1. What was your finest hour in the realm of customer service?
We had a customer who had a watch that belonged to their grandfather. It was broken and he took it to a couple of different places—it had a lot of sentimental value. But no one was able to fix it. We ended up being able to fix it; we had to make a new set lever bridge and a new balance staff. He was very happy. We don’t just do repairs—we do restorations. And we do everything in-house, using five watchmakers who have been with us for a long time. My business is 75 percent service and 25 percent retail. So every time the customer comes in and picks up their watch and sees that it’s shiny and keeping time, we feel very happy.
2. What is your single-best money-saving initiative?
I save money by spending money. We are up-to-date with all the manufacturing equipment and tools. When new equipment comes on the market, we get it. It helps our repair business by cutting work time and giving us better results. Time is money, and if we’re losing time, we’re losing customers. We have very strict quality control—we check every watch we repair three times to make sure it’s functioning properly.
3. How do you differentiate your store from the competition?
There’s a lot of competition locally, but my business is very different because of the level of service we provide and the knowledgeable staff I have. We are very educated in watchmaking—we’ve been doing this as a family-owned business since 1940. We don’t have any watchmakers who aren’t completely educated in every [facet] of watchmaking. It’s not like a regular repair shop. We have manufacturer-level tools and equipment.
And we talk to our customers as experts, explaining everything as we go. Once, I went to the dentist and he walked out and did something, then came back and did something else—without ever explaining anything to me. I didn’t go back to him. I like having things explained very clearly. When a customer walks through the door, we take the time to tell them everything about why their watch is broken and what needs to be done to fix it. This gives us an edge. We also are a factory service center for some great watch brands: Chronoswiss, Armand Nicolet, Revue Thommen, and U-Boat.
4. When you walk through your door, what do you like most about your store?
I really like the showcase I have in the front. It’s beautiful light-colored wood and glass, and it displays our collection of Armand Nicolet watches. I really appreciate the quality of those watches; the company makes all their own movements and develops them in-house. Back in the ’40s and ’50s, they collected all these movements and are now modifying vintage movements to modern standards.
5. What’s the best idea you’ve ever come up with for your store?
Expanding. I had a small place—less than 1,000 square feet. When we expanded, we more than doubled the area to close to 2,500 square feet. We hired lots of new people and it definitely paid off businesswise.