Timepieces/Education & Repair
Profitable Watch Repair: Charging for Estimates
Just like any other service that demands an expert's attention, a written repair estimate is worth a fee
Every job accepted by a repair shop should be predictable, meaning that costs can be estimated accurately and the repairs completed satisfactorily within that estimate. The best way to achieve this goal is to set up a standard method of charging the customer for the repair and any time-consuming written estimate.
You can accurately estimate the fee for movement replacements in recently produced quartz watches. You know the cost of the movement, cell, crystal, gaskets and crown and the time involved.
Overhauls of newer quartz and mechanical watches, which are taken apart and for which spare parts are readily available, can be estimated accurately also.
Time your watchmaker as he or she performs overhauls to find the average time needed for a given watch type. Add the cost of required parts, including a mainspring, crystal, crown and gaskets.
With the generally standard fees for these operations, we see few requests for written estimates for this type of work.
Handling Older Watches
Predictability falters when you estimate repair charges on older watches or those in bad shape. If the customer will accept a variable estimate, the watchmaker examines the watch without taking it apart.
Based on experience with this model, the watchmaker estimates the time and material required. To allow for unseen damage, he or she adds a parts allowance of about 25% over the estimated charge.
The customer must agree orally to the charge range before we repair the watch. If the customer wants the estimate in writing, we have another procedure for which we charge a fee.
For customers who require a fixed cost estimate but may or may not have the watch repaired at our shop, we charge an estimating fee. This pays for the watchmakers time as he or she takes the watch apart, examines it, finds the cost of the needed materials, reassembles the watch and writes a fixed cost estimate.
A written estimate can be carried to other shops. No watchmaker should spend unpaid time determining the repair requirements of a watch so another shop can complete and charge for repairs without doing any diagnostics. Free estimates should always be given orally. They are the property of your store.
Next: Know when to subcontract.
by Jack Kurdzionak, The Watchmaker, Stoneham, MA
©2001 Jack Kurdzionak
Jack Kurdzionak owns The Watchmaker, a watch store and repair center in Stoneham, MA. Hes a certified watchmaker, columnist for Horological Times and secretary of the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute.