29-year-old Smooth Seller from Keller, TX says it's possible to provide top-notch service on Net
[h5]Beckertime; Keller, TX [/h5]
Years in jewelry sales: 7
2005 personal sales: $4.5 million
[dropcap cap=A] one-time financial planner, Matthew shared his father's love for watches. As his dad, Gordon Becker, began to become more involved buying and selling watches on eBay in 1999, Matthew joined him on a part-time basis. "It was a way for us to work together and have fun," explains Becker. His sales savvy also came from his father, a sales trainer in the insurance business. Today, he runs the company with his stepmother, Carolyn (Gordon Becker passed away over a year ago).
Gordon Becker had too many watches. His wife, Carolyn, suggested he sell some through eBay — and Beckertime was born. In late 2000, his son Matthew joined him and turned the eBay buying and selling into a business, starting with vintage watches. By 2003, the Beckers' seller reputation on eBay was through the roof, and the web site was built to handle demand. Today, the company focuses on selling pre-owned Rolex watches and certain diamond jewelry.[/dropcap]
[componentheading]Smooth Seller Interview[/componentheading]
• MY FAVORITE THING about Beckertime is that we're open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even holidays. We're always available by phone or email, so a customer can ask a question at 10 p.m. and receive an immediate answer. (My stepmother) Carolyn works from nine to five, and I go from about noon until 10. I check emails at home until about 1 a.m. So really, there are only about eight hours when we're out of touch. We can conduct business from out of town and by cell phone — the only thing that makes the office necessary is shipping.
[blockquote class=orange]I wake up thinking, "I get to play with watches all day!" I don't work for a living. [/blockquote]
• BEING A SUCCESSFUL salesperson means giving every customer respect, really listening to them, and doing whatever possible to keep them happy before, during, and after the sale. And we're held accountable by every customer: eBay has a feedback system that allows us, and other eBay customers, to see what past customers have to say about our service. We've had almost 10,000 positive comments, with only 11 negative in the past seven years.
• WHEN I'M TIRED or don't feel like being at work, I thank my lucky stars that I can work from home. If I don't want to go into the office, I can forward calls to my cell phone. But just as importantly, Carolyn and I work very well together. If one of us is having a bad day, the other person has their back. Customers always receive 110% no matter what. Everyone has a bad day sometimes, but if I'm not in the mood to answer calls, she does it, and vice versa. It's a perfect relationship.
• I STAY continuously motivated because this company is my father's legacy. It's unique. The company began with my father and I — we were best friends. Nothing makes me happier than to continue his tradition and think, "He'd be so proud of us for keeping our customers happy and making money, and for all the right reasons."
• MY FAVORITE KIND of customer is an excited one. Someone who's genuine and nice to deal with. I love dealing with first-time Rolex customers. I remember when I received my first Rolex — it's a feeling so amazing, you only have it once. One time, I sold a large, beautiful diamond to a woman, and she called to say that she was so excited when she received it that the store where she worked had to close its doors because everyone wanted to see the diamond. When you hear that kind of excitement, it means more than words can say.
• THE PEOPLE who have influenced me most are my father and Carolyn. They are the two people I look up to and respect. They have very different ways of doing business — my father was more spread out with his hands in many different things, while Carolyn has simplified the business to specialize in pre-owned Rolex and certain jewelry. But they are both motivated by doing the right thing for customers.
• MY LUCKY CHARM is something very dear to me. It's an 18-karat gold dragon ring. It sits about two inches off your finger and has rubies, emeralds, everything you can imagine. My father was always going to extremes and buying one-of-a-kind items. This one was appraised at $25,000, and he purchased it one month before he died. We haven't sold it. Every time I look at it, it reminds me of him. We keep it in a glass showcase on our mantel. Even a king would find it gaudy, but it represents my dad's style.
• THE MOST MEMORABLE SALE of my career was selling a 10-carat diamond ring, EGL-certified. It's tough to sell a diamond of that size online (it looks like a lollipop ring!). It took the customer 60 days to pay for it because she had to take out a second loan on her house. The excitement she had when she received it was just unbelievable.
[blockquote class=orange]When I close a big sale, I like to reward myself with sushi. [/blockquote]
• IF I WASN'T in jewelry sales, I would be working! I don't consider what I do to be work — it's just too much fun. I was in financial planning before, and used to spend every hour before and after my day job working on the jewelry business. I recently got out of financial planning completely and dedicated 100% to Beckertime.
• REPEAT BUYERS are the lifeblood of a strong salesperson and jewelry operation. Forty percent of our business is repeat buyers, and many refer friends. Most of our customers will buy from us again. I make it too good for them not to. I don't like to say no.
• THERE'S NO MAGIC WORD in selling, for me. I don't have a hard sales approach. If a customer wants to shop around before purchasing, I help them. I'll assist them in finding out about different sellers, and I'll help them find the watch they want, even if it's from somebody else. Recently, a gentleman wanted a two-tone Rolex Datejust. I knew the other seller he was comparing, and he's a good guy. I couldn't beat the price, and I told the customer that the other seller would treat him well and he couldn't go wrong.
[blockquote class=orange]If they don't want it, I don't want to make them have it. It's a big purchase. [/blockquote]
• I WRITE THE MOST IN-DEPTH descriptions of each watch we sell that I've ever seen on any eBay listing. I take up to 10 pictures for each individual watch, and provide serial numbers. We have the highest "Power Seller" designation that eBay offers ("titanium"), which is important when someone's sending us thousands of dollars without ever meeting us. And of course, I provide a friendly voice on the line, ready to serve in any way I can.
• I MAKE MORE MONEY on my auctions than other sellers with more feedback. How? I will jump through hoops to make our customers happy. Some of our best feedback has been from customers who had problems with their products, but we took care of them. They write things like, "They refunded our money and everything was great." Potential customers know that the very worst that can happen is they return their item for a full refund.
• SOMETIMES, I'll play hooky for half a day and keep my cell phone on. Maybe I'll leave my email alone for four hours. I'm so neurotic about keeping up with emails, I probably need therapy.
• ONE THING I LOVE TO DO when we make a nice sale is "take it out on our customers." Meaning, I do lots of extra things for them, like offer free servicing, or a free warranty, throw in original packaging and manuals, or offer free shipping for an entire year. I want my customer thinking, "There's not a better company to deal with than Beckertime."
• THE FIRST PIECE OF JEWELRY I ever owned was a Swatch watch. This was back in the 1980s, and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. It got me started on watches. By age 16, I had 10 different Swatch watches, each as obnoxious as the other.
• THE THING THAT BUGS me most is when a customer scams us. Unfortunately, some buyers are cheaters. We shipped an $8,000 Rolex President that was returned back to us the day the buyer received it ... with a different movement. We do everything we can to make people happy, but I hate people who take advantage of the system.
• WHEN A CUSTOMER is unhappy, I view that as an opportunity. By the end of most of these conversations, I have a new best friend. Why are they upset? Most of the time, it's someone who's been screwed in the past. They've got their guard up, thinking that everyone who sells on the Internet will treat them poorly. I listen to them vent and then resolve the situation. If they don't like the watch, no problem! If they've had it two months and it's not working right, we'll take care of it! Many of our best customers started out this way.
• MY BIGGEST GOALS are keeping the company profitable, manageable and something we enjoy. I just want to wake up every day, enjoy what I do, and make money doing it. And, I want systems in place to be profitable so we can spend time doing the other things in life we enjoy doing.
• I LOVE GOLF, but I haven't played in a year and a half. I'm just too busy. Usually, after a long layoff, I go out and hit around 80, followed by a 100 round. My handicap is a 14, so I'm just good enough to win at the betting.
[span class=note]This story is from the June 2006 edition of INSTORE[/span]