When someone buys a luxury watch, it is a significant moment in their lives. Whether it is to celebrate an anniversary or a promotion, staff at David M Robinson (DMR) are always delighted to share that special moment when a client puts on a new watch for the first time. A watch is generally a well-considered purchase and a lot of thought goes into finding the precise model to suit a client. But making a sale is not the end goal, just the beginning, according to VIP sales manager Sandy Madhvani.
‘When a client walks into our Canary Wharf showroom, or speaks to us on the phone or via Zoom, this is a chance for us to listen. The most important skill is understanding what has brought them to us and how best we will be able to help. This client focus is at the core of everything DMR has been doing since it was founded more than 50 years ago.’
The young goldsmith David Robinson started with a small shop in Liverpool in 1969. Over the decades, he not only won two De Beers Diamonds International Awards, but also made jewellery that was presented by the Queen at Ascot. DMR now employs more goldsmiths than any other retailer in the north of England, with showrooms selling luxury watch brands and precious jewellery collections, designed and created by the company, in Liverpool, Manchester and Altrincham, as well as London’s Canary Wharf. The business has grown beyond recognition, but the personal touch remains. David is still involved with business, now run by his son John, the managing director, and it is still at heart a family business.
‘We make our own exclusive collection of jewellery and present a select range of luxury watches including Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega and IWC,’ Sandy says. ‘I have personally been selling Rolex for more than 30 years and before that worked as a watchmaker, so I got to know the quality of the watches from the inside.’
Sandy adds, ‘Rolex is a huge company, but the innovation and attention to detail is second to none, and the care they put into every single watch is incredibly impressive. The watches are designed to last a lifetime and beyond, and this long-term vision fits perfectly with what we do at DMR. We want to build trust with our clients and hopefully start life-long relationships that will see them return to us whenever they have another special moment to celebrate.’
The last two years have of course been challenging, but for everyone at DMR this has underlined the importance of building personal relationships. ‘We have been blown away by the number of heart-warming stories we have heard,’ he says. ‘Difficult times, especially when people are kept apart physically, really make people think about what is important to them.’
‘Rather than driving us apart’, he adds, ‘I think the pandemic has really brought everyone closer together. It has been an opportunity to learn new skills, and virtual meetings are another great way to connect with clients wherever they may be in the world. But you can’t beat a face-to-face meeting, and it is amazing to be able to welcome people back into our showroom and give them the full DMR family service.’
As well as building relationships, a great emphasis is placed on giving staff the best possible knowledge of the stock. Nobody gets to sell Rolex until they have been properly trained at the UK service centre in Kings Hill, Kent. During the pandemic this meant adapting the training a bit but online quizzes made sure everyone could keep learning about the latest innovations from Geneva even when physical interactions were not possible.
Staying on top of product training is particularly important these days when clients often do careful online research before coming to the store, according to showroom manager Bale Sekulceska.
‘I have been dealing with Rolex for 11 years now and for me it has never felt like work, because I instantly fell in love with everything to do with the brand,’ Bale says. ‘But there is always more to learn because Rolex is constantly refining its collections, so we have regular refresher courses to make sure we are up to speed with the latest developments. Because so many people are fascinated by everything about Rolex watches and the history behind the brand, they have often taken the time to read up and many of them really know their stuff.’
Whatever level of knowledge an individual client has, the DMR approach is the same – they want to hear what clients have to say, find out what they know, what their aspirations are, so they know how best to help.
‘It is never a question of showing off our level of knowledge,’ observes Bale. ‘We just need to give them the confidence that we can help guide them towards the best choices. We love it when clients want to tell us everything they have learnt about Rolex, because then it becomes a conversation, rather than us just telling them about the watches.’
It is impossible to know everything about a brand like Rolex, but DMR’s ongoing training makes sure staff keep as informed as reasonably possible. Luckily this is never a problem when it is more than just a job.
‘Learning about these beautiful brands is a source of genuine personal passion,’ Bale says. ‘That is a very important part of working at DMR – knowledge is something you can learn, but passion comes naturally, and being able to convey a love of the beautiful products we are selling is a vital part of our job.’
‘Sometimes when clients arrive they have already decided what they want, but unfortunately not everything is immediately available. Rolex is such an aspirational watch brand that demand far outweighs supply. This can sometimes lead to disappointment when a client is told that they can’t have a particular watch. Handling these situations is all part of the service,’ says assistant showroom manager Jonathan Tyers.
‘As long as you are honest and straightforward about the reasons, clients understand it is the same situation for everybody,’ he says. ‘Of course, we will do whatever we can to accommodate their wishes. The flipside is that restrictions on supply do lead to an extra feeling of achievement when they do get their hands on the watch of their dreams.’
Part of selling someone a watch is discussing how best to take care of it. Rolex watches bought since July 2015 come with an international five-year guarantee, and DMR recommends servicing every 10 years, depending on the model and how much use it gets. DMR has its own Rolex Authorised Service Centre in Manchester with a Rolex-trained watchmaker, so can issue an official Rolex service guarantee with all repairs and services carried out.
‘A Rolex is a luxury item, but it is also a highly complex piece of machinery working to very precise tolerances,’ Jonathan says. ‘So we talk about everything from simple everyday ways to take care of your watch – like cleaning it with a microfibre cloth – through to how often it should be serviced. Our clients know we will take care of everything, from purchase right through to a lifetime of owning and caring for their cherished watch.’
DMR wants to make the retail experience everything it can be, but they also want clients to know that they will be there to help in any way they can.
‘Before I came to work at DMR six years ago, I thought I understood luxury retail,’ Jonathan admits. ‘But I was mistaken. We are selling exclusive watches and jewellery, but the focus really is on the person who walks through the door or picks up the phone.’
He added: ‘It is our duty as ambassadors of Rolex to stay as informed as we can to help clients make the right choices. But we also want them to know that we will be there whenever they want to talk to us, whether it is for after-sales service, or just for a chat and to see what is new.’
David M Robinson, 4 Jubilee Place, Canary Wharf E14 5NY; davidmrobinson.co.uk