A Message from Our AWCI President, Fred T. White, CMW21, March 2015


It is with great pleasure that I welcome Mr. Tom Schomaker back to the classroom at AWCI.
He brings great skills, both as a watchmaker and an instructor, to our organization.
Welcome back, Tom!

“I Bargained with Life for a Penny and Life Would Pay No More….

 In last month’s PrFred T. White, CMW21, AWCI Presidentesident Message we discussed some of my experiences as an operator of a watch-repair shop for many years. This month let’s look at pricing our work for profitability. We all know the formula for how to look at our expenses: rent or mortgage, phone, auto, Internet, insurance, salaries, and various incidentals that may come up in the course of a year. But most of us forget to build in profit. How do you set your prices? Is it by what you think your competition would charge? How many of you are afraid to ask for the money? If you don’t ask for the money, people won’t just give it to you. How many times have you received a service or bought something and you said to the person serving you, “Here, take more.” (I’m not talking about tips). In the auto business we had a saying, “Hang the bacon high,” or, in other words, ask for more money—you can always come down.
    When we price our work, we should always ask for a fair price for our services. What is a fair price? What if you price a job and when the project is finished, you lost money? Was that a fair price for you? In the jewelry industry it is a common practice to mark things up keystone. Do you mark parts up when you buy them? I’ll assume that’s a yes. Good for you. Let’s assume you took an hour to research and find the part. Do you charge for that time?
    Let’s assume you repair 10 watches at $250 for a total of $2,500. But what if you raised your price by 25%? Now you can repair eight watches and make the same money. Learn to work smarter and make the same or more money, depending on the effort you wish to put into it.
    How do you overcome objection to your price? When people bring their timepieces to you, encourage them to talk about the item they brought to you. Some of them have an interesting history. If you get a watch that belonged to a favorite grandfather or was carried through a war by this person, or many other stories that can be told, you have a more-than-likely chance of getting a repair job. Very few watches bought at yard sales ever get repaired. I never pressure anyone to leave a repair job. Let them think about it. Some people experience sticker shock when a price is quoted. I always explain that the watch is fully disassembled, cleaned, reassembled, oiled, and adjusted. Also, I will point out my credentials. If they still want to think about it, that’s okay.    
    Think on your feet. Many years ago a customer brought in a clock for repair. We looked the clock over and gave her an estimate of $185. (When you give an estimate, don’t say anything until the customer responds.)
    The very next words out of her mouth were, “Can you do it any cheaper?” My reply was, “Yes, we can, but you have to go to your boss tomorrow and tell him to cut your salary.” I waited for her response. She said, “Fix it.” When you make a closing statement, wait for their answer.

 …I worked for a menial’s hire
Only to learn dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of life,
Life would have paid.”

~From the poem “My Wage” by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse