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David Geller

David Geller: Repair Man

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One way to get better prices on repairs is to learn how to romance them. David Geller is your ‘love doctor.’

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[h3]Repair Man[/h3]

[dropcap cap=W]hen selling jewelry, you can “make it up in volume”. I mean, if it snows today and no one comes in the store, you can always make up for it by selling twice as much tomorrow. But if it snows today, and no repair customers come into the store or the jeweler doesn’t show up, you can’t make up for a losing day in the repair department tomorrow. The jeweler will have a really hard time doing twice as many repairs to make up for a bad day today. (Well, unless he works a 16-hour shift).[/dropcap]

There are only three ways to make the repair department more profitable:

A. Have the jeweler work faster or more efficiently. (Which we’ll assume, for the most part, he is.)  
B. Lower his pay. (Not a good idea.)
C. Increase prices.

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[inset side=right]You’re worried that if you raise your prices on repairs, customer will balk.[/inset]Increasing prices is the easiest way. Don’t be bothered by “customers won’t pay.” They will. You might have heard me say this before (but I’m going to keep saying it until all of you stop underpricing your repairs) … anyway, jewelers across the country tell me that nine out of 10 customers will pay for the repair no matter what they charge. To give you an example, the lowest price to size a ring I’ve heard comes from one jeweler in Los Angeles at $5. And the highest I’ve heard is $120 from a jeweler in Texas. That’s right, the going rate to size an engagement ring smaller is from $5 to $120. But you know what? Both of these jewelers have a 90% closing ratio on repair sales.  

Typically, I see prices ranging from $15 to $35. In our current price book, the rate is $28 to size a gold ring smaller and $43 smaller to do the same thing in white gold (rhodium plating). Everyone using the book is getting a 90% closing ratio. You will, too.

You’re worried that if you raise your prices on repairs, customer will balk. They might. Customers balk at all sorts of things. Customers complain about $15 sizings and $35 sizings. So, hey, if they’re going to complain anyway, let them complain about higher prices. Mark my words … 90% will pay.

If you want to have any easier time selling repairs, and thus, make more money, you shouldn’t “clerk” repairs. They must be romanced just like jewelry from the case. Here are some really poor responses jewelers give to customers who say: “Hey fellow, that seems high just to size a ring. The store down the street only charges $18.”
Please don’t respond with:

“That’s what we charge.”
“They obviously know the value of their work.”
“I’ve got bills to pay.”
“Hey, if you want a $18 sizing, go back to them.”
“If they were cheaper, why didn’t you buy it there?”  

These are insulting and don’t answer the customer’s true concern. If the customer says “Why do you charge $28 and they are only $18?”, what they are really saying is:

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“Please tell me the difference in having it done here versus there. You just might convince me that the extra $10 is well spent.”

You’re probably selling jewelry from the showcase by “romancing” it. (E.g. “This ring matches your bracelet, it’s perfect to accessorize the spring colors, and it can be worn virtually on any occasion.”)

But too many people “clerk” repairs. Remember, repairs need romancing, too. There are two sides to selling and romancing a repair. One is mechanical and the other is emotional. Let’s use the example of charging $28 to size a ring smaller. The customer says “Seems high, why? What’s the difference between you and Rick’s Repair?”

Let’s be a fly on the wall in Jones Jewelers’ showroom:

Us: “Mrs. Smith, when we size a ring we take extra care to be sure the shank thickness remains the same. We then round up the ring, check each stone for tightness and tighten any that are loose. We then completely refinish the ring; removing the scratches and making it look like the day it was given to you. We guarantee all of our workmanship for a full year.”

Smith: “Hmm, sounds good … but still, I don’t know.”

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Us: “We have two jewelers working for us and it took us a long time to get the two best in the city. Most jewelers who apply for a job here are not hired; they can’t match our craftsmanship standards. One has been in the business 20 years, and the other over 10. Both jewelers typically work on rings of high value. Just yesterday, Mike set a $7,000 diamond for me. This is the jeweler who will size your ring and you do want that kind of expertise on your ring, don’t you?”

Smith: “Absolutely!”

Did I lie? Nope, I just explained to the customer what we do to her ring. This was a “mechanical” sales technique.
Let’s look at an “emotional” repair sales approach:

Us: “I know you asked for the ring to be sized, but I’d suggest you consider a new half shank. Yours is worn, thin and beginning to bend.”

Smith: “How much is a half shank?”

Us: “When we replace the shank, we’ll replace it on your ring from 3 o’clock around to 9 o’clock. It will be thicker and thus stronger. The jeweler will check and tighten the stones and refinish it like new. And it’s only $125.”

Smith: “$125? That seems like a lot, I just wanted it sized.”

Us: “The price of the shank is about 50% labor to install, and 50% for the gold. And it’s worth every penny. But let’s look at other things about your ring. I’ve noticed the thin red line on the bottom of your finger from the thin-ness of the shank. See here? That’s because it’s thin. I bet it cuts into your finger?”

Smith: “Yes, I cringe when anyone shakes my hand. If they squeeze my hand, it hurts.”

Us: “I bet. In addition, a new shank will be wider, thus making it feel smoother on your finger and more comfortable.”

Smith: “Yes, but $125?”

Us: “How long have you had the ring?”

Smith: “My husband gave it to me when we got married. This July is our 20th anniversary.”

Us: “Super! A new shank and refinishing the ring will make it look like it did when he gave it to you on your wedding day. I can’t make you two look like you did 20 years ago (grin), but I can do that to your ring!”

Smith: “I’ll do it! When can I have it back?”

Us: “A week from tomorrow. Did I mention we offer an express service.?”

Practice makes perfect. So, practice this during your sale meetings.

David Geller is an author and consultant to jewelry-store owners on store management and profitability. E-mail him at [email protected].

[span class=note]This story is from the August 2005 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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