Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by gdl203, May 20, 2007.
double post again.
Never realized there were so many Tennesseans on this thread. I used to live in Memphis, and was in Nashville for a little while. I was just in Nashvegas the other weekend, actually.
Idiots. That's all I can say about them.
I apparently happen to be blessed with "young" looks. My personal theory is that my (copious) facial fat stretches out all the wrinkles, but anyway the end result is that I still look 5-10 years younger than I actually am to some people. This blessing however, turns into a curse whenever I want to buy a watch, for predictably sad reasons.
I can comment on Asia, and to a lesser extent, Europe. Experiences were with AD/boutiques in Sweden, Germany, Vienna, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Hong Kong.
All of the following strictly IMO:
My experiences in (northern/western) Europe were nearly uniformly good. The sales staff certainly knew their watches. Inside out. Reference numbers, no problem. Movement numbers, no problem. Polite. Service is efficient, but low key and never OTT. Maybe there is a cultural reticence that I suspect Americans/Asians may misinterpret as aloofness? Low key and reserved sort of sums it up for me. I have nothing really bad to say about them.
Asia (specifically SE Asia) on the other hand is a really mixed bag. Full disclosure: I grew up in a mixed East/West cultural milieu, so I'd be interested to hear what others think of my opinions.
Compared to what I characterise very broadly as "western culture", the the dominant culture in asia (which is to say usually really east asian culture):
1. more materialistic,
2. less spontaneous,
3. and more hierarchical.
#1 manifests itself as complacence on the part of the AD/boutiques as their customer flow is essentially guaranteed. Conspicuous consumption is the norm. Locals earning the equivalent of US$1,000/mo will scrimp and save to buy a Rolex/IWC or a LV bag, then take the crowded public transport to work, and return home to shoebox apartments or government housing. I don't know what proportions of cab drivers or entry level office workers wear Rolexes/IWCs or sport LV bags in the US, but it's almost certainly less than the proportion here.
And because demand is high, pricing follows. A lack of discounts and a MSRP higher than Europe sometimes results.
#2 & #3 work out to impact CS in several ways IMO.
You have frontline floor staff who are paid peanuts (due to their low societal rank) selling $$$ things which they may never be able to understand the wider context of. The whole concept of a culture of luxury is lost on them because it is so far removed from their daily existence. How the hell is the guy who lives in a city of 10 million with open sewers, terrible air pollution, and children begging in the streets going to explain to me (and not appear ironic) Le Sentier's environmental consciousness, or understand that maybe I do expect an extra $400 strap gratis with my $200,000 watch?
Frontline staff also cannot take the initiative and make a decision on behalf of the brand - NO way are Asian floor staff going to break out the champagne spontaneously if you're not buying something big first. All decisions must go stepwise through the hierarchy - floor staff must check with the the floor "manager", who in turn is cautious because he is accountable to some other guy. It kills spontaneity, and I suspect this happened in that HKG AL&S example I mentioned earlier. It's certainly happened to me - I had the floor guy in a boutique check something with his manager, who then checked it again with someone else higher up. All I asked for was a bigger discount if I purchased 2 watches at a time.
Some salespeople, particularly ones representing the "better" brands let it all go to their head and become disdainful of potential customers - especially ones who are younger (or look younger), or who do not openly display their wealth. The Richard Mille experience in Singapore was hilarious/awful for that reason. It works both ways - serious customers are sometimes openly dismissive/rude to sales staff, who they consider beneath them. I know this probably happens in the US as well, but I can't help but suspect it's more magnified here - I've seen some really really truly terrible behaviour from some customers that would never be tolerated in Australia occur in asia.
As finally as medtech_expat once mentioned and I can confirm, there are some asians who take pride in paying MSRP to impress upon others their superior position in the hierarchy, which is when price elasticity goes out the window.
I think I was openly contemptuous of this watch in the past, and I'll freely admit that I was wrong - it's a great looking watch.
yes. i had a similar experience with an AD here. gave me all kinds of JLC swag, shmoozed with me for a hour.... and i know, that if need something, il will always give him a call first. simple reciprocity.
next time youre here, let me know! Theres a few SFers in nashville that get together every once in awhile.
That's basically what mimo is suggesting for frilly I suppose.
If Daisy Buchanan cried over Gatsby's shirts, what would she do over frillenstein's watch collection?
a patek bukkake?
I'm too damn curious NOT to ask for some examples please!
regarding the ALS strap story that apropos related, i think it boils down to a few things. as a person who has worked most of my career in sales or sales related positions, in the jewelry industry and others, and both in sales and managerial roles, the onus in my opinion falls on a both parties a little bit.
the customer: i dont know the whole story, but this is what it seems to me. i know everyone wants to hope that because they are a baller people will insta-recognize them without them having to say a word. but i hate to break it to ya, thats not reality. even a-list celebrities sometimes get turned away because they are not recognized. sure, this guy bought a very significant amount of high figure pieces, but guess what, lange makes expensive watches, and i bet there are many customers that spend like he does. and if he did not buy them in that boutique, its highly unlikely that anyone would know that he is a major customer, for all they know he got the watch on ebay.
and lets be honest, the guy is not a fool, he knew he was asking for something a little special. what he should have done, imo, to avoid that, would be to politely walk over to a sales person and either right off ask for a manager, or just put all the cards on the table. hi, my name is so and so, i have been a customer for a long time and have purchased x,y,z.... watches from ADs. i recently bought this strap here and i realize i dont really love it, it was only worn a few times, would it be possible to swap it out for another? i can almost assure you, had he done that, the outcome would have been significantly different.
now, for all i know he said all that, and did just that, but based on the result and what i read, i am confident that he probably just walked in, said hi please exchange this. the salesperson said no, because that is probably their standard policy, and yes all companies need policies or people will abuse them. and he said ok and walked out all mad that they did not recognize him and service him as he deserved. many many issues in these types of situations break down to poor communication. dont wait for people to figure out who you are, just tell them. it saves everyone a lot of aggravation and time. if i am wrong and he did that and was still turned away, whoever made that call is a moron and should be fired.
the salesperson: the hiring process for most of these sales postions is pretty simple, be pretty or handsome and well enough spoken or charismatic, and we will teach you enough product info so you can reasonably sell. many of them dont have much interest in upward mobility, they want to put in their hours, get their commissions (if there are any) and go home and take vacation. very run of the mill wage employees.
for such a person, when a customer walks in out of the blue that you dont know has bought through authorized channels, and asks for a favor, they pick up their head, and politely (hopefully) say, no i am sorry we can not do that. and then they wait for something more exciting to happen or for a smoke break.
a better sales person would have realized that something more might be as stake, asked a few questions to get the whole picture, and then said, let me ask my manager. the manager would have said yes, and everyone would be happy. but, not all sales people are astute like that, and its kind of a pity.
however, the only way to truly fix that, is to hire better people. and better people cost more money. and with all the growth these companies are experiencing that can add up fast. and guess where that cost goes? thats right, right into the price of the watches. because that is business. sure, it would be nice if every company could only employ top notch amazing sales people, but that is just not the reality. that being the case, know that going in, and say what you have to say, dont leave any guess work. and if the person you first speak to is not getting it done, ask someone else.
just my opinion.
Well, I don't expect half-literate rednecks to read that, silly.
well....when i saw the bottom and it said this..
i knew it was just paragraphs of mumblepost.
I love you too, derek.
this is why we're friends. you get me.
Thanks for that view point, Stitch. As someone not in just sales, but specifically the sales of watches, it's great to hear it from the other side.
I may be off base here, but I would expect there to be 'stricter' requirements of sales people working high end goods, no? For example, at a Ferrari dealership, I would expect that the sales people there have been taught how to deal with Ferrari customers - their (many times) needy and entitled demands, right down to the nitty gritty stuff only a Ferrari dealership could offer. I dont' think you could approach a Ferrari customer/client the same way you do a Ford or Toyota or even Lexus customer..
So would someone working at a Lange boutique likely be taught the same - "hey we're dealing with higher clientele here, and there's a higher expectation of our product and therefore our example and our image, and so you should occasionally expect A, B and C from our customers. And this is how we go about it.." I would expect a Lange or Patek boutique to offer a different sales experience than say a Tourneau for example, and I would think they would pride themselves on catering to a higher end of customer as well (in terms of financial resources).
That being said, I definitely hear what you're saying. As customers we have to hold up our end of the deal - and not request/demand things that are not within policy or protocol. It's nice to get favors, but they should not always be expected. When we do get favors and gifts, then it definitely is that cherry on top that sometimes makes for a lasting relationship.
Though not directly in sales, I deal with sometimes entitled customers to a degree, and I'm sure they always think they're right. It's frustrating as hell.
Separate names with a comma.