Securing Customer Loyalty and Communicating Your Message
Successful retailers never take their customers and suppliers for granted. Showing appreciation for your customer is a must and seems only logical. However, treating your suppliers with the same respect is less common, but just as vital. For the trunk show, which benefits my business greatly, I was treated as an honored guest. The owner and management staff took me out to dinner and bought me lunch and coffee. Everything was done to ensure my convenience and comfort.
Although it was absolutely unnecessary, it’s consistent with the philosophy of a successful business of the highest standard. It also ( very cleverly ) communicated the message of high standards to their staff. It certainly won my loyalty and clearly conveyed to me that they expect my jewellery making and business conduct to be of the highest quality as well. Although you don’t need to bring coffee to your jewellery component suppliers, respect and generosity communicates the type of service you expect in return. If they don’t reciprocate your respect, you should switch suppliers.
I commented to the store owner that I was quite surprised by the level of creativity, and discipline ( these two things don’t always go hand in hand ) which he approached and conducted his businesses with. His story, as it turned out, was he’d worked as a gemologist for a fine jewellery store chain and was promoted to management. He’d worked there for seven years and during that time saw many things which he liked and did not like about the stores. In running his own business, he incorporated all of the systems, accuracy, and care required to run large chains, but at the same time, he infused a creative vibe lacking in almost all of them.
In jewellery making it’s the same thing. A successful designer and manufacturer must be creative, cutting edge, and have the nimbleness of a small startup, but have the discipline to run the business like a state of the art factory. Sloppiness in jewellery making, either in quality or attitude, can only be tolerated in the short-term. Long term, it becomes a barrier to survival.
This same retailer has a regional manager, who oversees store managers and ensures sales goals are met. I like the regional manager very much, he’s hardworking and very straight forward. His ideas and philosophy are a bit more goal-oriented and old school; but this complements the owner’s strengths and weaknesses, something the owner was aware of when he hired him, this was a brilliant move. There is rarely a single approach to business, and often many different approaches are required on a day to day basis. Likewise, there are many facets to the jewellery making business. A designer can be spontaneous, and eccentricity can be tolerated. But when it comes to delivery and seeing an order through to the end, the exact opposite is needed for success. An astute entrepreneur should be aware of his or her own character, strengths, and weaknesses, and select employees and partners appropriately to balance themselves.
I asked the retailer if he’d had a business mentor or used some sort of consulting service because despite his business having been around for a long time, he was still innovating. It’s often quite lonely at the top and, without someone to talk to and reflect on ideas with, it’s nearly impossible to continuously generate innovative ideas and have the energy to see them through. He told me he has a mentor, but they never talk about business. Instead, they talk about life. Everyone has insecurities and stress, and his mentor helps him dissect these and work through them. His mentor has helped him articulate his life’s goal. He feels that once you’ve clarified your life’s goal everything falls into place. The path becomes clear to you, down to the details of where your company should go and how you should go about it getting it there.
His goal in life is Peace. He wants to live his life in peace, and be relatively stress free. This means his financial goal is to provide this kind of lifestyle, and the business’ goal is to provide the financial achievement. Therefore the path of his business is growth in a stable, peaceful, and stress-free way. His involvement in the business is limited, his job is to create the vision then stand back to allow those who are capable, carry it out. I think this is the same with jewellery making. You choose to create jewellery to satisfy a life goal and; depending on what you want to achieve, it should shape how you operate your business. To be successful at it, and to have clear direction, you need to have a clear vision for yourself.
To go back and read part one of this article entitled Jewellery Making Business Success I click here”.