President, Kesslers Diamonds
Locations: Germantown, Brookfield, Greenfield, Appleton, Madison, Milwaukee
Richard Kessler is president of Kesslers Diamonds, which recently opened its sixth Wisconsin store in downtown Milwaukee and will soon open its first out-of-state store in Grand Rapids, Mich. Amid intense brick-and-mortar and online competition, Kessler has carved a niche, he says, with an approach that prevents merchandise from being viewed as a commodity.
“We have tremendous respect for the people who walk into our stores each day, and strive to make their experiences completely positive. We’re not primarily interested in making a sale to those people; we’re interesting in making their experiences so comfortable and positive that they’ll feel good about coming back time and again.
“Kesslers Diamonds takes a lot of unconventional steps to give customers such an experience. One is a policy of not having sales. You don’t build a long-term relationship with people by tricking them with sales that confuse them about what the real price is. Another differentiator is a unique warranty that offers free lifetime maintenance on our jewelry, even if a stone is lost. From an accounting perspective, that’s a significant expense, but from a customer relationship perspective, it’s incredibly valuable for Kesslers.
“The decision to sell diamonds only—but no designer lines—is another differentiator. By focusing on diamonds, associates can be extremely knowledgeable. We don’t sell designer lines because you can buy those many places, and something you can get anywhere tends to become a commodity.
“Whether you offer a product or service, have the courage and determination to claim your unique niche and stick to it. Communicate your proposition constantly and relentlessly until you win the hearts of your prospective clients. Never break the Golden Rule, never badmouth your competition, and respect them whenever possible.”