Edge Retail Academy Blog

Is the Day Getting Away from You?

By David Brown

Edge Retail Academy’s 13 Time Management Tips

No one ever has enough time. Whether rich or poor, famous or infamous, we all have the same amount of time in a day to use as we wish. Those who are successful have mastered the art of managing their time effectively. They have learned to use their time to its maximum value, from both a personal and professional point of view.

Invariably we know the importance of time, and often, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to see where a day can fritter away. However, controlling that time while you’re in the thick of the action can be another story in itself.

The secret to good time management is setting yourself up to win in the first place. Here are our best 13 tips to managing your time so you can get the most out of every day.

1. Schedule a weekly planning time. This not only gives you the chance to fit the big picture stuff in but also ensures that the smaller tasks have a time allocated to them. Starting a day without a plan will see you pushed and pulled in all directions

2. Don’t see anyone without an appointment. Vendors, in particular, can often arrive unannounced and take an hour or more out of your day. If you are willing to make yourself available for more than five minutes at a time without an appointment you will lose control of your day.

3. Set an end time for every task. We’re all aware that we need to schedule certain tasks to happen – where we can fall down is not determining when that task needs to end. Setting an end time prevents us from having our entire day thrown out of alignment because of one issue. Set an end for each task, even if it means needing to reschedule a time to come back to it.

4. Control your human interaction. We humans like to talk! The more freely available you are to staff the more they will ask you. Resist the urge to get your fix from being the source of all knowledge. Beware of those customers who always ask for you even though they may only need a battery.

5. Say no. Steve Jobs once famously said that the success of Apple wasn’t the ideas they had, but the ideas they said no to. Insignificant matters or inconsequential activities can eat up your day and take you down blind alleys you don’t need to be in. Don’t take on things you don’t need to be responsible for.

6. Delegate. Your job is to do the $100 tasks, not the $10 ones. Analyze each task you do today and ask the question “Could someone else do this at least 80% as well as me?” If the answer is yes, give it to them.

7. Rank between urgent and importance. It can be easy to get caught in fire-fighting mode because of other people’s priorities. Before doing anything that seems to be urgent ask yourself, “Is this also important?” Most of the time you’ll find it’s not.

8. Know your optimum performance times. Are you a morning person? Or perhaps you perform best in the early evening? This is your optimal time to complete your most important tasks. We all have energy swings, knowing when you’re at your best will help you get the most out of your day.

9. Turn off notifications on your phone and computer. We live in an online world and the constant ping of notifications can pull at your attention. Don’t check Facebook during work time and schedule times of the day for e-mails rather than checking them regularly.

10. Unsubscribe to e-mails you don’t need. When did you last clean out your e-mails? You may not open some of them but they are a reminder of how hard it is to get to things. Unsubscribe from e-mail lists you don’t need to be on anymore.

11. Don’t be over ambitious. It’s said we over-estimate what we can do in the short term and under-estimate what can be achieved long term. Know your primary objective for the day and be happy to settle with just doing that.

12. Be conscious of procrastination. We all do it – but that doesn’t make it right!

13. Take regular breaks. It can be easy to skip lunch and just push on through when you have a lot to do, but research shows this makes us less effective and we achieve less. Give yourself a short break regularly and don’t over-do it.

David Brown is President of the Edge Retail Academy, an organization devoted to the ongoing measurement and growth of jewelry store performance and profitability. For further information about the Academy’s management mentoring and industry benchmarking reports contact inquiries@edgeretailacademy.com or call 877-569-8657.


Story original ran in Southern Jewelry News.

The Key Steps to Inventory Management

By David Brown

Inventory is the lifeblood of any business. It is often your greatest cost and the biggest burden on cash flow. Keeping
it under control is a fulltime job, yet many retailers adopt a haphazard approach to its management – allowing the inventory to control them rather than the other way around. In order to get the best out of your inventory there are a number of key steps that can help you manage it more effectively.

  • Set re-order levels. As we often repeat 80% of items that sell are generally fast sellers – that also means 80% of inventory orders should most likely be reorders. This alone removes much of the inventory management process and automates it in a way that can save both time and money
  • Divide your inventory into categories. Not all inventory is created equal. Within the product lines you carry will be the following types of product
  • High ticket items that don’t turn over quickly (think diamonds)
  • Medium priced items that will turn over slightly quicker
  • Cheaper items that can turn over rapidly (silver and giftware)

How you handle each of these is different and an effective management strategy needs to take this into account. You
wouldn’t monitor your diamond turnover as frequently as your silver earrings but ordering of this product will have a more significant effect on cash-flow and aged inventory and your higher ticket items will have a greater consequence for your business. Design a strategy that reflects each area.

Include repairs in your management. Often inventory control can focus around product that you own but effective management should also include repairs of customer’s items that you have. Work in Progress is part of inventory control and the turnaround of repairs can have a big impact on your cash-flow as well.

Don’t forget – the first items in should be the first items out. Even though jewelry is not a perishable item it still makes sense to manage it on a first- in first-out basis to prevent tarnishing, worn tickets and any in-store wear and tear

Don’t ignore your carrying cost. Inventory cost is more than just the buy-in of the item. Additional expenses such as cleaning costs, storage, boxing, and insurance can add 20-30% to the costs of any item in store.

Have a plan for excess inventory. All businesses suffer from surplus product, discontinued lines and slow selling items. There is no excuse not to have a strategy to deal with it.

Do regular inventory audits. What your records say and what your store tells you will seldom agree at any random point in time. That’s why regular checks should be part of your store policy to protect against error and theft. This can be done on two levels:

  • Regular full audits. A closed door full stock-take should be undertaken at year end and more often as required
  • Spot checks. A random check on individual stock codes. This picks up errors but also signals to staff you are vigilant and expect them to be also.
  • Cycling checks. On a rotating business whole departments can be checked over (perhaps once a week)

Your inventory control will only be as good as the system you use and a good system has, as its hub, a good inventory
system. You need one that is simple to follow and can be relied upon for accuracy. This investment is worth its weight in gold.

Appoint a person in charge of managing it. Management means having someone to manage! Effective inventory management involves having a clear overview of your inventory strategy and ensuring it is effectively carried out. A dedicated person responsible for this and ensuring the measurement procedures are in place and are being followed will minimize inventory levels from becoming out of control or stale.

Managing your inventory effectively can save you a fortune in time and money on a weekly, monthly and annual basis – year in and year out. Take the time to put an effective system in place.

David Brown is President of the Edge Retail Academy, an organization devoted to the ongoing measurement and growth of jewelry store performance and profitability. For further information about the Academy’s management mentoring and industry benchmarking reports contact inquiries@edgeretailacademy.com or
Phone toll free (877) 5698657


This piece was originally run in The Retail Jeweler

The Holiday Season Is Coming! Five Tips To Update The Look of Your Showcases

By Edge Retail Academy

Omaha, NE—Your displays communicate a subliminal message to your clients. If you are still using white leatherette, which came out in the 80’s, your store will look dated. Instead your store can have a vibrant, updated look and feel by simply changing out your displays. Even your jewelry will look different!

Here are some tips on how to accomplish a fresh, new look as you go into the upcoming holiday season:

1. Don’t be afraid of color!

  • You want to enhance your jewelry not distract so stick to a neutral palette.
  • Use two or three coordinating colors, with the baseboard being the lightest color.
  • Save the platforms or risers for adding a bright color to the cases
  • The elements (that the jewelry is on) should be a darker shade of your neutral palette.
  • You can use color to designate specific areas of your store (like your Bridal Department) as long as they are all in the same general palette.

2. Shimmer and Sheen

  • One way to light up your cases is with shimmer fabrics such as Linea.
  • Use them for platforms and risers which does not overwhelm the jewelry.
  • Shimmer fabrics are a bit “fragile”, which means they can dent and scratch easily so we don’t recommend them for elements (such as ring fingers etc.). For elements, Charisma or Novasuede are much more durable.

3.    Variety in Elements

  • Using one type of element (such as one type of ring finger) may be expedient, but it can also be monotonous. Use several types that enhance or highlight the individual piece of jewelry.
  • Example: for rings, a “ledge” type to show side diamonds and detail, a “clip” for that floating look, a “column w. slot” for top heavy rings with no side detailing, a “3-slot” or “5-slot” tray for petite styles, and finally a large “hero” element for the wow piece(s) in each case.
  • Use this approach for all the elements, but staff do need to be trained on setting up and maintaining the cases.

4.   Unusual Props

  • Again, you don’t want to take away from the jewelry, but adding some interesting touches to cases can add a lot of interest.
  • Home Depot, Michael’s, Antique Stores and Swap Meets are all great places for finds.
  • Touches such as glass chocolates in a brown diamond case, slate or agate slabs as accents or risers, fabric rose petals for Valentine’s decor are just a few ideas.

5.    Guide the Eye

  • When you are setting up your cases, make sure that there is a flow to the displays, from the back towards the front.
  • Displays with curves, rather than linear edges, work best to move the eye throughout the case from one area to the next.
  • Have groupings of 3 and 5 taller elements in the back and shorter in the front.
  • The eye needs to “rest” so make sure you have negative space, as crowded cases overwhelm the client and devalue the jewelry.

The Edge Retail Academy provides customized strategies for retailers and vendors to increase profits, optimize growth, reduce debt, create profitable inventory solutions, build effective teams, and enhance brand loyalty and profitability. The Academy is committed to helping jewelry businesses improve their bottom line while reducing uncertainty and stress. Edge Retail Academy software and business advisors provide real-world knowledge and advice for guaranteed results, all on a “no-contract” basis.  Call (877) 569-8657, ext. 1, email Becka Johnson Kibby, Becka@EdgeRetailAcademy.com, or visit www.edgeretailacademy.com

Originally published in The Centurian.

Keeping the Customer Happy – Should you Refund?

By David Brown
Let’s face it – we hate giving refunds. No one likes handing over money for nothing, especially when it’s a big-ticket item and you’ve already counted the sale as a done deal. It can feel like a real kick in the guts, especially if you feel you shouldn’t have to do it.

We all are faced with this situation from time to time. An unhappy customer or just one who thinks they can bring their custom-made item back just because the relationship ended, or they changed their mind.

There are two things you need to consider in these circumstances – the letter of the law, and good business practice. The letter of the law will deal with your legal obligations and what you must do in order to meet the consumer’s expectations. This is normally clear cut but doesn’t always help in those grey areas where the customer may or may not warrant a refund or is still insistent despite the fact you’ve shown them the law is on your side. You then need to consider the effect on your business – what makes sense for your long term operation.

It’s important to take account of the long-term benefit of the customer at this stage. I’ve seen so many examples of unhappy customers who are refunded and then come back to spend more that I’m more inclined to feel there should be a good reason to not refund than there is to refund. That said, every situation is different and you need to weigh the individual circumstances in each case. With the arrival of social media, it’s become much easier for an unhappy customer to share their experience whether they are right to do so or not and this should be considered.

Whatever way you deal with it, here are some pointers that will help you make it a more positive experience.

· If you refund, then do it promptly. A protracted argument that still leads to a refund will only harm your reputation and the chance of repeat business.
· Look at the big picture. Does it really matter in terms of your long- term business? Will you still be concerned about it in a week? Sometimes you’re best just to move on
· View it as part of your marketing budget. A refund you didn’t have to give can see a happy customer telling others. This sort of word of mouth can’t be bought
· See it as an opportunity. Anyone can look good when things go well – its how you handle customer problems that gives you the best chance to show what you can do
· Make your refund policy clear. Uncertainty leads to frustration and confusion. Make sure your policy is clearly stated in-store and on your website

Thank them for their feedback. An unhappy customer can show you weaknesses in your business. See it as a positive and thank them accordingly.

Avoid being defensive. No one likes criticism but it’s important to realize that it’s not personal and don’t let emotions get involved.

Listen. Customers just want to know they have been heard. They will be more accommodating to your viewpoint if you have given them a chance to air theirs.

Above all do it with a smile. This can be a rare opportunity to make your relationship with that customer even stronger. See it for what it is and embrace the chance to show how good you can be!


This blog originally ran in The Retail Jeweler.

How to Keep Your Designer Lines Alive

By Edge Retail Academy

Omaha, NE–One of the key reasons consumers purchase designer product is because they feel that they share an aesthetic with the designer. In other words, they fall in love with a line or product.

For instance, consider the women’s shoe designer Christian Louboutin, with his famous red soles, or even a mainstream upscale brand like Via Spiga. The likelihood is very high that customers who like those brands will find shoes they want each season, and it keeps them coming back again and again. They’re also willing to pay more knowing they can save time (a precious commodity for most of us), combined with the fact that the brands have proven themselves a quality product that will last and a style and fit that makes the wearer feel great.

This is a powerful dynamic which can also apply to your store as the brand. Repeat clients are the foundation of your business.






Christian Louboutin’s famous red-soled shoes.

This connection can be even stronger if your clients are introduced (this can take many forms) to the designer or creative force behind a brand. The more vividly we paint the picture, the more our clients feel as if they know the person–and of course, if you can create a special event for them to meet the designer in person, so much the better!

Shopping is still one of the top forms of recreation. And, we like to talk about our purchases, especially if there is an interesting story to tell. Oftentimes retailers know quite a bit about our lines – the country it was manufactured in, the specific manufacturing techniques, the design inspiration, the unique materials or gemstones. But, we fail to effectively communicate this to our clients.

Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t just rely on marketing materials given to you by the designer, call them up and see what other information you can glean.
  • Have a framed image of the designer beside the brand with a short bio/design philosophy
  • Put together a features/benefits, design inspiration, designer bio and facts sheet for each sales associate
  • Role play several sales presentations in a team meeting until every associate is well versed in the line
  • When marketing the brand, do not forget to include the aspects that differentiate the brand, not just the product
  • Have “Meet the Designer” events in your store – always have a breakfast training for your staff with the designer prior to the event

The Edge Retail Academy provides customized strategies for retailers and vendors to increase profits, optimize growth, reduce debt, create profitable inventory solutions, build effective teams, and enhance brand loyalty and profitability. The Academy is committed to helping jewelry businesses improve their bottom line while reducing uncertainty and stress. Edge Retail Academy software and its business advisors provide real world knowledge and advice for guaranteed results, all on a “no-contract” basis. Call (877) 569-8657, ext. 1, email Becka@EdgeRetailAcademy.com  or visit www.edgeretailacademy.com.

Reprinted from The Centurian.

5 Ways to Increase Your Jewelry Store’s Profit Margin

By David Brown

It doesn’t happen by chance.

Despite some positive business data coming out over the last two or three months, the economy is showing some signs of headwinds on the back of the tariff war being conducted by the government and some overseas economies. The uncertainty is beginning to show up in storewide figures across our sample data.

Sales showed a decline of 0.45 percent in rolling 12-month data for May, the fourth such month of declines in sales figures.

Individual monthly numbers reflect that decline.

Gross sales for May dropped 5.5 percent from last year’s monthly result. Sales units sold showed a similar trend, being down 32 units or 8.5 percent on last year’s numbers with an increase in average sale from $311 to $318, or 2.2 percent. Margin stayed on track compared to last year. This resulted in gross profit declining by $3,786, or 6.1 percent.

In these articles we’ve often spoken about the decline in gross profit margin being achieved. Preserving or growing your storewide margin doesn’t happen by chance – it is a strategy that must be followed in order to achieve results.

Here are some of the best proven ways to increase your storewide margin.

1. REDUCE DISCOUNTING. Easier said than done, right? Reducing discount is about choosing what you are discounting and when you should offer it. Not all inventory items are equal. As we’ve mentioned on many occasions, as little as 10-20 percent of your product is giving you 80 percent of your sales. That means offering this item at full price is conducive to a substantial lift on the margin you will achieve. Rather than crumbling every time a customer asks for a reduction on any item, choose the ones you can do it on. Say “no.” Haven’t you had a situation where you’ve been told that’s the price and bought it anyway? Advise your customer, “Unfortunately, that’s the best price we can do on that item; however, if you’re looking for a deal, I can suggest this as an alternative.” This can have your customers choosing between a profitable sale for you or a reduction on a lesser item you want to move anyway.

2. INCENTIVIZE STAFF BASED ON GROSS PROFIT, NOT SALES. Staff will focus on what is in their own best interests. If you’re more focused on gross profit than sales, your staff will become so as well, especially if you incentivize them from this perspective.

3. PUT YOUR PRICES UP. What do others sell this item for? If you access our KPI data, you will be able to see this sort of information. If another store somewhere else is successfully selling that diamond for $200 more, why shouldn’t you?

4. RE-PRICE FAST SELLERS. Not only should you avoid offering discounts on your best-selling items, you should also be looking to sell them for more if they have proven they can handle the price. Again a small percentage of your products will provide most of your sales – you need to make the most from these opportunities where you can.

5. REDUCE CLEARANCES. A few items on special are perfectly normal, but living constantly on sale is sending the wrong message to your customers. They will assume all prices are permanently negotiable, and this is not a position you want to put yourself in.

Managing your margin is an important part of your business and can yield huge returns on your bottom line. Don’t forget – every additional dollar of profit you can massage from each item will stay in your profit column without any additional costs being accrued.

DAVID BROWN is president of the Edge Retail Academy, an organization devoted to the ongoing measurement and growth of jewelry store performance and profitability. For further information about tfinhe Academy’s management mentoring and industry benchmarking reports, contact inquiries@edgeretailacademy.com or phone toll free (877) 569-8657.

This story originally ran as an INSTORE Online extra.

Mark Up and Your Dated Product Strategy

By David Brown

To the uninitiated there would seem to be little correlation between the age of your product and the margin you achieve. Yet as business owners we all know that the older our selection becomes the more pressure on our margin to get rid of it.

Dealing with old inventory is a little like weeding the garden. You spend hours/days on it to get it under control, get distracted by something else and before you know it there are weeds (read old product) issues all over again.

The secret is to be working on it continuously, not spasmodically when your cash flow demands you do so. It would not be unusual for core old stock/inventory (over 12 months old) to be between 40% and 80% of a store’s stockholding. Taking a conservative figure of 50%, that represents a significant portion of your inventory range that is getting pricing pressure put on it.

Is the number large enough to get your attention? Would it put a spring in your step if a significant amount of that money was sitting in your bank account rather than on your shelves? If I said I’ll give you 80 cents on the dollar at cost would you grab the offer with both hands? (Sorry that wasn’t an actual offer!)

It’s Time to Do Something

So you agree you would do something, it’s just how much you will accept. The main question is do you have an aged inventory management process? Here are some tips on what it involves, not in any order of priority:

  • Does your staff have weekly/monthly targets for old stock sales?
  • Does your staff have a half dozen ‘go to’ pieces of old stock that they introduce as mix & match with other items?
  • Do you rotate “Special” priced pieces in and out of your windows and cabinets?
  • Do you have annual or bi-annual sales events?
  • Do you incentivize your staff with bonuses or spiffs if they sell old stock?
  • Do you have a ‘spend $XX on brand YY and select a discontinued item at half price’?

If you didn’t say yes to all the above I don’t believe you have an aged inventory management process in place. So what are you planning to implement to make sure a process is put in place?

Your store doesn’t need to look like it’s in permanent clearance mode. Mixing and managing activities properly will not give it this appearance. The key is – nothing changes if nothing is done.

If you receive Key Performance Indicator (KPI) reports you should be looking at the three year comparison for the average store and for your store. It may be easy to say (and see) that the markup % have declined. If this was happening for the average store in your group pool some people may say “that’s what’s happening in the marketplace, so that makes my numbers acceptable.”

Yet within the average store information, there will be stores that are making significant inroads into clearing their old stock. As an example, in one case I know that 39% of a store’s sales in the last 12 months were old stock with an obvious (and expected) reduction in their markup % achieved. However in their case it was a deliberate strategy to reduce old stock and free up capital.

Before you accept the fact that your markup % is declining (like other stores around you), you need to get the real story behind your numbers. Print out a sales summary of the last 12 months and see what markup %s are for fast/fastsellers (generally turnover in less than 3 months), fastsellers and old stock. Has the ‘Discount Syndrome’ spilled across all stock regardless of its saleability?

  • What percentage (and dollar value) of discount is being given on fast/fastsellers?
  • What percentage (and dollar value) of discount is being given on fastsellers?
  • What percentage (and dollar value) of discount is being given on old stock?

More discounting does not automatically produce greater volumes of sales. If your results are not part of a planned strategy, you need to address the issue urgently.

In the case of fast/fastsellers and fastsellers you are giving away precious profit that is the lifeblood of your business. You are also educating your customers and your staff that rampant discounting is acceptable in all aspects of your business, not just those areas that you need to move on.

David Brown is President of the Edge Retail Academy, an organization devoted to the ongoing measurement and growth of jewelry store performance and profitability. For further information about the Academy’s management mentoring and industry benchmarking reports contact inquiries@edgeretailacademy.com or call 877-569-8657.

This piece originally ran in Southern Jewelry News in June, 2018.

Keep it Turning: In With The New, Out With The Old

By The Edge Retail Academy

There is very little that is more important than managing your most valuable asset — your inventory. You can achieve unprecedented metrics for your company by paying special attention to the three critical areas of inventory management: Replenishment, New Purchasing and Aged Inventory.

All three areas are of equal importance. Focusing on one and neglecting the other two will not get you the results that you want.

Replenish wisely. Putting time, energy and focus into replenishing your stock requires discipline and dedication. But the financial rewards can be significant. There is probably no greater factor in increasing your inventory turn than replenishment. And, inventory turn is what generates cash flow; it is what pays the bills.

Follow this process:

  • Replenish weekly, without fail. This might be the most important point, period.
  • Break out your open-to-buy by replenishment dollars and new purchasing dollars.
  • Make sure that you are replenishing in concert with your strategic plan. For example, if you want to build your bridal business, be aggressive in replenishing those SKUs.
  • Review reports that identify quick sellers, and measure the days it took to sell.
  • Flag programs such as wedding band grids, diamond stud earrings, etc. as never-outs, and replenish these automatically.
  • Factor in lead time when placing orders — you may need to order multiple units to assure an in-stock position at all times.
  • For high-velocity SKUs, ask your vendors to shelf stock — for them it is a guaranteed sale, and you get 24-hour delivery.
  • Make sure that your projections for your shelf stock is realistic, not best case — your vendor won’t want to continue if the product is not moving off the shelf.
  • Invest time and effort to categorize your best sellers so you can manage them efficiently.
  • Monitor your never-out SKUs monthly to identify a downward trend, and evaluate whether to discontinue.

Your replenishment strategy can also be a way to increase profits. Target your high-profit categories and replenish them first if you don’t have enough dollars for everything. Leverage your high-profit SKUs by carrying them in other versions, or expand the assortment.

One profit opportunity is to re-mark your inventory based on current cost — not what you paid on all your replenishment SKUs. While you are doing this, look at the piece with perceived value in mind, and you might mark it up even further.

Replenishing your fast-selling merchandise is like fuel for the engine of a car. No matter what, you will always need to have available dollars to replenish the product that is flying out your door. Put aside your opinions and remember: Your job is to give clients what they want, and there are many styles that just keep selling.

The Edge Retail Academy provides customized strategies for retailers and vendors to increase profits, optimize growth, reduce debt, create profitable inventory solutions, build effective teams, and enhance brand loyalty and profitability. The Academy is committed to helping jewelry businesses improve their bottom line while reducing uncertainty and stress. Edge Retail Academy software and its business advisors provide real world knowledge and advice for guaranteed results, all on a “no-contract” basis. Call (877) 569-8657, ext. 1, email Becka@EdgeRetailAcademy.com  or visit www.edgeretailacademy.com.

This piece originally ran in June, 2018 in Centurian. 

Here’s How to Diagnose Your Business When Sales are Down

By David Brown

In my last two columns, we’ve discussed how to diagnose your business in terms of profit and inventory performance. In this third part, we’re going to discuss sales — the most commonly measured benchmark of business success.

Almost every business owner can compare their sales to previous periods, but diving into these numbers in depth and determining specifically what they mean and how you can correct them is another issue. 

The Five “W” Questions

So sales are down. It’s time to ask the five ‘W’ questions: Where, What, When, Who and Why.

Where: Determining sales are down is just the start. Which departments are down? Use your department and comparison reports to discover which areas have fallen relative to previous years. Are your sales down consistently across all departments? This might highlight a wider issue. If they are down in just one or two key areas, you need to determine which areas they are.

What: What product specifically within those areas has declined? It’s one thing to say diamond product has dropped off, but is it bridal? Earrings? Anniversary? Is there a drop in solitaires? Is the market turning to drop earrings while you are still trying to sell studs? You may be simply suffering a mismatch of inventory compared to what your customers now want, but without asking the question, you will never know.

When: When did the trend start? Chances are it began sooner than you noticed. Pinpointing the beginning of the trend will play a big part in determining why it has happened. What other factors occurred at this point in time that may have contributed? (A new competitor, a key staff member leaving, etc.)

Who: If sales have fallen, then there must be an equal drop in sales per staff member. Is this consistent across all staff? Are there one or two staff members who have dropped the most? It may be a staff-related issue.

Why: Having answered the first four questions, you are now in a far better position to determine why it has happened and take action to rectify it. 

It’s one thing to know why sales have dropped, but another to analyze and do something about it. There is a feast of information available in your computer system that can provide you with the insights you need to take action — it’s just a case of asking the right questions to discover the source of the problem.

DAVID BROWN is president of the Edge Retail Academy, a force in jewelry industry business consulting, sell-through data and vendor solutions. David and his team are dedicated to providing business owners with information and strategies to improve sales and profits. Reach him at david@edgeretailacademy.com.

This article originally appeared in the June 2018 edition of INSTORE.  

How to Run a Successful Sales Training Session

By David Brown

Staff sales training has almost become a cliché in business. Everyone knows they should do it but finding the time (50% of sales managers say they can’t put the effort into it that they know it deserves), or knowing how, can cause a problem.

Sadly, sales training does wear off over time, like an exercise class or a good shower. Research shows that 84% of all sales training is lost after 90 days. Given the investment in time and energy this may make it seem pointless, but further analysis has shown that every dollar invested into sales training can yield up to $29 in results, and staff can improve their performance by up to 20% with the benefits of sales training. Few other areas of a business can offer this sort of return. If you’re serious about growing your store you need to be serious about sales training.

So how do you make sure your sales training is effective?

Here are 7 steps that can help you get better results from an effective training program:

1. What is your objective with the training session? (It could be to know the ‘story’ of a new product line, to understand the benefits of 18k, different settings, etc.). Ideally, by the end of your training session all of the staff attending will be able to achieve the objective you have set.

2. Encourage interaction of staff about the topic. Do not let them take the session into another direction. If a staff member interrupts with a topic not relevant to the training, please let them know you will chat to them about this at a later time.

3. Rotate the leader of the sessions, enabling staff to take ownership of researching about product, etc.

4. Role Play at the end of the presentation so staff can show their understanding of your expectation.

5. Add a questionnaire at different times to reward staff that are listening and remembering the content.

6. Go back to your objective to check you achieved your goal.

7. Ask for feedback from your team to ensure you are adding value to their performance and productivity.

So how does sales training make a difference to results?

1. A higher percentage of salesperson budget achievement. A well trained sales force is more likely to achieve their goals than those who aren’t. Research company CSO Insights discovered that goals were 8% more likely to be achieved by salespeople in an organization where effective sales training was in place

2. Better conversion rates. Those companies who employed training programs that were deemed effective were also inclined to increase their sales conversion rate by 30% compared to those companies where staff believed sales training failed to meet expectations.

3. Meeting customers needs and expectations. Salespeople who have been adequately trained are much more likely to meet customers’ expectations and to make suggestions that more suitably meet customers’ needs than those without good sales training. This obviously converts into better sales results

4. Lower staff turnover rates. Research has shown that companies with strong sales training have greater employee retention, in some cases almost double that achieved by companies who do little in the way of training, or whose training is considered inadequate.

Training the staff may seem like the first step in the process, but often having an effective sales training policy can begin with ‘training the trainer’. Companies that also invest in good sales coaching training programs for their trainers will also see a much stronger correlation between their training efforts and goal attainment.

Sales training is an important business investment. Neglecting this area is a false economy that will restrict your business performance now and into the future. In the same way that giving up on the gym will ultimately lead to poor health and other complications, giving up on sales training will lead your business towards illness and a less healthy profitability.

Make a decision that you are willing to commit a portion of your time and expenditure to this important area of your business and enjoy the rewards that it can bring you.

David Brown is president and founder of The Edge Retail Academy, a company offering industry benchmarking and management advice to increase profits. If you would like more information on how The Edge Retail Academy can help you control your inventory and add more dollars to your bottom line contact carol@edgeretailacademy.com, call 877-569-8657 or visit www.edgeretailacademy.com.

This article originally ran in Mid America Jewelry News.



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