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Discussion Starter #1
How much do you tell a customer about the process of sax repair?

Here in Montreal, the three of so shops which have serviced woodwind instruments over the past decades have not generally been places where such questions were welcomed.

This is understandable.

In any case to my eyes they were involved in magical procedures and so to know what they were doing would have been to make the magic fade.

They had the guild outlook…

Clearly things have changed with the net.

Still not every customer has the energy to get a leak light and learn basic adjustments.

Do you keep silent, or if you share, how much do you share?

The last thing you want to do is past on information that the customer is going to forget about a while after..

Nor do you want to unnecessarily undo your mystique or anger other technicians in your area by giving out trade secrets.
 

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I could tell you all the notes in the violin solo part to the Mendellsohn violin concerto but what would you gain? Without the basic theory, technique and years of practice under your belt it is just dots on paper.

The tech I use will go in to as much detail as I request.
 

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I've got a tech who answers every questions I ask. If I ask how something is done, he'll give me a thorough description. Sometimes if he's not too busy, we'll talk for an hour about assorted saxophone stuff. He owns his own shop, and is also a salesman, so he allows himself to take the time.

I've got another tech who works for a local music store, won't go into any detail about what he does, although he does do a good job. It is understandable to me that he doesn't talk as much, because it seems the store discourages their techs from talking to customers. They think techs should be working. This is another philosophy I agree with.

BUT...

which Tech do you think I'd rather go to? The first, because music is a personal experience, and so should communicating with my tech on exactly how I want the horn setup.
 

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Forum Contributor 2007 Distinguished SOTW Member
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Telling the customer as much information as he/she needs in order to be satisfied is a very important aspect of customer service.

The free trading of information between professionals is equally important. It keeps competitiveness at a peak and improves the overall quality of the profession.
 

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Forum Contributor 2007-2012, Distinguished SOTW Te
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Agreed. I will answer any questions, often getting a little excited and going on a little too long... :cool:

I think the best techs (and the ones I personally admire) depend on their skills, not secrets, to set themselves apart.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Saxus Envious Curmudgeon
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Matt, I agree with you totally.

My old tech in the States would literally talk to me as long as I would listen, about horn repair. It was infectious;)
 

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Band instrument repair is not rocket surgery. While some of us do have certain "techniques" which we consider proprietary within our doors, most of it is not. Professional players respect that. Sometimes those minor in-house "secrets" help us keep our edge as far as our competition is concerned, but to the musician at our counter, they pay us for our repair knowledge and personal relationships.

Keep in mind we all have our own personalities. Some are shy, others (like me) aren't. Sometimes it is lack of personal or professional confidence, speaking skills, or even communication skills, which could give wrong impressions. Friendly, down-to-earth and well-executed communications are mandatory in my shop. If a shop is getting a reputation for poor communication, that customer base will diminish. It's the repeat business and expanding customer base that keeps us in business, based upon that ideaology.

btw - if you're ever traveling south on 81 from Canada and going thru town, look us up. We're only 2 1/2 hours away.. ;)
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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I answer any questions, as I do here, but if I am busy, I am a bit resistant to spending more time talking than it will take to do the job. Unless I find the customer a really appealing person. :)
 

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I, like Gordon and Matt, answer questions, most of the time the questions are due to interested partiess wanting to learn more, which I am more than happy to go thru the procedures . Occasionally I have to explain what work has been done to a saxophone to justify pricing - which really hacks me off!!

Some people are happy to pay £5 to get a door key copied in seconds but baulk at paying £8 for a new crook cork - I can't understand it.
 

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JerryJamz2 said:
Band instrument repair is not rocket surgery.
But maybe it's....

Anyway, I agree with Jerry that a lot of times speaking or not speaking with customers is a lot to do with the person's (repairer's) personality. Personaly I vary a lot from telling the customers anything they want (or even more) than not telling them anything. It is never because I'm trying to hide something, but sometimes I'm just shy, etc. but if they ask I always answer.
 

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abadcliche said:
I think the best techs (and the ones I personally admire) depend on their skills, not secrets, to set themselves apart.
Goes for any trade, artist, etc...
 

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I'll answer any question, explain any procedure and let them watch anything I do. I'll even freely discuss experiments in material or techniques I'm involved with, no matter how crazy they may be. I also almost can't sleep if I don't get my customer to do an extensive play test when they pick up their horn.

I used to stay and watch my repairman in NYC all afternoon, get him coffee, listen to stories, and watched as he listened to his customers play and ask for the instrument back if he heard something he could improve on the instrument, even if the customer was already satisfied, and fix what he heard, to the player's delight. I, as a customer, benefited in this very way.

My heroes in this trade and others are free with their knowledge and are still learning. The ones with the secrets are usually stuck in some kind of rut and do work with the passion of a fast food restaurant cook and it shows.

Hows it goin' Haywood?

David G. Wilson
 

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Likewise, I am happy for customers to watch me work. Nothing to hide. At least then they are astonished at how much is done for their money.
 
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