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December 1999

Timepieces: Education & Repair

Take-In Procedures, Part IV: The Date of Delivery

Defuse a common source of complaints before you take in the watch

During the entire repair take-in and delivery process, it's the promise date that so often creates service problems for the jeweler, customer and watchmaker.

To ease this potential for friction, let your customers know the factors that can speed or delay the repair. Typically, discuss these after the customer agrees to go through with the repair. These factors include:

  1. The watchmaker's schedule.
  2. The watchmaker's workload.
  3. The time of year, which affects the workload.
  4. The availability of movement and case parts if needed.

These should be phrased not as reasons for delays but as steps required to accomplish a specialized service – watch repair.

By letting the customer know first, he or she will likely understand why a repair may take a week rather than a day. It's better to let the customer know in advance rather than during the time the watch is left with you for repairs.

Contact the Customer

During the take-in process be sure to tell the customer you will contact him or her should any of the factors above change the "estimated date of delivery" – a better term than "promise date."
Ask the customer to give you work and home telephone numbers so you can contact him or her immediately. Aside from the need for the numbers, your request imparts genuine concern for the customer's needs and enhances your professionalism.

Parts Take Time

Parts for very inexpensive watches, especially case and band parts, may not be available at all. Parts for very new watches may not be available yet through regular supply channels and will have to be ordered from the manufacturer. Parts for the more uncommon brands will likely have to be ordered also, creating repair delays. And certain parts for old watches may require searching through many sources nationwide or even globally.

You can take two precautionary steps in advance:

  • Ask your watch repair service or watchmaker for a list of brands that can take longer than usual to repair.
  • Ask your watch repairer for guidelines on how long various types of repairs will take.

Deliver the Watch

Devote extra attention to the customer at the delivery end of the process. Again, this will enhance your professionalism and reputation. At minimum, you should:

  1. Wind the watch if it's mechanical.
  2. Set the correct time and date. Be sure the calendar will change at midnight and not noon.
  3. Wipe the watch and band with a soft cloth as the customer watches.
  4. Place the watch on the customer's wrist or place it in a delivery envelope for easy handling if he or she doesn't wish to wear it home.

By David Christianson,Certified Master Watchmaker President, American Watchmakers - Clockmakers Institute

David Christianson is fourth-generation owner of Christianson Jewelry, Kendallville, IN. In addition to serving as AWI president, he is a certified master watchmaker and a fellow of the British Horological Society. He discusses watch repair for the sales staff in this column each month. Send questions, suggestions and comments to Professional Jeweler, 1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, PA 19102; timepieces@ professionaljeweler.com.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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