Ok this is about a job we have not even looked at yet. The reason Im writing about it is that we were asked to discount a job. Now you might think that its nothing special and almost expected these days but you cant discount in this business and make any money unless you do a hell of a lot of clocks. And this is how we maintain lower pricing, simply by doing a lot of clocks. This presents us with somewhat of a problem because if you do a lot of clocks at relatively low profit in order to make a sensible overall profit for the month, then a discount job is like a spanner in the works. Inevitably any dscounted service or job takes 5 times as long as expected which not only wipes profit of the job but also gets in the way of doing jobs that are sitting there with a timer on them ready to go into WIP (work in progress).
I suppose if we didnt have any WIP then discounting might make sense but we always have a STACK of work to get through and exceptionally fast job and delivery times without sacrificing any quality values. So why bother taking the price down?
Here is some background on why.
We are considerably experienced in all types of clock. We just love them and anything new (to us) is gratefully accepted work as it gives us yet more experience and allows our continuous improvement approach to sit in line with our workflow. We dont charge more – everyone gets the same price scale apart from public sector essential workers or and state pensioners. Pensioners are not rich. Pensioners also love clocks because when they were in their prime mechanical clocks were as well.
Boring History Interlude: The volume production of mechanical clocks along the Henry Ford production line principles was only adopted by clockmakers after about 1940 although between 1900 and 1940 its clear that some standardisation was taking place. You can see it in movements like the Jungans p18 and P19 which have standard parts. You can take a part out of one p18 and put in in another one without any problems because the movement were factory produced, just not in huge volumes.
The problem with these two movement, which was typical of he era, was that they handnt quite quite got there in terms of the features you would expect on a mid priced clock from the 40’s. An example of this is the hour chime reset. On the majority of mantle clocks from 1940 onwards, if you pushed the minute hand through two chime points e.g. at quarter past and half past, the chimes go out of sequence. It rings out the half hour chime at the three quarter hour point for example. On the later clocks a clever feature was added that, after no more than 1 hour 45 minutes, the clock will have corrected itself and will chime the right sequence at the right time. The P18 doesnt have this. It has, however, got a lot of nice features and excellent build quality (apart from the winder gearing cog which always goes bang eventually usually breaking the spring and damaging the wheels – if you have one get this done before it does it to you!). It is however a very complicated clock to repair and to set up.
Anyway we had a chap ring this morning wanting to bring in a P18 based clock. I explained the job and the price range and it was too much for him. He couldn’t afford it. He had saved up for the clock fix and got about 70% of the median figure it costs to get done properly i.e. bushes, some wheels, new springs etc. At the price he had estimated himself, we would make no money and take up time that could be used to generate profit. Doing the job at the price he needed would have been madness.
So we did madness.
The reason we are going to do this job, essentially at cost price, is that HE HAD SAVED UP. What this means is that he values our skills. It also means he loves his clock. I was quite touched by this.
We are in business to fix clocks. We are not a charity or a “not for profit” organisation but the fact remains there is a mission in what we do. We are here to keep mechanical clocks running and those clocks, when I peg it, will be my legacy. I will regret it no doubt and curse my high minded perspective but I also know that in about a month there will be a happy pensioner, a fixed clock, and even more experienced gained. Thats good, and a result, and progress.
That probably gives you an idea of “who we are” and thats why Ive published this article. Please don’t ask for a discount unless you work for the NHS, police, army, live on a state pension, or have been awarded a military medal for gallantry in the last great war. Like the Victoria Cross. With Oak Leaves, recorded in dispatches, and with the queens fingerprints intact in the surface and preferably burnt into the patina.