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Untrainable!


#1

Hello Fellow Orchidians: I thought some of you bench people might
like to share your favorite stories about “untrainable” retailers
and salespeople. I know, it sounds mean to pick on them, so maybe
we should only pick on the ones who are, in addition to being
ignorant, are anything but humble about the limits of their
knowlege. Let’s call them “clueless and proud of it”. I had one
today I just had to tell you about.

This morning, I get a call from a local optical retailer. He’s got
2 metal eyeglass frames he need fixed ASAP! I pick them up at 10:00
a.m., take them to the shop, take out the lenses, clean the frames,
hard solder the break in each one, polish the repair area, clean off
the scorched clear coat and re-spray coat and heat cure, replace the
lenses, bag `em up, and have them deliverd by 1:00 p.m. Total
charges, including express service, pick up, and delivery . . .$30.
Half an hour later, the guy calls me, say’s “I’ve got a torch, I
want to fix them myself. What kind of solder do I use and where do
I get it?” I tell Mr. Cheapskate, “call Rio, order some silver
solder, here’s the number”. My office manager is incensed, “the
nerve!” I tell him, it’s okay, I think he’s going to find out
there’s a little more to this than he thinks. Meanwhile, let’s find
out who his competition is, they’re going to be getting his repair
business eventually and we’ll be ready to help them. Of course, if
and when he gets back to us, we’re going to be “too busy” to take on
any new accounts.

David L. Huffman


#2

I would have told him I am in the repair business, not the teaching
business. Let him find out for himself where to get the materials.
If you have already lost him as a customer, why worry.He’s a gonner,
and a few other things too! Goback to concentrating on the
jobs/customers that you will make money from. He simply removed
himself from the list of people you are concerned with.Ed


#3

Hello everyone,

Some of the worst retailers to deal with are those very new to the
game, and some of those who have been around for decades. Some of
the newbies are shameless cost-cutters, and will cut corners in
every way imagineable, often at the expense of those who they
employ, and the peril of those whom they serve.

The real melon-scratchers are those who should know better, but are
so tired and jaded by the daily grind that they become disinterested
in being responsible to anyone other than themselves. Here’s an
example:

One of my accounts sent me a ring which needed to be made over, in a
big way. This retailer has been involved in the trade for about 40
years, works at the bench when necessary, and “knows everything
there is to know”.

It was worth the effort, not junk, and had enough integrity to
survive daily wear for many years if the repairs were performed
properly. I spent the time, rebuilt it carefully, and returned the
finished piece within a few days. I then received a call from the
retailer, who had a problem with the price he was charged. Liked the
work, but didn’t appreciate the quality. After I justified what I
had done, by letting him know that his client would be very pleased
with the results, he agreed, and all was well.

A couple of hours later, he called again. He wanted to know if I
knew any “repair goldsmiths who worked on the side, basement kinda
guys” who I might refer him to to do the types of repairs which I
had just done for him. I asked him why he would want to find someone
like that, and he replied, “I need someone who will just do the work
for cheap, someone who doesn’t care.”

I no longer do the company’s service work, nor anyone else’s who has
a similar philosophy. I have less and less time to teach retailers
how to stay in business, but maintain the highest respect for those
who will learn on their own about the products that they sell. The
ones who really care about the jewellery will derive more
satisfaction from their work than the bottom-liners and
bottom-feeders who are motivated by greed alone. These types view
their customers as “fish”, who will bite at anything shiny that you
wave in their faces. This is immoral, and these people do not
deserve our time or effort.

David Keeling
www.davidkeelingjewellery.com


#4
I would have told him I am in the repair business, not the
teaching business. Let him find out for himself where to get the
materials. 

In my opinion, Dave Huffman’s actual response was much better (give
the guy Rio’s address; let him find out the wonders of
eyeglass-frame repair for himself). After all, the guy is just
trying to make a buck (like most of the rest of us). Dave assumes
the guy IS trainable and will rapidly come to a much more
sophisticated understanding of jewelry repair, i.e., will afterwards
not touch it with a ten-foot pole! This is why I don’t mind giving
people my “secrets” of metalworking (few as they are). I know how
much work is involved in all these processes - the vast majority of
folks are either unwilling or unable to do it and are no threat.
Anyway, “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” [Sorry for the KJV
quote; it’s what I memorized in my distant youth. Now I only read
translations like NRSV or NEB. The idea is the same, anyhow.]


#5
    Anyway, "A soft answer turneth away wrath."  [Sorry for the
KJV quote; 

I like it, and I’ll remember it. But, as it applies to the case of
our untrainable friend, here’s another. “Cast not your pearls before
swine, lest they trample them underfoot and turn and rend you.”

David L. Huffman


#6
    Dave assumes the guy IS trainable and will rapidly come to a
much more sophisticated understanding of jewelry repair, 

Hi Len and Judy;

Actually, I’m not so charitable in this case. He’ll never be a good
customer. He doesn’t need to repair eyeglass frames, he can just
sell them. If he thinks my prices are too high (68% of what a ring
sizing goes for in these parts) or my turnover time too long (3 hours
in this case), and he finds out he can’t do it himself (which is a
sure bet), he’ll either go back to using the guy he used before (who
he dumped because his turnaround time was 2-3 weeks), or he’ll let
his competition pick up that business. I, of course, will provide
them with better turnaround, so they may take that business from him
anyway. I won’t take him back, since he’s an idiot, and if his
competitors also know what an idiot he is, they’ll give me work just
for the satisfaction of knowing they’re smarter than him. I had a
similar experience with another account who got suddenly abusive with
me. I had hear stories about him, but I didn’t get the impression he
was a nut-case until one day he just went off on me over something
trivial. I dumped him, and he had to go back to his previous 3
jewelers who were, respectively, very expensive, very slow, and very
incompetent. After a while, I started seeing a lot of job envelopes
with his long time customers’ names on them coming from my other
accounts. So now I don’t have time to do his work even if I wanted
to, and I’ve got just as much to do as I did before I gave up his
account. Nope, the charitable part was when I was helping these
ingrates give good service and giving them good work and good
prices. Now it’s a case of letting the Devil take the hindmost.

David L. Huffman


#7
   "I need someone who will just do the work for cheap, someone who
doesn't care." 

Hi David;

I’ve seen your work on your web site and the craftsmanship is
definitely top shelf. I have the utmost respect and admiration for
what you are doing. I hope you grow to never need to do business
with anyone who doesn’t recognize this and I would hate to think of
you having to resort to doing sloppy work to make it cheap enough to
satisfy these bottom-feeders… These people are jaded and cynical
for one of two reasons, I suspect. Either they’ve become that way
because they are participating in a business model which is doomed,
or they were lacking a sense of integrity from the get-go. Maybe
it’s both.

David L. Huffman


#8

In that vein I always liked " you can’t teach a pig to sing, it
wastes your time and annoys the pig". Seems pigs have a poor
reputation every where. Frank Goss


#9
        In that vein I always liked " you can't teach a pig to
sing, it wastes your time and annoys the pig". Seems pigs have a 
poor reputation every where. Frank Goss 

Hi Frank, Thanks very much for your explanation about inlay. What
you say makes perfect sense, but it is indeed very labor intensive.
It’s interesting to see how many people come up with different good
ideas. This said, the world underestimates the pig. Past year, I read
an article (in ‘Nature’, I think) on ongoing research in Nijmegen
(Holland) about the intelligence of pigs. Pigs are more intelligent
than dogs. Their problem solving capabilities are astonishing - much
unlike David’s ‘client’. Pigs can be really playful and are in for
mischief. These are great animals. It’s a crime to see them as
potential pork shops only. They even has a sense of morality
(seriously). Of course, the point that Chomsky made in this regards
holds: it’s us who are measuring intelligence and it is our
conception of intelligence, so it’s all very anthropenctric. An ape
is not as intelligent as we are, but he doesn’t have to be. An ape
can do things we can’t do - and he’s perfectly adapted to his
environment too (maybe even better than we are?). Best,Will


#10

Hello Orchidland, David Keeling’s recent posting:

He wanted to know if I knew any "repair goldsmiths who worked on
the side, basement kinda guys" who I might refer him to to do the
types of repairs which I had just done for him. I asked him why he
would want to find someone like that, and he replied, "I need
someone who will just do the work for cheap, someone who doesn't
care. 

David’s experience reminded me of a personal friend who does bench
work about 20 hours a week for a retail jewelry store, and has been
there over 20 years. He does everything and does it quickly. Last
I heard he only makes US$22/hour and has no benefits. He’s always
had to have a second job to make ends meet. I can’t help but wonder
what the retail store will do when he finally gets fed up and
leaves. Maybe find a “basement guy”, but I doubt there is one with
the experience and speed to turn out those jobs as competently and
quickly. People should be valued before their value is recognized
because they can’t be replaced… as David’s retail jeweler is about
to find out. Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944