We speak to many jewelers who are unaware of the profit potential available with watch repairs in their store. Something as simple and mundane as changing a watch battery–correctly, mind you–can yield thousands of dollars more for your store each year.
If it’s just the price of the battery service that sets you apart from the guy down the block, why should a customer come to you for that service? But, if you replace a battery in a professional, excellent and caring way, customers will be glad to give you the higher price, if they are getting more value.
In most jewelry stores, six out of 10 customers walking in the door are there for a watch battery replacement. It is just a few degrees difference between excellence and mediocrity. You and your staff should know how to perform a watch battery service professionally. It’s not difficult; it just takes a few more moments than “slapping in a battery,” and the rewards–both monetary and prestige–for your store are great.
When a customer hands you a watch for a battery, don’t immediately open the back and start flipping out the old battery. You should have a watch battery pulse tester (a device that is available on eBay, Amazon or at your friendly local watch materials distributor) to determine if the battery is indeed dead or if there could be another problem with the watch.
Let the customer know that you are checking the old battery first. As a matter of fact, it’s a good idea to do this on the counter, in front of the customer.
If the battery is, in fact, dead, still don’t open the watch right away. Instead, take time to inspect the timepiece. Is the crown worn or missing? Is the crystal scratched? Is the band in need of repair or replacement? Each of these conditions is an opportunity for an add-on sale.
When the pizza shop takes your order, don’t they ask if you want a 2-liter bottle of soda with that? They do this as standard operating procedure because it works. You should be doing this, too.
Now it’s time to open the watch to replace the battery. Even though it’s a relatively simple task, use your loupe to do the job properly, because not seeing what you are doing inside a watch can be perilous. Besides, it gives the customer confidence in your abilities if you are tooled-up and look the part.
Place your finger gently over the coil (the fine copper wire) of the movement. This will protect it from a slip with a tweezers. If you cut one of those copper coils, the entire movement is ruined and will have to be replaced–at your expense.
When the pizza shop takes your order, don’t they ask if you want a 2-liter bottle of soda with that? They do this as standard operating procedure because it works. You should be doing this (when you change watch batteries), too.
Before you remove the old battery, use your loupe to determine the pole of the up side of the battery (positive or negative.) Determine the battery number with which to replace it, and be sure that you have the battery in the same direction as the one you removed. Place the new battery in the watch and determine if this makes the watch tick.
Before putting the back back on the watch, be sure that the gaskets are in good shape (not dried out or stretched out) and replace them as necessary. It’s a small investment to have the customer know you care about their watch. Also, place a small amount of silicone around the gasket to restore the water resistance of the watch. (Note: This is water resistance, not waterproof.)
Next, take a toothbrush and some alcohol to the case and metal band to clean any foreign matter–or, as the French would say, “fromage de corps”–and then wipe the case and metal band with a polishing cloth. The look in the eye of your customer when they see their watch is shiny again is worth the 20 extra seconds this takes.
Don’t forget to set the watch to the correct time before you hand it back to the customer.
Now you can charge $15, $20, $25 or more for an item that costs you less than $1, and know that the value you add to this simple service will be appreciated by the customer and is something of which you can be proud.
In coming weeks, we will be discussing these processes in more detail, as well as other simple and profitable repairs you can achieve in your store.