Strong References

June 1998

Timepieces:Education & Repair

Strong References

Some of your best repair work may arrive from surprising sources - your competitors

If you regularly turn away customers who ask about watch battery or strap changes, you're handing your profits to another store.

So say retailers nationwide who enjoy turning referred watch repair traffic into high-margin sales. "Mall stores send us customers, and we take advantage of the traffic to create new customers," says Tom Schomaker, a master watchmaker at William Effler Jewelers, Cincinnati, OH.

Mass merchants and department stores that sell watches but don't employ a repair person often refer repairs to local jewelers - even if it's not stated company policy.

Dan Gendron of Dan Gendron Horology, Grant's Pass, OR, suggests jewelers solicit this business from department stores and mass merchants. The manager may welcome a reliable repair source rather than take on what may be seen as risky or time-consuming jobs.

Earn Their Confidence
Schomaker says his repair department now turns a profit where it didn't in the past. The reasons: He made a few changes that emphasize the advantages of a full-service jewelry retailer. "I'm now right up front where customers see me," he says. This lets customers know immediately the store does repairs, leading to repeat business. "And if you can offer battery-change-while-you-wait service, often the customer will buy something else also," he says. Not all jewelers can offer such quick turnaround times. However, Schomaker and Gendron suggest retail jewelers still can take full advantage of watch repair traffic - referred or otherwise - with the basic tips that follow:

  • Price repairs appropriately. A price too low invites unwanted comparison with retail outlets with less expertise. Furthermore, very low prices can attract owners of watches that cost less than a battery replacement - watches you don't carry. "You're not likely to earn new business from these consumers," says Gendron.
  • you have no watchmaker, locate a good service firm and use overnight delivery service.
  • Train your clerks to handle repair intake properly.
  • Offer your staff battery replacement lessons. Contact your supplier for videotapes or charts that provide lessons.
  • Ditto for bracelet and strap replacement. Distributors are an excellent source of training information
  • Advertise your services.
  • Build from an initial request. Many customers may be interested in a new strap or a new crystal.
  • Be sure your customer is aware of any special repair services for watches they buy in your store. Do you extend the manufacturer's warranty on watches? Do you offer annual inspections with each watch purchase?

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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