In May 2014, we traveled to the famous Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey, California to answer two viewers’ call for help.
JOE & MARY DELECCE
Joe and Mary Delecce have successfully run four separate jewelry shops on the Monterey pier for over 15 years. Their son, who asked not to be named, wrote to us because he was afraid the stores wouldn’t be able to support Joe and Mary’s retirement.
"My parents gave everything to give us a leg up in our world and never asked for something in return,” the Delecces' son said. “They are 64 and 65 years old -- without a retirement nest egg." With nothing to fall back on, the Delecces needed a new strategy.
ENTER: YOUR BUSINESS SWAT TEAM
Our goal was to transform this business into a rock-solid nest egg for retirement.
First, we reached out to Chris Myers, founder of BodeTree, a Denver-based financial software company. Chris synced up the Delecce's accounting system, Quickbooks, with his BodeTree analytics software. With it, he identified the strong and weak areas of the business and helped Joe and Mary create a plan to double their company’s valuation to $1.2 million.
Chris passed his financial analysis on to Helen Bulwik, a retail specialist and partner at San Francisco-based Newport Board Group. Helen advises top retailers like Macy's and Nordstrom, and she volunteered to help the Delecces.
Helen saw two key problems with this business: The Delecces maintained a very large payroll, as they staffed four separate shops, and they had too much inventory tying up their working capital.
Helen identified that Joe and Mary’s silver store brought in almost 50 percent of sales, yet took up 70 percent of their inventory. She suggested Joe and Mary cut their inventory in half. "One of their biggest rules for buyers at Macy's is to reduce assortments, not expand them,” Helen explained. “[They] identify top-selling items and eliminate everything else.”
In order for the Delecces to track which styles were selling fastest, we brought in Dawn Brolin, CPA. Thanks to a donation from the Intuit Reseller Program, Dawn provided the Delecces with a brand new point-of-sale (POS) system that will allow the Delecces to tag every single item in the store and track what's selling out and when.
Helen also surprised the Delecces when she pointed out that their money-saving practice of buying loose pearls and stringing them themselves might actually be a selling point to their customers. She suggested that instead of stringing pearls in the back of the store, the Delecces should make the process visible to customers. “Bring it out front to entertain the customers, and it will boost your sales,” Helen said, identifying the practice as “retail-tainment."
DOWNSIZING – AND UPGRADING
Helen also suggested the Delecces consolidate their four locations. She introduced interior designers Michael Bodziner and Amy Taylor of architecture and design firm Gensler. Michael and Amy drew up plans and suggested a new name for the single store: "Monterey Bay Jewelry Company." Their plans called for a special booth out front so the pearl-stringer could be used to attract new customers while demonstrating his craft.
The Gensler plan also called for updated furniture to modernize the look. To offset the cost of the new jewelry cases, Helen arranged for Premier Store Fixtures to provide the custom-made cases at no cost.
To pay for the remainder of the store makeover, the Delecces sold off some of their less popular inventory at a discount – and made nearly $100,000 to reinvest in their store.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW: NINE MONTHS LATER
The Delecces are now busy preparing for their grand re-opening, slated for March 2015. They chose one store to expand and act as their sole location going forward. While that is under renovation, they are also cleaning out their other storefronts and preparing them to be leased to new tenants.
The Delecces loved the new name Monterey Bay Jewelry and submitted the plans for the new sign to the city planning commission. They received notice that the new sign was approved and displayed it on their storefront in February.
The new display cases from Premier Store Fixtures arrived, and Joe says they are even more beautiful than they looked in the drawings. The Delecces have begun to integrate the inventory from the four sites, and that means weeding through thousands of items. Once everything has been cataloged into the new POS system, they will be able to track sales and focus on increasing turnover.
"It's something we've been dreaming about, talking about -- and now you've brought it to fulfillment," Mary said. "So it's really hard to say a simple thank you!"