Never Judge a Book by its Cover
Picture the scene: You’re in one of the oldest and most exclusive jewellery shops in South Africa, situated in West Street in Durban.
A magnificent chandelier takes centre-stage around which a staircase rises imposingly to carry you upwards to any one of the three storeys of luxury which await your attention. In this tranquil environment, soft music plays. The staff are quietly respectful and knowledgeable; the men are formally attired in suits and the ladies would not look out of place at the opera. In this hushed, palace-like environment, tea is served morning and afternoon in delicate chinaware while customers browsed through the range of Patek Phillippe, Cartier, and Ebel watches, Christoff cutlery and Edinburgh and Waterford crystal, and the finest jewellery. I was, at the time, privileged to manage this splendid shop.
Then, one day an incident occurred which left a deep impression on me. An old man entered our hallowed shop, dressed in shabby clothes and looked, for all intents and purposes, like someone off the street. He shuffled over to a R3,500 14k Kruggerand bracelet that was on display in our window and asked to see it. I offered to show him through the window, quite keen for him to be outside the shop as soon as possible. However, he insisted, and I reluctantly took it out of the window, and he took it with his frail and dirty hands, turning it over and examining it carefully. He thanked me and said he would be back. Needless to say, we hauled out the air freshener and cleaned the bracelet thoroughly before placing it back in the window. A little while later, and much to my surprise, he came trundling back into the shop with R3,500 in cashÂ and asked for the bracelet to be gift wrapped.
One of my long-standing customers was a quiet and gentle man; just your average looking and softly spoken chap. He was also the owner of one of the largest privately-owned sugar cane farms in South Africa at the time. He would drive the hour journey to Durban to our shop and would only ever deal with me.
Here’s the lesson I’ve taken away from this: Never ever judge your customers by their appearance or what they are wearing.
In fact, I know of a jeweller who won’t put prices on his pieces because he prefers to make up the price depending on what car they are driving or by the watch they are wearing! I have personally experienced these environments where I can feel the eyes of the staff evaluating me as I move about the shop and it makes me incredibly uncomfortable.
The moral of the story is, respect everyone, you never know who you are attending to and they could just help pay your salary.