Day Jeweler’s President David Harris speaking Sunday at the Atlanta Jewelry Show. (Photo courtesy of Edward Zeltser Photography)
After Day’s was selected as Maine’s Retailer of the Year for 2016, the lovely Cindy Chandler, who organized the education at the Atlanta Jewelry Show this year, came up with the idea of recruiting a member of the store’s management team to come to the show and talk about what the retailer is doing right.

President David Harris was the member of the Day’s team who was tapped for the job. He fled Maine’s -16 degree wind chill and headed south to be interviewed by me in a one-on-one session this past Sunday afternoon.

Here’s are a few highlights from our conversation, staring with the part that I, and hopefully you, will find the most interesting: How does Day’s get and keep good people?

Harris said that too often, retailers start the hiring process without a clear idea of what they are looking for in a new employee; they have a job title, yes, but not really a good idea of what type of person they really need to fill the position.

They also tend to pass on good people--associates who are enthusiastic and can be developed--in search of the elusive “perfect candidate.”

Harris also mentioned that as part of the evaluation process, Day’s Jewelers uses psychological testing specific to the position for which the candidate applied, tests like:
--The Reid Report, which evaluates ethics, responsibility and work habits;
--DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness), which groups people into one of these four personality types, each of which has its own specific set of behaviors; and
--EQ, which evaluates emotional intelligence.

These are certainly not the only tests out there, and it is also worth noting that there is a debate about the use of personality tests in hiring.

But at Day’s, it’s what they do. Harris said they think it is better to test than to go off “gut feeling” when hiring people.

(Side note: I would be remiss, and in the Smith crosshairs, if I did not mention that Harris’ comments were about hiring for any position, from sales to store management to social media. There is a book for picking salespeople specifically. It’s called “Hiring Squirrels.”)

When it comes to keeping good people, Harris said the main mistake retailers make is they ignore (though not purposefully) or take their best associates for granted. It’s not hard to see how this happens, since difficult employees tend to take up more of their boss’s time.

He said at Day’s, they invest in their best people, furthering employees’ education so they see their job in a jewelry as a career, not as just a retail sales job.

They pay for employees to take courses offered by the Diamond Council of America and the Gemological Institute of America as well as the certification exams offered by Jewelers of America.

Here are some other interesting points from my talk with Harris.

--I asked David what service his customers appreciate most and he said on-site goldsmiths, which the retailer has in every store. He said people in Maine do not like hearing that their jewelry is being sent elsewhere to be fixed.

--Day’s Jewelers allows dogs in their store and after they let this fact be known, “It was like we were the finest people anywhere,” Harris wrote in the notes he prepared for our session. The Day’s marketing team very astutely created a Day’s blue tennis ball with company logo in white for the pooches to play with, a Day’s mat with paw prints and a Day’s water bowl. There are also dog treats on the snack counters in each store.

Do you know who loves dogs even more than Day’s customers? Social media. People snap photos of their dogs inside Day’s stores and share them.

--Day’s Jewelers is active on all the main social media platforms, Facebook (where it pays for advertising and is targeting baby boomer customers specifically), Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter. They staff them by assigning each marketing associate a specific account and making them responsible for the content there.

--The retailer also allows people to bring in cats but Harris could only recall one time when someone actually did that, as cats are not known for their traveling temperament. The cat was fine.

--Harris has a very endearing Texas accent. He was born and raised in Irving.

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