Timepieces/Education & Repair
Realistic Holiday Repairs
Don't promise more than you can deliver
We know Christmas has almost arrived when a customer walks into our store and says: I am bringing this antique watch to you early. I would like to have it repaired so I can give it as a Christmas gift. Ill pick it up Dec. 23.
Unfortunately, its already Dec. 15, and the customer is disappointed when we politely tell him our cut-off date for work that involves overhauls of antique and vintage timepieces was in early October. Any such repairs coming in after that date may or may not be ready for Christmas.
Truth in Delivery
Its better to tell the truth when you cant promise a watch repair for a specific holiday. We must temper our desire to please our customers with a realistic time frame in which repairs can be completed. Its better to disappoint a customer initially than to cause bitter disappointment by making a promise now that cant be kept later.
Under ordinary circumstances, its difficult to predict accurately how long it will take to complete an overhaul of an older watch. We must always be aware spare parts may be difficult to locate or may be on back-order for weeks or months. And unanticipated problems with the repair itself may cause a watchmaker to spend much more than the estimated time to make the watch run satisfactorily. These two circumstances alone can delay a repair for weeks without any distractions caused by the rush of holiday business.
We suggest a compromise for customers with older watches during the holiday season. We invite them to leave the watch for repair and tell them it might be ready for the holiday. If not then they can give it as a gift for Valentines Day, a birthday, Mothers Day or Fathers Day. If the customer accepts, everyone wins. The shop gets the work, without any holiday pressure, and the customer will have the watch ready to give as a gift without worrying whether it will be ready on time.
Dont get too upset if your customer doesnt understand or accept your rationale. Some customers just cant accept our limitations. One customer in particular comes to mind. He brought in a vintage wrist watch for a complete overhaul 10 days before Fathers Day and asked that it be ready for that holiday. Of course there was no way it could be done, but this customer had a fall-back position. Could it be ready for July 4 instead? Again we said no. OK, how about Christmas if the watch was brought in around Thanksgiving? I couldnt believe what I was hearing. I suggested he leave the watch now and it would be ready in five or six weeks for use at any future holiday. The customer said it was a good idea and he would think about it. Hes never returned, but I do believe Ill see the watch in December.
Be realistic when you plan your holiday season. Dont promise more than you can deliver. Dont overwork yourself or your staff. Enjoy the holidays and your business. There will still be plenty of work after the holiday season.
Jack Kurdzionak, The Watchmaker, Stoneham, MA
©2001 Jack Kurdzionak
Jack Kurdzionak owns The Watchmaker, a watch retail and repair store in Stoneham, MA. He is a certified watchmaker, a columnist for Horological Times and second vice president of the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute. Send suggestions and comments to Professional Jeweler, 1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, PA 19102; email@example.com.