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#909088 - 02/03/05 12:03 PM The taboo topic of piano pricing
NewPianoSeeker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Gainesville, FL
The purpose of this post is to pass along some new and used piano pricing rules that made a big difference for me in deciding what a reasonable deal was. I hope that they'll help other piano buying newbies out there. While these are not earth shattering secrets, I had to talk with a lot of people and read a lot of information to find them. I came into this piano purchasing quest with no special knowledge of pianos and no ties to the industry. I'm not a piano guru. I'm just an engineer (AKA obsessive compulsive) sifting through a lot of data, so take it for what it is, if you decide to continue. I should warn you that it's a long one!

The Piano World Forum has been a great resource for sorting out the confusing world of piano buying, such as the differences between brands and models and resolving issues like "stencil brands" and "gray market". The topic that seems to be taboo on this forum is pricing. A number of times I've read posts stating that dealers have a moral obligation to steer customers from other areas back to their home markets, that customers and dealers should be the ones to decide what a fair price is, and that dealers should never quote new piano prices over the phone. As a novice customer with little information dealing with seasoned piano professionals with a lot of information, this seemed terribly unfair.

My feeling is that dealers should not be afraid of consumers educated on piano pricing. I think that you will increase your business because the consumer will be more comfortable with the process. However, the education process also needs to include an understanding of why a 67% markup over wholesale is highway robbery for cars, but that it is not at all unreasonable for pianos.

I'm a piano customer, but I'm also a small business owner. I'll do my best to give the dealer's point of view. The piano business is tough. It requires a very expensive inventory and a well trained sales staff. You are usually selling an expensive, discretionary purchase to an uninformed customer with big tastes and a small budget. On top of all that, the piano market is a shrinking market due to digital keyboards, MTV, and all kinds of other reasons. You love pianos and helping people buy pianos, but you also need to make money to stay in business.

From the customer's point of view, this is the first and possibly the last time that we will buy a piano. Even though the dealer is local, we probably have never dealt with them before and may never deal with them again. We know little about pianos and even less about pricing. The person whose goal is to make money from selling you a piano is also your key source of information. This is not a comfortable position to be in. Just today there was a post from a woman who was told by the dealer that she was getting a great deal on a Kemble Empire upright. She was suffering from buyer's remorse and debating whether to run back and demand a refund.

New Piano Pricing -- The wholesale price of a new piano is approximately half of the list price in annual supplement to The Piano Book. While I'm sure that this is not absolutely true, I've had it confirmed by several sources. The industry average markup is 75%. A 67% markup over wholesale is a reasonable deal for a new piano, 43% is a good deal, and 25% is a great deal. Dealers cannot stay in business at a 25% markup, so this will only happen under special cases, such as going out of business sales. Dealers tend to take higher markups on higher priced pianos. I don't know why. Maybe someone out there can explain it.

I'll use today's question about the Kemble Empire as an example. The list price in the annual supplement is $10,240. Dividing by 2 gives a wholesale price of $5,120. Adding 67% markup gives a reasonable price of $8,550, a good price of $7,332, and a great price of $6,400. This makes her price of $6,300 an amazing deal!

Used Piano Pricing -- The price of a good quality used piano can be calculated by taking the "reasonable" price of a new piano and depreciating it according to the age of the piano. This is not an exact science, but will give you a surprising good ballpark figure.

Used pianos drop about 12% the first year. They drop around 2.5% per year from 2 to 10 years old and by 2% per year from 11 to 25 years old. After that, the price drops very little for the new 30 years. More expensive pianos will depreciate at about the same rate, but will stop depreciating at a younger age. For example, the Yamaha C3 depreciation flattens out at 30 years old and 33% of the new price while the C7 flattens out at 20 years old and 45% of new. It'll take more analyses to figure out where various model prices flatten out.

This used piano pricing rule was developed with a combination of The Piano Book and regressions based on Internet prices. I got many of the prices from PianoMart because it had a large number of pianos, but I also used PianoWorld, eBay, and other sites. This is the engineer in me coming out. The numbers from the piano book fit surprising well to real word values. I should note that even my economist wife wasn't interested in my analyses.

For the mathematically inclined, you can use the following formula:

Used Price = New Price * (0.00031*age^2 - 0.029*age + 0.91)

I'll use the 25 year old Yamaha C7 that I ended up buying as an example. The dealer was asking $10,900 for this piano. The used price rule told me that $16,000 would have been a reasonable price which made this a great deal. I should note that this is a gray market piano and I bought it site-unseen, which is not for the faint of heart. I did have it checked out by a registered piano technician.

Take the "reasonable" new price of $35,158 and depreciate it according to the age, stopping at 20 years old because that's were the C7s stop depreciating -- 1 year at 12%, 9 years at 2.5%, and 10 years at 2%.

Used price = $35,158*(100% - 12% - 9*2.5% - 10*2%) = $15,997

Using the regression equation gives a similar answer:

Used price = $35,158 * (0.00031*18^2 - 0.029*18 + 0.91) = $15,962

As a final disclaimer, these rules should only be used as a first cut at determining a reasonable price. I'm fairly thick skinned and fully aware of the limits of my piano knowledge, so differing opinions and corrections are always welcome.

Best regards to all,
Barry
_________________________
No piano industry affiliation.
Not burdened by a wealth of facts to color my opinions.

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#909089 - 02/03/05 12:24 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
AaronSF Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/07/04
Posts: 732
Loc: San Francisco
Very interesting and potentially useful, Barry. I'll be curious to see how the dealers on this forum respond to your deductions and calculations! ;\)
_________________________
Aaron

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#909090 - 02/03/05 12:36 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
NewPianoSeeker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Gainesville, FL
I had really written this post for other piano seekers, Aaron. But I'm also interested to hear what the dealers have to say. I felt more than a little arrogant professing to have the magic rule for piano pricing.
_________________________
No piano industry affiliation.
Not burdened by a wealth of facts to color my opinions.

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#909091 - 02/03/05 12:41 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10490
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Barry, I am one of those dealers that has problems with piano pricing on the Internet.


1st, I believe that your calculations are off, but not by much. A 67% markup over cost produces only a 40% margin, not 43%. (A piano costing $1000 multiplied by 1.67 = $1670. $1670 - $1000 = $670. $670/$1670 = 40%) The national average is about 43% (NAMM). Also, you need to add to the piano cost the cost of getting it to the dealership, usually about $200 on both uprights and grands. This "incoming Freight" is not a part of overhead, but a part of the "cost of goods sold".

Once you correct your figures your analysis on new pianos however is actually very sound AS AN AVERAGE. Your used piano analysis is certainly "in the ballpark", howver the range varies significantly as one would expect in the used market.

One HUGE caveat: You figures are close to the AVERAGE. Many dealerships in markets both large and small necessarily operate on margins higher and lower than you would calculate. It is VERY important to note that those that have higher costs, either costs of goods sold or overhead, are not taking advantage of shoppers when their prices are higher. Indeed they may NET less.

However, even as a major dealer advocate, I think that, as a basis for comparison, with the corrections I have noted you are well within reason.
_________________________
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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#909092 - 02/03/05 01:00 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10490
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
I posted the following about two weeks ago on a thread about the variations in prices from dealership to dealership. I thought it would be useful to re-post it here:

Let me give you an example. A particular grand piano had a wholesale price of $9300. I consult a number of dealerships who sell this line of pianos.

One dealership is in a smaller, albeit growing market. They sell about 100-125 pianos a year, grossing about $500,000-$650,000 a year. In thier growing market they pay about the same rent as in more urban locations as demand for good retail space is high. The same goes for their payroll expenses. Because they are a not a large dealership for the supplier, yet not very small, they get a 5% discount bringing the grand's cost to them to $8835 + fgt = $9000.

Another client is a very large metropolitan dealership. They sell about 1500 pianos a year grossing just over $8,000,000 in 5 locations plus outside sales. They sell from warehouse locations and their rents and payroll (per employee) is about the same, if not a little less than the smaller dealership. They buy pianos from the manufacturer in containers and receive a 25% discount. The example grand costs them $7,200.

The breakeven point (selling price needed on the average sale to meet all annual expenses but make no profit) for the smaller dealership is right on the industry average of ~41%. They need to sell the example piano for $15,300 just to break even. They ask $17,500 for the piano, but will sell it at about $16,000 if needed.

The larger dealership also needs to make 41% to break even. They break even at $12,200. They ask $14,500 and will take $13,000 if needed.

Thus one dealership breaks even at $15,300 while the other breaks even at $12,200 a ~20% difference!

Don't think that the price advantage always goes to the volume buyer. For example, one of my other clients in a small market. He only sells about 50-60 units a year. However he is in a small piano rebuilding shop with a small showroom and he owns the building. He only needs about a 28% margin to break even. While he pays the full wholsesale price of $9300 he can sell it at $12,900 and break even.

In addition to these factors, some dealerships have higher overhead due to their willingness to do more extensive pre- and post-sales services.

The bottom line...a shopper should explore all the options in their local market. Comparing prices nationally inevitably leads to bad feelings. People think that because one particular dealership sells for less that those selling for more are profiteering.

Unless you have deep experience and knowledge of the particular market and dealership it is nearly impossible to determine what a "fair" price for that dealership is. Knowing the regular wholesale price (generally 1/2 of Ancott) doesn't mean much.

Sure the consumer can shop nationally to find the best price, but it isn't a "fair" comparison, and often leads to ill feelings when both parties are actually acting ethically and within good business parameters.
_________________________
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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#909093 - 02/03/05 01:05 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Rodney Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/04
Posts: 735
Loc: Caledon ON, Canada
Barry,

In your example of the used C7 (great piano BTW... I'm in the market for one) you state a reasonable" new price of $35,158 yet you use $30,160 in your calculation which is actually closer to the good deal value (I think).

It also appears that you are using current "reasonable" new price and depreciating it, as opposed to the original "reasonable" new price but that isn't how depreciation works (right???). Using your model (starting with current reasonable price), if piano prices increased by only 3% every year over 20 years, then your used C7 would actually be worth more than what the original purchaser paid for it 20 years ago and a 30 year old would be even better.

I don't doubt your formula, but I think that you should try plugging in the original purchase price and see how that effects you final value.

Some other things that may also be considered:

1) In Canada there is a 7% (i think) import duty on pianos but this was likely different in the past. I suspect there are/were similar issues in the US at some point.

2) At one point, there was an extremely high duty on Pianos manufactured in former Soviet countries but I believe that this has been lifted. Again this would effect the wholesale price during that period.

Neither of the above points makes any difference if you use your equasion as stated (using current reasonable price) but will have an impact if you use original price.

Rodney

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#909094 - 02/03/05 02:51 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Piana Justice Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/05
Posts: 299
Loc: Greenville, NC
no comment, b/c this is just pathetic. like i said a while ago, they don't mention piano pricing, especially over the Internet, b/c they're afraid they'll run away the customers, who might think that their mechandise is too expensive, [or find that it's overpriced, and/or the pianos being of poor quality] and therefore, they'll lose money and be put outta buisiness, simple as that, let's just put it like that.
_________________________

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#909095 - 02/03/05 02:54 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
MaryAnna Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/04
Posts: 400
Loc: Florida
Masterful engineering, Barry! And some excellent clarifications by Steve.

It's good to know why piano prices vary from market to market. Some people will buy locally to get local service, and some people will buy long-distance and exchange that service (and the chance to see the piano) for a good price. In my opinion, both strategies are perfectly valid. Information like Barry's and Steve's will go a long way toward helping shoppers weigh the pros and cons of this very high-cost decision.

Interestingly, a dealer gave me a publication that showed a depreciation schedule for used pianos. (It seemed like an unusual thing for him to do, but I appreciated it and have recommended him more than once.) The depreciation curve for the C7 gave me results almost identical to Barry's, so I think he's onto something.

Mary Anna
http://www.maryannaevans.com
_________________________
Mary Anna Evans
Author of the Faye Longchamp mysteries
http://www.maryannaevans.com
Blogging at maryannaevans@blogspot.com

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#909096 - 02/03/05 03:02 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
NewPianoSeeker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Gainesville, FL
Rodney, I messed up when transferring numbers from my spreadsheet. The final answer in my example was right, but the new value piano was wrong. I have edited my post to fix the error that you found. Thanks for pointing this out.

Steve, I didnít say that a 67% markup was equivalent to a 43% margin. I said that a 67% markup (40% margin) was a reasonable deal and that a 43% markup (30% margin) was a good deal.

Your point that delivery costs should be included is a good one. I also agree that dealers with higher markups may be making less money because of higher rent, higher invoice price, and more money spent on prepping.

Where we seem to differ is whether it is better for the customer to be better informed about pricing structure. I could be wrong (and it wouldnít be the first time), but I feel that, if a consumer has the whole story, they will understand that the dealer is not fleecing them and is just trying to make a reasonable profit so that they can stay in business. Again, the pricing rules that I proposed are just to give the consumer a ball park idea. Other things should be taken into consideration and additional education may be necessary. I feel that the hidden price structure that the industry seems to promote builds distrust.

The capitalist free market says that a company with higher costs selling the same product as a competitor will not stay in business unless they provide additional value through convenience or service (I have a PhD in economics, by marriage). The piano world seems to be trying to fight this by creating mini-monopolies within each dealerís area. I liked Mary Annaís point that the consumerís decision on whether buying locally or not should be based on how and where they find the most value.

The issue of consumers trying out your piano in the store and then buying them over the Internet from a warehouse dealer is a much tougher issue. But I donít think that pricing information will help or hurt this issue.

Regards,
Barry

P.S. I noticed that your avatar is poker players -- 2 people competing and not showing their cards to each other. \:\) Iíll let you decide what my avatar of a crazy artist says about me.
_________________________
No piano industry affiliation.
Not burdened by a wealth of facts to color my opinions.

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#909097 - 02/03/05 03:19 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
Barry,

First of all - Congratulations on your new piano!. We are seeing a number of our members buying used C7s so this must be a value leader right now. It looks like you got a super deal.

I have been studying the piano market for a little over a year and I found one area / variable you have not considered and that is "used private party sale". This is one area where very good deals can be found if the buyer is patient. The air gets mighty thin for some of the higher priced piano and if the buyer has cash and is open minded regarding options then deals can be found.

Have fun with your C7.

Regards,
Steve
_________________________
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

anon

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#909098 - 02/03/05 04:06 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
FranklySpeaking Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/22/04
Posts: 273
Loc: Texas
Barry,
Congrats on your new piano ... any pictures on another thread??

As a small businessman myself it looks like a pretty good analysis ... every industry has its quirks but ???? all in all looks pretty good....

I like your description ...
"I'm a piano customer, but I'm also a small business owner. I'll do my best to give the dealer's point of view. The piano business is tough. It requires a very expensive inventory and a well trained sales staff. You are usually selling an expensive, discretionary purchase to an uninformed customer with big tastes and a small budget. On top of all that, the piano market is a shrinking market due to digital keyboards, MTV, and all kinds of other reasons. You love pianos and helping people buy pianos, but you also need to make money to stay in business." \:D

I liked your description here but wonder if there should be something added (implied in your post but not stated) about pianos being a lower volume business and thus necessitating a higher margin to stay in business (maybe it would help folks like piana justice \:D :rolleyes: -- then again maybe not)

Piana Justice ... have you ever run a business??? with all the overhead components such as Insurance (inventory, liability, work comp, medical, etc) taxes (including social security matching) rent, payroll, keeping up with govt. paperwork and many "fees" (disguised taxes) and inventory costs etc. etc. etc .????? ... I can assume not ... yes dealers look to make a "profit" but there is less out there every year it seems .... or would you prefer there were no dealers and you had to order your piano by mail or Internet?? :rolleyes: \:D
_________________________
Jay

"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." -Katharine Hepburn

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#909099 - 02/03/05 04:20 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10490
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
I agree that, were the shopper to truely comprehend the financial aspects of piano retailing, they would be able to make the proper judgement. Unfortunately, the vast majority of shoppers, for a wide variety of valid reasons, devote far to less time than needed. And only knowing part of the reality usually leads to serious distortions.

Also, you define the 40% margin as "reasonable". I would argue that the average deal make in the USA was "reasonable". And it was 43%.

Is the average buyer unreasonable? \:D
_________________________
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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#909100 - 02/03/05 04:30 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
NewPianoSeeker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Gainesville, FL
Jay, I'm still waiting for the big arrival. I'll be sure to have a coming out post when it arrives. They're saying another week or 2 because of the backlog caused by shipping associated with the big show.

I'm sure that PianaJustice is right that there are a few dealers out there taking advantage of customers, but most are good people trying to run a business. I would really like to see the dealers out there have successful businesses both for themselves and for the good of society. Time spent playing or listening to a piano is better then time in front of the TV. Unfortunately, it's going to continue getting tougher as the market shrinks. Aside from helping other piano buyers, I'm trying to encourage dealers to take a look at their business model. I think that it's time to update it.

Stevester, in my search, it seemed that private sales were slightly less than dealer sales, on average, similar to the car market. To me, this is the way that it should be since dealers are a somewhat safer source because they have a history that you can check on and because they often offer some kind of warranty. I bought my piano from a dealer because they had the low price and a warranty.

Steve, I didn't mean to imply that a 40% margin was more reasonable than a 43% margin. Your knowledge of the business far exceeds mine, and your reason for using 43% as the "reasonable" value makes good sense to me. I started to call it the "fair" value, meaning that it was an equitable price for the seller and the buyer, but I thought that it might be misinterpreted.

Where we differ is on the best way for dealers to charge a margin that will allow them to stay in business. My hypothesis is that it would be better for dealers to educate consumers when they have misconceptions then to try to hide the whole pricing structure from them so that they don't see the issue at all. That may have worked in the past, but the Internet will makes this hard to do. Now youíll be dealing with a partially educated customer and thereís no going back.

When I was writing this post, I was somewhat concerned that Iíd get badly flamed. Steve has demonstrated that it is possible to disagree without attacking and that itís OK to acknowledge the other personís point of view even if itís not yours.

Barry
_________________________
No piano industry affiliation.
Not burdened by a wealth of facts to color my opinions.

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#909101 - 02/03/05 04:38 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
FranklySpeaking Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/22/04
Posts: 273
Loc: Texas
Steve...
Yes ...OF COURSE the avg. buyer is unreasonable ... we ALL want to buy at $300 over dealer cost!!?? \:D \:D :rolleyes:

however I think the practice some (a few??!!hopefully) stores have of marking up pianos OVER MSRP and then "discounting" to full MSRP ... leads to mistrust :rolleyes: ...

places like the forum are great for the info they give to consumers to be comfortable in their purchase decision ...ie: the Kemble empire upright purchaser who is hopefully much happier now that she? has some more information...
_________________________
Jay

"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." -Katharine Hepburn

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#909102 - 02/03/05 04:51 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2339
Loc: Lowell MA
OK....

I guess I'll take the plunge here.

How do you put a price on service?

As we know, service is VERY important.
It is both the knowledge and experience of the dealers techs
as well as the willingness of the dealer to use them in responding.

Service costs money.

Sure, someone providing LESS service, can charge LESS money for the piano.
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
facebook.com/E. J. Buck & Sons Performances

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#909103 - 02/03/05 06:29 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
seebechstein Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/04
Posts: 1085
Loc: houston
It's worth something to me to be able to go to a good-sized store and play a wide variety of well-prepped pianos when I searched for my instrument. This costs the dealer a lot of money to provide a high-quality experience. But as a consumer I don't really want to have to pay for all that. In the end, when I buy a piano I do pay for that anyway, and this is what brings me to my conclusion about piano pricing: you're going to pay a retail price for it, so why worry about what the invoice to the dealer was? It has little or nothing to do with what the dealer can afford to sell it to you for.

I don't think pricing is the only "slimy" issue, either. The "hard sell" or the "outright lie" are bad too and really turned me off to some shops. It's too bad some people feel they have to resort to such tactics. I don't have any answers and I wish I did, all I can relate are my experiences and feelings over the last several months when I shopped.

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#909104 - 02/03/05 06:47 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
NewPianoSeeker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Gainesville, FL
Larry, people put a price on service all the time. You pay more for full service gas then self serve, more for full service restaurants than self serve, more at department stores than warehouse stores. Some people go for the full service and some for the self service.

Your job is to convey to your customer that the value of your service is worth more than the extra cost of pianos in your store. Youíll win some and lose some. Good luck!

Barry
_________________________
No piano industry affiliation.
Not burdened by a wealth of facts to color my opinions.

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#909105 - 02/03/05 07:15 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2339
Loc: Lowell MA
Barry,

I was responding to your original math on pricing.

I may have mis-read, I don't remember seeing any comments on the overhead costs dealers bear.

I should probably clarify here, service involves the all the personel at the store not just the tuner. The cost of maintaining a complete high quality staff is significant.

I am merly pointing out that it should be included in anyones formula on pricing.

If it were a perfect world there would be no problems, but as luck would have it, it is not.
The responsivness of the staff is important.

Finding a dealer to do business with is not just about the price, it is also about his reputation for service before, during and after the sale.

Personally, many times I buy equipment from a dealer that I know will respond quickly and knowledgebly when I have questions or problems. I am willing to pay more for that.

My point is simply, there is more to pricing than the formula you presented. I am merely suggesting that people look for good service balanced by a fair price. I believe that is where value is.
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
facebook.com/E. J. Buck & Sons Performances

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#909106 - 02/03/05 07:23 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
FranklySpeaking Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/22/04
Posts: 273
Loc: Texas
Seebechstein,
I think we must have shopped in some of the same stores! \:D
_________________________
Jay

"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." -Katharine Hepburn

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#909107 - 02/03/05 08:19 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
NewPianoSeeker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Gainesville, FL
Larry, you're right that I didn't explicitly quantify the overhead costs. The 43% markup (Iíve switched to using Steveís value) gives the customer an idea of generally (individual results may vary) what it takes to cover the dealerís overhead and keep them in business. If it costs the dealer more to offer additional services then this should translate into the customer willing to pay more. If it doesnít then the market has spoken.

While there are a lot of good dealers out there, I have to agree with Seebechstein that there are dealers using a variety of tricks. I was pretty underwhelmed by my local dealers. They bad mouthed each otherís brands and told me that their 75 to 100% markups were a good deal. Iím just thankful that we have information sources like The Piano Book and this forum to help me tell whatís real.

My goal in discussing pricing is not to drive down the profits of good dealers. Itís a tough enough business already. My goal is to help customers understand why good dealers charge what they do and to be able to tell when unscrupulous dealers are trying to fleece them.

Barry
_________________________
No piano industry affiliation.
Not burdened by a wealth of facts to color my opinions.

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#909108 - 02/03/05 08:42 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
pedagogue Offline
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Registered: 03/06/03
Posts: 99
Excellent discussion.

I am glad that everyone has kept it civil, because I know I have learned a great deal from this thread, and look forward to reading more.

-pedagogue

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#909109 - 02/03/05 09:03 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
beandoc Offline
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Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 52
Loc: Victoria, BC
Pedagogue, I totally agree. Civil discussions are so much more interesting and rewarding in the long run....

Barry -- job well done! It doesn't matter how precise/accurate your formulae are. They are 'ballpark' and a great 'starting point' for the average piano consumer. Using your math, I have confirmed that I got a good, but maybe not amzing, deal for my piano. I hope the dealer did OK on it because I'm very happy on my end -- which is what matters isn't it?

john, eh?
_________________________
John, Eh

"Remember, wherever you go, there you are" -- Buckaroo Bonzai

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#909110 - 02/03/05 09:15 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
kenny Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 7051
Posting prices is not taboo.
Dealers will make you think it is.
Guilt is the most effective tool in their bag of tricks.
Confusing you is next.

Dealers want to keep prices up.
So they are threatened by the forum where buyers can post they prices they got.

Dealers like high prices.
Buyers like low prices.
Neither is a monster.
It is just business.

Information is power.

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#909111 - 02/04/05 08:10 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10490
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larry Buck:
OK....

I guess I'll take the plunge here.

How do you put a price on service?

As we know, service is VERY important.
It is both the knowledge and experience of the dealers techs
as well as the willingness of the dealer to use them in responding.

Service costs money.

Sure, someone providing LESS service, can charge LESS money for the piano. [/b]
Putting a price on service isn't all that hard.

In our market a decent RPT gets about $90-$100 per tuning. They can do 4-5 tunings a day, so on the "outside" they can make about $400/day. Based on 8 hours they get about $50/hr.

They have little overhead. Of course they must acquire their customer base, which can be costly. And there is gas and wear on their vehicles.

In-store payment need to be somewhat competitive or they'd work independently.
_________________________
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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#909112 - 02/04/05 08:25 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
NewPianoSeeker Offline
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Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Gainesville, FL
I really like Beandocís post. It is possible to have a customer who is happy knowing that they paid a reasonable price and that the dealer made a reasonable profit!

Kenny, I like your point that ďneither is a monsterĒ. I also agree that there are some dealers out there using guilt and confusion, but there are many good dealers out there just trying to make a living in a difficult business.

Looking back at the posts in this thread, I noticed that, aside from Steve Cohen, the regular PW posters who are dealers have been noticeably absent. It just may be that they donít find this to be an interesting or relevant discussion, but it strikes me as a little curious.

Iím starting to feel like Iíve hijacked my own thread. I really meant for this to be a consumer-to-consumer thread on how to determine what a fair price to pay for a piano is. Somehow itís morphed in my mind into a crusade to convince dealers that they need to update their business model and that sharing pricing information with consumers will be to everyoneís benefit. Iíve changed my avatar from Van Gogh to Don Quixote for future posts to reflect my change \:\)

My theory is that dealers will make more money because customers are currently being turned off by the protective way that the system is set up. I was very turned off from buying a new Yamaha or Kawai

The harsh reality is that with the shrinking piano market itís going to be hard for dealers, especially in small cities, to keep doing business the same way that they have been. The days of a customer only looking in the local store and believing what the dealer tells them are gone. They are going to have to convince customers that they offer services and conveniences that make it worth it for the customer to shop with them instead of going elsewhere. The jury is still out on whether enough consumers will see the value in this to keep the higher overhead stores in business.

Iíd look to the car industry to see how it has changed. While it doesnít have the problem of shrinking markets, it has been dealing with the issue of consumers knowing the invoice pricing and having to deal with customers shopping around. Theyíve still managed to hide a little of their costs in dealer holdbacks and dealer rebates, but car dealers have found that the used car market is now much more profitable than the new one. Most piano dealers still focus on new pianos. Many car dealers have separate Internet sales staff. They deal specifically with the customer that knows exactly what they want and are surfing the Internet for the right deal. The Internet staff sells cars for less than the staff dealing with walk-ins.

Iíve seen my first sign of piano dealers moving this way. I got a great deal on a used piano that I found on the Internet. After the deal was finalized, I was talking with the dealer and he said that he would have charged several thousand more in the store. He said it was because he felt that he needed to do it to get my business. At first it struck me as odd, but he was right that I wouldnít have been willing to take the risk of buying a piano site-unseen unless it was a great deal.

Barry
_________________________
No piano industry affiliation.
Not burdened by a wealth of facts to color my opinions.

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#909113 - 02/04/05 08:56 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
kenny Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 7051
I don't have the book in front of me so I can't quote it verbatim but Larry Fine's supplement says that it is not uncommon for one customer to pay 50% more than another customer for the same piano on the same day at the same dealer.
End of sort-of-quote.

Why?
The negotiating skill of the buyer.

You will get the deal you are able to negotiate.
So will the dealer.

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#909114 - 02/04/05 09:13 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
NewPianoSeeker Offline
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Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Gainesville, FL
Kenny, this is highly variable pricing is exactly whatís wrong with the piano industry! Whether itís cars or pianos, Iím usually able to get a good deal because I come in well armed with information and am not afraid to haggle, while a less informed customer pays a premium price for the same thing. Not only is this not fair, Iím sure that there are people, who donít realize that the prices are negotiable, that walk out of the store never to be heard from again.

My wife liked the Pramberger that she tried, but the dealer was asking $30K. A week later, the dealer called to say that it was now on sale for $20K. By that time, we had already bought a different piano.

Barry
_________________________
No piano industry affiliation.
Not burdened by a wealth of facts to color my opinions.

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#909115 - 02/04/05 09:17 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
kenny Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 7051
double post \:o

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#909116 - 02/04/05 09:21 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
kenny Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 7051
In my opinion every price that is agreed to by the buyer and the seller is "fair", unless a gun is involved. ;\)

Yes it sucks for the buyers who don't know any better.
But that is the way it is with big ticket items like pianos, cars and houses.
The dealers make more on some sales than others, they make some average.

But something sucks for the sellers too:
The Internet, and The Piano Book.
A higher percentage of customers now come in with some information.

But just knowing someone else got the piano for x dollars is no silver bullet.

Sellers can still say no to any offer.

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#909117 - 02/04/05 09:41 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
NewPianoSeeker Offline
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Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Gainesville, FL
Kenny, while Iím sure that there are exceptions, I donít think that most dealers are partying. From what Iíve read, the industry is going through a major shakeup. Piano sales have been decreasing since the 1930s. Any time that an industry is shrinking, things get ugly. As they get desperate, dealers will sell products at margins that are too low to maintain a business. Going-out-of-business sales will take customers away from borderline businesses which pushes them over the edge causing a domino effect.

I believe that the reason that dealers are clinging to the idea of hidden prices is that they are afraid that the customer will come in and beat them down to a margin that they canít exist on. Theyíre faced with the choice of taking the deal to make a few bucks so that they can pay employees and keep the lights on or saying ďnoĒ and getting nothing. While no gun is involved, Iím sure that it feels like there is one.

As a small business owner, my heart goes out to them. Thatís why I keep encouraging them to accept that itís a changed world and to see if there is a way to make a living in it rather than clinging to a no longer valid business model. Itíll turn out that some dealers just canít keep their doors open because their overhead is too high or their market is too small or customers donít find enough value in their services. Iím hoping that by making the right changes before they are desperate that some dealers will find a way to make it work.

Barry
_________________________
No piano industry affiliation.
Not burdened by a wealth of facts to color my opinions.

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#909118 - 02/04/05 09:45 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
us_soccer Offline
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Registered: 01/24/05
Posts: 39
Loc: Utica, NY
I see the point that dealers will make more profit off of some customers and less off of others, simply due to the fact that different people have a different willingness to pay. That willingness to pay for a consumer is affected by a number of things such as how informed he/she is, income level, necessity of buying a piano, flexibility in tastes for different brands, etc...
And different sellers have different willingness to accept bids from consumers -- this is a function of many things as well -- overhead costs, staffing costs, size of store, volume of sales in a year, etc...

Sellers engage in price discrimination because they can. The question of fairness is more of a judgment call -- depends on what you think "fair" really means.

However, my argument would be that, judgments of fairness aside, it _potentially_ may be in a _dealer's_ interest to be more forthcoming about prices, costs, etc.. and to have less "haggling" so that the dispersion of prices for same model/brand/no trade-ins/etc.. is less.
The reason is that this may build a sense of trust with customers that they won't feel "cheated" and this dealer may end up with much higher volume of sales, though potentially at the cost of lower margin per piano. I'm not saying this will be the case in _all_ markets (some small markets simply have too small of a volume of pianos selling each year), but in competitive ones, it may be the case.

The key is how much consumers value this level of "trust" and forthrightness. If there is a demand for this type of relationship, it will eventually come. So, maybe we will see a shift in how dealers deal with pricing/information.. but it may take a long time..

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#909119 - 02/04/05 09:47 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
JCS Offline
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Registered: 07/02/04
Posts: 75
Loc: Aurora, Colorado
Analysis Paralysis:

In the end the unit you buy is only worth what you are willing to pay and can afford and how willing the dealer is to make the deal.

Nice formula but not really necessary. I recommend putting more time and effort into negotiations than exacting these calculations.

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#909120 - 02/04/05 09:50 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
kenny Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 7051
This goes without saying but I'll say it yet again.
Price isn't everything.

Selecting a good dealer who does good prep and has a good reputation and provides good after-sale support are all part of the equation.

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#909121 - 02/04/05 10:22 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Piano Peddler Offline
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Registered: 09/28/04
Posts: 351
Barry:

Your comments on dealers needing to review their business model for survival in this rapidly-changing industry is very insightful. As a veteran of nearly 40 years in the retail and wholesale piano business, I have witnessed many once-successful dealers close their doors.

Incidentally, there are marketing firms that conduct "Going Out of Business" sale events for insolvent music retailers (just as in the furniture industry), and ironically net much higher gross profit margins than the typical dealer. Just like university sales, armory sales and other piano major events, discount pricing is often an illusion over what a saavy consumer can discover with a little more research.

Perhaps what we need to adapt our businesses to would be a model that seems to work for Saturn and Car Max; that is a "no haggle one-price" policy. Consumers can be assured that they will get the same price as anyone else, and it will never be lower than the first time they visit the dealership. Of course, it would be the dealer's goal to convince every prospective customer that his total package of fair competitive pricing, service and support is enough incentive for them to make a purchase decision. Once the customer leaves the store and goes to other piano stores, or gets on the Internet to research prices, the chances of them returning to the original dealer and making the purchase at the quoted price decrease significantly. If there is no urgency to buy at a special price, the consumer will tend to keep shopping until they find that exeptional deal.

One final note is that the retail prices in Larry Fines latest supplement are not up-to-date with the industry. Most piano manufacturers have increased their wholesale dealer pricing in the last few months. Some annouce the new prices at NAMM in January and use February 1 as a deadline to order at last year's prices. Nearly every European piano builder has had to adjust prices up significantly to offset the 35-40% decline of the US dollar versus the Eurodollar, just to keep pace. Ancott is a service for the piano industry that tracks wholesale and retail prices, and is updated every six months. Even that resource does not take into account the additional discounts and price incentives offered to larger dealers that are buying containers of imported pianos at a time, or committing to larger quantities (100+) per year from a supplier.

Bottom line is that if a dealer loses money on every sale, he will not be able to make it up in volume and will soon be out of business.
_________________________
Craig Smith
aka "Piano Peddler"
Veteran industry professional
and keyboard musician

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#909122 - 02/04/05 10:56 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
IgnorantHusband Offline
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Registered: 01/04/05
Posts: 310
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Definition of a 'Deal' An agreement, especially one that is mutually beneficial.

For the seller; He / She receives compensation that is satisfactory to sustaining / maintaining his business and more important making a reasonable living at the agreed price. Iíd be surprised someone would be in this business to lose money and subsidize another's Piano out of his pocket. If so, please let me know which dealer that might be.

For the buyer; He / She has acquired something they desire at a price they can afford (hopefully) and has tangible value commensurate with the agreed price.

We just finished a month plus long shopping for a high end Grand. I donít think the high end Piano buyer should be approaching their purchase like a car, or even a house. At least for us I donít see myself buying another Piano in my lifetime, unlike my Car and or home. For others if it is a stepping stone to another piano or just another purchase for a family member then they will have a different definition/criteria of what a ďDealĒ is.

Our experience:

Manufacture/Dealer A: We play all of their inventory and multiple models, ask many questions get much literature. We are told to decide and buy quickly since the value is excellent and a price increase is coming in January. What a fine investment this Piano is and it is worth every dollar of the listed prices. Rumor/belief is that this brand/delaer doesnít negotiate. Pianoís listed price is the sales price.

Manufacture/Dealer B: We play all of their inventory and multiple models, ask many questions get much literature. . The dealer has a posted sales price much lower then the ďlistedĒ price in Fineís book. In the ballpark of what was discussed in the very first post. It turns out the Piano is one of our finalists, we start some serious negotiating, get a additional reduction. It should be noted we have friend that just purchased this Piano from dealer at what some in this thread would consider a 'deal' off the 'listed' price. The friends felt like they got a great deal. Wow, list price x, my price y, a lot better then what I every got off on a car. Suffice to say we got a considerably lower price then that. This confirm's Kenny's and builds on NewPianoSeekerís post of highly variable pricing! I have no clue did the Dealer get more inventory at a cheaper cost, knew we were considering another Piano brand and was trying to make the sell to us with less profit knowing the only knob left to him was price/ better deal, he couldn't change the piano, who knows, but the difference in price was signficant $$$$$. In the end we didnít pick this Brand/Dealer because of the few dollars difference between what our friend paid and what it was offered to us. IE the great 'deal' was only a secondary factor in selecting a Piano. We picked another Brand/Dealer C simply it was the Piano we prefered. Price was per the 'Deal' definition.

Brand/Dealer C: We again played all of their inventory and multiple models, ask many questions got the literature. In the end we selected Brand C got what dealer claimed was the best deal he every gave. That was nice, but the bottom line we got the Piano we wanted at a price we were comfortable. Would I have liked a lower price, Yes. Was I satisfied I got a reasonable prices, Yes. Thus, the deal was done. \:D


Charles

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#909123 - 02/04/05 10:57 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
NewPianoSeeker Offline
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Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Gainesville, FL
Kenny, I totally agree that price isnít everything and that the other things that you listed also have value. Itís up to each person what they are worth to them. I personally didnít place a lot of value on them when I bought a piano, but thatís just me. I may be influenced by the less than stellar opinion that I came away with from my local dealers. The piano tech that inspected the used piano that I bought didnít have great things to say about the store, but recommended the piano after he inspected it. I rely on my local piano tech once I leave the store.

JCS, ďanalysis paralysisĒ is an occupational hazard that I deal with as an engineer \:\) Thatís why I was pleased to discover some pretty simple rules for looking at a deal being offered and deciding if it was reasonable. These rules are just meant to be a general guideline to determine if the price is in the ball park of where it should be. Rarely a day goes by on this forum when someone doesnít ask whether a price theyíre being offered is reasonable. Most of them would have been at least helped by using these rules.

Even though I consider myself an accomplished haggler, I would much rather go into negotiations with a ball park idea of what is reasonable. I haggle to get a fair price, not to beat the dealer down to a margin they canít live on.

Piano Peddler, you raise some excellent points. Itís been interesting to see that only Saturn has adopted the fixed pricing for new cars. You do a good job of pointing out the fixed price pitfall of having someone else undercut you with a ďspecialĒ price. You may not be able to tell it from my posts, but I donít think that I have all the answers ;\) Itís a very tough problem! Weíve all seen the ďbuy before midnightĒ deals used to rush people into a sale. Itís used because itís effective. Youíre point on the rapid changes in wholesale prices is well taken, especially with the falling dollar.

Again, the pricing rules that I proposed are just to get you started. Other factors like additional services being offered, recent wholesale price fluctuations, and the condition of the piano (in the case of used pianos) must be taken into consideration.

Barry -- self-appointed crusader for transparency in piano pricing

P.S.: Mary Anna warned me that this forum will draw you in even after you think you're done. She was right! My 14 year old son was reading over my shoulder last night and announced that this forum was "just instant messaging for old people!" Kids... can't live with them.
_________________________
No piano industry affiliation.
Not burdened by a wealth of facts to color my opinions.

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#909124 - 02/04/05 01:02 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10490
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Crusader Barry, (as opposed to Crusader Rabbit for those old enough to remember) \:D :

How would "transparency" work? Would dealers post their actual wholesale cost, or the published wholesale costs? How would they be transparent about their costs, as percentages or $$?

For example, how would the dealer be transparent with the cost of say rent or payroll as their part of margin on a particular sale?

Another question: We often buy large quantities of pianos to get a better price from the manufacturer/distributor. Our hope is that the savings will outweight the interest on the money. How would these kinds of factors be made transparent?

I think that the theory of transparency sounds good, for both the shopper and the dealer. In practice however, it is very complex. How would it work?
_________________________
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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#909125 - 02/04/05 02:04 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
NewPianoSeeker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Gainesville, FL
Good question, Steve! I didnít make it clear that my quest is a move TOWARDS transparency. I donít mean that each dealer should post their business ledger in the front window. I mean that dealers should move away from trying to hide the wholesale costs from the customer because it builds distrust. The other part of transparency is educating the customer on why an average markup of 43% is reasonable.

If a dealer is able to lower their overhead through volume purchasing, lower rent, or other methods then more power to them. This means that they can make higher profits at the same selling price as other dealers or can lower their price to bring in more customers. Thatís the free market at work!

On the other hand, Iíve read posts on this forum saying that a dealer with higher overhead should charge their customers more so that the dealer can still make a reasonable profit. It may sound harsh, but nobody has the right to stay in business. It has to make economic sense. If a dealer is charging more than a competitor for the same piano then they need to offer more. It may be through additional or better services. It may be that the value in the customer dealing with someone that they know and trust. Or it may be the convenience of not having to travel to another city. Ultimately, itís the customer who decides if they value what is being offered. Many small stores are closing when Wal-Mart moves in. The small stores may offer much better service, but too many customers are saying that they like Wal-Mart by where they spend their money.

In case you havenít figured it out already, Iím not normal ;\) I have a much higher ďrisk toleranceĒ than most people when it comes to piano buying. Most people probably think that Iím crazy to buy a piano site-unseen. My feeling is that the piano technician is much better qualified to say whether the piano is good than I am. I know that there is the issue of each piano being slightly different in touch and sound, even within the same brand. Iím willing to take what I feel is a relatively minor risk that the piano would not be acceptable even after our technician has prepped it. With the deal that I got, I can afford to have quite a bit of work done. On the off chance that Iím still not happy, I could turn around and sell it for little or nor loss. The dealer that sold me the piano was able to bring in a gray market piano and turn it around quickly for a profit, so he was happy. I got a great piano at a great price, so Iím happy. This is a very different business model than most piano dealers use, but it worked for us.

Iím not trying to convert people to my way of piano buying. Iím just making the point that different customers have different things that they value. Dealers who are going to stay in business will need to figure out how to either satisfy a broad array of customer types or will identify a niche market that they can service. I think that dealers should seriously consider expanding their used piano sales. I think that they could make more money this way and the customer could get a better piano for less.

I swear that Iím not normally this long winded! My writing style has often been described as ďterseĒ. These long posts just seem to pour out.

Barry

P.S.: Steve, I've changed my avatar to reflect my new thinking. I see that you're still a poker player \:\)
_________________________
No piano industry affiliation.
Not burdened by a wealth of facts to color my opinions.

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#909126 - 02/04/05 02:15 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10490
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
No. Not a poker player at all.

An ex-professional magician with a specialty in sleight of hand with cards.

Back to the thread...

Crusading for transparency without a methodology is fruitless.

If you owned my business how would you present your pricing? (If you need more info to answer, I'll try to accomodate you.)
_________________________
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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#909127 - 02/04/05 02:36 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
seebechstein Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/04
Posts: 1085
Loc: houston
 Quote:
Originally posted by FranklySpeaking:
Seebechstein,
I think we must have shopped in some of the same stores! \:D [/b]
Surely we have. I have found myself quietly identifying with previous posts of yours.

I'm not sure that store margins are what is responsible for the confusion amongst shoppers. I think the fundamental problem is inherent in the piano shopping process itself: that some pianos are junk, some are marginal, and some are fantastic, so you see prices from $1,500 to $150,000 and while you stand there scratching yourself in bewilderment the sales weasel is loading all of this contradictive baloney on you. You leave the store not knowing what to believe.

TO ANYONE WHO TRIES TO SELL PIANOS: The more and the longer you talk, the less I trust you and the less likely I am to buy a piano from you. Let the pianos themselves do the talking.

Would open wholesale invoicing published by piano manufacturers really help consumers in buying a piano, if the dealer has to add 40% to cover his expenses? You'll never get a piano from the dealer near his invoice price, so it's pointless to know what it is.

I would guess that it would save a lot of money to fill out a web form on the manufacturer's website and pay the wholesale dealer price to have a piano shipped directly from the builder and dropped on your curb in a crate. You could hire a mover to put it in your house and you could hire a tech to regulate and tune it. Why would this business model fail for the consumer and the builder? Are piano transactions too complex that we must get the value added from a dealer?

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#909128 - 02/04/05 03:01 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
MaryAnna Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/04
Posts: 400
Loc: Florida
Hmmm. Let's think about what price transparency means.

When I go to Wal-mart and buy a carton of laundry detergent...no, let's make it a little better analogy..when I go to Wal-mart and buy an electronic keyboard, there is a price marked on it and I pay it. I do not know how much the instrument cost Wal-mart. I do not know the overhead costs associated with making my purchase possible. I do not care.

For a low-priced item, I might just buy it without worrying whether K-Mart has priced it 5% lower. For one of Wal-mart's more expensive keyboards, I will probably spend a little bit in gas to compare prices at a couple of other places. Then I will buy the keyboard and take it home.

No wonder people freak out over paying thousands of dollars for an item that is, for all practical purposes, offered for sale without a price. (And don't tell me that the MSRP is more than theoretical, except for the very few uninformed folk who pay it.) A piano costs whatever you're willing to pay for it, if that price meets the seller's needs on that particular day. In a week, the seller's needs may be different. There are other items sold this way--cars and houses come to mind--but it is not a situation conducive to making either party happy. How many people look forward with happy anticipation to buying a car? I think a large purchase like that doesn't have to come with the sick feeling that you probably paid more than your neighbor for the same product.

I don't know whether the Saturn approach of flat prices with no negotiation would work for pianos, but I'd sure prefer to deal that way. Pressure from the internet may be forcing such a change in the marketplace, but nationwide flat pricing will surely force small smaller dealers in weaker marketplaces out of businesses unless they are able to clearly communicate why it is valuable for a customer to deal with them.

I like small businesspeople and I don't want to see them go. Doing business as usual in an evolving marketplace will send any firm the way of the dodo, so I hope a profitable new business model can be found. It can be done. This thread proves to me that I paid thousands more than Barry for essentially the same piano, but I'm okay with that. It was a fair price, given my preference for local service and my neurotic need to play my piano before I bought it. ;\)

Mary Anna
http://www.maryannaevans.com
_________________________
Mary Anna Evans
Author of the Faye Longchamp mysteries
http://www.maryannaevans.com
Blogging at maryannaevans@blogspot.com

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#909129 - 02/04/05 03:05 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10490
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
 Quote:
Originally posted by seebechstein:
 Quote:
Originally posted by FranklySpeaking:
Seebechstein,
I think we must have shopped in some of the same stores! \:D [/b]
Surely we have. I have found myself quietly identifying with previous posts of yours.

I'm not sure that store margins are what is responsible for the confusion amongst shoppers. I think the fundamental problem is inherent in the piano shopping process itself: that some pianos are junk, some are marginal, and some are fantastic, so you see prices from $1,500 to $150,000 and while you stand there scratching yourself in bewilderment the sales weasel is loading all of this contradictive baloney on you. You leave the store not knowing what to believe.

TO ANYONE WHO TRIES TO SELL PIANOS: The more and the longer you talk, the less I trust you and the less likely I am to buy a piano from you. Let the pianos themselves do the talking.

Would open wholesale invoicing published by piano manufacturers really help consumers in buying a piano, if the dealer has to add 40% to cover his expenses? You'll never get a piano from the dealer near his invoice price, so it's pointless to know what it is.

I would guess that it would save a lot of money to fill out a web form on the manufacturer's website and pay the wholesale dealer price to have a piano shipped directly from the builder and dropped on your curb in a crate. You could hire a mover to put it in your house and you could hire a tech to regulate and tune it. Why would this business model fail for the consumer and the builder? Are piano transactions too complex that we must get the value added from a dealer? [/b]
The reason it would fail is obvious. Where would a typical shopper be able to evaluate the piano before purchase? After all, no dealerships would stock a product that they cannot sell at a profit.
_________________________
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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#909130 - 02/04/05 03:14 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Customer's peace of mind - and I think this is what this is all about - doesn't come so much from the knowledge of what we dealers have paid for our stock - but rather the assurance of *fairness of price* by which we sell such product in the end.

That's why I am always willing to show some recent sales invoices for same or similiar pianos to my customers - when asked about it.

This way we don't have big deviations and - *unfairness* in pricing.

As opposed to the "BIG SALE" advertisers.

Somebody before[/b] such *sale* has obviously paid too much...... :rolleyes:

norbert
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#909131 - 02/04/05 03:20 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
NewPianoSeeker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Gainesville, FL
Mary Anna: I really hope you were serious that my piano deal hasnít tempered your joy with your piano. We engineers have to stick together! You have a great piano thatís a little newer with a known history.

Steve: My avatar goes on imaginary crusades, so my crusade for something as nebulous as transparency seemed appropriate ;\) Youíre right that Iíve been preaching the wonders of price transparency without give a lot of thought to exactly how it would be implemented.

In the case of this forum, I was thinking that dealers and consumers should feel free to talk about wholesale prices, overhead, services, and markups. I saw a number of cases where dealers would fall back on the ďwhatever the dealer and customer agree on is fairĒ smoke screen. Iíve started using my magic wand of a $15 electronic copy of the annual supplement to The Piano Book and the ďListPrice / 2 * 1.43Ē formula to respond to questions on this forum as to whether theyíre getting a fair deal.

Your question of how Iíd implement it in your store if I were you left me temporarily speechless. But now Iíve recovered ;\) Iíll try to work through it using the car dealer model. When car buying, I go to Edmunds.com. It gives you the invoice price, MSRP, and price typically paid for that car in my region. This gives me a good starting place as a customer. While I have been advocating the publishing of wholesale piano prices and educating the reason for a 43% markup, I admit that it may be a mistake to do it in your store. It may be too hard to educate a customer who has never run a business on why this markup is reasonable.

Maybe a good compromise is to move away from the method that most stores use of showing you the list price that is double wholesale and telling you that the 25% discount off the list price is a great deal. Instead, Iíd like to see stores give realistic list prices and spend their time getting the customer comfortable with the piano options. While the ďbuy before midnightĒ sales tactic may gain the store some sales, I think that more sales are lost because of the distrust that it creates.

Even if my theory of which method will generate the most sales and profits, I donít think there is much choice. If I could figure out the piano pricing system in a few weeks, I donít think that it is going to be long before itís common knowledge.

Seebechstein raises an interesting question about why not move towards a business model where we all order directly from the manufacturer at wholesale prices and cut out the middle man. There are a couple of issues here. First, we would have to pay more than wholesale in order to cover things like shipping and because we wouldnít get any volume discounts. But, it would still be cheaper than the 43% markup.

The big flaw in this business model is that it would be hard to order a piano if youíve never played any of their models. In my case, there were no Yamaha C7s being sold in town. I got around this problem with my piano by playing Mary Annaís C7, but not everyone will be so lucky as to find a gracious fellow pianist. What would happen in the short run is that people would play the pianos at their local store, decide what they like, and then order directly from the dealer. The Internet has allowed this to happen for many other products. The problem with this business model is that the local dealer would quickly be driven out of business.

I wonít be surprised if we move towards a piano business model where the smaller stores close and people travel to large cities where they only have one of each model on their showroom floors. Since this is such a large and infrequent purchase, many customers would be willing to do this to save money. Iím definitely not saying that this is a good way to go because it means the death of many good piano stores. Iím just saying that I could see things evolving this way, especially taking the shrinking piano market into account.

If anyone has a business model with a brighter outcome, Iíd be interested to hear it.

Barry -- prognosticator for piano business models (my next avatar is going to be Nostradamus)
_________________________
No piano industry affiliation.
Not burdened by a wealth of facts to color my opinions.

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#909132 - 02/04/05 04:35 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10490
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Barry,

First, you really know how to hurt an industry, and you prove that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing!!! Multiplying wholesale cost by 1.43 yields a ~30% margin. You are confusing markup, which is not generally used in this industry, and MARGIN. The average MARGIN in this industry is 43%. This means that 57% of the selling price is cost + fgt. And 43% is ďgross profitĒ. If you are looking for a ďmultiplierĒ it is about 1.75.

Second, as I point out in my 2nd post on this thread, the wholesale cost paid by dealers varies quite significantly. So what do you base the multiplier on?

Third, you are right in that ďIt may be too hard to educate a customer who has never run a business on why this markup is reasonable.Ē If this is so, may I assume that upon reflection you are giving up the crusade? ;\)

Fourth, you state ďMaybe a good compromise is to move away from the method that most stores use of showing you the list price that is double wholesale and telling you that the 25% discount off the list price is a great deal.Ē Say a piano costs $1000. At double wholesale ($2000) less 25% is a selling price of $1500Öa 33% margin. Not the ripoff that you imply but bankruptcy for most dealers! \:\) Here you show that those who do not really comprehend this industry can do a disservice in advising on price.

You go on to say ďIf I could figure out the piano pricing system in a few weeks, I donít think that it is going to be long before itís common knowledge.Ē

Please do not take offense, but this really proves my point. You are obviously a sharp, well-educated individual, significantly well versed in math. Until now, you believed that you figured out piano pricing in only a few weeks. You are very far from understanding the system. How do you expect dealers to explain this to the typical shopper?

Quite a few posters on the Piano Forum also believe that they understand pricing. Some do, some do not, yet all advise and comment as if they comprehended it completely. Mistaken assumptions, like those you made are common.

The main problem in comprehending the system is understanding that wholesale costs vary greatly, as do overhead expenses. They vary based on the size of the dealership, the labor costs, rents, sales volume, pre- and post-sale services, etc.

You called this subject ďtabooĒ. It is not. It is simply a very complicated situation and even worse, UNDERSTANDING IT DOESNíT LEAD TO A ďFAIRĒ PRICE unless you know all the costs of the particular dealership.

I wish it were simpler, but it is not.

Also, I want to thank you for your tone and perspective in this thread. It may sound as if I am berating you. I hope you do not take it that way.

You are a gentleman and a scholar...just not of the piano industry! NOW PUT DOWN THAT LANCE!!! ;\)
_________________________
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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#909133 - 02/04/05 08:36 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
NewPianoSeeker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Gainesville, FL
Steve: Iíll discuss your points one at a time. But before I do, Iíd like to say that I realize that I may be way off base on all of this. The rules that Iíve proposed are a working theory. This means that they are open to refinement or refutal.

Point #1: Youíre right that I screwed up switching back and forth between margin and markup. I find markup over wholesale a lot easier to think about. Is the use of margin another example of piano dealers using obfuscation? \:\) The average price paid is a 75% markup over wholesale. A fair price is a 67% markup. A good price is a 43% markup over wholesale. A great price is a 25% markup over wholesale.

Point #2: Yes, the wholesale price varies in time and space. Again, these rules are only meant to be used as a first level of screening to determine whether a price that youíre being given is reasonable. This is not meant to be the final word. Other factors need to be taken into consideration.

Point #3: No, I havenít given up the crusade, but I am refining it. I was surprised and pleased to hear that Norbert actually shows invoices to some customers. Using the car dealer model again, I think that piano dealers should show categories for their expenses. Car dealers show ďdestinationĒ or delivery fees. Piano dealers use the same technique of categorizing the various items that dealers pay in order to help the customer understand the markup.

Point #4: I didnít say that a 75% markup was ďa rip offĒ. According to your numbers, itís average for the industry. My point was that it isnít the great deal that it is purported to be. My local Yamaha dealer had a price of $31,000 on his C3. He told us that this was well below MSRP. A week later he called to say that they were having a great, limited time offer of 20% off!

I donít claim to have anything approaching full understanding of the piano industry. Almost all of the information in my ďrulesĒ came from several sources that are knowledgeable about the industry. My contribution was verifying that the used pricing guidelines from The Piano Book closely fit used piano prices for several models when using the 67% markup as a starting point and that more expensive pianos appear to reach a pricing plateau at a younger age than less expensive pianos.

I disagree with your implication that a fair price is tied to a particular dealershipís expenses. This follows the business model that I think is outdated -- that each dealer should have a local monopoly which allows them to charge prices high enough to stay in business. Some dealers have expenses that are just too high to allow them to offer the customer a good price. It may or may not be their fault. Maybe their market is too small, so their low turnover increases the interest paid on their inventory. Maybe they are carrying too many pianos. Maybe their location is too expensive. Whatever the cause, the customer should be able to decide whether they are willing to pay the extra price that this dealer charges or whether they are willing to travel to get a better deal.

While Iím good with math and analyses, I realize that there is a lot that I donít know about the piano industry. I really wouldnít have a problem admitting that Iím way off base with my pricing rules or my proposed piano business models. However, the feedback that Iíve gotten from you and others is that both of them could use some refinement and that they arenít the final word. But I havenít heard anything that invalidates them.

While I donít want to see other piano buyers get fleeced, my goal is not to help them beat down the dealers. I honestly believe that the piano industry is clinging to an outdated business model that is hurting everyone by creating mistrust and driving people away from pianos. Donít fear an informed consumer.

Barry -- purveyor of free advice thatís worth twice what you paid for it
_________________________
No piano industry affiliation.
Not burdened by a wealth of facts to color my opinions.

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#909134 - 02/05/05 02:10 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
MaryAnna Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/04
Posts: 400
Loc: Florida
Gentlemen, I think all this talk of markups and margins and dealer overhead is obfuscating the point. I don't think the details of a dealer's finances are any of my business. I just want them to tell me what the dang piano will cost me and let me decide whether I want to pay it. Period. And I want the price he/she tells me to be the same price my next-door neighbor gets tomorrow.

The current haggling system fosters a "duel" mentality, where the customer is trying to wangle a piano for less than the guy who just bought one, and the dealer is hoping to fool the customer into paying more than necessary. Pardon me for descending into a moment of sexism, but it seems that men sometimes enjoy these battles. They make me tired and a little queasy. And don't get me started on car or piano dealers who try to charge me more because they think the little lady is emotionally attached to the pretty blue car or the shiny black piano.

There is a special wrinkle to piano sales that no one has mentioned: the trade-in. This is also a problematic part of car sales. Even if every Pearl River dealer in the country has the same prices on the same pianos and sticks to them, somebody has to decide how much that trade is worth. So if we hammer out a workable, fair approach to piano pricing here in this thread (a daunting prospect), people will still be forced to haggle over exactly how much the trade-in is worth. Unless someone establishes a depreciation model similar to Barry's for used pianos, but taking into account that the dealer needs to sell the trade at a profit.

You know, when I go to an electronics store and make a large purchase like a computer or a home entertainment system, I shop around. Then I buy at the store with the best price for the system and warranty that I want, and I come home and enjoy my purchase. I have the information I needed to make my decision intelligently.

When someone buys a piano, the experience is tainted by the fear that they paid too much. Nobody wants to be a schmuck. I think dealers need to really consider whether that is how they want their customers to feel. Good will is an asset that even accountants recognize and put a value on.

Mary Anna
http://www.maryannaevans.com
_________________________
Mary Anna Evans
Author of the Faye Longchamp mysteries
http://www.maryannaevans.com
Blogging at maryannaevans@blogspot.com

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#909135 - 02/05/05 02:26 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
JPM Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/24/03
Posts: 1010
Loc: NM, GE & Wash. DC
Barry, thanks for sharing your analysis with the group. I think it provides a useful method to help consumers determine a "fair" price for a piano, based on make, size and age.

I also believe transparent pricing would help eleviate buyers' concerns and decrease their frustration with today's pricing schemes.

Steve, buyers are not concerned about certain components of a dealer's overhead (rent, labor, insurance, utilities, interest, etc.). Obviously, dealers are concerned about these costs and they certainly figure into the selling price a dealer considers to be "fair". Education may help but I doubt it will have a major impact on people's buying decision.

Buyers are concerned about the piano's quality and price, the dealer's value added (piano prep), and their confidence in the dealer/manufacturer (will they stand behind their product?). And maybe shipping/handling (buyers understand it and are used to paying it).

Mary Anna's comment is right on the mark: "I just want them to tell me what the dang piano will cost me and let me decide whether I want to pay it. Period. And I want the price he/she tells me to be the same price my next-door neighbor gets tomorrow." Unfortunately, I don't think we'll see it happening anytime soon.

Barry, the one thing I'll comment on about your method is that we don't know how good the data is. What we see on PW, PianoMart, Ebay, etc. are Asking Prices. We don't know the actual Sales Price for used pianos (and never will). Maybe you already factored that unknown in your method and I missed it.

JP

PS: It's nice to be able to discuss a contentious topic here yet maintain a civil tone.
_________________________
"Piano music should only be written for the Bechstein."
-- Claude Debussy

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#909136 - 02/05/05 07:58 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10490
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Great posts! Particularly MaryAnna's. I think she really addresses the real issues.

Barry, The confusion in percentages isn't from the piano industry side. We consistantly use margins, not markup or multipliers. The main % is that the average sale is made with a 57% cost of goods sold (incl. fgt.) and a 43% gross profit margin to cover all the expenses of the dealership as well as a return on the owners investment (Net Profit). Let's avoid confusion and stick to the standard accounting method in our discussions.

Barry, I still think your evolving model shows promise, but MaryAnna's comments really reflect the opinions of the majority of shoppers. However, there are many shoppers who WANT to get into the nitty-gritty and your model could be quite useful. If we all evolve this to refinement, it may make it to the FAQ page on PW.

Another topic has been mentioned but not explored: the seeming "monopoly" in which a particular brand is only represented by one dealership in each market. This is NOT a ploy to maintain prices.

Let me use a fictious median market called Small City (SC). I'm thinking like Cinncinati, Reno, Albany, Nashville, etc. If I were to ask the regulars here to list the brands they think should be available in the local SC market, it would likely look something like this (in no particular order):

Yamaha
Kawai
Samick/K&C
Young Chang/Pramberger
Steinway
Boston
Mason & Hamlin
Petrof
Estonia
Nordiska
Pearl River
Schimmel
Chas. Walter
a few other Chinese low-end brands

A market the size of SC cannot support more than about 5-6 storefronts, usually 3-4 dealerships each carrying no more than 3-4 lines. As you can see it doesn't leave much room for duplication. Why would a dealership choose a brand carried by another when they can choose another brand and sing its praises?
_________________________
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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#909137 - 02/05/05 12:44 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
NewPianoSeeker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/05
Posts: 84
Loc: Gainesville, FL
Mary Anna, I agree with you that it would be better if the dealers would just set their prices and let us decide if we like it or not. Unfortunately most big ticket items (cars, boats, houses) donít work that way. However, the sharing of knowledge, primarily due to the Internet, has greatly shrunk the range of prices that people pay. Car prices used to commonly to vary $7K for the same car depending on the customer. Now itís down to $1-2K. My hope is that the sharing of knowledge will cause the same thing to happen to pianos.

I think that the used market in general and trade-ins in particular is a good place for piano dealers to make money. Car dealers make considerably more on their used cars then their new cars. There is value to most of us in trading in our pianos. First, it is much more convenient than trying to sell our piano and dealing with the hassle. If you sell it too quickly then you donít have a piano for a while. If you sell it too slowly then you have 2 pianos at once. Second, we save money on taxes by trading in the piano. Third, the dealer should be able to sell it for more than a private seller because people are more comfortable buying from a dealer and because many dealers offer warranties on use pianos. Because of the value to the customer of trading in the piano, the dealer should be able to take a trade-in and sell it for a nice profit. There are dealers who try to convince the customer that their piano is worthless, which is dishonest. But in most cases, the trade-in creates a win-win situation where the customer is given a reasonable price and the dealer makes a tidy profit.

JP, you are correct that my analyses were based on the asking price rather than the final price. The negotiated final price would be slightly lower.

Just to make sure that everyone is clear on the purpose of the proposed pricing rule, Iíll say it a little different way. Maybe ďprice screening toolĒ would be a better name than ďpricing ruleĒ. The purpose of the rules is to allow the piano customer a quick method of assessing whether the price they are being offered appears to be in the ballpark of where it should be. If the price is well above what the rule says is a reasonable price then youíll want to discuss it with the seller. As a number of people have pointed out, there may be good reasons for the higher price including extra services offered by the dealer or recent increases in wholesale prices. Some brands just may sell for higher margins. A recent post on Steinways said that they are really discounted below list.

Steve, it was unfair of me to say that the use of margins is a ploy to obfuscate pricing. While piano dealers are used to thinking that way, I find it a lot easier to think about markup over wholesale. I liked your ďSCĒ example. To give you a real world example, Mary Anna and I live in Gainesville, FL. Itís primarily a university town and has a population of 150,000. I would think that a university town would have a higher percentage of piano players than a typical city, but we have 2 dealers in town. One sells Yamahas and Pearl Rivers. They have a pretty good inventory. The other sells only Kawais. They have 3 pianos in their store. I agree with you that there is no good reason to have an overlap of brands.

Several posts on this forum have said that it is not illegal, but that it is immoral to not send customers to their local store when they go to stores in other markets. Also, Yamaha and Kawai do not allow dealers to give prices over the phone. Posts have also stated that local dealers should be able to charge high enough markups to keep them in business. This is the ďmini-monopolyĒ that I was referring to. It may be that Gainesville is just too small a market to support new piano dealers. Most of us only buy a piano every 20 or 30 years. I would be willing to travel a few hours to a larger city with more options and lower prices. I hate to see a good piano store close down, but it just may not make economic sense.

I think that itís time for me to sheath my lance and get down off my high horse. ;\) I have shared my screening tools for evaluating piano pricing because I want to help others navigate the confusing world of piano pricing. Others are welcome to use them, improve them, refute them, or ignore them. Iíve encouraged dealers to examine their business models because I want you to do well and I think that the current model is not going to work well in the future.

Iíve really enjoyed interacting with all of you who decided to join in on this thread. I appreciate the way that the piano pros out there have allowed to voice my opinion, even though it is admittedly based on my very limited knowledge of the piano business. At the end of the day, it is your business and you need to decide what is best for you. Special thanks go out to Steve Cohen who has disagreed with some of my theories, but always replied in a thoughtful and respectful way, even when I needed ďschoolingĒ.

With that, Iíll return to my real world crusade to improve water quality in our streams and lakes. The next time you here from me will probably be my ďnew arrivalĒ post when our piano is delivered. Iíll try to resist the urge to come out of piano price crusading retirement, but there are no guarantees. \:\)

Barry -- retired piano pricing crusader
_________________________
No piano industry affiliation.
Not burdened by a wealth of facts to color my opinions.

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#909138 - 02/05/05 02:40 PM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10490
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Barry, thannks for the discussion. It was a great thread.

BTW, in most states you do not save taxes with a trade. Sales tax is calculated on the sale price before trade.

Again, a pleasure jousting with you.
_________________________
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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#909139 - 02/06/05 02:53 AM Re: The taboo topic of piano pricing
JPM Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/24/03
Posts: 1010
Loc: NM, GE & Wash. DC
Thanks Barry. This has been one of the best threads we've had on PF in a long time! I've learned some new things. Thanks to Steve too.

This thread contains FAQ quality information.

JP
_________________________
"Piano music should only be written for the Bechstein."
-- Claude Debussy

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