jmarkis10We are all aware of the mushrooming growth of the collectibles’ segment. Both the number of collectors and the respective sizes of their collections are growing exponentially. As novice collectors enter the marketplace, we face new challenges to find and sell appropriate items that satisfy their needs; as well as provide the additional customer service that has rapidly become the rule rather than the exception. These new collectors typically use the internet to determine the value of their collections; and many will never visit a show or our offices. In reality, a new type of collector exists using the EBay auctions exclusively.

Most of us learned to evaluate our field, and its collectibles as an essential aspect of business as have the sophisticated, long-term collectors. We can accurately judge the value of any collectible item with a quick inspection. Today many collectors specify independent third party appraisals and are specific about the particular service they prefer. Every purchase of an item for resale brings with it the possibility of a negative appraisal and therefore we can be stuck with an unsalable item.

As dealers, we can take a few simple steps to earn and keep our customers’ loyalty.

  • First, we must remember that all clients are people. Each individuals has different expectations, and as dealers we must tailor every sales opportunity to custom fit that person’s needs. Dwight Macdonald, the author and educator, said “…conversation means being able to disagree and still continue the discussion…”. We all must remember it is not necessary to get a client to agree – we should only want to gauge how to satisfy their unique needs and wants. Not only listen to the words and meaning in their voice; but also assess their emotions. Any customer that feels you completely understand them will return repeatedly, an remain satisfied.
  • Second, we must learn to acknowledge the customer. If he or she is standing at your show table, on hold on the phone, or waiting in your office – say hello, use their name, shake their hand, and give them a big smile. A simple “I’ll be with you in a minute”, goes a long way. These little things may save that potential client from leaving, or hanging up, and they may be the next collector in the market for a premium purchase, and become a long-term profitable client. Your mother always told you to make a good first impression – it was true then, and has not changed to this day.
  • Next, we all like to feel important and we’re drawn instinctively to those who treat us so. American Express gives us a lesson there. When they introduced the “Centurion Card”, commonly called the black card, their phones were inundated with people lining up to send $1,000 for the privilege of doing the same thing the $25 Green card does – charge stuff. Imagine if we were able to charge collectors a fee – simply so they could buy the collectibles we offer.

While none of us has the advertising budget of American Express, here are some ideas of how you might promote your business and create loyalty amongst your clients. Try arbitrarily and randomly sending clients discount certificates good for their next purchase. Include theme mouse pads, or for larger purchases – books on your particular specialty with the shipment. It creates a nice surprise for the collector when their purchase arrives. These small premiums are a pleasant surprise for your customer; moreover, it sets the tone for a fruitful relationship, one of trust and hopefully friendship. They instill in the collector an impression that you have taken the time to acknowledge their business, and communicated a sincere appreciation for their purchases. With this loyalty, business is assured well into the future. The little things do make a difference.

The Kevin Eikenberry Group is a highly respected, professional speaking, training and consulting team. They recommend a very simple marketing technique – Laugh more often! They also offer one other axiom – “Remember – business is too important to take seriously”. It sounds simple but if taken as basic action, one that goes a long way. These policies will instantly make people friendly, defuse uncomfortable situations, and leave positive memories instilled with all involved. This enthusiasm and energy infuses all those around us – clients, employees, and even the vendors you use.

I would recommend that everyone who does not have the luxury of a photographic memory keep track of a customers and notes with a database computer system. I have found FileMaker Pro, or similar program, easy to use and manipulate information in a database. Having this type of knowledge readily available while on the phone with a customer, or at the show table, empowers you with a tremendous sales tool. You are immediately aware of a customer’s buying habits, wish list, and potential. It will also easily download to a laptop for portability. As an added benefit, the same information creates invoices, inventory, and standard accounting information. Another plus is to do your shipping online with FedEx or UPS. As soon as you complete the shipment, an email can automatically be sent to both you and the customer. Another, within hours after the shipment is received. This process communicates an assurance to your customer their collectibles were shipped and conversely you, that the customer received them in a timely manner. As an aside, it eliminates the many phone calls from customers asking about the status of their shipments. While these shipping services may cost a bit more than the U.S. Postal System, they also will negotiate their rates for volume shippers – something the U.S.P.S. doesn’t.

Finally, and probably most importantly, we must strive to find and retain quality people. Historically the collectibles industry is populated by “one man bands” – dealers who bought, sold, invoiced, shipped, and performed every other function for their businesses. Slowly we have added staff to the point now where a support group of 5-6 people is becoming the norm. With these new burgeoning staffs, dealers must learn to empower our staff and develop unique service strategies and ideas. The fear that blocks employees from supplying great service is usually a hesitation to overstep their bounds. We should want every employee to deliver great service with each customer contact. Support decisions when employees give something you feel they should not have – if done to please a customer. All people become enthusiastic when they experience their own competence. I am not suggesting employees have free-reign to give your products away; but I doubt many people would consider doing that anyway. Simple and concise parameters can be set in a group meeting to communicate basic sales policies. Once your customers know they can receive definitive answers from an employee they will no longer need to speak directly to the dealer principal each time they call – thus freeing you to make more money.

An equally important item to remember, if you have a customer who becomes abusive or unduly hard on any employee, you should immediately stop doing business with them – your own peoples’ peace-of-mind comes first. These few ideas will bind customers and employees to you in the long term – which equates to a profitable, fun, business operation.

jmarkis10As man ages his levels of testosterone begin to diminish. This begins at about thirty years of age. These levels will diminish year after year with little or no apparent symptoms. Once these levels reach a certain low point, various changes begin to appear. These symptoms may include lack of energy, weight gain, an increase in body fat, loss of muscle mass, decrease in the size and consistency of the testicles, loss of libido, increasing erectile dysfunction, loss of the ability to concentrate, anxiety and depression. Simply stated, without proper support a man’s masculinity slowly deteriorates over time. This is Male Menopause, actually called Andropause. In most cases, taking a natural compound, which comprises a testosterone precursor matrix, are clinically proven to increase free testosterone, the biologically active form of the hormone. Hormone levels begin to rise about one week after beginning supplementation and reach maximum levels in approximately four to eight weeks.

The mechanisms involved by which the penis goes from the flaccid to the erect state are complicated. The writer will attempt to simplify this process for easy understanding. The ability to get an erection begins in the upper motor neurons, or that part of the cerebral cortex of the brain responsible for erogenous thoughts. Those nerve impulses transmit via the spinal cord to the lower motor neurons of the pelvic nerve complex and this supplies stimulation to the erectile bodies of the penis. These nerve impulses cause dilation of the capillary lakes in the corpora cavernosa, they fill with blood, trapping it in these lakes. The result is engorgement of the penis to the point where one achieves an erection. After orgasm, the capillary lakes drain and the penis returns to its normal flaccid state. For all of these processes to take place the vascular, neurological, and psychogenic systems must be intact and functioning at their best.

Let us now discuss these systems one at a time; and further how Andropause or Male Menopause can negatively affect these systems. Then outline the necessary natural, organic supplements used to return these systems to their normal physiologic state.

First, let us understand the vascular system and its role. As mentioned, the blood supply to the penis must be intact so that the capillary lakes can fill properly. To aid this function certain active compounds shown in clinical studies to be significant smooth muscle relaxants allowing the dilation of the capillary lakes must be maintained. This facilitates greater blood flow filling capillaries; resulting in a firmer, better quality, erection.

However, for the vascular system to function effectively it must receive the proper nerve impulses. So next, we must address our nervous system and the part it plays in the process of achieving an erection.

For the nervous system to do its job, two criteria are necessary. First, the nerve, or group of nerve fibers, must be intact; and secondly, the neurotransmitters or those chemical substances that allow nerve impulses transmitting from nerve to nerve, and nerve to end organ, must be present in sufficient quantity. The neurotransmitter responsible for the nerve impulses from the upper motor neurons, and pelvic nerves, causing dilation of the cavernosal capillary lakes is nitric oxide. If this chemical is not present in sufficient quantities the nerve impulses will not cause the capillary lakes to dilate and fill, and the penis will remain flaccid. There are natural substances that function as a nitric oxide precursor matrix shown in clinical studies to increase nitric oxide levels by as much as ninety-two percent without side effects!

You also want to maintain levels of substances that are effective in increasing sperm cell morphology and motility. These same compounds are used to increase levels of the hormone HGH (human growth hormone) also known as the anti-aging hormone.

To maintain, or help correct, the levels of the necessary elements to fight the effects of Andropause, a compound containing high concentrations of Extract of Indole3Carbinol, Butea Superba, Tribulus Terrestris, Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and extracts of Korean Red Gingeng, and L-Argine is taken as a supplement. Another Nutraceutical that being touted as the new wonder element is the rare, expensive compound, available only from France – Pycnogenol. Pycnogenol imparts four basic benefits – it is a powerful anti-oxidant, acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, it binds to collagen and elastin, and finally aids in the production of nitric oxide to help dilate the blood vessels.

Besides absolutely having no side-effects, these active ingredients have been reported as effective for andropause by the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, and the Journal of Urology. Confirmed Results obtained from the Increased Free Testosterone levels are confirmed in documented clinical studies performed at John Hopkins University and the Mayo Clinic.