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#1325435 - 12/14/09 06:06 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: turandot]
Marty Flinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 2604
The lines I represent are clearly shown in my signature. You might want to turn on that function and/or read my sig.

You are absolutely entitled to dispute anything you read on the Forum and frequently do. Your "feeling" about my list and your observations on the posts on this forum are not exactly the real world of the majority of piano retailers. Do you actually believe that I just make this stuff up?
_________________________
Co-Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying A Piano. A "must read" before you shop.
Work for west coast dealer for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe.

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#1325458 - 12/14/09 06:29 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: Marty Flinn]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7192
Loc: torrance, CA
Marty,

My apologies for misunderstanding your tag. I was reading what you wrote about it and didn't even bother to check what was under your post.

Thank you for giving me your permission to disagree with you and present a perspective different from "the real world of the majority of piano retailers" grin . I will step aside though so that others can respond to your opening post and comment on your list of consumer demands.

Monica K,

You are right. I can be very ornery. It's a good thing I'm not trying to sell anything.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1325465 - 12/14/09 06:34 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: Achillle]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19346
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Achillle
Is it possible to find a piano for a greater discount? Yes. I recently bought a $600 suit from Macy's for $40. I don't expect every purchase I make there to be discounted this much, though.


Wow! Did the pants have two legs or one?

I never seriously considered those 100K+ pianos(except looking at pictures), but at less than 7K for a 100K piano...I won't worry about the free in home tuning.

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#1325479 - 12/14/09 06:46 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: pianoloverus]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19346
Loc: New York City
Based on any of his posts in this thread or anywhere, I would have no second thoughts about dealing with Marty Flinn as a consumer.

I find it hard to fathom how anyone with virtually no experience in the piano industry can think they have the answers.

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#1325596 - 12/14/09 10:11 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: cBeam01]
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2738
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
I wrote this reply this afternoon and then had internet connection issues. But I still think it's relevant.
Originally Posted By: cBeam01

I submit that the traditional US dealer model already failed me. I am just not interested in visiting a dozen different piano stores playing many different pianos. I am not qualified enough to understand or appreciate the subtle differences between manufactures and models. I am not an expert and I do not want to become an expert. I wanted to get price information before I go there to ensure that the visit will be worthwhile. And none of the retailers I contacted gave me any meaningful information. And to be honest, I could not care less about internal rules of the piano retail industry why they are not "allowed" to provide this kind of information.

Well you may not be interested in that, but you can bet every authorized dealer is. Given that they can lose their dealer authorization, then whether you're interested doesn't really matter.
Originally Posted By: cBeam01

It is pretty simple for me. I am the one who will spend the money. If there is no one that wants to deal with me in a reasonable way, I will spend my money elsewhere. The other thread mentioned Costco roadshow, so maybe I wait for one of these. Or the kids will have to practice longer on their keyboard and play real pianos only at lesson and at school.

Gee, I am not in the market for a really high end unique instrument. I am in the market for a reasonable quality upright that is manufactured and sold in the thousands each year. And I want a price where l am not ripped off.

I am looking for an easy transaction.

I can understand that others are looking for a different experience; I just want it simple, fast and fair.

As has already been noted in another thread a Costco deal will probably not be as beneficial as you think. As one who has experienced the difference between a serviceable upright and a quality grand I can assure you it's your children who will pay the price of your quest. You say you're interested in a quick easy transaction, but refuse to drive 2 hours to a dealer who may or may not be able to give you the price you want. The actual problem is you don't know what price you want.

So let me give you some answers. The $5300 that's been batted around of late for a K3 strikes me as an unrealistically low price. I asked a friend who was in the business a few years ago and $6K for a K3 was a good price back then. As I recall the $5300 did not include any dealer prep and was in fact for a new "in the box" instrument (though it did include 2 tunings).

The reality is 70% of the time what you don't get in discount you do get in dealer prep. I wish I could say 100% of the time, but I can't, the reality is there are some dealers whose mission in life is to maximize their margin. There are people in your local market who know who the good dealers are, but you apparently don't know them.

What I don't hear from you is making any effort to call upon your local musician community. Who teaches your children lessons? Where do they buy their music? Who else do you know who's a player (church organist or choir director). But wait you said you don't have time to shop and want to make this quick and easy and so probably won't bother with any of that. Meanwhile you carp to an online forum that doesn't even know where you live and thus cannot comment on your local market (believe me someone here knows what's going on there), all while you kids practice on an electronic keyboard.

The bottom line is this, your quest for simple, fast and fair is at odds with your quest to not get ripped off. Pick one.

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#1325599 - 12/14/09 10:19 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: Steve Chandler]
Ken Knapp Offline



Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2234
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler

The bottom line is this, your quest for simple, fast and fair is at odds with your quest to not get ripped off. Pick one.


Amen.

Ken
_________________________
Ken

Piano Organ Depot
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http://www.mitatechs.org
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#1325601 - 12/14/09 10:28 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: Marty Flinn]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19777
Loc: New York
Even though I've been in the piano market frequently over the years, and have bought several pianos including a couple in the last few years, and have been in and out of showrooms dozens if not hundreds of times, I had no idea there was any amount of "bashing of the traditional piano retail sales business model."

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#1325608 - 12/14/09 10:43 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: Marty Flinn]
meowmix52 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 110
In the future, ideally everything will be maximized for margin. Although it pains me to say this -- virtual all the old "mom and pops" piano stores will give rise to larger, more efficient piano titans -- with names like "Pianos R Us" or "Piano's Club".

It has already happened in many other industries, I believe it is only time for the piano business model to undergo a radical change...

I guess what you're getting with this evolution is
1. a lower price (something everyone wants -- why not use that extra $700 from the Kawai K3 to buy yourself a nice, new jacket, perhaps a new laptop, or maybe a cruise ticket for yourself?)

2. a more consistent quality and service (mammoth department chains will carry pianos of the similar quality, with the same, depersonalized service).

Why all this negativity with this change? It is definitely beneficial for consumers for one -- the extra money saved can be wisely used elsewhere.

I guess the only downside is the depersonalized service you would receive -- much like walking into a Home Depot instead of the hardware store down the street.

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#1325700 - 12/15/09 01:20 AM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: pianoloverus]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7192
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Based on any of his posts in this thread or anywhere, I would have no second thoughts about dealing with Marty Flinn as a consumer.


Neither would I, and the company he works for, Keyboard Concepts, is first class. I wouldn't have any hesitation buying a piano from his comrade-in-arms Steve Cohen either, despite the fact that Steve doesn't play the piano at all and comes up short in your expertise qualifications. grin

"Some of the biggest armchair experts seem to think they know all the answers but, at least according to their signatures, have never worked a single day selling pianos no less owned a piano dealership. And I strongly doubt they have ever tuned a piano or can play beyond a mediocre level."

However, you miss my point. Marty's integrity is not in question here, not in any way. The question is whether the personal perspective of one industry member is the only perspective to be considered. I know many piano retail shops that do not follow the KC store model, that do not worry about carpeted floor, a myriad of choices in every finish, and a freeway-close location. Another thing I know is that there are no topics in any field where different perspectives do not add value.

This is a discussion forum. If you personally want to accept the commonly-offered opinion that the present industry model is the only one that can work and has no need to adapt to the times, that is your prerogative. Others may not accept that conclusion. I don't.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1325705 - 12/15/09 01:32 AM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: Steve Chandler]
cBeam01 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/12/09
Posts: 5
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler

The bottom line is this, your quest for simple, fast and fair is at odds with your quest to not get ripped off. Pick one.


I guess you are right, the piano retail business is not set up to deliver a simple, fast and fair purchasing experience for me.

So, to not get ripped off I need to do more research.

Here is what I got (internet search): Yamaha U1 PE: MRSP $11,000. Offered at Costco roadshow in Northern California for $5,525 plus $125 shipping. A search on this forum delivered a couple of more (low end) price points: $5,900 from a dealer in Michigan, $5,200 on a sale event in San Jose, CA, and another price of $5,150 in Ohio. Most prices are 2008, all are for new instruments (incl. delivery and 1 or 2 tune ups), and do not include tax.

Not sure yet how I have to value dealer prep, but I'll figure out tomorrow.

Based on numbers above I will drive to the piano shop (recommended by the piano teacher), play a few instruments. If the U1 is the one we want I will offer $5,000 (complete instrument, delivery, 2 tune ups). If after negotiating the retailer is not able to come through at slightly below $5,500 I will drive home and do more research.

After all I am aware that prices posted on the internet might not be accurate, and I am definitely going into the negotiation with what I believe is a low ball offer.

Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler

So let me give you some answers. The $5300 that's been batted around of late for a K3 strikes me as an unrealistically low price. I asked a friend who was in the business a few years ago and $6K for a K3 was a good price back then. As I recall the $5300 did not include any dealer prep and was in fact for a new "in the box" instrument (though it did include 2 tunings).


I really appreciate your effort providing a price point for the K3. Thank you for that. Again, we need to play the instruments first. But in case I could get a U1 for $5,500 I most likely would look for a lower price than $5,300 for the K3.

I think I am now at a pretty sad state of the purchasing experience. I am only talking about price trying hard not to get ripped off. Not sure if I will be happy with any deal, not sure that the retailer will be happy.

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#1325778 - 12/15/09 08:11 AM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: cBeam01]
TempoPrimo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/09
Posts: 88
I doubt that customers really have such a long and quite so plainly silly list of demands in terms of what they expect from piano shops.

Buyers just find it unfathomable that the prices are so often absent from websites, unclear, or at best to be considered the starting point for some lengthy negotiation in which the customer feels (rightly or wrongly) they are at a disadvantage. This adds stress to the transaction, which will typically be for a significant amount of money already. Sort out the prices, not the distance from the freeway.

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#1325782 - 12/15/09 08:20 AM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: cBeam01]
peejay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/10/09
Posts: 52
Here is my issue with the MSRP/SMP/given/actual price scheme.

Without starting any real negotiations yet, I was given:

Dealer 1, Piano A: 43% off MSRP, 27% off SMP (best deal by MSRP)
Dealer 1, Piano B: 13% off MSRP, 13% off SMP (msrp=smp)
Dealer 2, Piano A: 25% off MSRP, 5% off SMP (same as piano A above)
Dealer 2, Piano C: 37% off MSRP, 35% off SMP (best deal by SMP)

What this tells me is: MSRP is meaningless, SMP is a vague starting point, "discounted SMP" is widely variable, prices between dealers are widely variable.

I think this matters most on the low end, where every $100 in the budget really counts, but it makes it incredibly hard just to find out which pianos are (would be?/could be?) in a similar price range without shopping every piano within (at least) 43% MSRP/35% SMP at every dealer (which is pretty much what I've been doing whistle).

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#1325786 - 12/15/09 08:39 AM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: TempoPrimo]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19346
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: TempoPrimo
I doubt that customers really have such a long and quite so plainly silly list of demands in terms of what they expect from piano shops.

The list was clearly a composite based on the demands of many customers.

Originally Posted By: TempoPrimo
Buyers just find it unfathomable that the prices are so often absent from websites, unclear, or at best to be considered the starting point for some lengthy negotiation in which the customer feels (rightly or wrongly) they are at a disadvantage. This adds stress to the transaction, which will typically be for a significant amount of money already. Sort out the prices, not the distance from the freeway.


I can understand that some customers feel uncomfortable in negotiations. I do. But if apparently many/most customers expect negotiations to be part of the process, how can that part be removed? I have never owned a car since I live in Manhattan, but don't buyers negotiate for cars?

With the Piano Buyer, a reasonable starting place for negotiations is no longer absent as long as someone knows about this free resource.

Although distance from the freeway is not one of my concern(I live a few miles from Piano Row), that very problem was mentioned by one of the early posters in this thread who complained that it was a two hour trip to tne dealer.


Edited by pianoloverus (12/15/09 09:07 AM)

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#1325801 - 12/15/09 09:18 AM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: pianoloverus]
TempoPrimo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/09
Posts: 88
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

The list was clearly a composite based on the demands of many customers.


That is a rather large paraphrasing of:

Originally Posted By: Marty Flinn

Here is a list of what many/most real piano shoppers demand:


That this is nonsense does not entail that something else must have been meant.

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#1325812 - 12/15/09 09:35 AM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: TempoPrimo]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10479
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
A factor many of you are not taking into account is that, according to the most accurate source (NAMM), the break-even point for piano dealers is about 38%. Falling below that average means we are losing money.

True some deals are above and some below, but the average stands. This is due to the costs of maintaining a operation that satisfies the needs of enough buyer to sustain the business.
Many of the prices discussed on the Forum are far below that average.

Most shoppers will not buy without getting some kind of "deal". With that in mind, what price should we mark on our instuments?
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1325815 - 12/15/09 09:37 AM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: pianoloverus]
Hummingbird Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/30/08
Posts: 57
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

I can understand that some customers feel uncomfortable in negotiations. I do. But if apparently many/most customers expect negotiations to be part of the process, how can that part be removed? I have never owned a car since I live in Manhattan, but don't buyers negotiate for cars?


Actually, car negotiation is slowly going away, too. With the internet, you can often get lowest-price quotes from dealers before you ever leave your house, if you already have a general idea what you want. Then you go test drive the ones you were interested in and see how you like them.
There is still a lot of car negotiation going on right now, but this alternative method is becoming more and more common, and dealerships are adapting their own practices to meet the new consumer way of shopping.

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#1325842 - 12/15/09 10:26 AM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: pianoloverus]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7192
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus


With the Piano Buyer, a reasonable starting place for negotiations is no longer absent as long as someone knows about this free resource.

Although distance from the freeway is not one of my concern(I live a few miles from Piano Row), that very problem was mentioned by one of the early posters in this thread who complained that it was a two hour trip to tne dealer.


Plover,

I don't want to nitpick because it's clear you're trying to be helpful and your comments are completely reasonable, but a two-hour drive could be any number of combinations of freeway driving, local streets, and traffic delays. We really can't conclude much from that factoid. OTOH, the preponderance of factoids from shoppers who find the whole pricing process bewildering indicates a real problem.

One thing we have to remember is that two hours in a piano showroom will bring no pleasure to one category of shoppers even if prices are firm, fixed, and fair. This is the category of non-players who are shopping for someone else's instrument, mainly parents who want to do the best they can for their kids, but don't want to become self-made experts on piano touch, tone, or price. A dad in this situation might spend a couple of pleasurable hours looking over the power tools at Sears, but have very limited patience with the sophistication of pianos and their prices.

There's no question that Pianobuyer is a great resource for piano shoppers, but there is a weakness IMO in the area of MSRP / SMP. There are many brands with identical prices listed for SMP and MSRP. As I understand it, that could be a confirmation of the validity of the MSRP, or simply indicate a lack of data available to plot the SMP.

An example of this is Hailun / Wendl & Lung. These are relatively low-priced pianos, instances of where every $100 may very well count, as one poster put it. Fine has given Hailun prices a big haircut to arrive at SMP. Wendl prices on parallel models have significantly higher MSRPs which are then matched by identical SMPs. Thus a Hailun 178 has an SMP of $21,700 and the corresponding Hailun has an SMP of $13590.

If there is any meaningful difference between the two pianos, no dealer or other source has been able to state it here even though the question has been asked several times in threads. A few retailers have suggested that the differences are minimal and may be different depending on the production run. That's a lot to digest and sort out for the non-player/shopper.

I hope that in future editions of pianobuyer matching SMPs are not listed in cases where there is a lack of data to support them. Such listings can create confusion.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1325846 - 12/15/09 10:33 AM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: TempoPrimo]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19346
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: TempoPrimo
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

The list was clearly a composite based on the demands of many customers.


That is a rather large paraphrasing of:

Originally Posted By: Marty Flinn

Here is a list of what many/most real piano shoppers demand:



I think it's clear that no individual piano buyer would be concerned about all of the items on the first list or even 80% of them. So, a reasonable interpretation of Marty's list is what I said. In fact he said "I am sure you are willing to throw out three or four on the list, but there are others who demand those, and would throw out a different three or four."

I don't think he included something on the list that only a small percentage of customers is interested in. Many/most of the NYC delaerships offer a high percentage of items on the list. Do you think they would offer them if customers didn't expect them?


Edited by pianoloverus (12/15/09 10:43 AM)

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#1325878 - 12/15/09 11:39 AM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: pianoloverus]
kymont Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/24/09
Posts: 8
To all:

First I want to thank all of you who regularly contribute (and argue) here, and freely answer questions of consumers such as my family who are searching for the best piano value for our needs. Having asked some questions, reading and rereading several strings here, reading the Piano Guide, and visiting several stores (within and outside of our immediate area over the last year), we finally purchased a new grand just a couple of days ago to replace our Samick upright that the kids have practiced on over the past 6 years.

I really appreciate all of you and thank you for the sharing here.

However, in relation to this particular thread, I would say that my experiences with about half the dealers were less than satisfactory. I don't care if the store is out of the way, in the best retail location, in a broken down warehouse or fancy carpeted and lit store as long as they have quality pianos, do not treat me like an ignorant fool, listen and answer all questions honestly and completely (including the big one - PRICE), and are patient and understanding of my timeline and process as this is a huge commitment financially.

Notice I didn't point out just PRICE, as there were other factors important in choosing the right piano for us, but price was a huge factor when looking at plunking down multiple thousands. However, I was completely turned off by those who wouldn't talk about anything other than list pricing or tagged discounts in the store, and I refuse to buy from someone who won't have an honest discussion over the phone/internet to provide reference points for me to compare dealers (again considering all other factors as well). It is extremely frustrating trying figure out what dealers are really selling pianos for, and I agree that going to an internet site that says "Call for price" is useless.

Also, while the piano guide was useful to a small degree in this area, the high prices stated are not realistic at all given the different "deals" I was offered. Note that this can be a negative, because the inflated pricing nearly prevented us from even looking further.

The bad experiences my family had can only be compared to the "used car salesman" tactics that you see in movies. If any dealers persist in following those tactics (as some do per my experience) then I can only hope they are driven out of business.

I'm rambling here, but I'll close by saying LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS AND WHAT THEY WANT/EXPECT rather than fighting the changes/expectations that are inevitable. Just an opinion from one of those people with unrealistic expectations (who also happen to have the money to keep the piano sellers in business).

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#1325884 - 12/15/09 11:45 AM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: kymont]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4414
Loc: San Jose, CA
"we finally purchased a new grand just a couple of days ago to replace our Samick upright that the kids have practiced on over the past 6 years."

So, what did you get, Kymont? Can we see some photos?[i][/i]
_________________________
Clef


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#1325888 - 12/15/09 11:49 AM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: turandot]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10479
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Originally Posted By: turandot
There's no question that Pianobuyer is a great resource for piano shoppers, but there is a weakness IMO in the area of MSRP / SMP. There are many brands with identical prices listed for SMP and MSRP. As I understand it, that could be a confirmation of the validity of the MSRP, or simply indicate a lack of data available to plot the SMP.


I can officially clarify this issue:

Most manufacturers supply us with an MSRP that each manufacturer calculates in their own way. If they do supply it, it is listed as is. For those manufacturers that do not supply us with an MSRP we calculate an "MSRP Equivalent", usually the same as the SMP.

Let me reiterate a point made many times. Using MSRP as a means of price comparison is usually fruitless, as manufacturers use widely vaying methodologies to calculate it. Examples of the problem in using MSRPs is detailed in Piano Buyer on the page immediately preceding the price charts. The SMP is base on wholesale costs, with some adjustments, and provides a more accurate means of comparison. There is no "lack of data" in pricing information used to calculate the SMP.

BEFORE USING ANY OF THE PIANO BUYER PRICING INFORMATION, we strongly suggest reading the 2-page introduction the the Model and Pricing Guide in Piano Buyer.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1325889 - 12/15/09 11:50 AM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: kymont]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19346
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: kymont
Notice I didn't point out just PRICE, as there were other factors important in choosing the right piano for us, but price was a huge factor when looking at plunking down multiple thousands. However, I was completely turned off by those who wouldn't talk about anything other than list pricing or tagged discounts in the store...
Does this mean you tried bargaining and they wouldn't go lower or something else?

Originally Posted By: kymont
Also, while the piano guide was useful to a small degree in this area, the high prices stated are not realistic at all given the different "deals" I was offered.
Did you take into account the average discounts from SMP that Fine mentions or assume the SMP was supposed to indicate the selling price?


Edited by pianoloverus (12/15/09 11:51 AM)

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#1325902 - 12/15/09 12:09 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: pianoloverus]
Piano Peddler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/28/04
Posts: 351
Congratulations, Marty, on your thoughtful and concise analysis of the current state of the piano industry. Perhaps with the additional economic factors that have kept many average middle-class buyers away from piano stores, we are witnessing a paradigm shift in the culture, where buyers like cBeam01 do their research online, then expect the local dealer to cave to their demand for a lowball price. As Steve pointed out, no traditional dealer can survive in the piano business if they lose money on the fewer unit sales being made in this climate. As you well know, a new Yamaha U1 in polished ebony has a MSRP of $11,000 and a MAP price of $8200. If cBeam01 walked into your store with the intention of negotiating his best deal under $5500, including delivery and two free tunings, how would you handle it? Switch him to a grey market used U1 or a different brand (Pearl River)?

I seriously doubt that we will see Yamaha or Kawai sell directly through warehouse club catalogs, like Suzuki is doing with Costco. Keep in mind that Costco "road shows" are conducted by local dealers and the pricing, while ostensibly less than store prices, are established by the dealer, not by Costco. If dealers cannot cover the additional expenses of paying Costco's share of the proceeds, plus pay the travel expenses and commission of outside sales people necessary to conduct the road show, by selling enough units to make this type of promotion viable, they will soon become extinct. A quick survey of dealers that have previously done Costco road shows will reveal that this is already happening, plus the participation by Yamaha and other manufacturers has been significantly curtailed.

As for cBeam01 getting "ripped off", maybe he should continue shopping all over the net for his best price on the U1 or K3, then when he needs service issues resolved, see how responsive the local dealers are, let alone the selling dealer in another state (if they are still in business).
_________________________
Craig Smith
aka "Piano Peddler"
Veteran industry professional
and keyboard musician

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#1325970 - 12/15/09 02:08 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: cBeam01]
Achillle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/13/08
Posts: 30
Loc: Bellevue, WA
Originally Posted By: cBeam01

Based on numbers above I will drive to the piano shop (recommended by the piano teacher), play a few instruments. If the U1 is the one we want I will offer $5,000 (complete instrument, delivery, 2 tune ups). If after negotiating the retailer is not able to come through at slightly below $5,500 I will drive home and do more research.


Here is the problem. cBeam said he wanted a fair price. We guided him to a site where it is quite easy (as long as you read the WHOLE introduction!!!!) to calculate.

5k for a new U1 is not fair, not even close. The margin for the retailer is well below what you spend everyday for clothing, furniture, even cereal. Yes, the purchase is big, so the numbers for the consumer are daunting. But if you look at strict margin percentages, the piano industry is one place these days where you don't get ripped off. Especially if you are willing to do a couple hours of research.

The fact that many consumers here are confused, upset, and dissatisfied with the price schemes of the industry is very real, though. I try my best to explain new piano prices. Sometimes people believe me, sometimes they don't.

Dealers have the LEAST amount of control over price. Manufacturers/distributors have the most (they set wholesale prices) and consumers second. Pianos are negotiated items because the customers demand them to be. Spend some time in a store and you will understand.

Fixed prices don't work because a majority of customers shopping for pianos want to negotiate, or at least expect to. Hard for forumites to understand, but this forum represents a minority of opinion out there. At least that is my 'real world' experience.
_________________________
Semi-retired salesman (from the piano industry). But, assume all bias!
www.northwestpianos.com

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#1325976 - 12/15/09 02:12 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: Piano Peddler]
kymont Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/24/09
Posts: 8
For Steve Cohen and pianoloverus: I'm not trying to argue with anyone here - I bought my piano and am done shopping. I just wanted to thank everyone - including the two of you - and give my opinion on my experience. I did read (in detail more than once) the two pages preceding the price lists and I fully understand the methodology and difference bewteen MSRP and SMP as well as the "street price" methodology. My earlier comment still stands. The reason I point this out is that even taking the typical discounts off the SMP (as instructed), the high prices nearly scared me off.

As far as negotiating, when I let a store know I'm serious about buying with both of us knowing there are altenative places to spend the same money, then I expect them to give me their best price (or at least close). When I get the run around, a grossly inflated price over what I consider to be "street value" based on my shopping, or the used car salesman pitches (if you'll buy today ..., this sale is only good through the end of the day, these pianos typically don't get discounted any further but here is a different line you might be able to afford, "X" brand is inferior, etc. etc.), then I just listen to my girls enjoy playing the pianos and leave. No further negotiation is needed. I want honesty and I expect them to give me an honest answer on pricing that is realistic to the market - I only had two dealers do this. Maybe I'm the only person who has had this experience - if so take it for what it is. Maybe the other dealers had higher cost structures that wouldn't allow a competitive deal, or they felt they were the only or the best choice in the area. I don't know and it is not for me to debate and figure out as the market will ultimately do that for them.

All of you helped me get to this point, our new piano is being delivered later this week, and now we need to get our Samick in the hands of someone who would enjoy a piano that has served us well for the last few years. I will try to get some pictures posted after we get it setup (and the room cleaned up!). I know I'll be back on the forum reading because all of these forums are good reading, good entertainment and kind of addicting!

By the way, even though I've already purchased the piano I am going to buy the Piano Guide hard copy now rather reading online - not for the pricing anymore but for the other valuable information it contains.

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#1325979 - 12/15/09 02:15 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: Jeff Clef]
Jeff Bauer Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/03
Posts: 1718
Loc: Los Angeles
@ Marty - thanks for bring this into light, albeit it's been done before, despite what is written I think that those not in the industry do appreciate the insight.

@ Turandot - I have experienced every single thing on Marty's list (yes, even the distance from freeway thing), and in the worst case scenarios 90% of them with one customer. That being said, Marty's insights paint a very negative picture, and it isn't always like that. In fact, the beauty of this industry is that many times we get a pleasant surprise with a fresh experience.

@ Customers - The real gem of ths thread, I think, is the customer responses and their insight. Solutions aren't always clear and easy, and sometimes a little creativity goes a long way. To understand, at the root of the problem, what the consesus is amongst buyers as to what sums up a great shopping experience, makes for the possibility of a great retail solution. In theory at least smile

One way or the other, I think the economic climate is forcing piano retailers to rethink the business model, whether they want to or not.
_________________________
Jeff Bauer | Keyboard Concepts

Yamaha | Schimmel | Bösendorfer | Knabe | Seiler | Restored Steinway

BauerHouse Productions

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#1325983 - 12/15/09 02:22 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: kymont]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19346
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: kymont
For Steve Cohen and pianoloverus: I'm not trying to argue with anyone here - I bought my piano and am done shopping. I just wanted to thank everyone - including the two of you - and give my opinion on my experience. I did read (in detail more than once) the two pages preceding the price lists and I fully understand the methodology and difference bewteen MSRP and SMP as well as the "street price" methodology. My earlier comment still stands. The reason I point this out is that even taking the typical discounts off the SMP (as instructed), the high prices nearly scared me off.


If the prices even after discounting the SMP were "high" compared to what you paid, then I assume this reflects the extremely poor economic situation when you purchased the piano. I don't think the Piano Buyer attempts to take the economy into account nor could it even if it wanted to. If the PB could do this, we should also use it for managing any stock funds we own.

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#1326011 - 12/15/09 03:14 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: Piano Peddler]
pdad Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/15/09
Posts: 8
Loc: greater Boston, MA
Though I have just registered, I have been following and learning from forum discussions for some time. I have found input from and interaction between pianophiles, dealers, and casual consumers generally very helpful. That said, I have been puzzled by dealer and dealer-sympathizer response to issues raised in a previous thread by Journey and echoed in this thread by turandot and some recent consumers.

At the middle to low end of the piano market, can there really be any doubt that price is among the main concerns for consumers, especially in an economic downturn? The issue is not simply price but also price and service transparency.

Reasonable consumers understand that dealers need to make a living. So it's understandable why dealers might be frustrated when, for instance, a consumer who expresses fears about being ripped off really seems most concerned about getting the lowest possible price around. Still, the lack of price and service transparency has the effect of fueling consumer suspicions that are not necessarily unreasonable. A consistent price range, say, of +/- 5% (excluding services) would do a lot to quell these suspicions.

Dealers have complained that consumers often call in an attempt to get a price that would leave the dealer with the lowest price losing or not making enough money. Why would the dealer bother selling if that were true, unless he was already well on the road to going under? And if a dealer can sell for less than her competitors, why shouldn't consumers want to find those dealers? Reasonable, price-as-bottom-line consumers are ready to take the risk that local dealers will refuse to service. Dealers who believe that their service is worth a relative premium could specify upfront the services that factor into their total price. Consumers can do their own cost-benefit analysis.

I humbly suggest that the list Marty Flinn has offered more plausibly represents what consumers who are already committed to buying new and local want or expect. Presumably, most of these consumers are not determined to get the best deal in the country and instead have made known their service and convenience expectations.

But a significant number of other consumers care mainly about price and have no extravagant service and convenience expectations. Still other consumers are on the fence about whether to buy new. The lack of price and service transparency can lead such consumers to give up in frustration and buy used (for much less), delay buying, or not buy at all.

In my case, I thought I would be buying used through a private party on Craigslist. Turns out, I answered an ad from a dealer/reseller/restorer: nice guy, reasonable asking price, very fair selling price ("I'm really interested. What is your best price?"), service "extras," could not be more pleased so far. Critics of piano retail practices aren't talking about such dealers. Apparently, there are more than a few dealers who don't operate this way.
_________________________
Owner of a 1940s Baldwin M, which I can't play, though my young daughters can.

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#1326084 - 12/15/09 05:18 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: Jeff Bauer]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7192
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: Jeff Bauer

One way or the other, I think the economic climate is forcing piano retailers to rethink the business model, whether they want to or not.


Jeff,

I don't wish to put you on the spot, but in my recollection you have not been one to spout the credo that "the existing model is the only one that can possibly work. It may have flaws, but all the other alternatives have fatal flaws."

I would like your take on the issue from the perspective of floor financing. If you add the withdrawal of credit for dealers to floor their inventory into the traditional model, do you think that the traditional model can survive?

I know one should not read too much into the factors that led providers to exit the arena. It could just as easily be their own sour finances or a general dismal outlook for the luxury goods sector as it is the detection of a fatal flaw in the industry model. But whatever the reason for the exit, does it not require fundamental revision of the model? It would seem that those dealers who have capitalized their own inventory are in a vastly superior position over those who have relied on credit. It also seems that there are very substantial barriers to market entry for any sales pros who would like to go it on their own and renew the model by becoming the smaller fish. I mention that because in explanations of the traditional model, it is usually stressed that the model protects smaller dealers from being cannibalized by larger well-financed operations with lots of cash liquidity. I just can't see that benefit now unless manufacturers or distributors are willing and able (which I kind of doubt) to either lighten up on flooring requirements or underwrite floor credit themselves.

What are your thoughts on this perspective?
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1326099 - 12/15/09 05:40 PM Re: A word or two on the industry [Re: pdad]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19346
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: pdad
A consistent price range, say, of +/- 5% (excluding services) would do a lot to quell these suspicions.


There have been many PW threads detailing the numeorus factors that go into pricing differences. A few are dealer wholesale cost, dealer overhead, prep, how long the piano has been unsold, dealer cash flow, dealer location...plus many others.

I think +/- 5% is a small price range to expect for anything. My guess is that for many or most items the price range is more than that. It certainly is for yoghurt in the two supermarkets near my apartment.

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