We’ve changed our booking system

Dear Readers and Customers,

We used to operate a booking system that made our customers go to a booking page at a certain date and time, to try their luck to grab one of the slots we were giving out. As fair as the system was, it did lead to frustration on the side of our customers, and to watches ending up in our workshop that we usually wouldn’t have accepted.

To make the whole process a bit less onerous, we now have a booking page that is always accessible (https://watchguy.co.uk/cgi-bin/book), so there is no more waiting. Once you have submitted your request, we will answer within 2 working days with a positive or negative response. This decision will be based on our judgement, e.g. can we carry out the repair (if parts aren’t available, we can’t), do we want to carry out the work (we both have children to feed), and do we have enough capacity at the workshop.

Please don’t be offended if we refuse to take on a watch, as we do get quite a lot more requests than we can handle in the workshop.

Let’s see how the new system pans out, and what feedback we get. We can always go back to the old system if this leads to more frustration.

18 thoughts on “We’ve changed our booking system

  1. hi, yesterday i was watching to try and get a slot and it was 71, and today i go back to check if it was lower and it is now higher at 73. how exactly does this work if the number keeps increasing and i cant send a request if it doesnt get lower than 70

      • i understand that but it has now moved even higher to 75 and i just feel that someone like me who has just joined and recently entered into fine watches will have an issue with trying to get servicing. i have 2 watches i need to get work on, a roled datejust 1601 which i wanted the glass replaced for a saphire and potentially a service, and a service on a breitling superocean heritage chrono.

  2. If your new system doesn’t work out, you could always go back to the old system and add in an extra screening step, so you get a chance to look at the booking before you accept it.

  3. Personally, I quite like the new system. There is not doubt why WatchGuy is so popular in my book: a very professional and high quality service. Including, at times, some pretty esoteric skills to save a beloved watch. The blog write-ups make it special too and the pictures of one’s watch being serviced is really appreciated. The watch service / repair market is mine field. You have the beastly watch houses charging insane prices to carry out very pedestrian work. But, the independent market can be dicey too, as I have learned the expensive way. I’m prepared to wait for a slot because I trust Christian and Mitka’s work. The new system will allow them to assess the situation, allowing them (and me) to decide what can be done and for what kind of money. I can make an informed decision. Obviously work that can be done, albeit time consuming should be priced accordingly. Christian is a generous man and have always suggested ‘to send the watch in’ to have a look but I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable that it’s created an expectation (on him) to then have a go even if it is a hopeless case. The new system will remedy that for me. To get quality one often has to sacrifice speediness and cost, and (personally) I’m happy to wait for a slot. I accept we all have different expectations.

  4. I’m fully in support of cloning Mitka.

    I don’t feel strongly about the change of your system, as it has always worked well for me, but for one of my friends it has proved very dificult to book a spot. Also, I had no idea that you had problems with people sending you basket cases and the such, so if it makes your life easier in that way – by all means, carry on with the new system! A happy watchmaker is a good watchmaker 🙂

  5. Hi guys,
    I must say I quite liked the old system and sorry to see it go – not surprisingly, perhaps, as it worked for me. I think the three tier approach (new customers “lottery”, existing customers “lottery” and direct access for those with more than 10 services) was a good idea as well as the “lottery” part. The “lottery” did, to some extent, took care of prioritising (how important a particular repair was to the customer): one did pull all stops and whistles to get in if it was really important – I hunted for quite while before I finally got a slot. I also liked the thought of eventually getting to the point at which I won’t need to hunt for a slot anymore.

    I don’t really understand why you guys couldn’t incorporate odd cases (like those of us less able to hunt for slots) into the system now and then by considering them on case-by-case basis. I also can’t see why in the old system you couldn’t refuse to service a watch if you didn’t have parts or for any other reason for that matter (you couldn’t service one of my pieces and I fully understood it).

    I fear that now you would simply get swamped with requests and will spend too much time sorting through them. I noticed, you already got flooded with bookings and the booking system is now closed. When the system is going to be available again is unclear. At least in the past we knew the dates and eagerly awaited to get our “slot hunting hats” on.

    Saying all that, I can see how in a market with relatively little supply for servicing, running a business and being in a position to choose, you can call the shots, decide how you want to play it and choose who you want to service. I just hope the new system won’t drive old customers away, discourage new ones with interesting pieces, while shifting the balance from actual servicing to trawling though and prioritising requests. I guess time will tell.

  6. Hi guys,
    I must say I quite liked the old system and sorry to see it go – not surprisingly, perhaps, as it worked for me. I think the three tier approach (new customers “lottery”, existing customers “lottery” and direct access for those with more than 10 services) was a good idea as well as the “lottery” part. The “lottery” did, to some extent, took care of prioritising (how important a particular repair was to the customer): one did pull all stops and whistles to get in if it was really important – I hunted for quite while before I finally got a slot. I also liked the thought of eventually getting to the point at which I won’t need to hunt for a slot anymore.

    I don’t really understand why you guys couldn’t incorporate odd cases (like those of us less able to hunt for slots for whatever the reason) into the system now and then by considering them on case-by-case basis. I also can’t see why in the old system you couldn’t refuse to service a watch if you didn’t have parts or for any other reason for that matter (you couldn’t service one of my pieces and I fully understood it).

    I fear that now you would simply get swamped with requests and will spend too much time sorting through them. I noticed, you already got flooded with bookings and the booking system is now closed. When the system is going to be available again is unclear. At least in the past we knew the dates and eagerly awaited to get our “slot hunting hats” on.

    Saying all that, I can see how in a market with relatively little supply for servicing, running a business and being in a position to choose, you can call the shots, decide how you want to play it and choose who you want to service. I just hope the new system won’t drive old customers away, discourage new ones with interesting pieces, while shifting the balance from actual servicing to trawling though and prioritising requests. I guess time will tell.

    • We have now started blocking new requests once we reach a certain amount of watches, which is the case at the moment.
      The new system is more work for us, but allows us to prevent “duds” getting into the workshop to a certain degree…
      Let’s see how it works for a month or so, and then we will decide if we leave the new system, or go back to the old one.

  7. That’s unfortunate, I had booked the 3rd December in my calendar and was going to try my hand at the lottery. Is there any other way to book work further down the line or somehow be notified that the booking system will become available? Would it be possible to contact you with a selection of watches that I need serviced and you can pick and choose what you’d be willing to take into the workshop? No rusted out beasts, promise.

  8. Nice idea and hopefully now it will be fairer for your all of your customers (new and old ) and that it doesn’t give u more work filtering out the non starters.
    The next couple of months however will probably tell and if it doesn’t work then you can always tinker with the system to try and get it better.
    Whatever your work shop , you decide and I have just worked out that on your refusals , I currently running a 10% loss ratio over 2.5 years , which I have absolutely no problems with at all.

  9. Sounds fair to me. If you have more work than you can handle then you are in the (enviable) position of being able to pick and choose the work you want to do. Supply and demand. Customers have to accept that watches in really poor condition are always an undesirable proposition for watchmakers.

  10. Seems a great idea I too had trouble before tried numerous times without luck. At least now I can get the info over regarding model and work required.

  11. It was better with the lottery approach. So what now, a customer sends an request and gets knocked back 90% of the time then when does he request again? Every day? In a couple of weeks? Never?….ensuring loss of new custom?

    • We got a lot of complaints from people who had tried the “lottery” several times without luck, and one from somebody with arthritis who just wasn’t fast enough. I really don’t want to discriminate by ability, so that really got me thinking.
      The new approach guarantees a fair chance, and it’s up to you to describe what you want done to make it appeal to us, with no time limit.
      You can come back after 2 weeks to try again.
      Our problem isn’t loss of customers; our problem is having way too many requests for work. We could happily live off our existing customer base without accepting new ones. An odd problem to have, but nevertheless a problem.
      We also had issues with a lot of watches in very poor state coming in, or watches for which no parts whatsoever are available. This costs us a lot of money in terms of lost revenue, so we also want the ability to pick our work, and take on the jobs that we enjoy and where we have a chance to make a living.
      If anyone can come up with a working and better system, I will happily program the code for it 😉

      • I thought I was part of your existing customer base? you’ve done 4 for me before. a working Lange 1 and a working Zenith defy not interesting enough?

        Watchmakers are in high demand right now it seems. I can’t get less than a 9 week turn around anywhere (not that that time matters much) and a couple don’t need the work at all. The problem comes that I need a watch dial restored but dial restorers will only work with select watchmakers according to two (one was 9 week guy) I’ve spoken to and then there’s the watchmakers you don’t want to use again due to poor service.

        Im not disappointed or upset by the changes, you guys have always been in demand, im just finding it difficult to get a watch serviced anywhere now and it seems the new system will equal more letdowns for me , I had a chance before with my itchy trigger fingers – in two weeks time another knock back.

      • Hi Christian. Following our emails today I’ve given the matter some further thought. How about a merger of the two booking systems? 1stly a request for a slot as you have now with explanation of work required – maybe ability to add photos of watch, & inside if possible – to assess whether it’s worth / able for taking on or not. If you can do the work in principle – and that might be at a pre-agreed price – the client then gets a code to book a slot using the previous system of allocations.
        So, at least you know that you are in a system that will in principle accept the watch subject to a space arriving. If someone really can’t hit the send button at the correct moment due to illness then I’m sure Christian can make an exception. All in all a good challenge to have – could you clone Mitka? 😉

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