Across The Counter
Reprinted from July 1991
Simple Words Can Make Grownups Cry
I hate to see a grown man cry! Actually, I think I’ve seen RB weep three times in his entire life.
The first time was when the watch manufacturing companies came out with an unbreakable mainspring. The second was when they came out with a shockproof staff, and the third was when they came out with a five-year battery.
All these things designed to keep the watch running and out of the shop and giving your customer a good product also keep the customer out of your store where he or she just might make an impulse purchase.
No broken staffs, no mainsprings, no batteries, and no reason to visit the repair department.
I don’t think RB wept over it, but he came close to tears when watch manufacturers put a battery hatch on a watch that could be removed and serviced by the customers.
Where are the thought patterns of the great thinkers in this industry. They reason that the less trouble a watch gives, the happier a customer you have. Well your customer may well be happy some place else. With no particular need for the skills of a watchmaker, he can do his repair work at the drug or discount counter.
When we first opened this store, we paid Welcome Wagon something like $1 per call they made plus a certificate for free jewelry cleaner. So for the purpose of getting one customer through our door, one time, we paid $1.50. Watches, which stop for various reasons, brought them in for a profit, albeit small.
In our city, there is a watchmaker/jeweler who consistently used the cheapest watch batteries he could find – this against advice of large companies and certainly not in keeping with professional ethics.
One day RB was leaning on his competitor’s counter talking shop when a disgruntled customer plopped her electric watch down on the counter and told him this was the second time it had stopped since he’d put a battery in it six months previous.
This man has the gift of gab and he effectively soothed her ruffled feathers and bid her look about while he put in another battery free of charge. She agreeably went off with the salesperson to look at merchandise.
RB was puzzled and said, “Why do you use those cheap batteries? For a few pennies more you could go with the best. Look at the comebacks you have.”
With a non-professional twinkle in his eye, he replied, “Just that, old buddy, they come back, maybe two or three times a year, and this gives me the chance of showing them merchandise!” A bit of logic in his non-professional thinking.
We can still be thankful that Cross Pen and a few other companies have seen fit to provide the customer with a place to buy lead and supplies. Lighter manufacturers have consistently provided the jeweler with fuel to bring the customer back.
While RB was doing his weeping, I did a bit of my own. I wept when the watch companies came out with the bands which are either made right to the case or must be factory ordered. Who in the heck can sell a replacement band on such a style?
Within nine months, the average band of this type is totally shot. No jeweler wants the job of wrapping it up and mailing it back to the factory and waiting six to eight weeks for a replacement – if they have one.
Customers don’t like it either. What happened to our replacement band sales? They went way down. Customers are irked and the industry is suffering.
LED and LCD watch sales bring the customer back twice a year-for resetting. I can both laugh and cry over this because every spring and fall, one out of three customers who come through the door will be for this purpose.
I’ve had my share of tears and while it is no secret you feel better if you cry, I still hate to see grown men and women reduced to tears.
Just like the oil companies hate the thought of synthetic fuel, I suffer from my share of horror thoughts, too.
What about the “permanent prong,” “wear resistant shank,” “the unbreakable opal,” “permanently clean jewelry,” “chains which never break,” “watch bands that never wear out” and “wedding bands being made illegal.”
Maybe even genuine synthetic diamonds for $10 – not CZ. It’s enough to make one laugh-or cry.