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GUEST COLUMN: 5 top tips for staff training with Gem-A CEO Alan Hart

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One of the topics on which PJ receives the most reader questions is staff training. What schemes are most effective? Which suppliers offer the best initiatives? And how often should you hold refresher sessions?

We listened, and every day this week will be speaking with a new industry expert to discover their most successful methods for staff training to aid employee growth and retention, kicking off today with a guest column from educational specialist Gem-A’s CEO, Alan Hart…

As non-essential retail starts to reopen, staff will emerge from furlough eager to sell. For jewellery retailers, this could be an opportunity to brush off old habits, think in new ways and inspire change.

As with so many things, this relies on having the right knowledge supplied by a trusted source.

Who knows what customers have been reading online over the last 12 months? There are swathes of misinformation about gemstone treatments, laboratory-grown diamonds and gemstone mining too.

As independent jewellers it is important that your business is a source of accurate information.

Many Gem-A students come from retail backgrounds and are studying with us to benefit their power to sell and engage customers.

If your team is coming back from furlough, here are some ideas from the Gem-A team to help them sell gemstones in a reinvigorated and revitalised way.

Invest in the story
The shift towards greater supply chain transparency is welcome, but it’s important to consider how this information is used on the shop floor.

Rather than starting with a stone’s carat weight or clarity, consider an opening gambit that takes the customer on a journey to Sri Lanka, Botswana, Canada, or wherever a stone was discovered.

Don’t be afraid to tackle the difficult topics – many organisations are striving to combat the complexities of responsible gem sourcing and an increasing awareness amongst consumers.

Consider value
Storytelling will only ever take you so far – at some point a customer will want to know weight, hardness and treatments.

Package the science with what your customer values.

In fact, there are many areas where additional education can support sales, like knowing the properties of gem species with a similar range of hues; understanding the gemstone enhancements and treatments; and navigating inclusions, especially how they can increase or decrease a gem’s value.

Elevate Birthstones
Birthstones can become boring without the right insights. Study both the traditional and alternative birthstones, learn their mythologies and gemmological properties, and treat them with newfound respect.

The buying and gifting of gemstones and jewellery is often done to celebrate events and special dates.

The lore of many gems have meaningful attributes given to them and can give consumers exciting choices, adding both allure and appreciation.

Be Honest
There is nothing wrong with admitting you don’t have an answer. Rather than adding to the misinformation, be honest and turn to the expertise of our members to learn.

As all gemmologists know, gemmology can be a fast-paced, ever-changing field that can always surprise you.

Educate your Staff
If you are looking to upskill your staff, of course, there’s the option to take our Gemmology Foundation via remote online distance learning or in-person, as we begin to open Gem-A London Accredited Teaching Centre at Ely Place.

We are also very excited as we will be shortly announcing the launch of a fully online introductory Level 2 qualification in gemmology, specifically targeted to retail and other gem- and jewellery-related industries. More information on this short course will be available in due course.”

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