I tell customers their special order or repair will be
returned to them within 2 to 3 weeks. However, a lot of the time it
takes a month or even a little longer for him to get me the items.
My customers get understandably upset, so I spend a lot of time
smoothing ruffled feathers, offering future store credits, etc.
Customer service is a major priority with us, and I will bend over
backwards to keep the customer happy.
Doug, Even though we don’t know each other, this sounds as if you are
talking about me. I am sorry. I wish that I could figure out how to
make everyone happy all of the time.
The fact is that I don’t pull many parts off of the shelf, bag them
up and send them out. A full eigthy five percent of my work is custom
order. I am constantly looking for satisfactory ways to automate my
business or even send out my orders to Stuller or any other large
manufacturer to get the work done quicker and take a small
Business has changed drastically in the last thirty years. Now, any
common retailer can and will order from Stuller, fill those orders
and pay some weekend trained “Master Goldsmith on the Premises” a
minimal wage to set them. I am left with the job of filling orders
that require a lot of individual attention. If I hire these
"jewelers", I can’t seem to pay them, because I can’t sell you any
parts that they can make. I can’t afford to train them anymore,
either. Retailers seem perfectly willing to hire anyone that can get
the “wait job” done and then complain when they can’t seem to get
their special orders filled profitably.
I don’t know if you have an idea of what I do. I work alone. I start
my day by walking through my jobs and picking out the most time
sensitive jobs, sitting down and working. The special orders need an
individual strategy to execute. A small mistake in the beginning can
mean hours of recovery time redoing a job. Another kicker to the
process of presenting jobs in a timely manner. On my web page, there
is a photo of an enamel/diamond collar the required weeks of real
labor because I ignored a small change that the client made during
the design phase. I had incorporated the change, but production was
impossible. The retailer insisted on execution by the promised date
and with no more time to back up and redo the job I was forced to
move ahead to turn in a disastrous piece of work. I turned around and
supplied more gold and several weeks of free time to recover. That
mistake will not happen again. That was a bigger disaster for me than
Often, I will get a call and someone asks if some particular job
that was promised for three weeks from now can be fitted into
tomorrow’s schedule because their “client is leaving town and won’t
be back 'til Hell freezes over”. I try to accomodate these problems.
As soon as I do, Any scheduling that I have done becomes moot. This
is why I have to walk through the work first thing in the morning.
Everything gets rescheduled every day and often several times a day.
My supplier apologizes for the delays but nothing ever
Maybe you should give up on changing the jeweler and make your own
I'm starting to not be so nice and understanding about the
chronic delays as it is costing me customer satisfaction. The easy
answer is for me to tell my customers that the waiting period will
be 4 to 6 weeks, but I don't think that will fly with them.
I recommend that you not tell your jeweler exactly how much time
that you have for the job’s completion and, instead, monitor the
progress within reason. Don’t call and ask for daily status on every
job. Call and let him know which jobs are imperative today and
tomorrow. If he is like me, he will get the easy jobs out early
anyway. They are the ones that he makes the most money on.
I think the answer is for my supplier and I to agree to some
sort of "discount system" where he is financially punished if he
doesn't live up to his promises. For example, if the agreement is
all work returned to me within 2 weeks, anything received after 2
weeks I receive free shipping. Anything after 3 weeks free shipping
plus 10% discount, and then 5% more every week after that.
I won’t buy into this system. As the example above shows, I am will
to take too much punishment already. After all, I have adjusted my
scheduling to help close your sales. I don’t add thousands of dollars
to my gross by accomodating these special services. Sometimes I give
myself a small bonus, but the retailer gets to close a good sale that
would otherwise go the way of the wind.You probably need to learn how
to accomodate my needs now.
I think the supplier is capable of getting the items back to
me within 2 weeks, but that he's just deciding to work on new
orders from other customers first since he knows from past
experience that no matter how he treats me I'll still re-order from
him because his stuff sells well!
It is a very competitive world out there. A lot of new businesses
start up because they entrepreneur sees a huge markup in jewelry
sales. What he doesn’t see is all of the hidden costs of those sales.
If you are low on the priority list, maybe you need to do something
that would put you a little higher in your jewelers sights. Trust me,
he is working as heard as he knows how and deserves everything that
Do I sound a little jaded or resentful? I’m sorry about that as well
as the fact that your job is now a week late.
Bruce D. Holmgrain
JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler