For Jeff Herman, a recent business decision driven by the challenges of these difficult times has become a tale of “Old-World” mechanical watch meets “New-World” modern tracking. And it’s a story with a happy ending!
As master timekeeper and CEO of WatchRepair.net, a national luxury watch repair company based in Hollywood, Fla., Herman’s small business philosophy is strongly rooted in delivering superb service to clients.
He knows that customer trust is paramount, given that his clients from all across North America send him their high-value timepieces for service and repair – some in the range of tens of thousands of dollars.
Much of the company’s business is “ship in/ship back.” So, whether the watch is a cherished heirloom from great grandfather or a new timepiece, the customer needs to feel totally comfortable with the shipping process – knowing that his or her timepiece will be safe, secure, and not damaged in shipping.
Early on, Herman invested in using waterproof, impact-resistant and tamper-proof WatchRepairPack cases – highly secure shipping containers – which the company sends to customers free of charge so they can safely send in their cherished watch to WatchRepair.net.
And this strategy paid off. With an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, WatchRepair.net has built an excellent service reputation – backed up by hundreds of client reviews and positive recommendations… But…
Enter the Pandemic
Then came 2020 and the pandemic. Suddenly, a new shipping issue emerged with delivery companies.
“It’s a bit like shipping and delivery ‘in the Time of Cholera,’ except this is about COVID-19,” emphasizes Herman, who’s taken action to do what’s right for his customers this year – and at his own expense.
Here’s the Issue
Simply put, many shipping and delivery companies are deluged by shipments as consumers, often working remotely from home are buying more of seemingly everything and then having those packages delivered to their homes.
At the same time, many shippers prefer that their employees avoid face-to-face contact with customers given government and community health/safety guidelines. So, some express packages are now left on customer doorsteps without gaining signatures.
“We, the small-business customers of the big-name shipping companies, are paying a premium for an adult to sign off up delivery, but sometimes the driver simply doesn’t get a signature at his or her discretion,” says Herman. “Some don’t want to get closer than six feet to the customer, wary of having to hand the clipboard to the person at the front door for a signature.”
While Herman understands shipping-company policies and employee concerns from a health standpoint, from his own “control” point of view, “it’s not working for my small business – especially when my clients are shipping very high value watches for repair.”
Herman’s Creative Solution
Herman, who founded WatchRepair.net in 2009, purchased a significant inventory (approximately 200) of highly advanced, single-usage GPS tracking devices at $200 apiece to place inside the secure containers being shipped back and forth between the customer and his Hollywood headquarters.
These are sophisticated supply-chain trackers using the latest advancements in cellular technology and can accurately report a package’s location “in real-time” to a cloud-based software system.
Tracker Proves Its Worth
Herman’s investment in the devices shows his commitment to customers and how small businesses are “getting creative” in dealing with pandemic-era marketplace conditions.
In one example, customer John Polaha from North Carolina’s Outer Banks recently sent in two watches to WatchRepair.Net and used Herman’s complimentary secure packaging with the new tracking device inside.
While both watches had insurance, one was a highly prized model that was made on special order – and was irreplaceable. Although it was in new condition, Polaha wanted the watch oiled and its seals replaced.
The second watch in the package was a collector’s item. As a semi-collector of watches for several decades, the customer had used WatchRepair.net once previously and was highly satisfied. So this year, when Polaha shipped the two pricey watches in one secure package to WatchRepair.Net, he was expecting it to arrive via overnight mail. He became increasingly concerned when it hadn’t yet been delivered a week later.
In looking at the precise location tracking for the package – supposedly headed for South Florida – Polaha witnessed the package going back and forth across North Carolina.
“I was getting worried that someone was taking it home with them,” Polaha added. “So you can imagine how relieved I was, realizing the tracker system allows you to bring up a map so you can see, minute by minute, where it’s at. I had never used a tracker but was so happy Jeff had it in there.”
According to Herman, “As a repeat customer, Mr. Polaha sent us two watches, one worth $20,000. And then suddenly they go missing, with the overnight delivery company telling me it wasn’t scanned, and that I needed to file a recovery claim form within seven days, so they could investigate what happened.”
“We Know Where It Is!”
That’s when Herman advised the overnight delivery company that the package had a tracker inside, stating: “We can see exactly where it is. We can tell you.”
By increasing the frequency of the tracking signal in the wayward package to two minutes and crossing the GPS to the Wi-Fi, it was easy to see where the “lost” parcel was – and, presto, the tracker revealed it was sitting in the delivery company’s own warehouse.
Thankfully, it was found, safe, and sound. “I’m very impressed with this amazing tracker feature,” says Polaha.
“That GPS tracking device coupled with our industrial-grade packing pack is an amazingly safe way to go,” adds Herman. “It’s the only way you want to ship a high-end, luxury timepiece.”
Small Business Creativity
Most importantly, “during this pandemic era, customer satisfaction is still our top priority,” stresses Herman, believing that small businesses such as his are showing their mettle and creativity in a tough era. “We’re doing everything possible to exceed customer expectations.”