Ask the Watch Guy: You vs. the Internet

Ask the Watch Guy: You vs. the Internet

I have mentioned sales tactics in previous articles about selling watches. Retail jewelers need–and must use –watch-selling add-ons to increase their close ratio, especially against the internet sellers. Below are some methods that really work for selling watches.

There are several ways to up your game and close the deal selling watches. First and foremost is to add value.

Most internet watch sellers offer a limited warranty, what we call in the trade a taillight warranty–once your car’s taillights are out of sight, your warranty has expired. You own it, it’s yours, and any problems you may have are yours and yours alone. If you offer a free lifetime battery with a quartz watch, or a two-year service warranty with a mechanical watch, you have an edge to make the sale and you can still make a handsome profit.

What if I told you that you could sell a watch brand like Movado at full retail mark-up by offering a lifetime watch battery replacement at no extra cost. If you had to replace a watch battery three times in five years and the watch took a 321 battery at a cost of about 50 cents each, that would come to about $1.50–not a bad investment for a keystone markup on the watch and a highly satisfied customer.  

I know that some of you will say, “What if the watch I sold needs to be repaired?” Truth is, that can happen in any circumstance. If you sold the above-mentioned watch and it needed a movement replacement, it’s no big deal. Harley Ronda movements cost in a range of $8 to $30. Many retail jewelers do their own quartz movement replacements. So, if you had to pay so little to replace a movement in a watch you sold for the sake of customer satisfaction, that’s a small price to pay.

But you don’t have to do it for free either.

Consider offering extended service plans with a watch sale. Imagine selling a watch for full retail and then selling an extended warranty of the watch you just sold for an added profit. This is not difficult as it may seem. As explained above, replacing a movement in a quartz watch is no big deal even if you do not do it yourself.

Let’s say you sell 100 quartz watches over a period of time and all of them are have an extended warranty. Over the course of five years, five of the watches will need a movement replacement. (Many times this will be due to rust. For this reason, we suggest that your warranty agreement contain the caveat that the watch must be returned yearly for inspection of gaskets and water resistance.) So let’s go on to say that the profit from those watch sales is $25,000. If you had to pay to repair five of them at a cost of $500, it’s a small price to pay. Watch companies realize a major part of their profits from after-market sales, i.e., parts and repairs. You should be as desirous of this part of the market as they are.

Who would you prefer buying from? A company that sells the same watch as everyone else with the same offer (“If it breaks, I have an address where YOU can send it”), or someone who offers compelling reasons to do business with them?

With every watch we sell, we offer a five-year free watch battery replacement and an extended warranty on movement repairs for $99 for five years. About five out of 100, on average, will take advantage of this service. If you paid someone to repair these watches for you, you would spend about $500. But if you sold 100 warranties at $99 the repair costs would represent only about 5 percent of your profit.

For those of you who are watch neophytes or just “don’t need the headache,” there are about a dozen large watch service centers in the country that handle jewelers’ headaches every day.  

My company, Colorado Timeworks, is a service center for a mid-sized chain store. No one at any of their stores performs battery replacements or does band adjustments. You may ask, why they don’t do those types of repairs themselves? They are smart enough to know that even those seemingly small, easy jobs can cause major customer problems if not done right, and they know that their employees don’t have the ability (or desire) to do them right. Additionally, if those jobs are performed “while-you-wait” it gives the impression that the job was so simple that it had little value.  

Some of you will immediately say that your customers will balk at having you send their watch away. In my father’s book, “It’s Time to Make Money with Watch Repairs,” he gives the ultimate Socratic question to ask at this point: “You want it done right, don’t you?” And it just sounds better for your customer to hear, “We are sending it to a service center for factory service,” then “Let me run in the back room and throw in a battery for you.”

Don’t be afraid to develop a relationship with a good service center or trade shop to take care of this part of the business for you. Factory service includes close inspection of the watch, professional battery replacement, replacement of gaskets, digital analysis of the functioning of the watch and cleaning the case and band. After all this, we water-test the watch before it undergoes final QC inspection. That’s what a service center can do for you. Additionally, when a problem does arise–and it will–you have a watch professional who will take care of it for you.
“Watch companies realize a major part of their profits from after-market sales, i.e., parts and repairs. You should be as desirous of this part of the market as they are.”
That chain store also offers some options at the point of sale of a watch. They offer lifetime service, lifetime (or five-year) battery service and, on a discretionary basis, offer some of these extra services at no charge as an inducement for the sale.  But, as a general rule, they offer this add-on service on all watch sales and upon all watch battery and watch service sales. This is no little thing. They charge $69 to $99 for a lifetime battery on even low-end fashion watches as well as their marquee brands. Their average week is 250 total watch batteries. Around 10 to 15 percent are “free” (lifetime) batteries. The rest are paid for by the customer.  

Imagine if every time you sold a watch or replaced a battery, you offered a five-year or lifetime battery or service contract. I guarantee you’ll be stunned at the number of people who own even fashion watches who accept your offer, let alone those with higher-end watches. Offering after-sales service is where the internet sellers are at a distinct disadvantage.

As I have written before, another way you can use your advantages as a professional jeweler vs. internet sellers is in outsourcing watches. Many people have asked me to locate a particular watch that they could easily find on the Internet themselves.

Why would they be willing to pay me more than they can pay on the internet for a watch? Honest to goodness, as I was writing this article I got a phone call from a gentleman who wanted to know if I sold a particular brand of watch. I told him he could easily find that on the internet at a better price than I could get it for him. His response: “I don’t want to buy anything I can’t feel on my wrist before I buy it, and I want to know who I am buying it from.”   

Customers know when they purchase a watch from me, I will take care of any problems they may have with the watch. They trust me. The lack of trust of the internet dealers is epidemic. We’re not saying that all internet sellers are cheats but, unfortunately, so many are that customers are looking for someone they can trust to buy from. They know that if there is a problem, they can face me and I will take care of the problem.

This caller is, like most people are, reluctant to buy watches from a faceless web page, never getting to wear the watch for a look-see and also dealing with the nagging worry about whether they are going to get their money’s worth.  

Of course, when you sell them the watch, you can offer those extended services as well.

Get to know and use a watch service center. In the end, it won’t cost you money–it will make you money. I know that many of you will have questions, so drop me a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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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