customer, thanks to MarchGuard. Without it, those situations would be much worse – on top of the stress, customers have to pay for the repair or replacement. They may be able to claim through household insurance, however they’d have to pay an excess… which MarchGuard doesn’t have. Their premium will also increase next year and for years to come. MarchGuard is simply one single payment for either a one- or three-year policy with nothing else to pay.”

Why not share your retail service experiences with us? Contact editor@naj.co.uk or via social media: @UKNAJ

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