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#909225 - 06/19/04 05:45 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Is anybody here at all *listening* to the piano end user,i.e. consumer-pianist-customer him/herself?

Or are we making all kinds of assumptions on their behalf?

If he/she is entirely happy with the purchase, enjoys the piano every day - for years that is - then why would anybody insist of having to add what Larry rightfully called above - the final [irrevelant] 5% 'improvement'??

Even if you prep a Fazioli for the next 4 weeks
[which most likely wouldn't need it to begin with
\:o ] nobody can guarantee that - as a result - you would like it necessarily any better and.... buy it!

Unless you already *have*.

And never forget it's nice to give customers some surprises.

By perhaps giving them some extra free service when they need it - but least expect[/b] it.

In years to come.

[2nd free lesson in good business consulting.... ;\) ]

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

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#909226 - 06/19/04 05:48 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Eric F Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 518
Loc: La Quinta, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larry:
It sounds good when talked about, it leaves nice warm fuzzies with the public, but it just isn't called for.

[/b]
It also leaves nice warm fuzzies in the wallet of the technician. ;\)
_________________________
Eric Frankson
"Music comes first from my heart, and then goes upstairs to my head where I check it out." - Roberta Flack

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#909227 - 06/19/04 05:56 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
 Quote:
Originally posted by Christopher James Quinn:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex HernŠndez:

( excuse me if this sounds corny ) [/b]
Doesn;t sound corny, it sounds like an extended sales pitch. Just like most of this thread.

To make this more realistic and useful you should quote what this customer paid, and what you charge for the same piano. My bet is that he paid many thousands less than you charge, and that if he found a good tech to work on
his piano, he;d still be thousands ahead.
[/b]
We'll have to disagree here CJQ.

I have never used this forum as a billboard for my store. I have never advertised prices in my signature or solicited business on this forum.
The fact that my store name is in my signature is to clearly represent that I am a dealer representing a certain group of makers.

You have no idea what our pricing policies are so how in the world can you assume that he bought it for thousands less?

The client did say that he wished he had purchased it from us because of the support.

He believed he made the wrong choice before entering our store. Hopefully my referral of a good technician changed his mind.

The dealer he bought it from routinely sells out of their territory with no real after sale service to support the customer. The client bought this piano based not only on price but on a promise, a promise the original dealer did not keep. That dealer wanted to move a unit. Perhaps his client will come on this thread at some point and reveal the details of his transaction. I don't feel it is my place to do this.
_________________________


Bl√ľthner USA, LLC

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#909228 - 06/19/04 06:07 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Eric F Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 518
Loc: La Quinta, CA
Cristopher:

How is this an 'extended sales pitch'? The dealers who have contributed to this thread have done so for the sake of discussion on prepping pianos. We've offered many approaches to prepping, but no one has used this thread to sell their pianos. I would think that if nothing else, a piano buyer reading this would add this discussion to his checklist of things to consider when purchasing a piano. Isn't that what this forum's about?
_________________________
Eric Frankson
"Music comes first from my heart, and then goes upstairs to my head where I check it out." - Roberta Flack

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#909229 - 06/19/04 06:11 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Steve Ramirez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/01
Posts: 1097
Loc: El Cajon, California
I appreciate this discussion more than any recent thread I can remember. Everybody who has posted so far has done a public service that outweighs any hurt feelings that may have resulted. Many thanks gentlemen!

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#909230 - 06/19/04 06:37 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3327
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larry:


My biggest problem with the discussion is the impression being left that *every single piano* gets this kind of attention. No offense, but there is a little "sales spin" being added to the mix here by some, and it's causing the wrong impression to be left. On the pianos where one *can* justify spending this kind of money, this kind of work is hardly necessary right out of the box, and much of it should be left until after the piano has some breakin time. On the pianos where this level of expense *can't* be justified, I am not buying into the idea that anyone is going to those lengths.


I stick to my previous statement - I can prep any piano to a perfectly acceptable level in less than 4 hours, and I'm talking about the cheap stuff. Would a picky fussy tech be able to find a few things that need improvement? Sure. But the last 16 hours worth of work is only yielding about a 5% improvement over where I'll have it, if that. High end pianos need very little when new.

[/b]
Larry,

I am glad you joined in, and offered your very valid perspective. I actually started this post because of what you wrote in another thread, about 4 hours worth of prep getting a Hallet & Davis grand to an acceptable level, and another 16 hours worth of work not making any or much difference.

I want to respond to your articulate and well thought out thread.
First, about Bechstein. We have 5 or 6 Bechstein grands in our service clientel that are less than 10 years old. They are certainly fine pianos, and no doubt the approach taken by the Bechstein people at the factory was one of high integrity and skill. I had never heard that Bechstein completes their pianos and then takes another 6 months to break them in before delivery. Astonishing. From our records and experience, I would put the Bechstein in a category with Bluthner, Bosendorfer, etc. regarding factory prep and stability. I have not seen the Bechstein recommendations about dealer prep, but I imagine they are not all that different from Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Steingraeber etc. As an aside, one of our clients has a 5'11" Bechstein from around 1990 that has a sticker on the plate that says "Seasoned for the North American Climate". We would take a similar approach to prep work with a Bechstein as with a Bluthner. You may feel that much of the work we do is wasteful and unnecessary, we feel it improves our product. To each their own.

KB, your family carried Bechsteins, did you approach them any differently than your Bosendorfers or Steingraebers?

Regarding taking this approach with every single piano being sales spin, you may not believe it, but it is standard operating proceduere for our new grand pianos. It was not my intention to appear boastful, just to offer my perspective. You may think I am full of it, and that's fine. I would be dissapointed if you didn't give me the benefit of the doubt, as I respect and enjoy your posts here.

As to your being able to prep a cheap grand piano to a perfectly acceptable level in 4 hours, I am sure this is true. I don't want to debate what acceptable means, but I don't doubt what you are claiming. I am sure we also can get a cheap piano to an acceptable level in 4 hours. We do it all the time for our service clients. As to the remaining 16 hours yielding 5% improvement, that is debatable, but even 1% overall improvement to the way a piano sounds or plays, to me, is significant. I find small improvements to be accumulative, and really make the differance.

If potential clients find our approach wasteful, extreme, excessive etc. we will probably not sell them a piano. Many people don't relate to our approach.

Again, I am glad you joined in here, because I think many will really benefit from what you have to say on this topic.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909231 - 06/19/04 06:56 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
So it seems that even out of the professionals there are those who know the standard, and those who don't. Of course those who don't think they do, because the standard they work to is the highest that they know. I think those that know this higher standard though, can't go back to a lower level of service. And those who don't know this standard find it completely unecessary, or a bunch of "hubbub".

You can show someone the difference between boxed wine (not the fancy boxed wine mind you) and a ten dollar bottle very easily. It's a bit harder though to convince someone that there's a difference between a 50 dollar bottle and a 500 dollar bottle.
I'm sure though, that once someone has been drinking $500 bottles of wine for awhile, they will have a hard time going back.
I don't say this with a snobby tone as some must be thinking. I've never had a $500 bottle of wine, so I don't know that I can appreciate the difference. But I know there are people who can. And rather than tell them they're silly for having the taste they do, I commend them for having the level of appreciation necessary.
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#909232 - 06/19/04 06:59 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Eric F Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 518
Loc: La Quinta, CA
And I commend them on the money neccesary. \:D
_________________________
Eric Frankson
"Music comes first from my heart, and then goes upstairs to my head where I check it out." - Roberta Flack

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#909233 - 06/19/04 07:06 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
It's exactly the higher[/b] standard we're after and nobody in the world is adhering to it any better or with any more regularity/consistency than the factories within the Austro-Germany-Italy triangle.

Don't forget these guys are watching over each others shoulders just as the guys from BMW, Mercedes or Audi do.

I have received and delivered pianos from Germany [and even Estonia!] straight to my waiting - sometimes impatient - customers.

Including concert halls.

Without ever even the slightest,anywhere near serious, complaint.

web page

And some of them have posted their experiences here.

And a number of techs fighting over who will be selected to do the "after-factory-prep-service" later.

A few weeks[/b] ....later, that is!

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

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#909234 - 06/19/04 07:15 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
Thanks, Keith. It is my opinion that spending the extra time you're talking about on a lower to midrange piano is wasteful for a couple of reasons. It isn't because it won't help the piano, and it isn't because the clientele for it don't deserve it. It's because 99.999% of them can't tell, and would much prefer to save the extra money. Second, it's because in an unstable piano of modest construction (how's *that* for saying "cheap"..... ;\) ) it simply isn't going to last long enough to provide much benefit. The pianos will change too much during breakin.

The typical buyer for a Chinese or Korean piano (or Japanese, for that matter) are more interested in price than they are subtle nuances of improvement yielded from extreme attention to detail in prepwork. They don't care if you spent 2 hours hand polishing the capstans, they just want the keys to go up and down smoothly. If given the choice between having them go up and down even more smoothly and saving an extra 200 bucks on the piano, they'll take the money. I would be amazed, if you took two pianos just alike, gave one just enough work to be in good tune, evenly voiced, and the action work smoothly, and took the other one to the highest level of perfection you were capable of without altering or adding something else to the piano, the vast majority of your customers for those types of pianos couldn't tell the difference. But they *can* tell the difference in price. They can't absorb all the "tech talk" involved in explaining why it is desirable to have that extra 5% improvement, and the one the guy has down the street plays just fine, but is cheaper.

Now - a question - if you lose the customer because they couldn't appreciate the finer level of prepwork on a price point piano and they buy from the guy down the street who could save them 500$ on the same or similar piano, who loses?

The customer.

Sure, you lost a sale. Your competitor made a sale. But the one that lost the most is your customer. Why? Because you are capable of providing your *customer* a far superior level of after the sale service. And they've made the wrong choice, thinking they saved 500$. This customer saved 500$ on the price, but in the process will never realize the full potential of what they purchased, because the other dealer probably isn't going to see that they get it. Given that the goal isn't to bring glory to yourself, but to offer a meaningful benefit to the piano owner, this is an important point.

To me, while I'm not trying to tell you how to run your business or telling you you're doing it "wrong", it makes more sense to get that price point piano good enough to be pleasing, and make the sale. Once they are your customer, the relationship with these folks changes. Now you are their *dealer*. Now, you are in a position to take time and educate them. Now, you can work with them to develop their instrument to its full potential, and you can do it as the piano breaks in. The customer wins, because they have the support of a caring dealer who is willing to educate them, work with them, and capable of making quality improvements to their piano. As Allstate would say, "they're in good hands".

The highly knowledgeable, sophisticated musician buying an expensive premium piano is handled differently, and the pianos he's looking at are different as well. Now you can start doing more on the front end if you wish. Personally, I preferred to let the Bechstein technicians present *their* work to the customer, and then build a relationship with the potential buyer by working with him/her to detail the piano to *their* preferences. That meant the really detailed stuff happened once they had a particular piano in mind. These customers are aware of the costs of tailoring an instrument to their desires, and the cost factor becomes less of an issue.

Just my thoughts.
_________________________
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

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#909235 - 06/19/04 07:18 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
good post Larry.

It helps me to be able to see what "others" in the industry think, and I think we've had a very good discussion here.
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#909236 - 06/19/04 07:26 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
True, KB!

And when you really look at it, you dont have to go the "my-piano-more expensive-because-of-my-blahblahblah-work" route at all.

Just fire the salesman [weasel.... \:D ] and stick the saved commission into the piano with more service.

Without[/b] becoming more expensive!

[free 3rd lesson in running a successful piano business.. \:D ]

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

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#909237 - 06/19/04 07:45 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
ummmm, that would be the end of my job Norbert!

plus... there'd then be nobody there to do the prep.... double loss!

\:D \:\) \:D \:\)
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#909238 - 06/19/04 08:16 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
No, you would be even more[/b] busy!!

It's the competition's sales weasels.... you'll send packing![/b] \:D

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

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#909239 - 06/19/04 08:27 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex HernŠndez:
[QB]

You have no idea what our pricing policies are so how in the world can you assume that he bought it for thousands less?
Because he bought a piano 3000 miles away and paid for shipping it back. Nobody does this to save 2oo bucks. I also know some 'east coast' pricing on 30-40k ish pianos that is 5-10 thousand dollars less than mid and west coast.

Since you did not provide pricing, I made a guess. Since you continue not to provide pricing, I guess I'll have to stick with my guess.

If the case you are quoting is someone who paid just a few hundred dollars or even a couple of thousand dollars less buying a piano 3000 miles away, then they really are not particularly clever shoppers.


 Quote:

The dealer he bought it from routinely sells out of their territory with no real after sale service to support the customer.
Oh, the dreaded out of territory monsters. Why not drop the brand name if they do not support the kind of rigorous channel support you are in favor of?

 Quote:


Perhaps his client will come on this thread at some point and reveal the details of his transaction. I don't feel it is my place to do this.
That would be helpful, let's hope they come forward.

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#909240 - 06/19/04 08:36 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Manitou Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 1044
Loc: Colorado
(Norbert - I can't even begin to tell if your posts are all drug-induced or your alter ego wirtting for you. Either way, I rarely understand what it is you are attempting to communicate ?)

Larry,

You've appeared to say 2 conflicting things: 1; Bechstein and other top pianos don't need hours of prep and 2; it makes more sense to prep a top piano than spend 4+ hours on a cheap piano ??

I quite like KB's wine analogy. We most oft have differing personal standards and once used to them, apply them generally. What I consider to be the "best" prep possible (within 2 days of work) may be similar but not quite equal to KB, or Keith or Cohen. Nonetheless, it has been verified that from the mouths of the top piano builders, they fully expect qualified Techs to perform this kind of re-regulation of action and tone. They may not have your standard in mind, and those of us following theirs, may not either.

P.s, During a lunch with Luc Boulay (head of Pleyel distribution) when discussing this kind of prep, he said "this is normal and represents the TVA or Tax on Added Value".
I enjoy $50-$200 bottles of French wine, my wife prefers the $15 Beaujolais. Different perceptions and/or education of quality.
_________________________
Manitou - Pianist - Technician

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#909241 - 06/19/04 08:39 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
"Oh, the dreaded out of territory monsters. Why not drop the brand name if they do not support the kind of rigorous channel support you are in favor of?"


Christopher, I'm pretty sure that if there are "territories", then this manufacturer does support a dealer network. This doesn't stop dealers from exploiting this though (including a few in your area). It should be the manufacturer who drops the dealer, not the dealer dropping the manufacturer.
Why should Alex be punished for someone else breaking the rules?

And why aren't you understanding at all of this problem?
Does nobody see the importance of a dealer network for properly representing pianos? If it's not important, let's all just order pianos directly from the manufacturer.
... wait... how would we choose which one we want? University sales?
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#909242 - 06/19/04 08:40 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Manitou Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 1044
Loc: Colorado
Cohen

I do not really agree with your statements about Yamaha or Kawai arriving in such great condition as to not need this prep either.

That would suggest that a Steingraeber or Bosendorfer is in a lesser state of function than the superbly regulated Yamahas ??

For a Yamaha (in my experience) their greatest needs are in tone production. While overall regulation is acceptable, it is by no means perfect or even better than let's say Sauter of Schimmel (which I often do full preps on).
_________________________
Manitou - Pianist - Technician

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#909243 - 06/19/04 08:48 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by KlavierBauer:

And why aren't you understanding at all of this problem?
Does nobody see the importance of a dealer network for properly representing pianos? If it's not important, let's all just order pianos directly from the manufacturer.
... wait... how would we choose which one we want? University sales? [/b]
KB,

Somewhere between University sales and "20 hour concert preparation for every piano" type dealers, lies the truth about what I think most people want from a dealer.

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#909244 - 06/19/04 08:50 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
 Quote:
Originally posted by Christopher James Quinn:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex HernŠndez:
[QB]

You have no idea what our pricing policies are so how in the world can you assume that he bought it for thousands less?
Because he bought a piano 3000 miles away and paid for shipping it back. Nobody does this to save 2oo bucks. I also know some 'east coast' pricing on 30-40k ish pianos that is 5-10 thousand dollars less than mid and west coast.

Since you did not provide pricing, I made a guess. Since you continue not to provide pricing, I guess I'll have to stick with my guess.

If the case you are quoting is someone who paid just a few hundred dollars or even a couple of thousand dollars less buying a piano 3000 miles away, then they really are not particularly clever shoppers.


 Quote:

The dealer he bought it from routinely sells out of their territory with no real after sale service to support the customer.
Oh, the dreaded out of territory monsters. Why not drop the brand name if they do not support the kind of rigorous channel support you are in favor of?

 Quote:


Perhaps his client will come on this thread at some point and reveal the details of his transaction. I don't feel it is my place to do this.
That would be helpful, let's hope they come forward. [/b]
CJQ,

CJQ,


I don't favor rigorous sales channels as you put it.

I favor a dealer having the ethics to be up front about what a piano needs once it has been delivered into the home and their ability to render that service.

I favor a dealer getting to know the expectations of the client and giving the proper advice, even if it means losing a sale.

How do you know what west and midwest pricing is? What is your source for such information? You present your opinion as if it is unimpeachable. A dealer network's pricing can vary greatly from county to county in any given state. With this being the case how can any person state that this is the westcoast,midwest or eastcoast price?

incidently price the client paid included delivery.

You assume to much here CJQ. I have nothing against clients buying outside of their local area. I only hope that they first preview the piano and do their homework. I would hope that the dealer informs them about the service the piano they are about to purchase will require.

Don't confuse or assume my intent here.

This clients regretted his purchase. I would have sold him the piano for the same price and given him the best service that we are capable of.

In the end a dealer moved a unit and a customer is unhappy with their purchase.

It looks as if only one party won here.
_________________________


Bl√ľthner USA, LLC

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#909245 - 06/19/04 09:07 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Christopher James Quinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 2299
 Quote:
Originally posted by Alex HernŠndez:
[QB]
How do you know what west and midwest pricing is? What is your source for such information? You present your opinion as if it is unimpeachable.

People quote prices here that they paid or saw shopping, I know prices I saw while I was shopping. I have seen huge differences. I also know that many many people shop locally then come to the NY area and make a deal. They do this for a reason: big price difference or selection they can not find locally.

I present my opinion as my opinion - it's a as useful or worthless as anyone wants to make it. I don;t sell pianos or make money in any way with them, I'm just a consumer with an opinion.

 Quote:

This clients regretted his purchase. I would have sold him the piano for the same price and given him the best service that we are capable of.

If that's the case then the client was a fool. What could have motivated someone to buy a piano long distance at the same price a local dealer offered it?.

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#909246 - 06/19/04 09:14 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Then there are lots of fools CJQ, because it happens frequently.

Remember, a dealer doesn't have to actually give a better deal to snag a sale, they just have to get the customer to think that they're getting a better deal.

Those of us dealers who communicate with each other regularly know there are customers who against their better judgement buy what they think is a better deal, eventhough it ends up not to be in the longrun.

I'm just speaking in general of course.
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#909247 - 06/19/04 09:44 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10479
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Larry, that's one of the best posts you ever made.
_________________________
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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#909248 - 06/19/04 11:04 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
You've appeared to say 2 conflicting things: 1; Bechstein and other top pianos don't need hours of prep and 2; it makes more sense to prep a top piano than spend 4+ hours on a cheap piano ?? [/b]

I haven't said anything that is conflicting, you have misunderstood what I said.

No, directly from the factory, Bechstein, nor any other premium piano of note does not require 20+ hours worth of prep time right out of the box. I know there's some remarks that have been made about how the premium makers "expect" this to be done to their pianos, but as you'll see in a moment, that is being misrepresented. Your second part is so off the mark I don't really know where to begin to explain it to you. It doesn't even resemble what I said. Let me try again.

I didn't say "it makes more sense to prep a top piano than spend 4+ hours on a cheap piano", I said that top pianos need it the least and cheap pianos need it the most, but the cost of doing it is too much for a cheap piano, and less an issue on the top one. Add 500$ to the price of a 5995 baby grand "big sale this weekend", and see what happens to your sales. Add 500$ to a 50K piano, and it doesn't make that much difference, particularly when you factor in the fact that the buyer for the 50K piano is able to appreciate the improvement, and willing to pay for it.

As to premium makers expecting the dealer to do high level technical work, this too is getting twisted up a bit in this thread. Yes, they do. Most of them *insist* that a dealer be able to do this level of work before they'll even give you the line. The problem is, it is being presented here as if these manufacturers are expecting you to do this to their pianos right out of the box. This is simply not the case. Yes, their pianos are going to need technical work, and yes, they expect their dealers to be competent and capable of offering a high level of it. But they expect this work to be done *when the piano needs it*, not as an excersize in marketing yourself as being more capable than they are of getting their pianos right. A premium piano will *need* this level of work after the piano has had some breakin time on it, and not a day sooner. The manufacturers aren't telling you this is the kind of work they expect their dealers to do because they think they are shipping you pianos that need it, they are telling you they expect you to be able to do this level of work when it is *time* to do is. Voicing, yes, to meet the purchaser's tastes. Keeping it in tune, taking care of small adjustments as needed, yes. But to take a brand new premium range piano and convince myself that I need to redo their work straight out of the crate? I wouldn't be so presumptuous. Your job is not to redo their work, it is to keep the piano up to their level of work. So yes, they "expect you to do all this regulation work to their pianos".

On a mass produced low to midrange piano, sure - they need tons of work. But now you're back to the cost factor, and the fact that if you expect to sell many of them at all, you're going to have to stay price competitive. Prepping Nordiskas or Young Changs to the tune of 20+ hours each, and you aren't selling many pianos, or making any money on the ones you *do* sell. One tech can prepare 2 pianos a week. You simply aren't going to find enough people who will pay you 6995 for a piano they can get for 5995 everywhere else, just because you've "outprepped" the competition.

So my point Manitou, is that the numbers just won't add up for the low end, the customers at that end of the market can't tell the difference, and if you lose the sale to a dealer who can't or won't ever offer this level of service to the customer, they lost too. The most important part of giving the customer excellent service - is to have a customer to start with. Balance your technical prowess with your business sense, and do that shopper a favor - get their business, *then* help them develop both their own knowledge and appreciation for the finer points of concert quality technical work, and develop their piano to its full potential in the process.
_________________________
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

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#909249 - 06/19/04 11:47 PM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
All in all a great discussion, on all sides. One question: aside from a dealer's self report, how does one tell what level of prep a piano at a new dealer (let's say one is shopping for a new piano) is at? If one asks the dealer, I am sure they will say their prep is exemplary. What should an amateur player look for as an independent check on what the dealer is telling them?

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#909250 - 06/20/04 12:36 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3327
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Jeffrey,

we do our best to keep records of what we have done, when it was done, and who did it for every piano. We are not perfect at this,but we do our best. It gives us great information for future reference, and on occasion, if a customer asks just what you are asking, we show them. I am sure others keep good records also, some more detailed than us. Others who do good work may not keep good records, and I suspect you want to know how to tell if you think the dealer might invent records. You need to find a top independant technician, who is experienced in fully prepping pianos, and pay them to look at the piano in question, and assess its condition. We have had some of the pickiest techs imaginable really hold our feet to the fire, and this is part of why we take our approach. We also have had "techs" come in who we would not allow to dust our pianos exert their influence in this circumstance. We have a great professional relationship with many of the techs in our area and tremendous respect for professional technicians in general, but be warned. There are techs who claim independance, but have "arrangements" with one dealer or another. Unlike the dealer, where it is obvious that he is trying to sell you a piano, a techs hidden agenda may be harder to smoke out.

Once you find a qualified tech, they often will give a laundrey list of things to do to a piano before giving final approval. So if you really want to hedge your bet, and you don't trust your dealer, you will have to pay the tech to look over the piano twice. You can do 100 hours of prep, and a tech will always find something.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909251 - 06/20/04 01:46 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3327
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larry:
No, directly from the factory, Bechstein, nor any other premium piano of note does not require 20+ hours worth of prep time right out of the box. I know there's some remarks that have been made about how the premium makers "expect" this to be done to their pianos, but as you'll see in a moment, that is being misrepresented.

I didn't say "it makes more sense to prep a top piano than spend 4+ hours on a cheap piano", I said that top pianos need it the least and cheap pianos need it the most, but the cost of doing it is too much for a cheap piano, and less an issue on the top one. Add 500$ to the price of a 5995 baby grand "big sale this weekend", and see what happens to your sales. Add 500$ to a 50K piano, and it doesn't make that much difference, particularly when you factor in the fact that the buyer for the 50K piano is able to appreciate the improvement, and willing to pay for it.

As to premium makers expecting the dealer to do high level technical work, this too is getting twisted up a bit in this thread. Yes, they do. Most of them *insist* that a dealer be able to do this level of work before they'll even give you the line. The problem is, it is being presented here as if these manufacturers are expecting you to do this to their pianos right out of the box. This is simply not the case. Yes, their pianos are going to need technical work, and yes, they expect their dealers to be competent and capable of offering a high level of it. But they expect this work to be done *when the piano needs it*, not as an excersize in marketing yourself as being more capable than they are of getting their pianos right. A premium piano will *need* this level of work after the piano has had some breakin time on it, and not a day sooner. The manufacturers aren't telling you this is the kind of work they expect their dealers to do because they think they are shipping you pianos that need it, they are telling you they expect you to be able to do this level of work when it is *time* to do is. Voicing, yes, to meet the purchaser's tastes. Keeping it in tune, taking care of small adjustments as needed, yes. But to take a brand new premium range piano and convince myself that I need to redo their work straight out of the crate? I wouldn't be so presumptuous. Your job is not to redo their work, it is to keep the piano up to their level of work. So yes, they "expect you to do all this regulation work to their pianos".
So my point Manitou, is that the numbers just won't add up for the low end, the customers at that end of the market can't tell the difference, and if you lose the sale to a dealer who can't or won't ever offer this level of service to the customer, they lost too. The most important part of giving the customer excellent service - is to have a customer to start with. Balance your technical prowess with your business sense, and do that shopper a favor - get their business, *then* help them develop both their own knowledge and appreciation for the finer points of concert quality technical work, and develop their piano to its full potential in the process. [/QB]
Larry,

You are the only one who has said right out of the box. What about a week later, or a month, or two months. Norbert seems to be delivering all of his pianos directly to his customers, and uncrates them there, does nothing, and everything is perfect. I haven't been able to find these prep free magic pianos, and I often don't sell one of my $50,000 or $100,000 pianos for 2 or three months or maybe even longer. The new high end pianos I buy, even though they have the best possible factory prep done,wood seasoning, workmanship,etc. are unstable when brand new, and require multiple regulation passes and tunings to get them stable at the standards set by the manufacturer. Everyone often buys new pianos that were completed in the winter, and then shipped and uncrated in summer, or vice versa. These pianos can be nearly perfect when uncrated, and then go wildly out of tune and regulation one week later. They then absolutely need multiple passes to get them to factory spec.
I also have never seen a new piano that couldn't be dramatically improved with expert voicing. Never. Not Mason & Hamlin, Steingraeber, Bluthner, or Bechstein.
And what I am describing is exactly what manufacturers recommend, from Young Chang,Yamaha, Kawai, Fazioli, Mason & Hamlin, Steinway, Bluthner, Steingraeber, etc.

I am not saying that all of this has to be done to sell a piano, or even to satisfy most customers. I am not saying that dealers who take a different approach are wrong, or bad.

As to your statement that top manufacturers insist that their dealers are able to do top level prep, I disagree. I find the norm to be that tier 1 pianos are being offered to and sold by dealers with woefully inadequate technical ability.

As to your comments that shoppers buying $50,000 pianos being more discriminating than shoppers with much lower budgets, I disagree. I have many good friends and clients who are sensitive pianists and highly discriminating, who can only afford a $10,000 grand or maybe a $5000 upright.

I do agree that to give excellent service you need customers to start with. And I think the approach you have described is one way to achieve that. Also, although we offer pianos at different price points, our focus is really the high end. I am sure that your experience in selling more affordable pianos, is much much greater than mine, and that is not a back handed compliment. It is one of the many things that I need to improve on, and I read your posts thoroughly and get a lot out of them.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#909252 - 06/20/04 02:44 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
I am sure that your experience in selling more affordable pianos, is much much greater than mine, and that is not a back handed compliment. It is one of the many things that I need to improve on, and I read your posts thoroughly and get a lot out of them.[/b]

I don't take it as a backhanded compliment, but it did make me realize that maybe thought I sold mostly midrange products. I was the second largest Bechstein dealer in the country, as well as handling several other premium makes. I was a Bosendorfer dealer for many years, and I'm a rebuilder. High end is what I do. You are not operating at a higher level than I am accustomed to. With 30+ years of it under my belt, I'd say I have more experience with the high end than *you* do. And I don't mean that as a backhanded "slap", just that I've been around for a long, long time.
_________________________
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

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#909253 - 06/20/04 02:54 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3327
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
I didn't mean to imply that in the slightest. Larry, with all of your experience, perhaps you should become an industry consultant. You could add that credential to your signature line, and be taken more seriously. ;\)
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

Top
#909254 - 06/20/04 03:21 AM Re: Basic Grand Piano Prep
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
perhaps you should become an industry consultant.[/b]

I should.... but I've got to write the book first...... \:D
_________________________
Life isn't measured by the breaths you take. Life is measured by the things that left you breathless

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