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David Geller

David Geller: Scheduling Repairs? Make Time Your Friend

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Organize your process for repair drop-offs and pick-ups, and your customers, jewelers and bottom line will thank you for it.

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[h3]Scheduling Repairs? Make Time Your Friend[/h3]

[dropcap cap=W]hen we first started, I wanted to give the best service there was and believed that we should use a trusted 2000-year-old method: A wall calendar. It has seven days, so we promised seven days from “today.”[/dropcap]

The result was we had to work a lot of nights and weekends to meet that promise of “a week from today.”

[inset side=right]This caused us a great amount of chaos over the first 10 years. It angered a lot of clients when we missed dates, and it cost us money.[/inset]This caused us a great amount of chaos over the first 10 years. It angered a lot of clients when we missed dates, and it cost us money. We didn’t have anything on a computer so we couldn’t run any reports on what was due that day. If a job was ready it would be in the finished box. But if it wasn’t there, we’d end up asking eight to 10 people, “Do you have Mrs. Smith’s lobster claw on a chain?” These were eight to 10 people making $10 to $15 an hour to look for a $15 job.

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Once we got a program (Jewelry Shopkeeper) we were able to run reports, but promise dates were still a problem. The staff always wrote down “one week” as a date, or if the customer whined, they pushed forward the day, leaving us with more late-night work.

So we went to Office Depot and bought a white board and made a sign that hung in the showroom. The foreman every morning would write the next date available for work to be completed based upon how the shop was doing. If it was going to take two weeks, so be it. At least we could make that date and the customer wouldn’t be upset because it wasn’t done on time.

If the customer needed it faster we immediately opened our price book and showed them the “Express Service” — a $15 charge which meant they could have it done right now, or by closing, instead of waiting two weeks and paying $10. If we were backed up, “Express” could also mean “within 24 hours.” So if two guys are working on a custom ring promised for 5 p.m. today, this customer could get her sizing tomorrow at 11 a.m. Most express jobs were simple repairs.

When we offered the express service, 40 percent of the customers took it with a smile. And because the sales staff and jewelers were on 100 percent commission, it soon became the norm to ask.

I have visited other stores and seen their methods. One used one of those big calendar desk pads. Their shop foreman accepted jobs from the staff and helped them with details and pricing. Knowing he had three jewelers doing the work and also knowing each jeweler could do only 5.5 hours of bench work a day (that’s 16.5 hours total a day), this is what he did:

If the next available free day was a Thursday, he wrote the job number next to it with the estimated time to fix: 1.25 hours.

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When another job came in he put the number in the Thursday box and added 1.0 hours. When Thursday reached 16.5 hours, that was it! Next available day was Friday. Sorry, can’t be done sooner.

They were always on time.

Another jeweler I met works on weekends at a flea market that is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. He works also during the week in his home shop.

Work Drop Off Pick Up Price
Sizing Smaller Friday Saturday $28
Sizing Smaller Friday Sunday $25
Sizing Smaller Friday Next Friday $22

 

He had a three-tier pricing system (above).

In this way he could do the work that evening, deliver tomorrow and charge premium prices. Or take the work home and do it during the week. It worked great for him.

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At our shop, we also used small round dated stickers and placed them in the upper right-hand corner of the job envelope.

[inset side=left]If you have no delays the next week, take the jewelers out Friday night for pizza and beer — on you.[/inset]

I chose the color for the day I wanted the jeweler to finish the job, not the promised date.

Sometimes the promised date would be three days later, but that wasn’t what I wanted the jeweler to see. After he was finished with the job it might still have to be mailed or sent to an engraver. Besides, if a job is promised for the 25th, the jeweler thinks he can have it ready at 5:59 p.m. on the 25th. Meanwhile the customer is expecting it to be ready when the store opens at 10 a.m.

I used this system even when we moved to the computer program.

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 May 2008 edition of INSTORE[/span]

You can buy these stickers online at: monsterpackaging.com, $14.61 for a roll of 400. Include the cost of shipping and for less than $100 you could be organized within five or six days.

If you have no delays the next week, take the jewelers out Friday night for pizza and beer — on you.

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