(Part three of the “How to Be Successful Selling Japanese Koi” series)
**Points you have to remember so your koi will not die at your customers’ ponds:**
When you are operating your own koi business, “having your customers keep their koi alive” is very important. There are two main things that you have to do:
1. Educate your customers.
2. Provide a regular maintenance service.
**When koi die in a customers’ pond, it is usually**
1. Within one to two weeks after the customer bought it.
2. Koi dies quite awhile after the customer bought it. This is assuming the koi are healthy and don’t have any parasites to begin with.
Koi dies within one to two weeks after…
Educating your customers can prevent this situation. Customers need to realize there is a problem. Therefore, your job is to educate them. It usually requires only two or three lectures for them to understand the right methods.
Now, where do you educate them? That should be at the customers’ home/pond, because the problem is most likely the condition of the customers’ pond. You must see it yourself to determine the problem and make suggestions on how to correct it. If you skip the pond visit you will not be able to give them good advice. When an accident occurs, you must be able to rush over to their pond. That should be your business policy.
Most important, the owner of the koi business must become the “Koi Specialist.” This is an important point and it should not be neglected. You can send your young staff member who likes fish to the customers’ ponds; however, you must be the one who is the specialist. Otherwise, what if he or she suddenly quits? You must study and understand about koi yourself and become a koi specialist too.
The ideal is for a koi business owner to become a koi specialist. Then they hire the staff and educate them, so they can make the house (pond) calls.
**Then, how do you learn to be the specialist?**
You should build your own koi pond in your own yard and raise koi yourself. That way, you can learn about koi and the challenges of having a pond first hand.
There are many ways to learn about koi. First you might start with the Internet, magazines and books; a trip to Japan is always a good idea too. Then you should get more hands-on information from seminars held throughout the country all year long. (Note: the author teaches at the Kodama Koi Academy.) In the koi world, there is a Japanese word called, “Koi Dangi.” It translates “Koi meeting.” The owners of koi businesses should take advantage of “koi meetings” where dealers gather to learn and help each other.
Visiting the customers who have had problems is another way for you to learn. Understand the unique situation of customers so you can educate them as well. This may also be a way for you to gain the trust of your customers. Show them you have a personal interest in their being successful Koi Keepers. You don’t have to visit them too often. Visiting them three times should do the job.
(*Tip – be sure to document your visits, so when a customer calls you, you know the specifics of their pond.*)
**Koi dies quite awhile after …**
Providing a regular pond maintenance service could prevent this. When koi die many months after the customer bought them, it is often caused by a lack of maintenance.
Koi are living creatures. They do get sick even though you give them proper care. When they get sick, we must provide proper treatment. Otherwise, the koi could die.
Bad water quality, giving improper feeding, and so forth usually is the cause of koi health problems. Therefore, it is necessary to give them the right maintenance. The customers themselves can maintain the pond and koi; however, they should follow the advice of the specialist about water maintenance and disease prevention. Having your customers understand that, giving them regular maintenance, and giving them advice on how to maintain their pond and koi will prevent koi from dying.
The maintenance service of the pond is not free of charge. Providing regularly scheduled maintenance will increase your revenue and help stabilize the business.
**Koi Can Increase in Value**
Do you know how large koi could grow? The largest koi in Japan right now is 40˝ long. We will probably see 60˝ koi in the future. Most customers buy koi when they are small, but they can grow big with the proper care. When the koi becomes large, the value will also rise.
Your customers’ koi can be very valuable, not just monetarily, but emotionally too. It is possible the koi that your customer is raising might go up from $100 to $10,000 in value. True story – one of my customers had a koi whose value went up from $15,000 to $100,000.
We should realize that we are selling koi that have value that might increase if raised properly. The value can be affected by the condition of the pond, the filter system, and the way it is maintained. Therefore, you should advise your customers
not to spare any expense when it comes to the pond and filter system.
When your customer first buys koi, an accident often happens due to their lack of knowledge. Therefore, you should visit them and teach them about koi and their pond. Also let them know about the necessity of regular maintenance.
In Japan, many high-priced koi are distributed. That is because about 600 special dealers are teaching their customers and giving advice about how to raise beautiful large koi.
Improved Japanese lineage koi will bring up their value by being raised with proper care. The customer who is confident of keeping their koi healthy and knows the value of koi will buy high-priced koi.
Koi are living animals that need a proper environment and care. For your customers to be successful koi keepers:
1.Visit the customers’ pond and teach him/her how to raise koi. This will prevent koi from dying within the first two weeks after the customer bought the koi.
2. Providing regular maintenance will prevent koi from dying long after the customer bought the koi.
Note: Mr. Kodama has written a series of three articles of “How to Be Successful Selling Japanese Koi.” The most important point to being successful is “not to have the koi die.” Hope you enjoy them. The articles are:
Nov/Dec 2009 Issue, “How to be Successful Selling Japanese Koi”
May/Jun 2010 Issue, “How Retailers Reduce Koi Mortality– to Save Profit Margin”
Sep/Oct 2010 Issue, “How to Keep Koi Alive in Your Customers’ Pond”