Greg Stopka and his wife Lee began JewelSmiths 18 years ago with a belief they could succeed by providing jewelry repair and restoration directly to consumers – with no inventory. Dean Stopka (right), Greg’s brother joined the couple 12 years ago to manage a second location in San Ramon , CA . This dynamic team and their staff have been very successful in selling “virtual” jewelry (computer-generated images of jewelry designs).
Their total sales between the two locations compare with or exceed the dollar volume of comparable stores which maintain large inventories. Here’s their plan for success.
CAD/CAM, Passion and Innovation
Initial Customer Contact
Customers visiting JewelSmiths are there for a reason – to get their jewelry and watches serviced and repaired. JewelSmiths began 18 years ago as a jewelry repair and restoration company. Customers were delighted when their expertly repaired pieces were completed on time and gained confidence and trust in the store. As they became regular clients, they also discovered that the Stopkas had a gift for turning their irreparable pieces into new, beautifully designed jewelry. This manifested in a stream of customers bringing unwanted or outdated jewelry to the store seeking redesign and new jewelry.
Sales of new pieces were an unexpected but welcome addition to Stopka’s endeavor. To facilitate these sales, Greg Stopka initially offered sketches and waxes of his design suggestions to customers. When he learned about Gemvision’s Digital Goldsmith software, he envisioned a more effective method of communicating his design ideas. He purchased the Gemvision package of Digital Goldsmith software, a camera system and applicable training 12 years ago and has never looked back.
|Greg Stopka is working on a design for a customer using Gemvision’s Digital Goldsmith software. Customers view the work being completed on the counter monitor or on one of two TV projections located above Stopka.|
Stopka marvels, “With Digital Goldsmith, sales of new jewelry increased 57 percent in the first year and have steadily increased since. We show our customers on-screen and in-scale what their piece of jewelry will look like. This technology allows us to easily print a picture of the item for the customer to take with them. I have even printed the jewelry design on transparency film and placed it over the customer’s finger so they can envision what it will be like when the piece is completed”.
Stopka states the benefits of using Digital Goldsmith have been invaluable and include:
- The ability to quickly create unique jewelry items in front of customers using their gemstones.
- Upon viewing images on Digital Goldsmith, customer communication and confidence is immediately established.
- Customers take ownership of the designs as they offer input.
- The pieces are dimensionally accurate giving customers a realistic view of what will be made for them.
- Increased sales of new jewelry year after yearâwithout the need to carry a finished jewelry inventory.
- Profit margins for jewelry creations with Digital Goldsmith are higher than selling from inventory.
- With no physical inventory there is a significant reduction in cost (purchase of inventory, insurance, display, storage and maintenance) and risk (shoplifting, robbery and unsold goods) for the business.
Making the Sale
Over the years, Greg has developed a sales strategy for he and his staff that includes:
- Relating to a customer on an emotional level.
- Quickly displaying an image and presenting ideas–incorporating customer gemstones and metal colors in new design options.
- Involving the customer in a discussion that explains how a piece would look with their skin and color tones.
- Maintaining eye contact with the customer and proceeding with the “sales checklist”.
- Responding to customer expressions of interest in style and tastes by efficiently changing the design image or rearranging elements to suit.
- Establishing customer ownership by including their materials and input.
- Making the sale emotionally, seldom inquiring about the customer’s budget.
- Closing the sale. If the piece exceeds a perceived price the customer imagined, he offers to take less than the 50 percent down initially, but will not begin the manufacturing until the full deposit is made.
- Always showing personal enthusiasm for the design in development and responding positively and actively to customer suggestions.
Stopka shares, “The virtual sale is the hardest one to make. Being a great communicator, enthusiastic and incorporating all customer requests are key in the process”.
Jonathan Harrison works at the San Ramon location. He is 22 and a quick study. His job includes selling, working with Digital Goldsmith, running the Revo 540 mill and performing minor watch and jewelry repairs. Harrison says, “This has been an interesting career opportunity made better by utilizing the stores technology. Our customers love what I can do for them with their gemstones”.
Greg Stopka has written a book entitled “Selling Pretty Pictures”. He is currently in the process of updating the content and it will soon be going into its second printing. It covers the strategies, methods and techniques for selling jewelry with no inventory.
In addition to the book, Stopka is starting a new jewelry design service to retailers. Participating stores will pay a monthly membership fee and will receive a number of his designs rendered in Gemvision’s Matrix software and additional designs on a monthly basis. They will be prepared in a professional portfolio similar to the one he’s holding in this photo. Additional pages will be prepared so they are easily inserted.
The membership will also include marketing materials such as counter cards and Microsoft Powerpoint slide shows featuring the designs. He will also do designs on request for his member stores. Retailers will be granted the rights to manufacture the design or he will arrange to have the pieces made using the store’s materials.
This installment was sponsored by Gemvision Corporation. For information related to Gemvision products and services call 800-357-6272