Q&A: Robert Eden, head of membership and membership services, NAJ

Robert Eden

Professional Jeweller caught up with the National Association of Jewellers head of membership, Robert Eden, to hear what visitors can expect from his seminar at Jewellery & Watch on Tuesday.

What can visitors expect to take away from your seminar at Jewellery & Watch?

A clear understanding of the Association, the value we deliver for members through our education courses, member benefits, business support and other activities.
Why would you recommend jewellery professionals joining the NAJ?
Professional jewellery businesses should join because of the direct benefits and services we provide as part of the membership package that will have a direct effect on their bottom line by either helping them to make money or save money. Being a member of the industry trade association will also provide consumer reassurance, demonstrating that the business operates to a high standard and that, in the event of there being a problem, they have the comfort and support of our disputes resolution service. On top of these direct benefits there is the reassurance that they are protected and supported as part of the whole industry. The Association can speak with one clear, loud and strong voice to government and other stakeholders on issues that might affect the future strength and stability of our industry, which no single business or part of our industry can do effectively.
What is one of the biggest benefits to being a member of the NAJ?
With so many of the businesses in our industry being independent and relatively small, being part of the Association helps to bring credibility and status to the member company. We give our members protection, assistance and advice, access to Jewellery related news and real facts, and a strong voice. Depending on the nature of the member’s business different benefits will stand out as must haves. However, for me it’s not about one thing, to make the most of your membership I would hope members use several of the opportunities we give them. For instance one of the benefits will save a member a good proportion of their yearly membership fee, as well as providing them with a staff incentive scheme that they just couldn’t negotiate if they were a standalone business. This helps the smaller business compete with the big players to arrange and retain good quality staff.
Does the NAJ have any new plans to help members over the next 12 months?
This year we are focusing on engagement and making sure both existing and potential members know what we are about and have to offer. We have just run seven sessions around the country based at the four UK Assay offices to give an introduction to the JET Business Network (JBN). The JBN gives networking opportunity and a facilitated business support programme designed for business owners across the NAJ membership. We recognise that it can be a very lonely existence for our members and the JBN aims to support, stimulate and encourage members of the group to develop their businesses as well as providing practical guidance and support with real issues and problems every business can face on a daily basis. This year also sees us role this out to new groups. It is now open to designer makers, registered valuers and suppliers as well as continuing to attract new retailers. The JET Courses are being reviewed and rewritten so that they are suitable and just right for every part of the trade. The Made in Britain Mark will hopefully be a reality later this year.
What was a highlight for the NAJ last year?
Many people won’t realise the amount of work that has been involved in bringing the BJA and the NAG together to create the NAJ. This has now been completed and we are in a position to motor forward now. Even while we were doing this we have created six new consumer leaflets for members to use which we hope will support them when making a sale. We have introduced a Customer Charter, which is our members promise to their customer. This is supported by the disputes resolution service, so it provides an additional reason why a consumer should buy from an NAJ member. The Loughborough Conference continues to grow and this was our biggest year ever. Can I remind everyone that this conference is not just for valuers but is a great place for learning and networking for anyone working in the jewellery industry. We have also entered into partnership with Learn Direct to ensure that the JET Certificate and, where relevant, JET Diploma are mapped and linked to the national apprenticeship framework, enabling members that pay the apprenticeship levy to fund their JET training at no additional cost to their business. I would like to encourage anyone in the industry who is not a member to come and talk to us at Jewellery and Watch. We are not just a rebrand of the BJA or NAG, we are a new, exciting and proactive trade association for the jewellery industry, ready to serve and support you all.

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