Move Your Cheese!
Have you read the book Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, M.D.? If you haven’t, it’s on my highly recommended reading list. If you have, it’s probably time to read it again. To give a quick synopsis (since the entire book will only take you a few hours to read cover to cover), it’s a parable that takes place in a maze. The cheese stands for things in our life such as our jobs and businesses. The characters are mouse-like humans (you will most certainly relate to one of them) who are faced with major changes in their cheese. Some see this as a blessing, others a curse. How they each deal with change is the point of the story. We all have to be attentive to the change in our own cheese and be prepared to find new cheese when the Gouda times end. Here’s a news flash: The Jewelry Industry is Dramatically Changing. The way you conducted business a mere ten years ago is probably not working as well today. And, the next few years? Well hold on, ‘cause the cheese is a movin’!
You can look at these changes as the glass is half empty (I’m starting to feel like I’m having a food fixation); or you can blink a few times, clear your eyes and welcome the opportunity it actually might bring. Yes, it’s time for a renewed perspective. Next news flash: You Can’t Do Business the Way You Always Did Business. And that means everything from your suppliers to your marketing. Most of you have returned from the Vegas show and have purchased some new products. Did you buy what you like? Or did you purchase what your customers will like? You may be a mid-lifer, but do you have a subscription to InStyle, Vogue, Lucky and Town and Country? What about Men’s Health? (It happens to be one of the most widely circulated magazine’s for men ages 18-49.) You can’t possibly know what your customers want if you don’t keep up on what they’re exposed to page after page. For jewelers who are regularly plagued with aging inventory problems, perhaps it’s time to take a hard look at what you’re purchasing and whom you’re purchasing it from. Move the cheese. It’s time for a renewed outlook on your inventory.
Next news flash: Wake Up and Smell the Diamonds. It’s true that selling diamonds has become increasingly difficult. But, let’s face it. As an industry (and specifically as independent jewelers), you’ve done nothing to improve the situation. Each day I watch you slowly being led into the World Wide Slaughterhouse like a herd of cattle. (There goes that food thing again). Article after article has been written on this subject ad nauseam. The powers that be—from DPS consultants to heads of major sight holder companies—all pontificate on what the industry needs to do. There are endless conclaves and meetings. The meetings have conclaves (or is it vice versa?). Either way, I pose this interesting thought. At the risk of offending someone, why on earth has not one of these extremely bright people authorized a research study to find out what young men ages 21 – 34 with various incomes say about this very subject? Why are these young males going to the Internet to make one of the most expensive purchases of their life thus far? Why are we afraid of these answers? And worse yet, why is a room full of 50+ multi-millionaires attempting to provide us the answers to what some 27-year-old making $35,000 a year (with tuition loans) might be thinking. Time for a renewed way to communicate to the engagement crowd. Please…move this cheese.
And last but not least, (since this newsletter is only three pages and we want you to read some other information from some very knowledgeable people) is the next news flash: People Do Business with Businesses They Like and Trust. This is what brand loyalty is all about. Most watches are water-resistant and maintain the correct time down to a millisecond. But why do customers desire a Rolex over a Timex? If your competitor is selling diamonds with the same GIA certificate, why should people buy that diamond from you? Think of your store as a person and continue to ask yourself, “What can I do to attract new friends and keep my old ones?” Then take a look at everything you do. Are your employees the type of people your customers would want to be friends with? Are your surroundings comfortable and inviting? And in the first line of fire, is your marketing something that someone would see, read or hear and say, “This is a store I can relate to”. If you’re just twirling jewelry on a motorized platform with some low price-point, chances are great they won’t feel that way. In fact, to them, you probably look exactly like that other guy around the block. They’ll be friends with him! Before you can say, “Boy, I’m glad I don’t have to see one more political ad,” the most important selling season will be upon us. Now is the time to check the cheese. Are you doing all that you can to make sure your cheese is positioned properly for the challenges ahead? Time to renew.