Monday, 27 September 2010

How to Build a Good Reputation - The personality of your jewelry business

Author: Angela Schoonen

A good reputation is priceless.

Just as we have our unique nature and personality, our jewelry business also evolves and takes on its own personality. As your business grows, it will become known and will gain a name for itself - hopefully a good name! Let's take a look at some key factors that will help your business gain a good reputation:

Your Customer Return Policy
Firstly, what kind of guarantee or return policy do you have in place? How highly do you value customer satisfaction? Is the customer always right?

When I first started out in business, I had some restrictions on my return policy. I only guaranteed jewelry for one year from the purchase date. I would not cover general wear and tear or abuse. I debated over money back or credit note.
After I had this policy in place for a few months, I decided to remove it completely and have a 100% guaranteed satisfaction policy in place. At any time and for any reason, a customer can return a product to me for a full refund, no questions asked. Having this policy in place could lead to some extra work on my part, even some loss of monies. However, it gives each customer the reassurance to buy with confidence.

They know if the item doesn't match the outfit they bought it to go with, they can return it. If it breaks, I will fix it - even five years down the road. If they simply decide they shouldn't have spent the money on it, they can return it and receive their money back. No questions asked.

My new policy also displays my confidence in my own products. With this policy in place, I have so far never had an item returned for a refund.
Offering Customer Incentives
Secondly, what are the incentives you offer to customers? These are by no means required or even expected of a business. They do, however, increase awareness to your business, instill loyalty from your customers, and usually result in more sales.

What am I referring to by incentives? Any way in which you can pamper your customer a little, while at the same time giving them an incentive to purchase more - or simply rewarding them for a purchase.

I like to have different offers available at any given time. These include sale items - usually older stock that is not moving as fast as I would like. For example, "Buy 2, receive the 3rd item free". This is a great way to increase earring sales.

I recently had a very large order to fill for a wedding party. I was preparing the jewelry for 8 bridesmaids and decided I would make a wedding gift for the bride - not something she would be wearing on her wedding day, as she already had her jewelry - just a little indulgence for her to enjoy, and my way of saying "thank you" for placing such a large order with me.

Another great incentive to keep your customers loyal, is to offer a 'frequent buyer' plan. Once they've spent a certain dollar amount, reward them in some way you see appropriate - a discount off the next item or a free gift.

Helping Others with Your Jewelry Business
There is one final area that I view as critical to the good will and personality of my own business. This is in the area of helping others.

I am proud to support breast cancer research and donate a portion from each sale to this worthy cause. I also purchase my silver from the Hilltribes in Thailand where my money directly supports Hilltribe families. I volunteer my time for charity events and I donate jewelry items to these causes.

There are several reasons I view this aspect of my business as critical.

Firstly, I believe that those who are blessed should bless others. Secondly, it simply feels good to assist others in some way or another.

There are other spin off benefits which I place further down the ladder, but are relevant all the same. Volunteering, donating, etc. do draw attention to your business, and any monetary donations result in tax breaks. While I don't personally view these as critical, they are nice bonuses for the extra work I do.

I hope these tips assist you in assessing and developing the personality and reputation of your own business.

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