My new job...

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My new job...

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:58 pm

Well, things have been very slow in the construction field in our area, and work has been nearly non-existent so far this year. My guitar building business hasn't exactly taken off like I had hoped quite yet. Things have been quite scary so far this year, so I decided to try to find a way to supplement my income. A local music store was hiring for a part-time position, so I applied. After a nearly 4 week long application/interviewing process (they are quite thorough) I was offered the position. But there is a caveat: In the mean time a full time position had opened up which they were now offering me. Yada yada yada... I accepted the full time position. Now, this puts me in quite a position of responsibility as opposed to the part time, which was a lot of clean bathrooms, sweep floors, take out the trash, break down boxes, etc etc, and occasionally tune guitars and help customers. Now I will be responsible for all opening and closing duties, inspecting and setting up every fretted instrument in the store, sales, walk-in set ups and minor repairs, and pretty much running things on the Combo* side of the store, including all ordering and managing inventory.
I'm very excited about this new adventure but am also a little nervous since I've not really worked in a retail environment before. I would like to hear from some of the others who work or have worked in a music store and have done some of the things I will be doing. I'd be interested in hearing some tips that some may have, whether it be dealing with customers, products, vendors, or just whatever.
Also, Since I'll be setting up all the guitars is there anything I should know going into it about specific brands? We carry Gibson, Fender, Martin, PRS, Yamaha & Mazzocco (I don't have it all committed to memory, there are others I'm forgetting.) Are there common problems or other details to keep in mind with any of these specific brands since I'm going to be working on all of them regularly?
And yes I said "Mazzocco." I have a couple of my own guitars in there on consignment, probably a big part of how I won the job since they've already seen my work and know what I am capable of. But I was talking with the manager today and we got into a conversation about conflict of interests. (I brought it up because I want to show her that I plan to do everything on the up and up.) She was also a little concerned since we're in kind of uncharted waters for us at this point. She was going to discuss it with her superiors as well, but I thought I would pick the collective mind of the MIMF, I know some of you that work in guitar stores also show your instruments in said stores with the permission of the owners. Do you have any advice on how you make it work and don't create a conflict of interest?
I know that was a lot, and if you've made it this far, a most sincere thank you for taking the time and indulging me. I readily look forward to your comments and words of wisdom.

I learned that "Combo" means the side of the store dealing with guitars and other fretted instruments, amps, drums, audio, pedals, etc etc, and the "Band" side refers to more of the instruments for school and marching band, brass, woodwinds, etc etc....
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Re: My new job...

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:15 pm

As a person who has dodged responsibility as much as possible I will offer one tip - be as agreeable with people as you can be without making any promises or commitments. Promises and commitments are trouble. People want to hold you to them. As a person in the "middle" you will find situations where what the customer wants you to do is not what your boss wants you to do.
As to the conflict of interest thing - if the store is giving you the same deal as they are giving any other consignment deal I don't see any conflict of interest.
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Re: My new job...

Postby Bob Gramann » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:39 pm

The conflict of interest is in the position of sales person. One of the stores that sells my instruments makes more on factory instruments than on consignments. It would not be in the best interest of the store for me to be there and steer customers to my instruments. I exhibit at this store for other reasons than immediate sales. I don’t have an easy answer on how to solve this conflict for you. It will be between you and the owner.
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Re: My new job...

Postby Randolph Rhett » Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:56 pm

I am surprised that a store would make more on a factory guitar than a consignment guitar. It seems unlikely they would ever sell any of your guitars if that were true. Why would they, unless your guitars don't compete with any factory guitars they carry? Not doubting you, just find it an odd situation.

To the OP, my assumption would be that selling one of your guitars would be an "upsell" for the store. Someone walks in looking for a $2,500 Martin and walks out with a $3,500 Manzzoco YAY! Who better to move it than someone with both pecuniary interest and ego motivating the sale? I can't see any conflict --unless they make less on the consignment than a factory guitar. If your enthusiasm and a sense of being connected to the builder moves more of your guitars, everyone wins.
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Re: My new job...

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:20 pm

they absolutely make more on factory than my consignment and also have more invested in the factory guitars and only two wall hangers invested in mine.
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Re: My new job...

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:54 pm

Having been in a supervision / sales position for over 20 years, I can tell you that promises made, MUST be kept.
Be very careful in how you talk to people. Your reputation, and that of the store hangs on it. As my mentor told me, NEVER tell a lie.

The rest of the things you mention like inventory and such, are things that can be learned.

As to the consignment end of things; I have checked on consignment deals here in our local music stores, and they want a 35 percent margin.
That is what they say they have with factory gear.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
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Re: My new job...

Postby Bob Francis » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:17 pm

I completely agree with Gord's comments.
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Re: My new job...

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:58 pm

i ageee with gordon as well. though I would never intentionally lie to a customer, but it's a good reminder that even if we are well intentioned we better be able to deliver on what we say.
as for the consignment vs. factory brand; 35% seems high to me. I've shown mine in 3 different stores and never at more than 25%. this store is taking 20%. I'm not officially on the system yet so I haven't actually seen what the markup is, but from some casual conversations I've had with the other employees it can be anywhere from 35 to 50% or more depending on the brand. I understand why they would rather push the factory merch rather than consignment. I believe that's even explained quite clearly in this forum's FAQ.
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Re: My new job...

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:21 am

If they are giving up wall space they want it to sell. The beauty of consignment for them is they don't have a nickle in the bit*h. As long as you don't cost them a sale they probably won't care.
I agree with Gordon's comments - keep any promises you make (but don't make any) and never lie to the customer (this is different than telling them the truth or disabusing them of their own faulty misconceptions). Sales work is something a few people excel at, but is a bit anathema to me. My father was a used car dealer.
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Re: My new job...

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:07 pm

This is not specific to this business, Ryan, as I have no experience there. However, retail can be a challenge. As to the whole issue of ethics with customers, obviously you don't tell a customer anything that is not true. I don't think most of us have any problem with that. On the other hand, as Clay mentions above, your employer could place some pressure on you may feel may make you feel might compromise your integrity. What may actually be happening though is simply a different way of presenting information. Remember that customers (as most of us) hear things they want to hear, so it's always important that when you and the customer part (they will leave the store at some point, with our without making a purchase) the customer leaves with a clear understanding of what you and your store are offering.

A great story in "What They Don't Teach You In Harvard Business School" describes a sales situation in which a junior executive is excited to tell a potential client that "we have been working on a promotion just like what you have described" - something the company had been working on "on spec". The older, wiser exec gives the kid a dope-slap after the meeting, and explains that they should instead have taken careful notes, collecting all of the customers thoughts and desires, then come back a month later after "putting in a ton of work" to present them with a promotion that was custom-tailored to their needs.

Same product, same result, but it was presented in a much more effective way, and allowed the client to properly value all the work the company had put into developing the product.

My point is that the owners might have this kind of subtle understanding of product presentation, marketing and closing a sale. Be prepared to detect the distinction between something unethical and untrue vs. something that is simply presented in a way more favorable to the company. To put yourself in the customer's shoes, compare the experience of going into some kind of shop where the proprietor sits behind the counter reading a magazine while you peruse his wares, vs the proprietor who takes the time to tell you the differences between the good/better/best products, or the story behind and the unique features of the products they offer. We all like and appreciate good sales people. Just endeavor to be one of them.

As to the conflict-of-interest issue, that is entirely up to the owner. The only potential conflict is if you were to actively "push" your instruments over the instruments in inventory and in which the owners have made an investment. The fact that you have expressed concern on this score indicates that the owner should not have cause to worry. Also, my guess is that the combination of the price-point for your instruments and the uniqueness of a hand-made instrument really won't present much of a conflict. Some customers will NOT be interested in a hand-made instrument (they want a Fender, PRS, Martin or Gibson because the brand-name means something to them) or they may not be willing to invest in a high-end factory or hand-made guitar. If the owner is smart, they'll recognize that having a "line" of hand-made instruments may add to their cachet, but I'm getting off into the inner working of an industry I know nothing about. The bottom line is that the conflict is whatever the owner sees it to be. If you want them to continue to devote shelf-space to your instruments, and the owner is at all concerned, then discussing the issue and setting some rules as to how you present your own instruments vs the in-stock factory instruments between the two of you should resolve it.

Oh, one other thing - by having a luthier managing their store the company gains some credibility, even if the customer is only walking out with a $300 Squier, so the relationship has benefits that may more than outweigh any concerns re conflict-of-interest.
==Steve==
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