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Tips for getting first few clients #2191945
12/03/13 02:46 PM
12/03/13 02:46 PM
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 34
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PeterGriffin Offline OP
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What are some good ways to get my first few clients? For those of you who recently finished/or are still studying Randy potter's course or another correspondence course, what are you doing to find clients, and what have you found to be effective?

Thank you

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Re: Tips for getting first few clients [Re: PeterGriffin] #2191992
12/03/13 03:53 PM
12/03/13 03:53 PM
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rXd Offline
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Because of the gypsy in my soul, I have started a viable business no less than six times in seven different places.

The surest way for me was to attach myself to an established store and be of mutual benefit to each other. For a new tuner this is also a good way of gaining experience and mixing with other tuners. An experienced tuner is welcomed with open arms. There are so few of them that will work for stores. It is axiomatic that a tech who has never worked for a dealer is missing a whole dimension from their business.

The experience is invaluable. People have expectations of their new pianos that they don't have in quite the same way with their older ones. Access to and advice from manufacturers and their agents and reps is also invaluable.

Even when I have developed more work than I can handle, which never takes long, I have always kept a strong connection to the industry through keeping a relationship and often lasting friendships with dealers. Also a source of other tuners that I can offload extra work on and give business to when it's time for me to move on.


Amanda Reckonwith
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.


Re: Tips for getting first few clients [Re: rXd] #2192011
12/03/13 04:34 PM
12/03/13 04:34 PM
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pianolive Offline
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Very well spoken rxd.

Re: Tips for getting first few clients [Re: PeterGriffin] #2192055
12/03/13 05:48 PM
12/03/13 05:48 PM
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Posts: 2,481
Niagara Region, On. Canada
Emmery Offline
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Emmery  Offline
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Dealer is good for a start as mentioned. Mixing and rubbing elbows with musicians doesn't hurt, they do keep tight circles amongst themselves and many have pianos, even if thats not their primary instrument. Doing really excellent work and giving 100% customer satisfaction can be a benefit in that you will likely be refered to their friends who also have pianos. Resist the urge to drop your price. It is something very difficult to adjust or reconcile later when you get busier.


Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region
Re: Tips for getting first few clients [Re: PeterGriffin] #2192058
12/03/13 05:55 PM
12/03/13 05:55 PM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,559
Sandy Eggo, California
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OperaTenor Offline
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What rxd and Emmery have said is spot on.

Unfortunately, I don't feel I have any useful information to add; my experience in reentering the business was different and almost certainly unique. I've been a professional singer for ~25 years now, and have a fairly large circle of friends and peers on which to ply my schtick. When I learned my new tuning method, some of my friends let me "practice" on their pianos; I didn't charge them. After doing a dozen or so of those, the word got around in the musician circles here that I was pretty good. I was then able to set my fee (and subsequently raised it a couple of times), and I haven't looked back.

I did at one point try to get my foot in the door with the local Steinway and Yamaha dealer, but that was really a matter of getting in line, so there wasn't much hope there for me.



Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind
Re: Tips for getting first few clients [Re: PeterGriffin] #2192168
12/03/13 10:23 PM
12/03/13 10:23 PM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 534
Oregon Coast
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TunerJeff Offline
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TunerJeff  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2011
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Oregon Coast
Good advice from everyone. I strongly support the dealership angle...as it is where I got my start! The experience of working in the store (..too, not just referrals for sales) is also invaluable. You get to do some 'practice' tuning where a little fudging won't cost you a client or a fee. ;>)

Also; you might consider contacting local piano or voice teachers. If they need a tuner....you get the referrals to THEIR students, too. It is a win-win when you make good connections with the local music scene. The piano teachers are most often the accompanists at the churches, theaters, and local productions (musicals)...so again; piano and voice teachers are a GREAT resource to make contact with. Very efficient, because they will advertise your skills (..or failures) with everyone they know, too.

It will cause another discussion....but I discount teachers for their help in feeding the family! I do insist on a minimum of 5 students to qualify for the 'teacher discount'. Betcha this gets a discussion going...again. ;>)

Sipping a late night,
Coffee,
I am,


Jeffrey T. Hickey, RPT
Oregon Coast Piano Services
TunerJeff440@aol.com
Re: Tips for getting first few clients [Re: Emmery] #2193058
12/05/13 04:50 PM
12/05/13 04:50 PM
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PeterGriffin Offline OP
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Hello Emmery,
So something like "two tunings for the price of one" is not a good idea for my first few clients?

Last edited by PeterGriffin; 12/05/13 04:50 PM.
Re: Tips for getting first few clients [Re: rXd] #2193069
12/05/13 05:04 PM
12/05/13 05:04 PM
Joined: Jun 2013
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PeterGriffin Offline OP
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PeterGriffin  Offline OP
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Hello OperaTenor,
I am very interested to give this a try but how do I start? What should a beginning tuner say/do to get hired? This is talked about in Randy Potter's course, but hearing other people's experiences is always much more helpful for me.
How much do dealers usually pay(it doesn't matter much right now but just curious)?


Last edited by PeterGriffin; 12/05/13 05:06 PM.
Re: Tips for getting first few clients [Re: PeterGriffin] #2193096
12/05/13 06:01 PM
12/05/13 06:01 PM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 551
London, England
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Phil D Offline
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If you're going to be taking on clients and being paid for it, you need to be confident enough in your ability to charge close to the market rate. If you feel the need to charge less due to inexperience, then you shouldn't be charging at all, and need to practice more before starting out.

Re: Tips for getting first few clients [Re: PeterGriffin] #2193116
12/05/13 06:39 PM
12/05/13 06:39 PM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,559
Sandy Eggo, California
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OperaTenor Offline
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OperaTenor  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2006
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Sandy Eggo, California
Originally Posted by PeterGriffin
Hello OperaTenor,
I am very interested to give this a try but how do I start? What should a beginning tuner say/do to get hired? This is talked about in Randy Potter's course, but hearing other people's experiences is always much more helpful for me.
How much do dealers usually pay(it doesn't matter much right now but just curious)?



Regarding tuning for a dealer? I 'm acquainted with one of the salespeople at the dealership, and I spoke with him about it.

As for my other experience, I went to some of my closest musician friends and asked them if I could practice my new technique on their piano. Fortunately, it worked so well that they raved to others about the quality, and that's how I got business.

Aside from the ad I run here on PW (mostly out of giving Frank a little business), and my NPLB Facebook page, I don't advertise; all of my business has come from networking and word of mouth.



Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind
Re: Tips for getting first few clients [Re: Phil D] #2193118
12/05/13 06:40 PM
12/05/13 06:40 PM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,559
Sandy Eggo, California
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OperaTenor Offline
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OperaTenor  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,559
Sandy Eggo, California
Originally Posted by Phil D
If you're going to be taking on clients and being paid for it, you need to be confident enough in your ability to charge close to the market rate. If you feel the need to charge less due to inexperience, then you shouldn't be charging at all, and need to practice more before starting out.


I agree with Phil on this. Either charge a retail rate, or do it for free; nothing in between, as a rule.



Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind
Re: Tips for getting first few clients [Re: PeterGriffin] #2193392
12/06/13 08:56 AM
12/06/13 08:56 AM
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 186
South Jersey
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BenP Offline
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South Jersey
In addition to what others have said, I would also stress that you should make sure you do an excellent job, every time. Starting with a dealer is great, but I didn't have that opportunity either, and I just made sure I did a very good job in people's homes (even if it took me 2-3 hours to tune a piano sometimes early on), and as a result basically all the business I have gotten has been referrals. It's a slower start, but that's what I've needed because I've also been teaching full-time and going to grad school. I started out doing maybe only a couple pianos a month, and now average more like a couple a week, and hope to double that in the next year or so.

Also, as others have alluded to, churches, schools and piano teachers are great people to have on your client list. Take good care of them. They use their pianos a lot, and will give many referrals if they are happy with your work.


Ben Patterson, RPT
South Jersey Piano Service, LLC
www.sjpianoservice.com
Re: Tips for getting first few clients [Re: PeterGriffin] #2195840
12/11/13 12:06 AM
12/11/13 12:06 AM
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 78
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Samthetech Offline
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Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 78
Set up a webpage and make sure you're on Google, Facebook, yelp, yahoo local. I don't remember the step-by-step, but by signing up for Google+ you can get your business to show up when someone Googles "piano tuner." I get at least half of my clients through Google. All of my first clients were through Google results.

I retain my clients by doing an excellent job, and appearing confident. Especially since I'm young, the few times I've appeared less than confident, (even if I'm just trying to make the client happy) I've had clients attempt to bully and cheat me, as well as give me inappropriate unsolicited advice. I had a client scold me for not dressing conservatively enough because he could "see my figure"! (I in no way wear revealing or tight clothes. But obviously, baggy clothes would seriously get in the way.)

Retaining clients is more important that getting new ones. But amongst your first clients, you will have the "tuner hoppers." These aren't clients you want to retain. (A hard lesson to learn!) I was lucky to start out as a tuner with another company, so I had some of these hoppers history when I went out on my own.

If you're the fifth tuner in seven years, chances are you'll get an unhappy phone call from the client at some point. These people often own either "grandma's" piano, or "luxury" pianos. They think these pianos are perfect, and the problem is that nobody in the area can possibly tune them. The general reality is that the piano is in bad shape or the client has an overactive imagination. Tuners from another area charge them $200+ for each tuning and refuse any free return trips.

Charge market rate if you're ready to tune for customers! You can offer referral discounts, but you certainly don't want to run BOGO stuff. That means you're charging half the going rate, and in six months you'll be doing a lot of work for free. Can you afford to work for free for two months?

And my most important advice: Tell the truth!!!! Don't tell customers you have experience you don't. Don't attempt to work on stuff you've never /actually/ done before. (The "weird" repairs, obviously, don't fall under this umbrella. Learn how to puzzle stuff out.) Tell the customer they need someone more experienced. Even if you lose the customer, it is better than taking their piano apart and not knowing how to put it back together. Clients may not recommend you to their friends if they need to call someone else, but clients will certainly tell their friends to avoid you if you do a bad job or damage their piano. Plus you'll have to pay your competition to fix whatever you broke.


Piano Technician, 3 years experience

And why yes, I know I'm a girl!

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