What a weird, weird place we find ourselves in these days. I remember when Walmart first began to overrun small towns all across America. Walmart forced the fabric of America to adjust to their new reality. Small businesses all over the country were forced out of business because Walmart offered one-stop shopping.
Now we’ve got Amazon taking a bite out of Walmart, all while still taking a bite out of small businesses all over the country as well. But, both of these behemoths have something in common; they only offer two benefits; a large selection and a cheap price. Oh, and a return policy similar to the old Sears policy - ‘if you’re not satisfied with your purchase for any reason, return it and we’ll gladly refund your money, no questions asked!’
As small business owners, managers, and worker bees, we’re sometimes left with the bread crumbs from these giant corporations that we get the opportunity to sweep up. And that’s not always a bad thing.
Something that you learn from running a small business is that there are waaaay more than two benefits that you need to offer to your customers for long term survival. You know, like professional knowledge, service after the sale, and probably about 1,000 other intangibles that the big boys just can’t and won’t do. Mainly because they really don’t care about their customers, they only care about their customer’s money. About the only customer service they can offer is to refund their money if they don’t like something. So, I thought I’d list of some of ‘those crumbs’ I’ve seen lately.
You charge for that?
This was said to me by a young man who was the lucky recipient of 3 Invicta watches at Christmas. And, of course he brought them to me to be adjusted in their own bright yellow suitcase with the untearable saran wrap still attached. I swear, if those watches get any heavier, they are going to have to put wheels on the suitcases just to haul them around. Do you have to pay an overweight baggage fee when you carry them on a plane? I told the young man that I charge $15 per watch to adjust the bands.
“My mom was told by the people that she bought them from that I could go to just any jewelry store and they would adjust the bands for free.”
“I’m not just any jewelry store!”
“Can you do it any cheap….”
There is just no reason that I can think of that I would do this for free for someone I’ve never seen in my life. And before you start rolling your eyes, yes, I’m well aware of all of the statistics about these situations. I’ve read all the surveys about how much money it costs to bring a new customer into your store. But honestly, sometimes you just have to make a distinction between a customer and a freeloader. The whole key, in my humble opinion, is that these people now know that there is a jewelry store here in this shopping center, right between the gun store and the liquor store. And these people are also now aware of the fact that we offer this service - for a fee.
Now, he knows I’m here, and so does his momma with the credit card. The next time she orders him a watch online, they are both going to know that I charge $15…per watch…to adjust the bands. And yes, he went home and got his mother’s credit card and came back and paid me $45 for a service that I’ve been charging to my customers for decades. And, he left happy at the end of his first guest experience at Anthony Jewelers. And, I’m pretty certain he stopped at the liquor store too since he had his momma’s credit card.
Can you put this battery in my watch? I can’t get the back open.
While he was asking me that question, he was holding a bubble mailer from the internet and took a watch battery out of it. Of course I had to ask him where he got it, and he told me he ordered it online. I told him that I only install the batteries that I sell and I charge $10 for them.
“But I already have the battery. The website I ordered it from said I could take it to just any jewelry store and they’d install it for free.”
“I’m not just any jewelry store!”
Once again, those ‘two benefits’ the big boys offer don’t come close to the 1,000 other benefits that small businesses offer. A website can’t clean and inspect your jewelry. A website can’t size your ring, watch, or pendant. And a website can’t install your watch battery. All they can do is take your money!
I need this ring sized up one size to a size 7.
The guy standing in front of me said it with such an air of authority that, for a second, I almost believed him. I asked him where he came up with that number. He told me, in that authoritative voice again, that his fiancé told him her finger is a 7 and the ring was one size too small.
It’s here I go into my little dog and pony show about how I really need his fiancé, and her finger, to be standing in front of me right now, not him. Part of my dog and pony show explains how no one gets it right - ever!
“I’m positive,” he said.
Whoa, that voice again! So, I continue with the dog and pony show telling him I will charge him twice when she is not a 7 and he will have to sign the work order that he understands this. He’s not even scared, you know, because ‘he’s positive’! I tell him the charge will be $45 and will only take a few minutes. He agrees and starts to pull out his debit card.
I put the ring in my apron pocket and walk back to the shop. I take out a hammer and I hit the top of my bench a few times really hard and loud. I wait a few seconds, and then I do it again, only louder. All the while, the ring is still in my apron pocket. I hammer my bench once more, you know, for effect, and walk back out front. I take the ring out of my pocket (untouched) and hand it to him and say, “That’ll be $45.”
“You haven’t done anything to it,” he said.
I put it on my ring stick and show him it was already a size 7, and say, “$45 please.”
“They told me that they didn’t have it in a size 7, but I could take it to any jewelry store and get it sized.”
“Well, I’m any jewelry store, and it’s a 7. That’ll be $45.”
Its here I finally convince him to put his debit card away and that his fiancé is not a size 7. And that I really, really need her, and her finger, standing in front of me so we can do this correctly.
My watch has a lifetime battery warranty.
She says while pulling out some fancy looking document. I start to explain to her, while she’s unrolling some fancy looking scroll, that she has to send the watch back to them to have the battery replaced under warranty.
She flipped through the pages searching for something, something that wasn’t going to change my mind, just in case you’re wondering. Finally, she finds the paragraph she was looking for. She’s pointing to it and reading it out loud: “You can take your watch to just any jewelry store and have the battery replaced under warranty and have them send the bill to us and we will promptly reimburse them.”
Yeah, sure they will.
“See, right there,” she says. “It says that you have to replace the battery under warranty.”
“I’m not just any jewelry store!”