I’ve written many articles through the years documenting the countless changes that have occurred within our industry. A few months ago, it occurred to me that I had never written about the things that haven’t changed. I wrote about a few back then, but have had the time, and the feedback, to come up with a few other things that sadly refuse to change, and a few things that gladly haven’t changed.
I need it because I’m going out of town
Man, this one covers so many situations. “I need it by tomorrow because I’m going out of town.” Why do people think that their ‘going out of town’ needs to become ‘my’ emergency? I mean seriously, you’re leaving Saturday morning and coming back Sunday night. Why can’t you just be without something for 48 hours? I think we can all agree that jewelry and lifesaving heart medication are not the same thing when it comes to “I must have it with me at all times while I’m out of town.”
And it never fails, when you do go out of your way to put a rush on something so your customer can come in and pick it up before they go out of town, they don’t come in and pick it up. You know, so they could actually take it out of town with them like they insisted. I swear this happens 9 out of 10 times.
Then, a month or two later, after a dozen or more phone calls, they finally come in to pick up whatever it was you rushed for them that they needed – because they were going out of town! I’ve always wondered what would actually happen if everyone that said they were going out of town, actually left town. It would be a nice quiet weekend around here that’s for sure. I’m pretty certain this is just one of those things that will never change.
I’ve only worn this watch twice
We change a lot of watch batteries at my store. I’ll be honest with you, I like to do them. It’s just mindless entertainment to me, and pays me something like $500 an hour during the 2 minutes it takes me to actually change it. But it never fails that someone will come back a year or so later complaining that the battery I just replaced has already quit. And, it never fails, they say, “I’ve only worn it once or twice.” Ugh.
That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. And of course, they spent a few hours of their life digging around to find their receipt from the transaction that occurred 18 months prior. Double Ugh!
But, that leads me to this little nugget of wisdom for everyone. Whenever a customer asks: “How long will this battery last?”, my stock answer is, “It lasts exactly from the time I put it in until the time it quits.” Then I’ll throw in, “If you brought in 10 watches for batteries today, all 10 of them will stop at 10 different times. It’s the condition of the watch that determines battery life. All batteries are the same, all watches are different.”
Your customers’ kids are now your customers
One of the cool things that thankfully hasn’t changed is jewelers making and selling the wedding and engagement rings for your customers’ children. It’s even cooler when you made the parent’s wedding rings a couple of decades ago. Because I just celebrated my 30th anniversary of owning my retail store, this is becoming ‘a thing’ now. I’ve had a pretty good run on this one lately.
It’s pretty cool when you go to a party at a customer’s home and you know you’re responsible for all of the wedding and engagement rings in the room, all 18 of them. And that doesn’t even include all of the birthday and anniversary presents you were responsible for that everyone is wearing at the party.
Nice customers are always worth the effort
Yeah, I know I spend a lot of time writing about all of the crazy people we encounter in our businesses, but those people really are few and far between. If they were all day every day, I’d have to find a new line of work. I’d say that 99% of the repeat customers that come into my store are happy to see me, and I’m happy to see them. But whenever that 1% shows up, I become a different person. I’m going to do my best to try and make this our last professional encounter, just like I tried to do the last time they came in. Maybe they’ll get the message this time.
One of those ‘one percenters’ came in one day and showed me a blurry picture of an engagement ring on his old flip phone. He told me it was a ‘perfect’, 3 carat, blue/white diamond. I’m just staring at him wondering why he’s showing it to me. He then tells me because I ripped him off on a watch repair or something over a year ago, that he’s going to buy that from someone else. I looked him straight in the face and said, “I don’t care.” He then turns around and storms out.
Oddly enough, I’ve seen his wife at the grocery store a few times since then and she’s never had it on her finger. Me thinks he was lying to me. That’s why he’s a one percenter. My policy is if I have absolutely no shot at making someone happy, why even try. I’m pretty sure this type of customer will never go away.
But I only paid $20 for it
Another constant in this business is the perception that people have about the cost of a repair compared to the price that they paid for the piece. Surely, I must be mistaken about the $850 price I just quoted to repair their $20 trinket. In reality, there is a reason that TJ MAXX sold it for $19.95. It’s because it’s a $20 piece of costume jewelry that was never meant to be repaired, it was meant to be tossed when it finally broke. I only quoted $850 to make sure they didn’t leave it with me. When confronted with this situation, I just tell my customer that it’s possible to have a $4,000 transmission problem in a $2,000 car. I’m pretty sure this is just another one of those things that will never change. We just have to learn to tolerate it.
I never wear it
Seriously? Do you really expect anyone to believe that? How did it get so scratched up? How did it get bent right here? How did it get that brownish looking goo under all of the diamonds? And, why does it now have a foul odor? ‘Scuse me while I go throw up now.
I guess some things will never change!