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The Benefits of First-Hand Experience

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I am writing this, sitting on a short flight from Salt Lake City, UT to Sacramento, CA.  Actually, had the captain’s seat not broken causing our delay, it would have been an even shorter flight…but those of you that fly often can certainly relate to this situation.  Last week, I was in four of our stores, and this week I will be in three more.  Visiting the stores is one of the more fun parts of my job, and also one of the most important.

When I visit our stores I get to renew acquaintances with the staff, many of whom have been with us for years.  I also get to meet the new members of our team.  Besides keeping the important feeling of a family owned business engrained on everyone’s mind, I evaluate the judgment of those doing the hiring of our newest team members.  They are our Company’s future, after all.

I also mingle with a few of the customers.  I sort of interject myself, deliberately selecting those situations where I can then discuss, after hours with the whole team, what I saw and why I wanted to get involved.  To me, these opportunities both allow me to learn how our customers are thinking, and allow me to teach our team, via demonstrations, how I want these situations handled in the future.

But the real benefit I gain from visiting the stores is to see how we are performing, from the customers’ perspective.  I love to understand why customers react as they do, to our products.  Also, how they truly feel about our policies, and all other things that are within our control, as well.  After each store visit, I go out to dinner with the management team of that store.  That way, we can discuss with specificity all of the things I observed.  I love to challenge them on why they did or did not suggest a particular item to the ‘lady in the red sweater’.  Of course, my real issue is to be sure that they are using proper logic in dealing with each customer.

We firmly believe that the customer’s experience is what they will use to determine whether they buy from us or not.  It is also what they will remember over the years, as they have future jewelry needs and as they choose to recommend our company to their friends or not.  In addition to my son and me, we have 5 other executives that are constantly traveling to our 20 stores.  This may seem excessive to some…but when the customer compares their experience with us to other stores, we feel it more than pays for itself.


Tom Shane is the founder and owner of Shane Co., the largest family-owned retail jeweler in the United States. For four decades Tom has traveled the globe buying gemstones, including diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and pearls directly from the gem cutters for Shane Co. He is the third of four generations of the Shane family to work in the jewelry business. Tom started learning the jewelry business at his father's side at age 12, assisting his father in his store. Tom opened his own jewelry business in 1971, establishing Shane Co. He was 22 years old at the time. In 1996 Tom was knighted into the order of Leopold II in the Kingdom of Belgium in recognition of his lifelong achievement in the diamond business. Tom currently resides in Colorado, but spends a great deal of his time abroad purchasing gemstones for Shane Co. You might know his voice from the Shane Co. radio ads which are the longest running radio ad campaign in history, or you might have caught him at a party with other Colorado celebrities in an episode of South Park.


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