Canadian Music Trade - December/ January 2018 - Page 21

Of course, customers look at drummers they love and the gear they play. It is nat- ural to think that way. But just like the rest of us, famous drummers can and do switch brands. Maybe they find their endorser can’t get them replacement gear quickly when they tour outside of North America. Maybe they moved for a better deal, or have been dropped from their previous brand. It is the music business, after all. So, your customer basing their buying deci- sion on what their favourite drummer is playing at the moment is foolhardy. But why should we care? We just want to make the sale, right? If a customer buys a kit from your store and hates it, who do you think they will blame? The superstar drummer? The brand of drums? Nope. They will blame you, the person that sold them this “terrible” kit. You do have to be careful here not to speak poorly of any brand. If you have worked retail for any length of time, you will know that all brands have great products in their lines and all have entry level kits that may leave us wishing for more. Your job is to help your client fig- ure out what they can live with and what they cannot. Allen Harding, store manager for Rufus Drum Shop in Vancouver, says: “Buy with your ears, not with your eyes.” He regularly sets up kits for interested customers to play and often finds this is one of the best ways to break down a cus- tomer’s well-entrenched assumptions or stereotypes. Sticking to Budget Your first line of enquiry should be about the budget. Long agrees, noting that with- out the answer to this primary question, “You can waste a lot of your and your cus- tomer’s time.” When you establish the customer’s budget, be sure to ask if this is just for drums or if they’re looking for hardware, pedals, and cymbals as well. Many cus- tomers already own hardware, pedals, and cymbals from a previous kit and are just looking to spend their entire budget on a fine shell pack. A $500 kit will almost never sound as good as a $1,000 kit and a $1,000 will not match a $2,500 kit. So, start by working out a budget and don’t forget 75 per cent of kits do not include pedals, cymbals, hard- ware, or quality heads, so you may need to work those items into their budget as well. Always ask. A good rule of thumb is that they will spend that same amount of money on hardware, cymbals, pedals, and ac- cessories as they did on their drum shell pack. So, if they plan to purchase a $1,000 shell pack, they will likely spend $200 on stands, $300 on pedals, and $500 on cym- bals to make it playable. Beginner kits like the Mapex Tornado ($500) or the Pearl Export ($1,200) come complete with single-braced stands, ped- als, and pressure stamped cymbals. The cymbals are typically sub-standard, but the drums and hardware are serviceable. I see nothing wrong with pointing out to your customer that the cymbals in these pack- ages are useable only for practice and that before playing out, they will need to invest in better cymbals. James Burton, drum specialist at Long & McQuade Winnipeg North, agrees: “I am always 100 per cent honest with my customers, and they thank me for it.” Yamaha’s Stage Custom Birch kit ($1,400) features all birch shells and a good entry level hardware pack that includes two cymbal stands, a high-hat stand, kick pedal, and snare stand. The customer will have to purchase cymbals before they can play, but this does get them most of the way there. A higher-end kit like a Gretsch Brook- lyn ($2,800) three-piece comes with a kick drum, single rack tom, and a floor tom, leaving the customer to purchase a snare drum (say $500), individual stands ($500), double-kick pedal ($700), a throne ($100), and cymbals ($1,500). Burton reminds us that it’s “important to know what kits you have in stock.” Some customers do have a dream kit in mind and are willing to wait months for it to arrive, but most want to begin drumming right away and can be brought around to a kit that will deliver on their stated needs, but may not be the original brand, colour, or Allan Harding of Rufus Drum Shop, Vancouver, BC size they began the discussion with. Each piece costs more money, so work out what they really need as opposed to what they dream about. Ask your custom- er when they were last out at a local live music venue and what did they notice the drummer playing? Most working drum- mers carry a four-piece kit. They do this to save time and energy transporting the minimum-sized kit they feel they can play while still doing the music justice. Purchas- ing only four pieces lets the pro drummer spend more on each piece, increasing the quality and sound. Traditionally, most pre-packaged drum sets are either four- or five-piece kits; however, many suppliers are now offering six- and seven-piece drum sets at compet- itive price points. This trade off – quantity for quality – is one of the first decisions your client must make. I had a customer who purchased two entry-level kits as he wanted that old-school double kick drum he had dreamed about as a kid. For him, quantity mattered more than quality. How does your customer plan on purchasing the kit? Will they be paying cash, credit, or planning to finance their purchase? It has been my experience that when a customer chooses the financing option, they are less concerned about the total purchase price and more concerned about the monthly payment. If cymbals add another $600 to the overall price, they seem less concerned if they are financing. “Many customers have a low down payment and need financing to afford a new kit,” Burton says, “so most of my cus- tomers finance their drum purchase.” CANADIAN MUSIC TRADE • 21