From Close Down Sales to Design and Marketing, White House Consulting has expanded its services
Known for running closing down sales for jewellers who are retiring, White House Consulting is now widening its remit to aid stores that need a boost while staying very much in business. Ruth Faulkner reports
Dubbed in recent years as the ‘king of closedowns,’ jeweller and businessman Karl Massey and his firm White House Consulting have found a niche running closing down sales for jewellery retailers who are looking to retire or leave the industry.
Such sales have produced staggering results, providing some former jewellers with a healthy final amount on which to retire. However, as Massey explains, no one in the industry likes to see a jeweller close and, while some such closures are simply unavoidable, it got him and his team to thinking about whether some of the same skills they use for closing down sales could be employed in a different way.
“It all started when I had a conversation with an independent jeweller who liked the concept of a closing down sale but who didn’t actually want to close their business, which slightly defeats the point,” explains Massey. “So instead we looked for something different we could hang a major sale off. It turns out they are going to be having a major refit. So we’re going to do a clearance sale for them with completely new branding and messages.”
As Massey explains, in principle the process works in the same way as one of White House Consulting’s closing down sales. “We will use the same marketing techniques. So window vinyls, radio advertising, direct marketing to the jeweller’s database and social media advertising,” he says.
However, rather than just working with a retailer’s existing stock, the team at White House Consulting will utilise their connections to inject a certain amount of consignment stock into the business in order to give the retailer an added boost in sales.
“In each case the amount of consignment stock needed is completely different,” says Massey, “with the mark-ups that we tell each retailer to use, the retailers look to make an average of 20% gross profit on this, and everything they don’t sell at the end of the sale simply goes back.”
The beauty of this method, explains Massey, is that the retailer doesn’t take the risk on any of the stock. “This method allows both us, White House Consulting, and the retailer to share the risk and reward. Our short sales receive all of the same input from us on the marketing, the design, the branding, the artwork but for a smaller fee and a commission based structure.”
“We have got a marketing team here that other businesses can use” – Karl Massey, White House Consulting
As well as involving a smaller commitment for retailers upfront than the usual closing down sale model, the refit sales also follow a shorter time frame.
“Closing down sales usually run for approximately eight weeks. This will run for three weeks,” says Massey. “The jeweller will then shut their doors, do the refit, reopen, and their brand has not been damaged.”
This first foray into aiding jewellers with refit/refurbishment sales prompted Massey and his team at White House Consulting to start thinking about other ways their business model might be able to assist jewellery retailers.
“It’s no secret that business is bad for a lot of people at the moment,” says Massey. “Footfall on the high street is down and many retailers don’t have the answers to help increase footfall or takings. So it got me thinking, if a retailer has an occasion to mark – it doesn’t have to be a refit, it could be an anniversary, anything they want really – we can make the model work for them in different ways.”
Going one step further than that, Massey says, the model doesn’t just work for a special sale. His team have a set of skills that can be employed in a variety of ways to help jewellery retailers convey a certain message and drive footfall.
“We want to be thought of as an agency that helps jewellers promote their business and what they do,” he says, drawing on a recent example. “I visited a retailer who was complaining that while watch repair work was great from a profit point of view, they didn’t get enough of it and I am looking at their window thinking, ‘there is absolutely nothing here to tell customers that they do repairs.’ then literally right next door to them is a branch of Timpson advertising the fact that they do watch repairs. So, right there, that’s something we can help with. We can design and provide a really nice window vinyl that tells customers what they do.”
According to Massey, such issues often arise from the fact that smaller jewellers don’t have marketing resource available in their businesses. “We have got a marketing team here that other businesses can use,” he explains, referencing the services White House Consulting can provide.
“We can advise on window displays, events, web/print design, local radio advertising; these are just some of the areas we have experience in.” The thing that Massey believes sets White House Consulting apart is its long-standing experience in the jewellery and watch sector. “Of course, these jewellers could use local marketing and advertising agencies, but they won’t necessarily understand jewellery and what gets customers to buy.”
And the results, as far as the closing down sales are concerned, certainly speak for themselves. “We had one jeweller which we closed down two years ago. The retailer was retiring and prior to our sale the store had been turning over about £150,000 a year. In the eight-week sale period they took £751,000,” says Massey.
White House Consulting’s Marketing Manager Lauren Christina adds: “The staff in the store had not often sold items of jewellery over £1,000 before the sale and suddenly people were buying engagement rings for £5,000 or £6,000. That’s why I think sometimes it’s so hard for team members to believe that the sales we run will be the way they are because they’ve never witnessed it before.”
With the aim of promoting this additional side to the business, White House Consulting has just relaunched its website, giving jewellers information on all the services it offers.
“People may have only seen images of our closing down sales and clearly if we are working with a jeweller on something different, we are aware it needs to have a separate look and feel,” explains Massey. “The other thing I should say is that we don’t just do the creative work and then leave the jeweller to it. We set it up with them and stay for the rest weekend of the sale to help them. Even if it isn’t a sale, we can help with most aspects of marketing and promotion and, even if it isn’t listed on our website, I would encourage anyone to give us a call and have a no-obligation chat.”
Telephone Number: 01625 665 110