Ok so we had a nice c1900 Bracket clock in for a blank cheque resto. When you get an instruction like that, you pay attention. It means its got to be perfect; the money is secondary.
If I said to you “look, I hear you are good and thats what I need. Can you please return this cherished whatever to good working order”, if you are going to say “yes” you have to know you have the required experience to deliver. If you dont deliver then the client will come back again and again with problems. Returning clients with problems are a huge drain on just about every aspect of the business. My business. So, return jobs happen, but one of the key aspects of running a busy clock repair business is to know what a natural unit rate of return is.
1 in 5 is appalling. 1 in 10 is just what you have to deal with if your on a professional journey, and 1 in 20 is background and what to expect if you have machinery, knowledge and experience. Of those 1 in 20, for the vast majority of the time, the problem is a person not understanding how to run a weekly clock and the key “do’s and don’ts”. So basically if your going to do this job you either do it with everything you expect you will need in a worst case scenario, or save yourself a nervous breakdown.
So, on to the close nervous breakdown. That is a bit dramatic but, you know, it bothered me. So I’ve just realised that the point of writing this article has little to do with a P18 movement and Arthurs clock although ill give you and abridged dialog.
Arthur has had two clocks reparied and restored by us. He lives 90 minutes drive away. He gave us a blank cheque order and we did a brilliant job on a difficult movement at half the price of our competitors. Arthur collected the clock and it ran brilliantly, but then one day it made a loud bang when he attempted to wind it.
The clock came back and we did a full strip down diagnostic and found no problem. A week later we found a small fragment of metal in the case. It was clearly recently departed from its parent. We realised we were looking at part of a key. Because the clock had been recently refurbed by us the strength of the springs increased. This meant that an already worn and rattling key fit, finally rounded off internally and failed to provide any purchase on the arbour.
Everyone brings their key when they bring their clock. We only take the clock and not the key. From now on we will test the key fit before declining the key and accepting the clock.
We think we know everything but we don’t. We will…eventually.
From the clients point of view the clock had failed in a major way, when the actuality of the situation was that the problem was not in the clock, but a worn key. We don’t take keys from clients and have our own, so we didn’t have an opportunity to check the fit and chance of it shearing. On this basis we charged the client around 10% of the original bill as it did cover a complete strip down to the heart/spring diagnosis. Had it been bad work on our part there would have been an apology and partial refund of 10%. We get through a lot of clocks and at a 1:20 return rate, a clock every month or two comes back, and in these situations a 10% refund is fair. Its not about the money and all customers end up being someone between friends and acquaintances on a varying balance scale.
Well, an article about fault diagnosis has turned into my own internal process analysis and Ive bored you to sleep probably. Read some of the other articles – they are good. In my opinion. I dont publish boring rubbish!.
Oh. I did. Sod it, pubish and be damned.