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JBN Congress- Time Well Spent

06 Aug 2019

JBN congress
Last month I attended my third Congress and guess what – it was once again time well spent… says Nicola Verne, store manager at Jeremy France Jewellers.

The phrase ‘the knowledge is in the room’ kept being repeated throughout the day after Elizabeth Bagger, the director general of the Institute for Family Business, set up an activity for each table to explore (and share) how to get through current barriers with regards to their own family business. I found this exercise really interesting, and the experience Ian Cookson shared later in the day – how he and his staff colleagues took over PA Jewellery in Sheffield through employee ownership – was something I’d not encountered before.

At Jeremy France, we actioned a voucher scheme idea that I learned about at one of my JBN meetings, and over two promotions it brought us a significant five figure sum in extra sales. My experience tells me that in these types of activities it’s important to understand the ‘how’ and not just the ‘what’ – as this is often where good initial ideas can fall down. Out of interest, we took a poll at the Congress to see how much JBN members had made in 2018 purely down to ideas and suggestions from other JBN members… like the voucher scheme. It’s interesting that the poll results showed an average net income of £15,464.29 – that’s 18 times the current fee to join the JBN community!

Last year it was voucher schemes, and this year it was events, and how they make up a practical means of retaining existing customers and attracting new ones. It was also good to understand what a real ‘sale’ event looks like financially, and how external agencies such as Whitehouse deliver a sale, including a closing down sale – not that this particular activity is anywhere in our thoughts at Jeremy France, quite the opposite in fact.

Nicola Verne and Michael DonaldsonNicole Verne JBN

More relevant for us was the members panel who spoke about how PR and marketing through events was able to drive sales in a customer group. We also heard about how to make the most of the events through social media. Actually, the social media talk also went into the ‘how’ of being able to increase your profile online more consistently between events, and how to avoid some of the PR pitfalls.

One thing I’ve brought back to my team at Jeremy France is the insight that was shared by Mintel – a consumer research survey of 2,000 people to understand their buying behaviour with regards to jewellery and watches. The headline for me was that Chana, the presenter, argued against the supposed death of the high street despite 53 per cent of those who were surveyed in the last five years bought jewellery or watches online.

The lesson from the report suggested retailers need to add ‘experience’ to their offer – which led to a good discussion on how other members in the network do this (the knowledge was definitely in the room for this). Second hand, ethical and sustainable products were also noted as opportunities according to the presentation, which is something I’ve heard from other members.

All in all, the Congress itself, as well as the informal drinks reception, was time really well spent. JBN is about networking with other like-minded jewellers and jewellery businesses who are finding clever ways to grow. Some of the things I discover here are so simple but have been so effective for us, and being able to understand what is being sold is information that isn’t available elsewhere.

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