Laura Viskovich: Hello and welcome to the Professional Business Connections. I am Laura Viskovich and I’m really excited to introduce to you today to Jonathan Laker from JC Laker Jewelry.
Jonathan Laker: Laker Jewelry.
Laura Viskovich: Thank you so much for coming on.
Jonathan Laker: You’re welcome. Thank you.
Laura Viskovich: Great. So you have an amazing story in how you generate business into your amazing jewelry, and oh, my gosh, do – I love the jewelry.
But firstly, please introduce your back story to how you became the jewelry guy.
Jonathan Laker: So I’ve been in the industry since 2001. My brother is pretty big in the industry and I worked with him for a lot of years and we’re very well-known for men’s – men’s rings so that the kind of ring you wear in your finger. Like that was our typical where we were known for and he is still is pretty big in the industry and Utah is huge, one of the biggest in the states.
But I broke off about 2012, I wanted to do my own thing. You know, me and my brother get along really, really well. He’s one of my best vendors that I buy from. But then I also used some other local designers and designers from LA and New York to manufacture for me.
The thing I saw in the industry was that a lot of stores have a lot of inventory they’re trying to sell, and not really cater to what the customers wants. And so I do it a little different with people come down, sit down at my desk, and we custom design stuff from scratch for them and then I have it made and designed and – that way the customer gets what they want, not just necessarily what I have in the store. So it makes it a little more unique for that individual. So I’ve been doing that since about 2012 and start doing that and some other things and just have really, really enjoyed the custom side of the jewelry industry.
Laura Viskovich: Fantastic. So Jonathan, you’ve got in because of your brother basically, but what’s your background in business world? Is it –
Jonathan Laker: Well, that was my start as I was – so when I finished up with him, I was the CEO of the business, did a lot of the running, I mean, obviously nepotism brought me there.
Laura Viskovich: Yeah.
Jonathan Laker: You know, it was a due to my last name, not necessarily to my credentials. But I learned a lot on how to run a business, how to manage employees. Obviously, there’s always stuff to continue to learn but I ran that business with him from the ground up and we’re always – there was one point where there were three of us and when I left, there’s about 50, 60 employees in the company and so it still, you know, growing. But there was a lot of, you know, growth from there so most of my basic experience does come from that.
I did – I get a degree in school and wanted to – a lot of business class and things to kind of did it help as well. But almost of that education came from working directly in the business in hands on.
Laura Viskovich: Fantastic. So your journeys really come from a really solid business background. So tell me, I’m dying to know, how do you generate business into your jewelry business?
Jonathan Laker: So one of the main way I generate business is through BNI.
Laura Viskovich: Okay.
Jonathan Laker: So – and that’s actually the only advertising I do. If you look at my Facebook page, it hasn’t been updated for a long time. It’s really a poor way to do it. But the BNI is giving me enough business to referrals that I don’t have to worry about the other aspects of the business as much as marketing. So if anything comes from other sources, it’s great. But I’m seeing that I’m getting a lot of return referrals so as to people look referrals in getting multiple generations of referrals from BNI and it’s been great.
Laura Viskovich: So is it 100% referral from BNI?
Jonathan Laker: Well, some of the – I mean, obviously, I’m going to run into people with my background in the industry. There are people that I used to sell to before that have come, but now, all the new business, all the new ones of that, so it’s about 90% of my business comes from BNI. And so –
Laura Viskovich: So you really know how to keep your customers happy and getting referrals?
Jonathan Laker: Hopefully I’m keeping that.
Laura Viskovich: That’s fantastic.
Jonathan Laker: Yeah. That’s – and I can always do better. I think that’s one of the benefits of BNI, it teaches us how to network, how to get those referrals. A lot of people don’t know, you know, how to tap into the other people’s referrals streams. They sit back and wait for the business to come. They might use some stuff on Facebook or thing, they might advertise some but they don’t get really good referrals or really good sources of that because they are not, you know, actively going after that type of business.
Laura Viskovich: So Jonathan, what I’m hearing is this is a really good training for us as a BNI. So what goes to a little bit with that entails?
Jonathan Laker: So well, for me, it was just getting used to network and coming and learning that I need to talk to people and introduce myself, you know, spend that first 15 minutes of that able time in each meeting, getting to know people. It’s really building that trust, that relationship because if we don’t have that relationship, they’re not going to refer over to us.
And then as they – as someone tries, makes sure you do a really good job on working with them so they’re going to continue to refer because that’s the worst thing that now happen is to destroy something for referral and makes with – never going to refer to you again. I mean we have, you know, we have one shot in making the first impression and a lot of times we mess that up by not knowing what to say or what to do. I’m sure I’ve messed up a few times, but I think I’ve made a lot more better first impressions than bad ones so luckily, I mean, and obviously it’s still working for us. But BNI helps with that – helps us to build and understand what we need to talk about, how we can benefit those that were – that are in the group. And frankly, the more I’ve focused on fair businesses and show interest in them, the more I tend to give – get back from them.
Laura Viskovich: Okay, it is just getting your gain?
Jonathan Laker: Your first gain, yeah, for sure.
Laura Viskovich: I love it. So I hear that visit is a big part of BNI. So walk us through your experience on visiting for the first time.
Jonathan Laker: On visiting for the first time, I was came into a start up group. You know, it would have been 2013 when I start a group and then we pass, a little bit of business to each other and it wasn’t the great experience. And so that’s why we look at starting a new chapter, and that kind of fell flat because some members hate each other by that.
But then I could see the benefit that was there potentially. And I got lucky and found a group that I was able to join that really understood things and I was able to play a part in that leadership in that group for a while and it was just a great group of people to associate with and to learn from real work with.
Laura Viskovich: Fantastic.
Jonathan Laker: So –
Laura Viskovich: So you’ve visited around a little bit, joined the one that you have a really strong connection with them?
Jonathan Laker: Yeah.
Laura Viskovich: Fantastic. So if anyone is out there looking to visit it for the first time, what would your tip and trick be? Words of wisdom from Jonathan?
Jonathan Laker: If someone is going to visit for the first time is to keep your mind open to the possibilities and not just worry about, “Hey, what I’m going to get out of this?” But what, you know, “Where do I fit in this group and how can I best do it?”. I recent – you know, you don’t have to go change from one chapter to another due to scheduling conflicts. And I was looking at one group that was just massive and how they got between 70 and 80 members and then another group that have 30. And I clicked better with the one that have 30, I felt like I could do more there. And even if they have a build up to 70 or 80 members, that was going to be a group that I could, you know, really, you know, grow with even if it meant that I probably wasn’t getting as many referrals at first, it’s because there’s not as many people there getting to know my business. And it was better fit for me to be able to help grow the group and to, you know, to get to know people just better. And it was a little bit of a funnier group. Little more relaxed, a little, you know, different personality than a lot of groups and that helped me, you know, I want to be a group where I have fun as well.
Laura Viskovich: Absolutely. So it says members in a meeting that you attend and visited, how do you educate them on what it is that you do, Jonathan?
Jonathan Laker: Well, I get up and I try to say something kind of off the wall a little bit to help them remember what I do. Some of the stuff I do is very unique. I do a lot of stuff with dentists where I refine the gold from teeth and so I mention that once in a while just to get people’s attention, but trying to make a little bit lighter of the situation of jewelries. Get different aspects every week in what I do so they can see a wider ray of possibilities that I can do for them or for their friends, different reasons to refer, just not, “Hey I don’t want to be a guy that only does write a wedding rings.” You know, well, that’s a good section of the population, that’s what they need. I also want to be able to offer custom design on the designer type stuff that they’re going to wear around their necks more to fashion jewelry, more of the big bright hand rings, not necessarily, you know, I want to be the jewelry can do all that forms so when they think, “Oh, I want this,” they don’t think of me just as one true [0:09:22] [indiscernible].
Laura Viskovich: Right.
Jonathan Laker: So we want to – just want to reverse that. So I get a different commercial every week, different presentation to make sure that those people understand I have different aspects to my business.
Laura Viskovich: So what I’m hearing is it’s all about the relationships and giving to the members in your group and what you give us, what you get back. So is there an experience that you’ve had where you’ve been given like a dream referral that has just changed your business?
Jonathan Laker: Well, yeah, I mean, well, it’s not just one referral, it’s the relationship. You know, there is – there are certain people that I’ve met through this that I know I refer business later on that are kind of that golden goose of a referral that they understand the giver’s gain and I got referred to them because I trust their businesses, and staff. But to see there was one that was, I mean, obviously there are some other just bigger referrals, depending on, you know, dollar value and type of stuff like that, but I think just the whole experience, the whole is kind of a dream referral. It’s kind of – I don’t know, it’s just I don’t know if that makes sense.
Laura Viskovich: No, absolutely. You’ve built so many amazing relationships that – is just so beneficial for you and your business. So Jonathan, you’re a member of BNI Utah North. What chapter are you in?
Jonathan Laker: The Sterling chapter.
Laura Viskovich: Fantastic. So I might just come and visit you one day.
Jonathan Laker: Well, we meet up at Club 90 South in Sandy at 7:30 on Wednesday morning so it’s one of the chapters that makes to the bars. You have the 21 to come, but it’s a great chapter, a lot of fun and so it’s just a good chapter. So I mean, yeah, if someone’s want to visit, you’d love that out.
Laura Viskovich: Fantastic. Thank you so much, Jonathan. Just I’ve gotten so much from your story. So thank you so much for sharing.
Jonathan Laker: You’re welcome.
Laura Viskovich: That is Jonathan Laker of JC Laker Jewelry and I’ll see on the next show of the Professional Business Connections.