Building Supplier Partnerships

April 1998

For Your Staff:Selling Timepieces

Building Supplier Partnerships

Make time to know the faces that sell the dials. Like their watches, they keep you up-to-date. They also can help you to sell more timepieces

by Paul White Reis-Nichols Jewelers, Indianapolis, IN

Whether you repair or sell watches or select brands for your store, here are some tips on how to make supplier partnerships work for you.

Get To Know the People You're in Business with
It's a simple idea, but it takes some effort. Your sales representative is the most important link you have to the watch companies or suppliers they represent. You rely on this person to keep you apprised of new products, trends, marketing opportunities and more. It's imperative you have a professional and friendly relationship with your rep. Sometime during the years you sell that brand, you'll need a special favor, a fast order or something out of the ordinary. Anyone can sell you a watch or a spare crystal. But a friend can help you out of a jam.

Be an Intelligent Customer
We're so used to selling or repairing for a living we forget we're customers too. Ask for what you need. If you have a complaint or an issue on product or service, bring it up. But remember that your ability to get action on your specific needs depends largely on how well you've built your relationships from the beginning.

Hit the Road
Especially when I attend the New York shows, I make time to see the people who "make time" for me. A visit to company headquarters' can have lasting benefits beyond seeing what's new. I've gotten to meet people in sales, service and other departments that support product. I can't tell you how valuable it's been to put a face and a handshake with a voice. It humanizes a business relationship, and that can be an enormous asset when you need something in a hurry.

Make New Friends When You Can
You never know when they might be in new places. When I have the time, I see reps who cold-call and who represent lines I may be unfamiliar with. It's how I find out what's new and who's breaking new ground. Our industry is dynamic, and people do move around. You never know when someone you've established a relationship with might turn up in a new location.

To the veteran store manager, watch buyer or repair department chief, perhaps this sounds elementary. But think about it. You want your customers to speak about you with only praise. Hopefully, everything you do is designed to deliver extraordinary service to keep your customers coming back. Don't you want the people you buy product from to feel that way about you? Learning to be a good customer is just as important as being a good salesperson or watchmaker. Be tough. Be demanding. Be competitive, but be nice. As they say in the movies: "This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Each month Paul White fills this column with sales tips for retailers who want to sell more watches. If you have suggestions for topics, questions for Paul or specific examples from your store, write send them to Professional Jeweler,1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, PA, 19102, e-mail askus@

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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