Rapaport Magazine

Closer connections

Store owners skilled in building strong client relations often rely on tried-and-true tactics.

By Jennifer Heebner

Ronda Daily knows that strong client relationships start with the basics, like having good listeners on staff. The president emeritus of Bremer Jewelry in Peoria, Illinois, maintains that if guests tell staff that text is their preferred way of communicating, that’s exactly what they’ll do. Or if an individual prefers phone calls, store employees won’t email them.

“When guests realize you listened to the manner in which they prefer to communicate, they understand that you have their best interests at heart,” she explains. “People buy from those they trust and like.”

Kindness is a virtue

Mark Maurer of Vanscoy, Maurer & Bash Diamond Jewelers in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, also takes pride in getting to know shoppers. Methods in the store president’s playbook include remembering past conversations and sending reminders about important dates, but sometimes thoughtful moves occur outside the store as well.

A recent case in point happened during Maurer’s routine morning walk, when he encountered a young woman searching for something on the ground. Maurer learned she had lost an Italian horn pendant that her mother had given her, so he pitched in to help search for it. After 30 minutes of scouring a path flanked by wheat fields, he determined they weren’t going to find the necklace, so he offered a solution: Let him replace it.

“I told her that she was in luck because I’m a jeweler and I’m going to give her a replacement Italian horn,” he recalls. “She was so thankful and then went on to tell me that an Italian horn is something to accept as a gift and not buy for yourself. And because the one she had was from her mother, it was really distressing to lose it. The gift was a small thing for us, but a way we can show that we care what happens to people and help when we can. Needless to say, all of us at the store are friends with her family today.”

Be active in the community

Many jewelers are actively involved with charities purely for the philanthropy, but efforts do lead to sales. John Hayes, the owner of Goodman’s Jewelers in Madison, Wisconsin, continues to carry on the beneficent deeds of his predecessors, store founders Bob and Irwin Goodman. For example, a gift from the former owners was responsible for the creation of the Goodman Diamond, a new home for the University of Wisconsin at Madison’s division I softball program. And each year Hayes pays for swim-club memberships for the first 500 children who sign up at the public pool.

One of the store’s best-known efforts is participating in a radio event that raises money for the American Family Children’s Hospital, which, at press time, was scheduled to take place again. Hayes says it’s been an annual affair for 19 years and counting.

“It’s a three-day event with five different venues of radio stations that are family-owned, like us,” he explains. “People call in to make donations, and we do a challenge where there are 10 kids in a cancer ward, and we want to raise $500 per child. Then I match whatever we raise. Each year we raise about $10,000, and it all adds up.”

These efforts are recognized. A woman visited the store in late August to make a small purchase simply because of the store’s generosity. “She said, ‘I came in for what you do in the community,’” Hayes recalls.

Celebrate sentimentality

Engagement rings — the ultimate in sentimental jewelry — account for a third or more of most jewelers’ businesses. When rings are born at Bremer Jewelry, staffers know to be attentive to every aspect of creation. From sketch to mold to incorporating family stones and helping develop the perfect proposal plan, Bremer associates delight in being a part of the relationship.

At the end of the summer, a would-be groom and his mother came in to design an engagement ring. He brought in family melee, bought a center stone, and based on the sketch alone, he moved forward with the purchase without seeing the wax model.

“He trusted us so much, he said he didn’t need to see it,” relates store consultant Michelle Askins. Mom also gave it her stamp of approval by committing to her own new purchase: wire bangle bracelets with hidden clasps repurposed from a gold set she no longer wore.

“We have some plans, she and I,” confirms Askins.

Images (clockwise from left): Goodman’s Jewelers; Vanscoy, Maurer & Bash; Bremer Jewelry

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - October 2022. To subscribe click here.

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