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How To Make A Good Business Into A Great Business |  September 28, 2016 (0 comments)


Tampa, FL—In a recent Mastermind Live webinar, Terry Sisco of ExSellerate hosted a panel discussion featuring manufacturer Paul Tacorian of Tacori and retailers and sisters Christina Baribault-Ortiz and Raeann Baribault-Schwartz of Baribault Jewelers in Glastonbury, CT. He also introduced their brother, Louis Baribault III, though he was not part of the discussion. Their father, Lewis Baribault Jr., is company president.

The focus of the webinar was tips to move a good business to a great business. Baribault Jewelers has, over the course of the last three years, instituted a sharp focus on creating the ultimate customer experience, and as a result has seen sales go up significantly. Here are some of the key elements to their plan.

Terry L. Sisco: What did you do to move a good business to a great business?

Christina Baribault-Ortiz: We focused on upping the quality of the experience for our customers.  A few things that we instilled: offering a bottle of water when they come in the door, using a showing tray every time we show jewelry and walking the bag around [the counter] and walking them to the door.  That’s what we’d do for a guest in our home. 

One of our staff members had a light bulb go off at that moment, and said, ‘I got it!  What’s The Big Deal?’ WTBD: W=water, T- show Tray, B=walk the bag around, D=walk the customer to the door. We’ve instilled that culture in our store.”

Raeann Baribault Schwartz:  About three years ago we really made this shift in our store in creating customer experience and building a more genuine relationships with our clients, so they truly are our friends coming through the door.  We’re not waiting for them to come through the door, we call on their birthday and anniversary, and I think people appreciate service like that.


Christina Baribault-Ortiz, left, and Raeann Baribault Schwartz, right.  Top of page: "Behind the B" is part of the jeweler's strategy to make its marketing more personal and relationship-focused.

TLS: Paul, you’re out visiting retailers a lot. Is there something you’ve seen that sets the top-performing stores apart from the others on the playing field?

Paul Tacorian: If I were going to come up with two things, one would be the passion that the Baribaults have. It’s not one or two things; it’s a hundred things. But the ones who are the most successful are the ones that are most passionate, and that someone who walks in is not just someone buying a piece of jewelry but someone who is now going to be part of our life now. It’s not just about he sale, it’s about creating great experiences and having the passion for what you do. 

The most successful companies in the world are not one person—as great as one person can be, they can only do what they can do.  Two people are exponential in power and success. At Tacori, it’s not just my sister and my father and I, it’s the whole group who are focused on the common goal of great service.

CBO: It’s about the energy you create on your team.  There’s no ‘I’ in team and we really believe that.

TLS: It’s not like walking into a store at Baribault, it’s like walking into a house.  There are babies there, there are dogs there, and it’s like being in someone’s house.

TLS: Christine, in terms of product, what can a store or brand do to really own a product?

CBO: First and foremost, it’s really important to listen and have the product in your store that people want and are excited about.  Also having that relationship with (vendors) like Tacori: be a great partner to us. It’s not just carrying their jewelry in the store, it’s being a partner and talking about what we can do to be successful together. If we see something we know our customers are going to love, we interview the vendors to see if they’re going to be good partners and exchange when something isn’t going to work, so that allows us to take greater chances.  Vendors have to be on the same page if they’re going to be good partners and then it’s a go. If not, then we find something else.

TLS: Raeann and Christina, Paul has a platinum Tacori program.  You two have latched onto that and made it part of your strategy. How and why?

RBS and CBO:  It’s something we really believe in. We’re here to provide something that lasts a lifetime. When you really believe in something, you want to educate your customers and let them make the decision. Let them feel the passion that you have for it.  We wear platinum, so practicing what you preach really shows the customers you believe in it.

PT:  Authenticity is the core is what really successful companies have.  You have to be real in what you believe in and express that, and if it’s rooted in truth and good and greater good for our customers and our partners, then there’s no end to how successful you can be.

With platinum, it’s not just about having a higher ticket sale--which is wonderful, of course—but it really is a higher quality product and what she wants.  So if you’re delivering that to her through him, she’s happy and he looks great because he got her what she wanted.

TLS: In terms of [store] promotion, what did you change when you came into the business and took responsibility for that aspect?

RBS: We shifted from the traditional ‘give a discount and close the sale’ to giving them value and experience. Giving a discount on a daily basis isn’t that necessary anymore.  We have really built up our trunk show and event presence and people really wait for those. 

On a marketing level, we’re starting to create a campaign that are less product-focused and more relatable—it’s our faces, it’s our moment, and it’s kind of everything we help our customers create.

TLS: Paul, what do you see top stores doing any differently in promotion?

PT: I think it goes to telling the real story of who you are. You can’t pretend to be something you’re not.  Many stores are doing great job of telling the story of what they’re about, building relationships, and serving customers. At Tacori, we know we can’t be everything to everyone. We stick to who we are.

Everyone says the middle is shrinking, but it doesn’t need to shrink as long as we keep telling our authentic story of who we are and who we’re looking for, and then those people will be attracted to our businesses.

TLS: People are an important part of success. Christina and Raeann, is there a certain type of person you look for?

CBO:  First and foremost, we want someone who is passionate and absolutely loves what they do every day.  If we can feel that with someone—whether they work in the jewelry industry or not—we know they’re probably going to do really well in our store. So we use that in our interview and are blessed to have within a couple of years built a team that really rocks and rolls. They’re awesome.  We have a really amazing team right now.

TLS: Paul, what do you see in top stores?

PT:  it really goes back to people who are passionate about what they’re doing. The Baribault team, in the few years I’ve seen them, has transformed into a much more powerful team of people. 

You look for people who are passionate about life and that’s a start, but then it’s not just left there. Then it takes time to build and let people become better and understand what it’s really all about. It’s not about that big diamond, it’s about creating that experience at retail.  It’s not about selling, but about our mental approach, how we think about our businesses and our lives.  We spend as much time outside work as in it and we have to find that balance.

TLS: Raeann, what’s next on your radar that you see will take your business to the next level?

RBS: I know what I’m focusing on in marketing is making us more relatable and creating even more of an amazing experience, and we’re always looking for ways to do that every day so that we will never be forgotten. Baribault Moments are special moments we’re really proud to be part of.  We hope to have a whole wall of those.  We hired a photographer to capture those candid moments.

TLS: One of the mistakes I think jewelers make is putting pictures of product on the wall instead of pictures of people.

Terry Sisco, left, poses with the Baribault Jewelers team. On the rear wall is the jeweler's "Baribault Moment" display of proposals and other customer milestones that involve a piece of jewelry from Baribault.

TLS: Christina, what’s next for you from an operational standpoint?

CBO:  We’re planning a renovation and we’re looking at a set up that’s different from the traditional behind-the-counter [layout], where showcases are open on both sides and we can walk around with the customer.  Right now I just want to vault over the counter and stand next to them so we’re going to have that!

TLS: Paul?

PT: At Tacori we believe the future of retail is at a place today where it’s either going to be people talking about way things were or the record successes we’re creating. We’re working with leading-edge technology with neuroscience about how to win the future with retail and family businesses in jewelry, because to me the most important thing is spending time with my friends and partners throughout the country and seeing us growing together and becoming more and more successful.  I won’t see that go away because we get to make that happen.

TLS: So what I’m hearing is that the jewelry isn’t the key to the business—it’s the passion that brings success to the table. We have people on this call that are writing two and three million dollars themselves and people who are writing $100K.  What one thing should people do when they hang up to start growing their business incrementally?

RBS:  Everyone wants sales to happen, but I would say have patience and sales will happen when you focus on the experience.  Start focusing on the people you already have as customers, strengthening the relationships.

CBO: I would say go back into your records, say from the beginning of September, send an authentic thank-you to someone you made a sale to, and going forward to anyone you have a relationship with or made a sale to, and set a date with them. See if the gift [they last bought] was well received, or what.  In six months or so call and say, ‘come in and let me clean and refresh and check the piece, et cetera. These are key to making customer relationships.

TLS: Maintain that level of connectivity with customers. Don’t let it go away.

TLS: How far out in advance do you plan your marketing strategy?

RBS: We try to get everything on the calendar six months in advance. It solidifies some dates and get your headspace flowing.  Once get dates are on calendar, figure out what events we want to hold, what promotions want to do, how you’re going to have fun in your store. 

Take them one by one and plan every month, two months, three months, and then you’ll have everything planned for six months. That would be my recommendation.

TLS: What form of media works best for Baribault?  Do you have method to inspect how often staff is following up with clients?

RBS: The most successful thing we’ve done recently is capture Google Review.  Everybody is Googling you before they come into your store.  Everybody. So we have asked clients for reviews, making it easy for clients to post reviews. So if you Google ‘Jewelry stores in Connecticut” you’ll see us pop up with all the stars. So that’s really bringing in new clients.

We print a little card with instructions for people to give you a review.  You have to make it easy for them. We have them at every counter and with repairs, and you have to find your best way to ask [customers to give you a review.]

TLS: Paul, what should a person do immediately after this session?

PT: Decide what you want to do and give 100% to it and hold yourself accountable to it. If we really give everything we’ve got to our customers 100% of the time, then we will be successful.

CBO: Success is hard work. ‘Start small’ is what I’d say as a piece of advice.  If you want to instill all these changes and ideas from today, you can have all those ideas and changes, just not all at the same time. Baby steps: one new thing a week or every couple of weeks. Take it slow and over time you will be successful and really proud of yourself. 

TLS: Beat yesterday by one, right?

RBS: We honestly don’t feel like we do anything extraordinary. We just do what feels real to ourselves, so I feel when you have it in you success will come.

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