Pianotech

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Full Service

  • 1.  Full Service

    Posted 07-03-2018 20:06
    Hello all,

    I have a few questions for you full-service techs. Not full-service as in provide everything, but full-service as in do more than just tune during each of your appointments.

    1. Why do you consider yourself a full-service tech?

    2. Were you always this way, or did you move from the more traditional tuning call viewpoint? How did you make that transition?

    3. What does your usual service call look like? (Approximate times too, please.)

    If you're not a full-service tech, do you know someone who is that I could contact?

    Thanks!

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez
    Professional Piano Services
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    BenPianoPro@comcast.net
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-03-2018 20:34
    Is this another homework assignment!!!  However you label your business using ''artisan'' or ''boutique'' ( yuck) to somehow elevate what we do is brought down to earth when returning a phone call  from a new customer a child answers the phone and upon introducing yourself you hear him  yell  "".....Mom  its the piano guy on the phone..."   so be it.

    ------------------------------
    Martin Snow
    Boston MA
    617-543-1030
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-03-2018 21:03
    Benjamin

    When someone calls for an appointment, and ask what I charge, I tell them I have 2 fees. A basic tuning fee, which is just that, I tune the piano. I'll take care of very minor little problems, like a broken bridle strap, or a little lost motion. But nothing more.

    Then I have a Full Service fee, which is about 25% higher. For that I will make a pitch adjustment, and do minor repairs and regulations. But I tell the customer that if, in my opinion, the repairs or adjustments are more than what I could consider minor, I will ask their permission to do the repairs. That way the customer is not surprised with the final bill.

    I allow an hour and a half for each appointment, which includes travel time. If I know it's going to take me more than my allotted time, I will reschedule the appointment. Which brings me to the next paragraph.

    While I will do minor repairs at the time of the appointment, when there is more things involved than just pitch raising or lost motion, and especially if I need to take the action out of the piano to make the repairs, I will take the action home and work on it on the bench. I hate working on the floor, or even sitting at the piano, to make repairs. It's very uncomfortable for me, and I don't want to have my customer see me making mistakes, (which I will make). I would rather do the on a well lit bench, with all my tools and supplies at my ready.

    When I take an action home, I look at my calendar to see when I can do the work. Then I will schedule another appointment for when the work is done. This will give me the incentive to get the work done, and the customer will know when to expect the action back. The only time I don't do that is if I have to order parts. Then I will tell the customer I will call them when the work is done.

    I hope that answers your questions.

    ------------------------------
    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    Mililani, HI 96789
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-03-2018 22:22
    Hi Wim,

    Thanks for the reply. For the most part, that's what I'm doing now. Basic service packet, second level, third level. Just had the first Third-Level appointment today. 4.5 hours. That's a long time, but it felt good to sit back from my work and realize that I just brought back a piano to a playable state. Believe me, it was much more than a simple two pass pitch raise....

    In my book, minor repairs are things that take under a minute to do. Remove the pencils, pull out that coin, adjust the lost motion if I have time.....


    Ed,

    Thank you for the sagely advice. It's simple, yet so deep.

    What I envision is moving from doing mostly first level service calls (ie, just tuning) to mostly second and third level service calls. That's where I want to end up in a few years. My question has to do with what a full service call looks like for those who do that day in and day out, how they make it work, and how they got there.

    But, I think you answered the "how to get there" part very well. Thanks

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez
    Professional Piano Services
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    BenPianoPro@comcast.net
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-03-2018 23:02
    Benjamin

    As you learn how to do more things, you will be able to recommend more work for your customers. Key bushings, for example. If you don't know what the signs are for keys to rebushed, you won't know to recommend that to your customer. The same with action regulation, filing hammers, etc. That is why it's so important to read the Journal, attend chapter meetings, and make it to as many seminars and convention you can. As others have said, attending the convention is the best investment in your career you can make. In just matter of weeks, or a couple of months, you'll be able to recoup the money you spent.

    Whenever you approach a piano, especially for the first time, as you're tuning it, look for things that will make the piano better. Action regulation, cleaning the soundboard, case touch up, polish the pedals, damper replacement. But instead of saying, "the action needs to be regulated", ask the customer how she/he likes the way the piano plays. At first she might way, fine. But mostly likely, she'll follow up with, "why, do you think it needs work". (or something to that effect). Then you can explain what you think the action needs.

    She might not have you do the work right away, but it lays the ground work. Make a note in your records that you recommended action regulation, and the price you quoted her, and the next time you tune the piano, she might ask you about it, or you can bring it up again. I've even had customers call me several weeks or months later and say. "lets do it".

    That's the way you offer 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th level service

    ------------------------------
    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    Mililani, HI 96789
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-03-2018 21:09
    Ben-
    While there is value in having big hopes, plans and dreams, the actual getting there is done one tuning pin, one flange screw, one keybushing at a time.
    Follow the tuning pins! Pay attention to them all, and try to do your best.
    This is our daily work, and if we do it long enough we will wind up where we belong.
    Working to pass the RPT exams will help you focus on what matters.

    ------------------------------
    Ed Sutton
    ed440@me.com
    (980) 254-7413
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-05-2018 18:39
    Edited by Benjamin Sanchez 07-05-2018 23:30
    —Long Post—

    Hello all,

    I've received several private emails, as well as several public posts, asking why I want to move toward full service, and what that means, how it would work, etc. I posted a partial reply in the "capstan" thread, but wanted to add one here for the archive's sake. I'm still trying to figure out the "how" element, but hopefully this will clarify what I'm looking towards.

    What do I consider "full-service" calls?

    For me, a full-service call would consist of a set chunk of time, during which I'd tune the piano and give a pitch raise if needed, or, if a pitch raise isn't needed, then fill that extra time with doing things like cleaning, regulation and voicing. This would also come at a higher price than just a basic tuning call.

    What's in it for the Customer?

    The client would receive better value from a service call than "just a tuning." The piano would play better and sound more melodic, as well as being in tune. The entire piano would be serviced, not just the strings.

    What's in it for me?

    Ideally, Full Service would mean a larger or equal income with less overhead per appointment, plus more satisfied clients. Example: If you charge $120 per a basic tuning and do 4 a day, then your daily income is $480. If one charges $160 for a full service appointment, and does only three a day, they still earn $480. But, their operating costs (ie, vehicle) are less due to not having to drive to another appointment.

    Plus, my reputation gets better and becomes "Oh, he's the piano tuner that makes my piano sound AND play better!"

    The idea is that I would NOT lose money, or give away my services for free, per say. Rather, I'd be selling time where it's understood that a tuning would be included amongst other things, not a tuning here and a touch up regulation there. As someone once told me, it's moving towards making a radical, positive change in this piano, rather than just tune it.

    How does it work?

    I'm still trying to figure this part out. What I envision is charging about 33% more, lengthening the appointment by 33%, and using that extra time to do things like a pitch raise or needed regulation, etc. That's pretty much what I offer now, I'm just curious how to get to doing more full-service appointments than basic tuning calls. How to market this, as well as how to build a business around this concept of full-service.

    Thus this post, and the request for contact with any techs that already do this. I want to learn how this works for them, and how they got there.

    Thanks again for the responses everyone.

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez
    Professional Piano Services
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    BenPianoPro@comcast.net
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-05-2018 19:21
    Benjamin

    The idea of offering "full service" appointments for your clients is an excellent one. There are quite a few technicians who do that. When asked how much they charge for a tuning, there is no set answer, because it all depends on what they will do when they get there.

    This is where you want to watch out when you say how much a full service appointment will cost, and what you'll do for that, without giving a disclaimer. That's what I do when I tell my customers about my full service fee. I explain that the fee includes minor repairs and pitch adjustments, but that if, in my opinion, the repairs or adjustments are more than what I consider minor, I will charge extra. If you don't say that, then someone might expect you to rebuild their action for $160. I'm pretty lenient what I'll do for my full service fee, but it give me the option of charging more if I have to.  Basically I allow myself an hour and half for a full service appointment. If I can see that it's going to take longer, I talk to the customer.

    The best approach is to ask how long it's been since their piano was last serviced. Anything more than 5 years almost automatically qualifies for a full service fee. After you get done with the initial appointment, and the piano is up to pitch, and working properly, then is when you might want to offer a customer a full service appointment, explaining that you'll do minor things to make the piano play and sound better. But even at that, for most of your customers, those who play for their own enjoyment or the kids taking lessons, there isn't really that much that will go out from one appointment to the next. So there will come a point when all you really need to do is tune the piano. And if it's stable, make a few little adjustments on the spot, without charging extra.

    ------------------------------
    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    Mililani, HI 96789
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-05-2018 23:33
    For those of you who saw the pre-edited post of why full service, you may have noticed I said I would lose money. I meant would not! Stupid spell check. The correction has been made.... hopefully....

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez
    Professional Piano Services
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    BenPianoPro@comcast.net
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-05-2018 23:39
    Benjamin --

    It's impossible to know what work a piano might need without actually seeing and touching it. The description from a new customer over the phone will not be enough and it will frequently be wrong. In other words, it's extremely difficult to sell full service to a new customer over the phone. It also can frequently label you as a pushy salesman rather than a professional tech.

    Never, EVER do ANY work without having first discussed it, and pricing, with the customer. Just because some regulation or voicing, etc., may be called for in your opinion doesn't mean the customer will actually want it. And if you do it without asking and the customer A: hates it, or B: refuses to pay you for work they did not approve, then where are you?

    Personally, on my first call to a new customer my goal is not to sell them a lot of work. My first goal is to earn the customers trust. I do that by leaving the piano in tune and with everything working as well as possible with a minimum of effort and billing. In other words, only do what is necessary to get the piano working well enough to throw a fine tuning on it. When you have completed your work you want the customer to sit down a play the instrument and let you know that they love what you have done. Once you have reached that point you can then offer your knowledgeable opinion about additional service that would make the piano sound and perform better. And it's now knowledgeable because after this initial appointment you pretty much know all about what the piano ACTUALLY needs from personal experience.

    Also, and please don't learn this the hard way, never do repair work on a piano you are seeing for the first time before actually tuning it. If you do the repairs and then discover that the piano won't actually take a tuning because of, say, a pin block that is shot, then your out.

    Every town has a couple of pushy full service techs that strive for instant gratification in their larger than average invoices. I love techs like that because what they wind up doing is scaring the customer away instead of having them eager to call again for the next service call. Instead the customer does some research, calls friends, etc., and winds up calling a tech that already has a good reputation for service and friendliness, making it easy for those of us with a reputable history to step in and look like caring hero's.

    Cultivating the repeat customer should be your first goal. The money will come along with it.

    ------------------------------
    Geoff Sykes, RPT
    Los Angeles CA
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-06-2018 00:50
    Hi Geoff,

    Thanks for the reminder of everything that could go wrong! I totally get what you're saying. However, one thing I envision is dropping the basic tuning call (level 1) in favor of a full-service call (level 2). That way there's no trying to explain what the difference is over the phone. No worrying about scaring the client away. It's just "this is how much I charge." "Ok, lets set up an appointment."

    The idea would be not having to explain the need for a pitch raise, because I have time in the service call to do one. No having to sell a touch up regulation, also because I have time to do it. That's not to say never tell the client about it. Rather, don't worry them about it. Being easy.

    In my few full-service calls I've had that weren't taken up with a pitch raise, I tell the client everything I did, in terms they understand, and why I did it, also in a way they understand. It seems to work to bring that extra value before their eyes.

    But yes, I see your point of not scaring them away with "your piano needs this this this this and this!" For a first time client, the idea would be to bring the piano to a maintainable state (up to pitch and fine tuned), then at the next call work to bring about that radical positive change though not just tuning but also setting aside time to service the action and hammers as well.

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez
    Professional Piano Services
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    BenPianoPro@comcast.net
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-06-2018 03:35
    I'm not all that fond of putting things into pre-defined boxes, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3. For this I get that, for the other I get, etc.

    I'd rather quote a normal tuning fee (which is set high enough to allow a few simple repairs -- lubricate the pedal -- or an adjustment on a few notes), and then discuss what else the piano needs if it seems appropriate, after I see the instrument. I hate that explanation about pitch raises. By now, 40 years in, I'd rather just do it, and then explain that I have a fixed tuning rate, and next time I'll spend less time but it will cost the same. By the time I explain that the piano will be more stable after the next tuning, and I've suggested a time, usually six months, they've seen me working hard and they've heard the improvement. A few will call me back in six months, more won't, and that's okay. They know what their needs are and they have to figure out where their money is best spent. I hate it when a customer feels blind-sided by expecting one amount and then getting told they owe more. For many, it won't matter, but for a few, it will be a serious problem.

    I've lost patience with nickel-and-diming as a way of organizing a business.

    And after all these years, there are pianos where a basic tuning is all I want to do, and customers for whom that will be quite enough. It's fortunate when the nasty little neglected console, with everything more or less kind of working, and customers who truly don't care about refinements and who want to minimize their cost happen to live in the same house.  That way I won't have to bust a gut trying to make a silk purse from a sow's ear. Some pianos will never be any better than they were on Day One.  I am happy when a basic tuning will get them close enough to their glass ceiling that they can be left alone to get on with it.

    It's easy enough to see which pianos will reward more work, and which customers will enjoy the best we can do. We don't have to try to subject them to regimentation and put them into our own categories. One explains, offers, and then one leaves it up to them, when, how elaborate, and whether.

    I knew a tuner once who would jump to conclusions and diagnose several hundred dollars of work over the phone, with the piano unseen. He lost a lot of work that way, and deserved to.

    I suppose this just shows that there is more than one way to do this business, and that the passage of time has effects on one's psychology as well as one's physical condition.

    ------------------------------
    Susan Kline
    Philomath, Oregon
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-06-2018 04:40
    As I have said several times, I schedule a full service appointment for pianos that have not been serviced for more than 7 - 10 years. But sometimes customers are reluctant to even commit to that much money if they don't know what the final bill will be,  until I explain that in the event I find that the piano is not worth repairing, I won't charge for the appointment. This is what I call a "look see" appointment. I don't charge for it, but I'll only schedule it when I'm in the neighborhood, or it's on my way home.  I've done this numerous times over the past 5 years, and it's gotten me quite a bit of business.

    I did that this twice this past Monday. For the first one, the repairs were much more than the piano was worth, and I recommended that the customer not have the work done. She agreed, and thanked me for my time. The piano was played by her daughter, who now has her own home, and might buy one of my used pianos. For the next appointment I wound up doing $1000 worth of work on the piano.

    Neither customer would have scheduled an appointment if they had to pay a minimum service fee.

    It's worth a try, especially if you need the business.



    ------------------------------
    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    Mililani, HI 96789
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-06-2018 12:15
    A very reasonable and ethical approach, Wim. It's not like we own our customers.

    ------------------------------
    Susan Kline
    Philomath, Oregon
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-06-2018 11:03
    Ben,
    If you become a full service technician, the details of your dreams and web page will take care of themselves.

    Not everyone has the multiple talents it takes to become a full service technician, and not everyone will be fortunate enough to find the needed opportunities for professional development of their talents.

    Not everyone will live in a place where there are clientele capable of demanding and paying for full service maintenance of their pianos. Full service serves high quality pianos and high quality musical demand. It is not beginners' work or beginners' business.

    Steve Brady teaches a good class on his full service approach to piano work. Steve Brady, get it? See his class at a PTG Institute.

    But first, take your basic classes. Get good at the simple stuff. Lay the foundation by being the very best beginner you can be, for at least ten to twenty years. Find out if you like this work on its own terms. Meanwhile, life will take you where you need to go.

    Approaching 70 years and still a beginner,

    ------------------------------
    Ed Sutton
    ed440@me.com
    (980) 254-7413
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-06-2018 15:00
    Thanks for the replies everyone! You've given me much to think about. Many words of experience, and I am thankful that you that you took the time to share.

    Two final thoughts on my end. One is, this is still something I'm considering. It's not definite yet. My original question was about how those who do this make it work for them. If anyone does this and hasn't replied yet, I'd still like to hear from you!

    Secondly, I don't agree with the idea that full service should only be reserved for high end situations. I can't speak for everyone, but from what personal experience I've had, I've yet to see a humble piano that would not have benefited from some touch up regulation. From a five minute once-over voicing in a certain section. From adjusting out lost motion. From bedding the keyframe in a grand. From....

    For me personally, the concept of full service means adding little things in with each service call that will make the piano better. Sometimes it's dusting and polishing. Other times it's adjusting the regulation. It's something that makes the owner happier with their piano and with the service they received.

    I don't know that it requires multiple talents or fortunate opportunities. I can't say for certain, but it looks to me that full service is more than anything an attitude; a philosophy; a way of life.


    Thanks again everyone.

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez
    Professional Piano Services
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    BenPianoPro@comcast.net
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-07-2018 00:09
    Benjamin

    Two people I know did full service appointments. One was Golden Hammer winner Virgil Smith. He did full service appointments, and people paid him what ever he asked. Of course it didn't hurt that for many years he was the tuner for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and had a fantastic reputation all around the Chicago area. The other was Golden Hammer winner, and two time PTG President Marshal Hawkins, in the DC area. He, too, had a great reputation, and customers sought him out because of the service he provided.

    What made it work for them is years and years of experience. Those two men had a great reputation, and customers were expecting that service, and were willing to pay for it. Customers sought them out because of the reputation they had. As Ed said, you won't be able to offer this kind of service until you've got the "chops" to do the work. And that takes years and years of doing it over and over. You're not there, yet.

    What I'm hearing you say is that you want to offer that kind of service, and get paid extra for it. That's a good idea. But even just adjusting lost motion, or bedding the keybed, or voicing the hammers, will change the way the piano plays or sounds.  And some customer don't want that. They like the way their piano plays and sounds. So they won't call you to tuner their piano again.

    M
    y suggestion is that for now, set your tuning fee where ever you want it, and just schedule to tune the piano. If you think the piano needs extra service, talk to the customer and explain what you want to do, and how much it will cost. Let them make the decision to have you do the extra work on the piano. Chances are they will accept your offer, and will be happy to have you do the work. But to arbitrarily make changes to the piano, without their permission, is not going to work for you. At least not at your level of development. But rest assured, if you keep doing what I'm suggesting long enough, you'll soon get a reputation that you do excellent work, and then, one day in the near future, customers will call you and ask you to work your magic. And, as Virgil said to me, when you get done working on their piano, your customers will ask, "what did you do to my piano? It never sounded so good".


    ------------------------------
    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    Mililani, HI 96789
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-07-2018 00:49
    Benjamin --

    Almost by definition, Full Service implies servicing only the high end pianos owned by the well-to-do owners who can not only tell the difference, but can afford to demand it. As Wim says, there are but a handful of tuner techs that actually qualify for this work. And they did not reach that level simply by tacking on the label Full Service to their prices. It took years of honing both technical and personal skills to get there. And it took years of customers acknowledging that those skills had satisfied their demands for them to actually be labeled Full Service techs. For the other 99% of us, our bread and butter is mostly day-to-day service on average pianos owned by average customers who neither want nor care for extra service at an extra cost. Charge whatever you want. Label yourself however you like. It won't change the fact that the majority of your customers, for the majority of you career, will be people that only want their piano tuned, and nothing else. And there is great joy to be found in that achievement. Without question send them reminders at least every six months. And without feeling rejected, expect about 30% of them to respond right away. Many more will not call you back sometimes for several years because they can't hear the difference in or out of tune, and sometimes only have it tuned because daughters piano teacher threatened to not return until the piano is tuned. If you're halfway decent you will get most of your new customers from referrals from existing customers. On your website you claim to be "...a (graduate) with Highest Honors from one of the nation's top piano technician's schools", but you don't say which school that is. If the school was so great they should have taught you that piano service is not a get rich quick profession. It's a craft that takes time to learn and hone. And even the few Full Service techs will admit that the learning curve never ends. Go to conventions and conferences. Learn, learn, learn all you can every day. And then take that learning to grow to your highest potential. Perhaps, someday, you will achieve your goal of being a Full Service Tech. Just understand that it won't happen because you have decided to call yourself that and charge higher prices. Again, learn the craft, provide extraordinary service, and the money will follow.

    ------------------------------
    Geoff Sykes, RPT
    Los Angeles CA
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-07-2018 01:48
    Wim and Geoff,

    I give up! (Throw hands up.) Have either of you read the post you replied to? I'll try to explain my vision of what I want to be doing once more, then I'm done. Either you will read it or you won't.

    What I envision doing is to change my business structure to include an extra time dedicated to improving the piano's touch and tone after the tuning, should the customer approve.

    As it is, I can tune solidly in 55-65 minutes, if the piano's at pitch. I'm learning to do regulation quickly and  accurately, although it still may be some time in coming. Voicing is coming along as well, and my ear has already developed into hearing things like unmated strings, etc.

    Again, I don't claim to be a world class technician. Yes, I'm still at the beginning of my career; but with all due respect, neither of you have evaluated my skill level, and don't know where I am. So my question to you is, why are you trying to actively discourage me from pursuing developing into a full service technician?

    I have never understood the attitude of "just tune it then leave." What if the piano doesn't hardly play? What if the voicing sounds terrible? Am I supposed to turn a blind eye to it, collect the check and leave, pretending that that's a piano I can be proud of? Of course ask the permission of the owners first. But if they approve, is there a reason why I shouldn't do the work?

    As far as my school goes, what I say on the website is true. I have personal reasons for not listing it, and would be happy to explain them to you or anyone in a private email.

    Ok, one final thing then I'm done for the evening. I've had several private emails from what I consider full-service techs over the past several days. One thing they seem to all have in common is the ability to work quickly and efficiently. Tuning time is generally about 30-45 minutes, and their appointment is between 1.5 and 2 hours. So, that means the rest of the time is filled up with regulation and voicing, also done quickly.

    Again, I'm not claiming I can do this at this point in my life. But it is a goal to work towards. Providing extraordinary service to all the parts of the piano is something that I find attractive. I honestly don't understand why you are discouraging me from working towards it.

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez
    Professional Piano Services
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    BenPianoPro@comcast.net
    ------------------------------



  • 20.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-07-2018 02:22
    I don't want to poo-poo your advice, Wim and Geoff. I really don't. I just don't understand it. I don't know why you would discourage me from working to make the pianos in my care better. Even humble pianos can be improved; all it takes is a little time and the desire to do so.

    I still hold that full service isn't reserved for the rich and high end market. It's more a philosophy and way of structuring one's business.

    Thank you you again for participating, even if we won't see eye to eye on these things.

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez
    Professional Piano Services
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    BenPianoPro@comcast.net
    ------------------------------



  • 21.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-07-2018 03:00
    Benjamin

    You don't understand because you're not listening. Please read our responses very carefully. There is a difference between doing work on your own without asking permission, and doing the work after you ask permission.

    ALWAYS ask permission to do extra work, especially if you expect to get paid for it. But don't just do the work by saying you're giving "full service", without explaining ahead of time what work you'll do for that extra fee.  Rule number 1, always ask permission to do extra work for extra pay. Rule number 2, if you want to do extra work for extra pay, refer to rule number 1. (Kind of like--  Rule number 1, the conductor is always right. Rule number 2, if you disagree with the conductor, refer to rule number 1).

    ------------------------------
    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    Mililani, HI 96789
    ------------------------------



  • 22.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-07-2018 03:12
    Hi, Benjamin,

    Only for what it might be worth, I think that Wim and Geoff are spot on
    in making the comments and suggestions that they have. Their advice and
    counsel are very sound.

    Kind regards.

    Horace

    On 7/7/2018 12:00 AM, Willem Blees via Piano Technicians Guild wrote:
    > Please do not forward this message due to Auto Login.
    >
    > Benjamin
    >
    > You don't understand because you're not listening. Please read our responses very carefully. There is a difference between doing work on your own without asking permission, and doing the work after you ask permission.
    >
    > ALWAYS ask permission to do extra work, especially if you expect to get paid for it. But don't just do the work by saying you're giving "full service", without explaining ahead of time what work you'll do for that extra fee.  Rule number 1, always ask permission to do extra work for extra pay. Rule number 2, if you want to do extra work for extra pay, refer to rule number 1. (Kind of like--  Rule number 1, the conductor is always right. Rule number 2, if you disagree with the conductor, refer to rule number 1).
    >
    > ------------------------------
    > Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    > Mililani, HI 96789
    > ------------------------------
    > -------------------------------------------
    > Original Message:
    > Sent: 07-07-2018 02:22
    > From: Benjamin Sanchez
    > Subject: Full Service
    >
    > I don't want to poo-poo your advice, Wim and Geoff. I really don't. I just don't understand it. I don't know why you would discourage me from working to make the pianos in my care better. Even humble pianos can be improved; all it takes is a little time and the desire to do so.
    >
    > I still hold that full service isn't reserved for the rich and high end market. It's more a philosophy and way of structuring one's business.
    >
    > Thank you you again for participating, even if we won't see eye to eye on these things.
    >
    > ------------------------------
    > Benjamin Sanchez
    > Professional Piano Services
    > (805)315-8050
    > www.professional-piano-services.com
    > BenPianoPro@comcast.net <BenPianoPro@comcast.net>
    > ------------------------------
    >
    > Original Message:
    > Sent: 07-07-2018 01:48
    > From: Benjamin Sanchez
    > Subject: Full Service
    >
    > Wim and Geoff,
    >
    > I give up! (Throw hands up.) Have either of you read the post you replied to? I'll try to explain my vision of what I want to be doing once more, then I'm done. Either you will read it or you won't.
    >
    > What I envision doing is to change my business structure to include an extra time dedicated to improving the piano's touch and tone after the tuning, should the customer approve.
    >
    > As it is, I can tune solidly in 55-65 minutes, if the piano's at pitch. I'm learning to do regulation quickly and  accurately, although it still may be some time in coming. Voicing is coming along as well, and my ear has already developed into hearing things like unmated strings, etc.
    >
    > Again, I don't claim to be a world class technician. Yes, I'm still at the beginning of my career; but with all due respect, neither of you have evaluated my skill level, and don't know where I am. So my question to you is, why are you trying to actively discourage me from pursuing developing into a full service technician?
    >
    > I have never understood the attitude of "just tune it then leave." What if the piano doesn't hardly play? What if the voicing sounds terrible? Am I supposed to turn a blind eye to it, collect the check and leave, pretending that that's a piano I can be proud of? Of course ask the permission of the owners first. But if they approve, is there a reason why I shouldn't do the work?
    >
    > As far as my school goes, what I say on the website is true. I have personal reasons for not listing it, and would be happy to explain them to you or anyone in a private email.
    >
    > Ok, one final thing then I'm done for the evening. I've had several private emails from what I consider full-service techs over the past several days. One thing they seem to all have in common is the ability to work quickly and efficiently. Tuning time is generally about 30-45 minutes, and their appointment is between 1.5 and 2 hours. So, that means the rest of the time is filled up with regulation and voicing, also done quickly.
    >
    > Again, I'm not claiming I can do this at this point in my life. But it is a goal to work towards. Providing extraordinary service to all the parts of the piano is something that I find attractive. I honestly don't understand why you are discouraging me from working towards it.
    >
    > ------------------------------
    > Benjamin Sanchez
    > Professional Piano Services
    > (805)315-8050
    > www.professional-piano-services.com
    > BenPianoPro@comcast.net <BenPianoPro@comcast.net>
    >
    > Original Message:
    > Sent: 07-07-2018 00:49
    > From: Geoff Sykes
    > Subject: Full Service
    >
    > Benjamin --
    >
    > Almost by definition, Full Service implies servicing only the high end pianos owned by the well-to-do owners who can not only tell the difference, but can afford to demand it. As Wim says, there are but a handful of tuner techs that actually qualify for this work. And they did not reach that level simply by tacking on the label Full Service to their prices. It took years of honing both technical and personal skills to get there. And it took years of customers acknowledging that those skills had satisfied their demands for them to actually be labeled Full Service techs. For the other 99% of us, our bread and butter is mostly day-to-day service on average pianos owned by average customers who neither want nor care for extra service at an extra cost. Charge whatever you want. Label yourself however you like. It won't change the fact that the majority of your customers, for the majority of you career, will be people that only want their piano tuned, and nothing else. And there is great
    > joy to be found in that achievement. Without question send them reminders at least every six months. And without feeling rejected, expect about 30% of them to respond right away. Many more will not call you back sometimes for several years because they can't hear the difference in or out of tune, and sometimes only have it tuned because daughters piano teacher threatened to not return until the piano is tuned. If you're halfway decent you will get most of your new customers from referrals from existing customers. On your website you claim to be "...a (graduate) with Highest Honors from one of the nation's top piano technician's schools", but you don't say which school that is. If the school was so great they should have taught you that piano service is not a get rich quick profession. It's a craft that takes time to learn and hone. And even the few Full Service techs will admit that the learning curve never ends. Go to conventions and conferences. Learn, learn, learn all you can
    > every day. And then take that learning to grow to your highest potential. Perhaps, someday, you will achieve your goal of being a Full Service Tech. Just understand that it won't happen because you have decided to call yourself that and charge higher prices. Again, learn the craft, provide extraordinary service, and the money will follow.
    >
    > ------------------------------
    > Geoff Sykes, RPT
    > Los Angeles CA
    >
    > Original Message:
    > Sent: 07-06-2018 15:00
    > From: Benjamin Sanchez
    > Subject: Full Service
    >
    > Thanks for the replies everyone! You've given me much to think about. Many words of experience, and I am thankful that you that you took the time to share.
    >
    > Two final thoughts on my end. One is, this is still something I'm considering. It's not definite yet. My original question was about how those who do this make it work for them. If anyone does this and hasn't replied yet, I'd still like to hear from you!
    >
    > Secondly, I don't agree with the idea that full service should only be reserved for high end situations. I can't speak for everyone, but from what personal experience I've had, I've yet to see a humble piano that would not have benefited from some touch up regulation. From a five minute once-over voicing in a certain section. From adjusting out lost motion. From bedding the keyframe in a grand. From....
    >
    > For me personally, the concept of full service means adding little things in with each service call that will make the piano better. Sometimes it's dusting and polishing. Other times it's adjusting the regulation. It's something that makes the owner happier with their piano and with the service they received.
    >
    > I don't know that it requires multiple talents or fortunate opportunities. I can't say for certain, but it looks to me that full service is more than anything an attitude; a philosophy; a way of life.
    >
    >
    > Thanks again everyone.
    >
    > ------------------------------
    > Benjamin Sanchez
    > Professional Piano Services
    > (805)315-8050
    > www.professional-piano-services.com
    > BenPianoPro@comcast.net <BenPianoPro@comcast.net>
    >
    > Original Message:
    > Sent: 07-06-2018 11:02
    > From: Ed Sutton
    > Subject: Full Service
    >
    > Ben,
    > If you become a full service technician, the details of your dreams and web page will take care of themselves.
    >
    > Not everyone has the multiple talents it takes to become a full service technician, and not everyone will be fortunate enough to find the needed opportunities for professional development of their talents.
    >
    > Not everyone will live in a place where there are clientele capable of demanding and paying for full service maintenance of their pianos. Full service serves high quality pianos and high quality musical demand. It is not beginners' work or beginners' business.
    >
    > Steve Brady teaches a good class on his full service approach to piano work. Steve Brady, get it? See his class at a PTG Institute.
    >
    > But first, take your basic classes. Get good at the simple stuff. Lay the foundation by being the very best beginner you can be, for at least ten to twenty years. Find out if you like this work on its own terms. Meanwhile, life will take you where you need to go.
    >
    > Approaching 70 years and still a beginner,
    >
    > ------------------------------
    > Ed Sutton
    > ed440@me.com <ed440@me.com>
    > (980) 254-7413
    >
    > Original Message:
    > Sent: 07-06-2018 00:50
    > From: Benjamin Sanchez
    > Subject: Full Service
    >
    > Hi Geoff,
    >
    > Thanks for the reminder of everything that could go wrong! I totally get what you're saying. However, one thing I envision is dropping the basic tuning call (level 1) in favor of a full-service call (level 2). That way there's no trying to explain what the difference is over the phone. No worrying about scaring the client away. It's just "this is how much I charge." "Ok, lets set up an appointment."
    >
    > The idea would be not having to explain the need for a pitch raise, because I have time in the service call to do one. No having to sell a touch up regulation, also because I have time to do it. That's not to say never tell the client about it. Rather, don't worry them about it. Being easy.
    >
    > In my few full-service calls I've had that weren't taken up with a pitch raise, I tell the client everything I did, in terms they understand, and why I did it, also in a way they understand. It seems to work to bring that extra value before their eyes.
    >
    > But yes, I see your point of not scaring them away with "your piano needs this this this this and this!" For a first time client, the idea would be to bring the piano to a maintainable state (up to pitch and fine tuned), then at the next call work to bring about that radical positive change though not just tuning but also setting aside time to service the action and hammers as well.
    >
    > ------------------------------
    > Benjamin Sanchez
    > Professional Piano Services
    > (805)315-8050
    > www.professional-piano-services.com
    > BenPianoPro@comcast.net <BenPianoPro@comcast.net>
    >
    > Original Message:
    > Sent: 07-05-2018 23:39
    > From: Geoff Sykes
    > Subject: Full Service
    >
    > Benjamin --
    >
    > It's impossible to know what work a piano might need without actually seeing and touching it. The description from a new customer over the phone will not be enough and it will frequently be wrong. In other words, it's extremely difficult to sell full service to a new customer over the phone. It also can frequently label you as a pushy salesman rather than a professional tech.
    >
    > Never, EVER do ANY work without having first discussed it, and pricing, with the customer. Just because some regulation or voicing, etc., may be called for in your opinion doesn't mean the customer will actually want it. And if you do it without asking and the customer A: hates it, or B: refuses to pay you for work they did not approve, then where are you?
    >
    > Personally, on my first call to a new customer my goal is not to sell them a lot of work. My first goal is to earn the customers trust. I do that by leaving the piano in tune and with everything working as well as possible with a minimum of effort and billing. In other words, only do what is necessary to get the piano working well enough to throw a fine tuning on it. When you have completed your work you want the customer to sit down a play the instrument and let you know that they love what you have done. Once you have reached that point you can then offer your knowledgeable opinion about additional service that would make the piano sound and perform better. And it's now knowledgeable because after this initial appointment you pretty much know all about what the piano ACTUALLY needs from personal experience.
    >
    > Also, and please don't learn this the hard way, never do repair work on a piano you are seeing for the first time before actually tuning it. If you do the repairs and then discover that the piano won't actually take a tuning because of, say, a pin block that is shot, then your out.
    >
    > Every town has a couple of pushy full service techs that strive for instant gratification in their larger than average invoices. I love techs like that because what they wind up doing is scaring the customer away instead of having them eager to call again for the next service call. Instead the customer does some research, calls friends, etc., and winds up calling a tech that already has a good reputation for service and friendliness, making it easy for those of us with a reputable history to step in and look like caring hero's.
    >
    > Cultivating the repeat customer should be your first goal. The money will come along with it.
    >
    > ------------------------------
    > Geoff Sykes, RPT
    > Los Angeles CA
    >
    > Original Message:
    > Sent: 07-05-2018 19:21
    > From: Willem Blees
    > Subject: Full Service
    >
    > Benjamin
    >
    > The idea of offering "full service" appointments for your clients is an excellent one. There are quite a few technicians who do that. When asked how much they charge for a tuning, there is no set answer, because it all depends on what they will do when they get there.
    >
    > This is where you want to watch out when you say how much a full service appointment will cost, and what you'll do for that, without giving a disclaimer. That's what I do when I tell my customers about my full service fee. I explain that the fee includes minor repairs and pitch adjustments, but that if, in my opinion, the repairs or adjustments are more than what I consider minor, I will charge extra. If you don't say that, then someone might expect you to rebuild their action for $160. I'm pretty lenient what I'll do for my full service fee, but it give me the option of charging more if I have to.  Basically I allow myself an hour and half for a full service appointment. If I can see that it's going to take longer, I talk to the customer.
    >
    > The best approach is to ask how long it's been since their piano was last serviced. Anything more than 5 years almost automatically qualifies for a full service fee. After you get done with the initial appointment, and the piano is up to pitch, and working properly, then is when you might want to offer a customer a full service appointment, explaining that you'll do minor things to make the piano play and sound better. But even at that, for most of your customers, those who play for their own enjoyment or the kids taking lessons, there isn't really that much that will go out from one appointment to the next. So there will come a point when all you really need to do is tune the piano. And if it's stable, make a few little adjustments on the spot, without charging extra.
    >
    > ------------------------------
    > Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    > Mililani, HI 96789
    >
    > Original Message:
    > Sent: 07-05-2018 18:38
    > From: Benjamin Sanchez
    > Subject: Full Service
    >
    > -Long Post-
    >
    > Hello all,
    >
    > I've received several private emails, as well as several public posts, asking why I want to move toward full service, and what that means, how it would work, etc. I posted a partial reply in the "capstan" thread, but wanted to add one here for the archive's sake. I'm still trying to figure out the "how" element, but hopefully this will clarify what I'm looking towards.
    >
    > What do I consider "full-service" calls?
    >
    > For me, a full-service call would consist of a set chunk of time, during which I'd tune the piano and give a pitch raise if needed, or, if a pitch raise isn't needed, then fill that extra time with doing things like cleaning, regulation and voicing. This would also come at a higher price than just a basic tuning call.
    >
    > What's in it for the Customer?
    >
    > The client would receive better value from a service call than "just a tuning." The piano would play better and sound more melodic, as well as being in tune. The entire piano would be serviced, not just the strings.
    >
    > What's in it for me?
    >
    > Ideally, Full Service would mean a larger or equal income with less overhead per appointment, plus more satisfied clients. Example: If you charge $120 per a basic tuning and do 4 a day, then your daily income is $480. If one charges $160 for a full service appointment, and does only three a day, they still earn $480. But, their operating costs (ie, vehicle) are less due to not having to drive to another appointment.
    >
    > Plus, my reputation gets better and becomes "Oh, he's the piano tuner that makes my piano sound AND play better!"
    >
    > The idea is that I would lose money, or give away my services for free, per say. Rather, I'd be selling time where it's understood that a tuning would be included amongst other things, not a tuning here and a touch up regulation there. As someone once told me, it's moving towards making a radical, positive change in this piano, rather than just tune it.
    >
    > How does it work?
    >
    > I'm still trying to figure this part out. What I envision is charging about 33% more, lengthening the appointment by 33%, and using that extra time to do things like a pitch raise or needed regulation, etc. That's pretty much what I offer now, I'm just curious how to get to doing more full-service appointments than basic tuning calls. How to market this, as well as how to build a business around this concept of full-service.
    >
    > Thus this post, and the request for contact with any techs that already do this. I want to learn how this works for them, and how they got there.
    >
    > Thanks again for the responses everyone.
    >
    > ------------------------------
    > Benjamin Sanchez
    > Professional Piano Services
    > (805)315-8050
    > www.professional-piano-services.com
    > BenPianoPro@comcast.net <BenPianoPro@comcast.net>
    >
    > Original Message:
    > Sent: 07-03-2018 21:09
    > From: Ed Sutton
    > Subject: Full Service
    >
    > Ben-
    > While there is value in having big hopes, plans and dreams, the actual getting there is done one tuning pin, one flange screw, one keybushing at a time.
    > Follow the tuning pins! Pay attention to them all, and try to do your best.
    > This is our daily work, and if we do it long enough we will wind up where we belong.
    > Working to pass the RPT exams will help you focus on what matters.
    >
    > ------------------------------
    > Ed Sutton
    > ed440@me.com <ed440@me.com>
    > (980) 254-7413
    >
    > Original Message:
    > Sent: 07-03-2018 20:05
    > From: Benjamin Sanchez
    > Subject: Full Service
    >
    > Hello all,
    >
    > I have a few questions for you full-service techs. Not full-service as in provide everything, but full-service as in do more than just tune during each of your appointments.
    >
    > 1. Why do you consider yourself a full-service tech?
    >
    > 2. Were you always this way, or did you move from the more traditional tuning call viewpoint? How did you make that transition?
    >
    > 3. What does your usual service call look like? (Approximate times too, please.)
    >
    > If you're not a full-service tech, do you know someone who is that I could contact?
    >
    > Thanks!
    >
    > ------------------------------
    > Benjamin Sanchez
    > Professional Piano Services
    > (805)315-8050
    > www.professional-piano-services.com
    > BenPianoPro@comcast.net <BenPianoPro@comcast.net>
    > ------------------------------
    >
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  • 23.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-07-2018 07:25
    You have to be careful in what you elect to do. After tuning a fairly new Yamaha grand, I adjusted the capstans to get the shanks off the rest felt as work included in my service fee. The owner HATED it. I had to put it back, another 20 minutes, not 5.  When he called a year or two later for a tuning, I declined (this was in the '80's). I don't want customers who do not want to maintain their piano. There are tuners for that. Look at my website under 'Schedule and Appointment and Fees' for how I approach this.

    ------------------------------
    Regards,

    Jon Page
    ------------------------------



  • 24.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-07-2018 02:50
    You said. "I have never understood the attitude of "just tune it then leave." What if the piano doesn't hardly play? What if the voicing sounds terrible? Am I supposed to turn a blind eye to it, collect the check and leave, pretending that that's a piano I can be proud of? Of course ask the permission of the owners first. But if they approve, is there a reason why I shouldn't do the work?"

    Benjamin

    Just as you're accusing us for not reading what you're saying, I going to accuse you of the same thing. Read what I said about doing extra work. If the piano doesn't play right, ask the customer if you can do the extra work. We never said just tune and leave.

    All we're saying is that at your stage of your career, you've far from being considered a full service technician, where you can walk in, do everything you think need to be done, and walk out with a big check. Yes, do the work, but ask permission first. Even after 41 years in the business, and a lot of experience, I still ask permission to do extra work.

    Have patience, young man. You'll get there.


    ------------------------------
    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    Mililani, HI 96789
    ------------------------------



  • 25.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-07-2018 01:16
    Hi, Benjamin

    You say, << I can't speak for everyone, but from what personal experience I've had, I've yet to see a humble piano that would not have benefited from some touch up regulation. From a five minute once-over voicing in a certain section. From adjusting out lost motion.>>

    It's just a matter of setting the fee to allow for ten or fifteen minutes of little stuff like that, whatever the piano happens to need. We assume that most pianos will need some of that.

    As for pianos which we have seen over and over again, where all that stuff never was needed or has already been done, if you want to charge extra and call it "full service", but then you find a piano which doesn't need full service, do you give a discount? What do you do and say when you come to tune and the piano is practically perfectly in tune already, and doesn't need little extras?

    I reduce the fee a great deal and suggest a longer interval before the next tuning, if I can finish a good quality tuning in less than half my normal time.

    ------------------------------
    Susan Kline
    Philomath, Oregon
    ------------------------------



  • 26.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-06-2018 10:07
    "Also, and please don't learn this the hard way, never do repair work on a piano you are seeing for the first time before actually tuning it. If you do the repairs and then discover that the piano won't actually take a tuning because of, say, a pin block that is shot, then your out. "
    This comes under the "Ask Me How I Know" category, and is excellent advice that I wish I had had when starting out.
         When I talk to a new customer on the phone my standard script includes: " anything mechanical I can fix in 10 to 15 minutes there's no charge, if I see something more involved I'll show you what it is, how it affects the piano and how much it will cost to fix, then it's up to you. "  I evaluate the piano for myself on that 1st service call and may or may not talk with the customer about future work, depending on a variety of things. [time available to talk, frame of mind of the customer, etc]


    ------------------------------
    Sheffey Gregory, RPT
    ------------------------------



  • 27.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 07-04-2018 10:48

           I routinely move verticals from wall to clean soundboard, check glue joints, snug button and hinge screws etc. so to protect my toes I wear work boots and thus the use of Johnsons paste wax to avoid the footwear smudges Blaine mentioned. Regular customers appreciate a dusted baseboard.



    ------------------------------
    I routinely move verticals from wall to clean soundboard, check glue joints, snug button screws etc. so to protect my toes I wear work boots and thus the use of Johnsons' paste wax to avoid the footwear smudges Blaine mentioned. Regular customers appreciate a dusted baseboard.
    ------------------------------



  • 28.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 6 days ago
    Hello All,

    Without trying to open this can o' worms again, I wanted to add one final comment to this thread.

    I've been in contact with full service techs over the last several months since starting the thread. Last week I spoke with Steve Brady, who is a full service technician, past journal editor, golden hammer winner, etc. Y'all know him. He made a comment that I believe sums up what full service is. I will try and copy it here verbatim:

    "When I come to a piano, I set an hour and a half appointment. That's a lot of time and allows me to do a lot. When I come to the piano I first sit down and play, then fix the number one thing that stands in the way of that piano being a fine musical instrument. Then I sit down and play again, and fix the next thing that stands in the way of it being a good instrument. Yes, tuning is usually toward the top of the list, and sometimes it's the first thing, but it's never the only thing. Then I continue in like manner until my hour and a half is up. In the end the piano is a lot better for it."

    Mr. Brady's quote reflects the attitude I've found prevalent among full service technicians, and, in my opinion, reflects very well what exactly full service is.

    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez
    Professional Piano Services
    (805)315-8050
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    BenPianoPro@comcast.net
    ------------------------------



  • 29.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 5 days ago
    X for the first hour, Y for each additional hour.  Covers everything.

    ------------------------------
    David Love RPT
    www.davidlovepianos.com
    davidlovepianos@comcast.net
    415 407 8320
    ------------------------------



  • 30.  RE: Full Service

    Posted 5 days ago
    My 1.5 hour scheduled appointment is broken down as X for the first half hour and Y for the next hour and subsequent hours/portions. It is listed on my website.

    ------------------------------
    Regards,

    Jon Page
    ------------------------------