A few things that get me down in the clock business!

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by NEW65, Aug 17, 2019.

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  1. NEW65

    NEW65 Registered User

    Nov 17, 2010
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    Deals in modern reproduction floor clocks.
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    Hi Chaps,
    Just a quick post... I am sure you guys may feel the same BUT...
    What gets me down are customers that have had their clocks for several months and then call me to say that its stopped and they would like me to take a look! When I eventually arrive I soon discover that they have caused it to stop by either moving it from the position I set it in or knocked it completely out of beat by catching the pendulum every time they have wound it! All the buyers have been told how to adjust to put back into beat but none of them seem able to do that without assistance! Its a really frustrating side of the job!
    Another moan ...
    Nearly every movement that I rebush is done correctly... i'd say 19/20 are a complete success! There is always one though that isn't! I know you chaps are experts in this job but I dare say that you too have the 'bad' times too? It tends to lower ones confidence when something doesn't turn out the way it should and even worse if lots of time has been spent and therefore wasted! Although, as Mark Kinsler rightly mentions, its not a waste of time when things go wrong. I guess we learn whatever the outcome maybe.
    I could keep adding to the list but I'll finish there!
     
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  2. tom427cid

    tom427cid Registered User
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    Mar 23, 2009
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    There seem to be a particular group that is "mechanically challenged" and they need a greater amount of hand holding. When I encounter one of these I will make note and after the second time I humorously explain "the next time this happens I am going to charge $$$$$$ to take care of he issue.
    You would be amazed how quickly some people can learn!!!!!!!!
    tom
     
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  3. NEW65

    NEW65 Registered User

    Nov 17, 2010
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    Hey thanks Tom for the good advice, its the expectation of some folks that amazes me... its like they expect a lifetime free fix when 99% of the time they have caused the problem! I had one individual who told me that their clock was rapidly gaining time. I told them to ensure that they lowered the disc by turning the nut at base of pendulum to the left as viewed from front of clock, which they said they had been doing! At the time, they had me thinking all sorts of things but when I finally arrived at their place I soon discovered they had been turning the adjustment nut the wrong way! And I told them which way to turn the nut when the clock was initially delivered. I even email clock instructions!
    Luckily this sort of thing doesn't happen too often but when it does it can be expensive. Cheers Tom
     
  4. woodlawndon

    woodlawndon Registered User
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    Jan 18, 2017
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    New, I know you said you email instructions but have you thought of maybe printing some basic guides that you could fold up in a small envelope that could be placed inside the clock? I think of my mother in this case, she has email and knows how it works but she doesn't bother with it (you have to phone her and tell her she has email). She won't print anything off but will follow instructions to the letter if they are in front of her.

    Nothing heavy, maybe how to adjust time, how to move the clock safely, how to get in beat, how to wind and how to start pendulum correctly (many don't know).
    Don
     
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  5. R&A

    R&A Registered User

    Oct 21, 2008
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    Your desire to repair has to out weigh your problems with customers. Customers have no clue as to the mechanics and better to not teach them to much. I just tell them from the got go. Not my fault your paying for it. If customers know that their mistakes will cost them money, they tent to not make them. Not always true for the repairman. I am constantly fixing mistakes from others and having to reinforce the integrity of repairman. There is more to this field, when you do it 7 days a week. This trade is being lost at the hands of unexperienced try hards. I have been at this for over 43 years and I am still learning.
     
  6. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Oct 19, 2005
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    You need to build into each transaction the potential for return issues. Don't try to base your business on more reasonable rates or you will pay for it in the long run. Base your rates on good repairs that don't come cheap.
     
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  7. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    In the computer business, any issues regarding software where we need to travel to the customer's office are subject to charge; customers are informed of this in advance. I'd consider regulation, being put in beat and setting the time as "software" issues.
     
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  8. lpbp

    lpbp Registered User
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    On your bushing problem, are you checking for end shake, and that it is upright?
     
  9. fbicknel

    fbicknel Registered User

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    Please elaborate on what you mean by being "upright". Thanks!
     
  10. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    I think he means that the bushing hole is perpendicular to the plate.

    uhralt
     
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  11. Nick Hainis

    Nick Hainis Registered User
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    Sep 6, 2019
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    This is one of the biggest challenges that any clockmaker or clock shop faces. That is why we've created detailed warranty and service paperwork which goes along with in-depth customer education when the clock is delivered. In addition we've developed a follow-up strategy that involves multiple follow-ups within the first 7 days and then several more over the course of the next few years. All-in-all your most effective weapon is education. Tell the customer what is expected of them at every opportunity and then make sure it is in writing. That way when they tell you their clock isn't running, they come to you with their hat in their hand and often admit their own fault. We utilize a system that is very similar to phone-based tech support. When customer's don't understand how clock servicing works I often compare it to the automobile service industry. If you drive your car off the lot and run into a telephone poll and your engine won't start - that's not my problem - that's YOUR problem. I can fix it, but you are going to pay for my time. In the tech industry they call that a PEBCAK error. Problem Exists Between Computer and Keyboard. =)
     
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  12. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

    Dec 2, 2016
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    The point being are you a business or a charity?
     
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  13. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

    Feb 9, 2008
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    I'm with Tom and Peter. I do give my customers the benefit of any doubt (one freebie) BUT it's standard denero $$$ after that. :) Willie X
     
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  14. Nick Hainis

    Nick Hainis Registered User
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    I agree. One freebie is appropriate. =)
     
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  15. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    I have a Cousin in IT who told me once that it's often identified as an "ID-10-T" error code......(remove the hyphens)
     
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  16. NEW65

    NEW65 Registered User

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    Nice one Bruce :)
     
  17. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I'm the sole worker in my shop, and don't have time to do follow up calls to be sure everything is fine. I figure they have my number and will call if there's an issue. I get a very small percentage of return calls, so don't consider it a major issue.
     
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  18. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    I'm with bugs.

    I have found that too much information is as bad, or worse, than too little.

    Often there is a question about winding the clock and the only way you can teach that class is to watch while they wind their clock. I call it 'winding school'. Some customers, old and young, simply can't wind there clock more than about half way. They look at you as if you are a 'wild man' when you easily keep winding from where they had to stop. Most are happy to learn that they can keep their clock going by winding it twice a week.

    WIllie X
     
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  19. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    I've worked in IT before. It can be a tough crowd. Still, in my experience, the best and brightest often show it through their people skills as well as their technical abilities. Some need to be locked into a room for a death match with a surly computer/program.
    Only one shall emerge. :emoji_skull:
     
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  20. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    The last customer i had admitted after repairing the clock, it took a bad fall. They never told me till after i repaired it, as i mentioned it looked like it had been thrown. I try to give them enough info tohelp, but not over whelm them. They have my contact info, so they can get back to me if there is a problem or question.
     
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  21. Lynsey

    Lynsey Registered User

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    I have to chime in here and agree with Shutterbug, Mauleg and Roughbarked. I worked in IT for seven years as a Dell computer Tech building computers for the blind and handicapped. If you have never had to give Tech support to the blind and quadriplegic, you have no idea about the frustration level that can be stored on the other end of the telephone and directed full force at you. Compare it to your worst mainspring accident. Support is part of the job and you have to draw a clear "line in the sand" where you can give them one freebie. The rest they pay for, or your frustration factor will put you out of business.

    A career is not just a way to put groceries on the table, it is a direct link to your mental health. When you establish clear policies in your business and follow them ie consistency, they are a support structure of their own; a reward, if you will. Consistency and reward is also the key to learning, teaching and having the best behaved, happiest two and four legged friends in town. Carry on, my friend, with confidence and structure.
     
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  22. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    Feb 22, 2010
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    Off topic: During my IT Experiences I worked for a Contracting Company with Private and Government Contracts. Some of my favorite contacts were with the Payroll Department of The Washington Post, as well as various departments within the Office of the Comptroller or the Currency and Immigration and Custom Enforcement following 9/11 . My Boss was the Contract Manager. My (Our) Customer was the various Department Managers. You pretty much did whatever it took to keep your customer happy. Deadlines were "Death Matches"...or Marches.

    Back on topic Tom, dealing with the general public can be very demanding in other ways. In business for oneself, your boss is your reputation and your customers are always right. As long as they listen to your advice and instructions it's your job to make sure they understand. That requires mutual respect and you carefully listening to what they tell you their needs are. Once you're positive that any "warranty work" is beyond anything you've done to the clock, If they repeatedly do not listen, or disregard your advice, then I think one may be justified in charging for extra time spent trying to educate the clock owner. If you can't work with a customer without putting your reputation at risk, I think you should probably extricate yourself from future business and "warranty work" with the person in question, but you do it as cordially and respectfully as you can...perhaps you're just too busy to take new work until you've cleared your backlog.

    I can imagine that if Horology is how one makes a living, being able to turn down work is an enviable position to be in.

    For me it's an avocation in retirement. I have few problems picking and choosing what I bring into my shop.

    In any case, I think you must try to do the kind of work that you enjoy or you'll find something else to do with your time. Every clock has an owner attached to it. If the clock is happy, hopefully the owner will be too. Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet and learn from your experiences, if not your mistakes.

    That's what I think anyway...

    Regards,

    Bruce
     

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