The role of repairs

It is an old retail saying that when the economy slows down repairs increase. And it makes sense that consumers would repair if they don’t have the cash flow to replace. Over the last few years sales have been healthy and the tendency to focus on repairs has decreased, however this is ignoring the benefit that an active repair business can contribute to your overall sales performance.

As a means of marketing, repairs can be one of the most effective ways of driving foot traffic - with the added advantage of also being profitable. What other form of advertising puts money in your pocket as opposed to taking it out? How else can you make your customers pay you to spend time in your store?

To know the effectiveness of your repair business it helps to first know how significant a part of your existing business it currently is. Where do your repair figures sit as a percentage of your sales? Do you process your repairs through your POS system? If you don’t record it, how can you measure it (and learn from it)?

A well managed repair department can generate (a) good profit, (b) good traffic flow (busy stores attract customers), (c) opportunities to build trust and build a bridge to generate sales. After all, customers generally won’t leave a treasured item with someone they don’t trust, so you have already established a warm relationship with these people.

To have a good profitable repair department, you don’t have to be the cheapest in town. When did you last check your competition’s repair prices? How do your prices compare? If they are cheaper - why? If they are higher - what validation can you give for that? (We have highly qualified experts on the premises. Our watchmaker is Swiss trained. etc). You should be able to give a credible answer to the customer on this question. The sincerity will either build or dilute the trust, so think carefully.

There are dozens of stories about how a simple repair led to a good sale. You probably have some of your own. When you take these additional sales into consideration it becomes difficult to put a true dollar value on the sales achieved by your repair department, but your repair section could be contributing as much to your business again in terms of product sales being made.

Think about it - if a customer goes ahead with a repair there is a good chance they will probably be visiting your store twice - once to drop the item off and once to collect it after the repair is completed. Each time they come in they are being exposed to your sales staff and your product range - if you approach this opportunity correctly.

Even if they come in once to wait for a watch battery, you have a good five minutes for them to explore your store while they wait - most advertisers would kill to have five minutes of a prospects undivided attention. If they don’t proceed with the repair you have the perfect opportunity to then offer a replacement (I’m sure you’ve lost count of the number of people coming in for a watch quote who leave with a new watch).

Before you increase your efforts in this area it helps to determine how you are perceived in the marketplace. This is the perfect time to have someone go and ask some passing people where would be a good place to get a repair done. The results can be interesting.

Repairs may seem like a necessary evil, but if approached from the right perspective they can be a useful ally and a key part of the process of driving sales for your store.

David Brown is President of the Edge Retail Academy, an organization devoted to the ongoing measurement and growth of jewelry store performance and profitability. For further information about the Academy’s management mentoring and industry benchmarking reports contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 877-569-8657.