Professional Jeweler Archive: Turn Repair Customers into Regular Customers

July 2000

For Your Staff/Selling Timepieces


Turn Repair Customers into Regular Customers

When a repair will cost more than the watch is worth, you have a good sales opportunity if you handle it correctly


We make it a practice to repair the brands we carry, whether the customer acquired the timepiece here or elsewhere.

We also repair watches we don’t carry, but here we make some distinctions. We separate what we’ll loosely call “high-grade” and “low-grade” timepieces. Because of the volume of watches we sell and service, we simply can’t work on every watch. We may try the simples battery repair, but if this doesn’t work, we politely decline to go further. It may not be in our best interest to service movements on inexpensive quartz watches with largely plastic parts.

Can you turn away this type of business and still make a friend of the customer? If you explain with compassion that a repair will cost more than the watch is worth, many customers will understand. At the very least, you can provide the name and address of the central service center for that brand so the customer can send the watch there.

Of course, this also is a good chance to suggest a new watch. Be tactful so you don’t appear to be an “ambulance chaser.” But if you’ve handled the entire procedure well up to this point, your opportunity for a sale may have just arrived.

Additional Information First

Here are some guidelines you might try so you don’t seem opportunistic in light of the customer’s watch misfortune:

  • Inquire about the watch that needs to be repaired. If it has sentimental value or is a commemorative gift, the customer may have strong feelings about not replacing it. Ask how old it is and how important it is to have it repaired.
  • Ask whether it’s a primary watch or worn occasionally. After you know the history, you can ask a soft question, such as whether the customer has ever considered a new timepiece.
  • Be sure to take the pressure off here. Tell the customer you’re not selling, but that given the watch’s condition and repair costs, it might be worth finding out what’s available.

Potential Results

With this approach, you get one of two results:

  • You may make a sale on the spot.
  • You may plant a seed for a future sale.

Proceed gently and reassuringly. Watches, like jewelry, often have strong sentiments attached to them. Allow time for the owner to grieve a bit before you ask about a new watch.

Whether or not you make a sale, the customer has spent time discussing watches with you and will more likely return to you for future business.

by Paul White, Watch Division Director, Reis-Nichols Jewelers, Indianapolis, IN

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, send them to Professional Jeweler, 1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, PA 19102; timepieces@professionaljeweler.com.


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