Ask the Watch Guy: Making Your Competitors Your Compatriots

Ask the Watch Guy: Making Your Competitors Your Compatriots

Those who do watch repairs and watch batteries can teach us all something. We had a comment from a jeweler earlier this year who does more than 17,000 watch batteries per year. She said that it nearly pays all her expenses. 

I recently surveyed the local mall for jewelers who do and do not replace watch batteries. Of the five national chain stores in the mall, all were on the same page: “If we did not sell the watch to you, we do not replace the battery.”

Half of them sent the watch to an outside service center.

There was a single independent jeweler who did watch batteries on watches he did not sell, but he was open only part time.

So that’s six retail locations in one shopping mall that don’t regularly change all customers’ watch batteries in-house, not to mention the anchor department stores that have the same policies as the national chain jewelry stores. These policies go a long way in creating demand for watch battery services.

What if I told you that it’s possible to convert those passive jewelers’ policies into a stream of watch repair and watch battery customers for you? Not one of those mall jewelers had any problems suggesting other businesses to get the battery replaced. What if they told their customers to go see you?

This is especially true when dealing with jewelers who would rather catch the plague then have anything to do with a watch. It’s a lot easier for them to blow off a customer when they have someplace to send them.

Imagine if you had the gumption to visit every place in your market area that either sells watches or installs watch batteries. First, make a list of those businesses including the big “mart” stores, then visit them all.

I know that most of you will shrink into your seats at the thought of visiting your competitors. But believe me, it’s very easy and you will be surprised at the reception you get. Most will thank you for visiting. But there are some ground rules.

When meeting the business owner or manager simply say with a big smile, “Hi, I am [your name] from [your store].” (NOTE: If your business name is Keller Jewelers it would be best to call yourself Keller Watch Repair or just Keller’s, especially if your name is something like Keller’s Discount Diamond Warehouse. You get the drift. Avoid threating names.) Then continue with, “…and we do watch batteries, pressure testing, watch band repairs,” etc. The “etcetera” is up to you. It’s OK to give them a laundry list of your services.

Have a good supply of business cards with you to leave with the store. If you can, it will be a plus if your cards have a little map on the back showing your location. You can place a discount offer on the card as well. Large, warehouse-type stores or large mall anchor stores can refer as many as 30 people per day! If you find that one of the stores who refers customers to you is really sending you a lot of referrals, make sure their supply of your business cards is always topped off.

You may be wondering why these stores are only too happy to refer their customers to another business. It is because too many times they have experienced problems by having their poorly trained clerks replace a battery. Once I had to rescue a large bulk, discount store that ruined a Piaget Polo (big bucks!).

I know that many of you will ask, “Who would bring a Piaget to that type of store?” But if you go to nine jewelers and all of them tell you to go away, what do you do? For some, the answer is to trust their watches with those who are barely qualified to identify that it’s a watch, let alone do any kind of repair!

Be thankful that many jewelers will not replace a battery. Tell the businesses you visit that you appreciate the referrals and if there is anything they need to let you know. Then wait for more business to walk in the door. It will get to the point where customers come in and you’ll know they are watch battery customers from what is in their hand: your business card.

This is one of the many ways profits can be realized with some knowledge of watch repair. If you yourself have never been trained to change a watch battery properly and professionally, we offer a free video on that topic on our website, TimeWorks.biz.

Jess Gendron is a seventh-generation watchmaker, having learned by his father Dan’s side since childhood. He is now the owner of Colorado Timeworks, a watch repair service center in Colorado Springs. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and his website is Timeworks.biz.

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