Source: Images and content by @ WatchPro. See the original article here - https://www.watchpro.com/hertfordshire-horologists-top-class-trade-service/
It is of paramount importance for retailers and brands that when it comes to working with companies on maintenance and repair work, each specific need and requirement is matched to the letter – only this is the bare minimum for Hertfordshire Horologists.
The Tring-based business absolutely prides itself on going above and beyond for both brands and retailers in the work it does.
With a 36 year history behind it, Hertfordshire Horologists services all brands of watches from Accurist to Zenith; specialising in Cartier, Swatch Group brands and TAG Heuer.
In staying at the forefront of the business for its plethora of trade accounts, a key part of the work at Hertfordshire Horologists is to stay up to date with the fast-changing requirements put on them by the brands they work with and for.
In discussing just how those relationships work and are managed, WatchPro’s Alex Douglas caught up with Kelly Adams who works in Quality Control for the Tring-based business.
She explained: “We order from manufacturers on a daily basis, this gives you the scale and quality of the operation here.”
“In this sense, we have to follow certain guidelines which we do to the letter. This means that according to the manufacturers themselves, it is as good coming to us as it would be going directly to them due to the fact we have to have exactly the same standards.”
It is not only the guidelines and protocols that are important to follow though. Keeping the HH team of watchmakers up to date is of the utmost importance.
On this, Ms Adams continues: “The big companies are always very good at keeping us up to date with any changes. Cartier and Swatch Group both have a very good online system which gives us daily notifications, and I mean literally five or six daily notifications, which tells us what has changed which can often be something as simple as not oiling certain pallets on certain models.”
Businesses like Hertfordshire Horologists have been important for decades but it would seem that as the popularity of the watch market grows, something WatchPro has been keeping a particularly close eye on, there hasn’t been a greater need for the top class service that is provided.
It seems to be more vital than ever for the brands operating in the upper echelons of watchmaking to spend the necessary amount of time with the likes of HH to ensure the job is done at the same standard as they would, or in the case of HH – even better.
In doing so, the brands and retail trade accounts can not only be confident, but operate more efficiently themselves because without the likes of HH, it would be seemingly difficult for even the biggest of Swiss brands to keep up with demand.
Ms Adams added: “They need us to keep up to date due to the fact that they physically can’t keep up with the amount of work that is required for them. Take some manufacturers for example, if you send a watch directly to them at the moment for example, it is taking about 12 weeks and if they didn’t have the likes of HH and many others to call on, they just wouldn’t be able to get through the work.
“They’d never cope and would be at least 6-8 months behind I would have thought. That is in comparison to us who are doing a turnaround of about 2 weeks, parts dependent.”
The business finds that a lot of the trade shops seem to believe that they are required to send directly to the manufacturer but of course, this is not the case.
She explained: “They don’t have to do that because we are fully accredited, we get all of the official parts directly from them and pass all of their tests and so on. The brands love it too because it is a lot easier for them to send out the parts to us than it is for them to get themselves into a massive backlog.
“For example, if a shop was to send a watch directly to the manufacturer, they would often have to wait around two to two and a half weeks for an estimate, which is something they insist on, and then once it has proceeded it is about twelve weeks.
“We obviously do get the odd one which we have to wait a little bit longer on when it comes to parts, but on the whole our turnaround time is about five to six working days and we can get the watch turned around and back to the customer about another week after that.”
Growth is next on the agenda for the team at Hertfordshire Horologists and given the way the watch market it headed, it is easy to see why.
Not only is there a demand for it though, the team and facilities WatchPro saw when taking a tour around the Tring-based building, highlighted just how professional the whole operation was.
Of course, that is to be expected when the likes of Swatch Group and Cartier to name just a few are demanding certain levels of standards, but it was the work that has been put in to the equipment and those in the workshop that would give any trade account a real peace of mind and be comfortable in sending valued customers’ watches to the team knowing they would be looked after, serviced and returned with the best of care and professionalism.
On the technical side of things, there were many situations in which certain air quality or certain processes are not made compulsory by the brands but Hertfordshire Horologists delivers anyway, just a small example of what can only be described as a truly top-class trade service.
This level of service doesn’t just happen by chance though. Hertfordshire Horologists has decades of experience to build on and will do so further as it continues to grow.
Established in 1986, Hertfordshire Horologists has grown to become one of the UK’s largest watch repair centres for the trade and offer services to a number of the top Swiss brands.
The company started when Caroline, who now heads up the business, ran a jewellery shop and her partner, who was a watchmaker for Watches of Switzerland, began helping Caroline on the high street doing watch repairs at the weekend.
From there, things got busier and busier until he had to give up his work at Watches of Switzerland to set up the Hertfordshire Horologists company in the basement of Caroline’s jewellery shop.
Understandably, as is often the case when things are done well, the offering became a success story and after three years of the business in the basement, the jewellery store was closed down Hertfordshire Horologists became the number one focus and has been since.
On the early growth of HH, Ms Adams said: “It took off with trade repairs seeing astronomical levels of growth on top of the public who were just coming in and out of the shop and we ended up in a position which means that we couldn’t quite cope with just how busy it was. Then from there, in setting up Hertfordshire Horologists, we took on some larger trade accounts which included the likes of F. Hinds and H. Samuel and the company just grew and grew.”
Ms Adams went on to explain: “When the company was opened in 1986, this was when the Hertfordshire Horologists name was born as prior to that he had just been doing the repairs in the basement as part of the jewellery shop.”
“We then moved to another premises on just over on the high street which did have a lot of people come in off the street, but it was the national trade accounts which really grew the business. For H.Samuel and F.Hinds we do around a third of their work so that’s a big chunk and we moved to the building where we are now, which in some ways is more purpose built, around 21 years ago and is a more hygienic atmosphere for everybody.
Adding: “This really is so important for us because most of the manufacturers need us to have filtered air and other similar strict conditions to repair the watches in so in terms of location, this is absolutely perfect for that.”
You can find out more about the business HERE.