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The Guarantee of Watch Performance

From Horology magazine, April, 1939

The Guarantee of Watch Performance
By P. Buford Harris

Better jewelers and horologist everywhere have lang realized there was a great evil growing up around the ward "guarantee" as applied' to' bath new watches and watch repairs. From time to time many suggestions have been made far bringing this evil under control. Most of these suggestions had same good paints as well as same bad ones. However  despite this agitation far corrective measures, there seems little likelihood of concerted action an the part af the industry as a whale to' do' anything about it.

All of which means, of course  that the evil continues to' grow and spread, slowly becoming mare and mare difficult to control  The "jackleg" who cannot even do a good plumbing jab can, and frequently does, set up shop, calling himself an "expert watchmaker," and offers a guarantee that is either identical with, or superior to, that offered by the best horologist in town. In many cases this frightens the better watchmaker into expanding his guarantee until the whale thing would be a huge joke if it were not a tragedy.  When the better jewelers follow the lead af the incompetents  they in turn spread out again by offering prices which are ridiculous to those in the know. But the layman, who is unfamiliar with conditions, gets a bad impression of the whale industry. He feels that perhaps the so called better jewelers have been holding him up an repair prices.

"Oh, well," it is so easy to' say, "let him give us bath a trial and be convinced." Excellent logic, as far as it goes. Unfortunately the layman does not do that. Too frequently he goes first to the man who apparently offers him the mast far his money. That is a human trait with which we are all more or less imbued.  And it gives the incompetent and unscrupulous workman a distinct advantage. He has nothing to lose.

"And what," we may well ask, "is the answer?" Unfortunately it is easier asked than answered. However, some of the more progressive jewelers have given much constructive thought to the subject.  Their cumulative results, I believe, should be of interest to every aggressive jeweler and horologist.

Being convinced that collective action is impossible, they believe the only possible solution is an individual proposition, to be worked out by each individual jeweler after he has taken into consideration all factors and conditions existing in his own particular locality. The following list of suggestions should not be considered as perfect or ironclad, but may be added to and taken from, changed and experimented with, until a system peculiarly suited to the individual jeweler is worked out. This way lies progress.

Service is to be the new watch word.  Not service as it has so often been used - just another catch word that had no meaning in fact-but a determined effort to give 24 hour service on practically any repair job. This is what is meant by service. Of course, it is not possible on all repair jobs. But with the present day facilities at the command of the horologist, 24 hour service is possible on a big majority of watch repair work. Air mail service has brought the supply houses almost next door Cleaning machines, jeweling tools, and other modern methods of expediting repair work, combined with more complete stocks of materials and supplies can make, and in many cases already are making 24 hour service an actuality.

The physical aspects can be overcome. Now what advantage does this service offer the jeweler? There are many answers to this question, some of which are obvious. Remove your own watch and notice how frequently you look for it the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours. If it were in the shop, and ready, you would gladly pay any charges just to have your companion with you. However, the longer you go without it the less you miss it. After several days you scarcely look for it anymore. Hence, you would be in no hurry to get it. The jeweler would probably have it hanging on his racks for weeks before you got around to it. Meantime his money is tied up while the work accumulates, whereas if the job had been ready the next day, you would have been happy with the watch in your pocket and the job would have been profitable to the jeweler. As a jeweler, just remember that your customers are just so many you's, with much the same likes and dislikes, the same desires that you have. And by equipping your shop to render this kind of service, you are giving the "tinker" and the "jackleg" competition he cannot hope to meet. No claim he can make will offset it.

So much for the service itself. Now what of the guarantee and what effect will it have on store traffic?

First, the guarantee as we now know it will be completely abolished. Every jeweler wants his service department to bring traffic into the store while at the same time paying its own way. Here is how it can be done.

With every watch sold and every watch repaired, give a conditional guarantee. And stress the fact that the guarantee is conditional. Follow the lead of the better garages and auto dealers in stressing modern repair methods and equipment. Show your shop to the public. Let them see you doing the work, if they care to. It inspires confidence. They will appreciate your aggressiveness. Then let them know that your guarantee merely covers any defects in workmanship and material for a period of, say, six months, with the proviso that the watch must be brought in for your inspection at least once each month during that period. If this rule is violated, the guarantee is voided. Think of the advantage of having every watch and every repair customer in the store every thirty days ! Yet it is as simple as that and will cost you exactly five cents.

Here is all you must do. Keep a complete card repair system, giving customer's name, address, phone number, and a complete record available to the customer at all times, and keep a record of each additional job and each inspection. Each time you add a name to the file, place five post cards in a thirty day file. Each card should bear this customer's name, address, and on the back just a short reminder that he is due in for another check up of the repair job on his watch, or if it is a new watch, for a check up. Each day, as you go through the 30 day file, you can take out the cards for that day and drop them in the mail. They should be so arranged in the file that the first one will be mailed one month after the delivery date of the watch. Then one will follow each month thereafter for the duration of the guarantee.

If the customer is given to understand that the guarantee is voided if he does not come in within a given time after he receives the notice, it will be that much more attractive. This system gives you two advantages. It brings the customer into the store once each month, gives you a chance to look the watch over carefully, locate and correct any possible trouble, and make any needed adjustments such as oiling, regulating and so forth. On the other side of the ledger, it brings the customer into your store at least six times. Surely you can form a lasting friendship over such a period. And you have not had to give the man two free repair jobs, and a set of dishes, for the price of one.

To my knowledge, a program along similar lines is now being used in one or two shops. The jewelers who have taken the time and effort to work out the system and get it operating smoothly, report excellent results on both counts - that is, customers are well pleased over the 24 hour service feature, and equally enthusiastic over the guarantee that brings them into the store for a regular free inspection.

One man reports that by actual figures, taken over a period of months, he has sold an average of $1.00 per call to each customer coming back for a periodic check up.

Take your total number of watch customers coming in from six to twelve times each, and figure out the possibilities for yourself.

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