When selling koi it is critical that the salesperson listens first and talks second. This is true with all sales, and particularly so with koi sales. By carefully listening and asking questions a sales person can determine what a particular customers’ hot buttons are. What is the emotional need that buying a koi today will fulfill?
People buy koi for a myriad of different reasons – new pond, lost a fish recently, blue and need something to cheer them up, a present for a friend or spouse, koi show coming up, friends coming over to visit, or just koi fever. If you can find out what the emotional need is, and help your customer fulfill that need it becomes a win-win.
A salesperson also needs to listen to what kind of koi keeper the customer is. Is this a person who thinks of koi as pets, naming them and doting over them? Is the passion finding high quality koi, and learning how to select koi that will improve their collection? Is this person looking for something impressive right now, “give me big now, I don’t have time to wait.” Are they looking for something different? Are they a bargain hunter looking for the least expensive koi per inch, or a value hunter looking for young koi that will improve over time, and grow into good quality koi in a few years?
Asking questions can help you as a salesperson determine what your customer is really looking for, aside from a particular variety and price alone, and this gives you a definite leg up towards filling the emotional need, and making a sale.
In our look at selling Kujaku we will focus on the variables that give you something to talk about as your customer is considering a purchase. Often customers want to be directed to one koi or another, trusting the dealer to select the best koi available, based on their price and interests. Often you will be called upon to critique a koi or compare one against another. Helping you confidently discuss and sell the koi in your inventory is what this article is all about.
With Kujaku, there are the following major variables:
• Sheen and Luster
• Clean Reticulation
• Clean Head
• Clean White Ground
• Nicely Balanced Hi (red) Plates
• Depth of Hi
• Cleanliness of Fins
Sheen and Luster
Since Kujaku is a metallic koi, the sheen and luster of the koi is the first criteria to look at. If it is dull it will not catch the eye as well as one that is bright and shiny. You will see that right away when you put two fish in a tub. The one with the best sheen catches the eye first. Now we all know we need to sell the koi with the lesser sheen too, so your job is to find other attributes to discuss when selling that koi. Look at the back behind the head and the pectoral fins to see the best sheen. On the top koi shown below, the sheen on the back is striking but just average on the bottom koi.
Reticulation is the black net pattern that is seen on top of the other colors in Kujaku and a few other varieties. This reticulation can be light and delicate, or dark and heavy, and everything in between. The thing to look for and point out is the evenness of the markings. If every scale has the same size and depth of black markings, and the scales line up in nice rows, this is a very beautiful feature and something you can point out. If not, look at other attributes of the koi.
A clean head is something you can talk about in many different varieties of koi. In Kujaku a dirty head usually refers to black smudges on the head that are un-attractive. Some black, if it is symmetrical, such as above the eyes like eyebrows can be very appealing and can sell a koi all by itself. It is cute. If the koi has a clean head, it makes the koi look healthy and strong and by now you know the drill – it gives you something to use to help a customer make a decision.
Clean White Ground
The Japanese call the white skin between color patches or plates, the ground. In Japanese it is called shiroji. On Kujaku the whiter the better. If it looks like porcelain it can be stunning.
Nicely Balanced Hi (red) Plates
The hi or red patches on a Kujaku are just like the hi on a Kohaku except on a metallic koi. They look best if they are somewhat large and well-balanced front to back and left to right. White as well as red on the head is the most attractive usually.
Depth of Hi
There can be a difference in how solid or “thick” the hi plates appear on a Kujaku. The color is most impressive if there are no areas that look thin, like a single coat of paint.
Cleanliness of Fins
If a Kujaku’s pectoral fins have blotchy black on them it detracts from the overall appearance of the koi. If the fins are bright shiny white, they add dramatically to the overall impact of the koi.
Other Variables –
Red or Orange
Kujaku red can be quite dark and rich or nearly yellow, and again, everything in between. They are all Kujaku. Consistent color is what to point out. Suggest one of each color.
Doitsu is the term for the scaleless version of a koi. In some varieties of koi, being doitsu may not make a great deal of difference in the appearance of that koi. In Kujaku the difference is huge. Since doitsu means scaleless, and one major defining variable in the Kujaku is the net pattern on the scales, how can there even be a Doitsu Kujaku? Black can still appear on the skin, which would still qualify it as a Kujaku, but it is not usually very appealing. What is quite attractive is when there is a row of scales down the top of the back of the koi, splitting into two parallel rows at the dorsal fin. If these scales have black reticulation on them, then you have a fine Doitsu Kujaku.
The Doitsu Kujaku can be very striking. It really looks like a completely different fish. The biggest thing to watch for is symmetrical scalation. Note how interesting the scales can look if they are nice even rows down the back of the koi.
So, remember, you don’t want to talk down your koi, you want to point out their differing strengths. These strengths are what combine to make the koi beautiful. Keep these attributes in mind for those customers who seem to want to learn about selecting koi, and those who are having a difficult time deciding on which one to buy. A gentle suggestion from you at the right time may be all it takes to get a koi on its way out the door and on its way to a new home.
by Joel Burkard, Pan Intercorp
The Kujaku is a metallic or Ogon koi with the reticulated net-like pattern of the Asagi on its back. This is overlaid with either a gold, yellow, orange or red Kohaku-type pattern creating a striking effect.
Created by crossing a Goshiki with a Hikarimuji, its full name is Kujaku Ogon, or in English, “Peacock.”
The development of high quality Kujaku has led to their being judged in a category of their own at recent koi shows.
Created in the early 1960’s by Mr. “Nishi” Hirasawa of Hiranishi Fish Farms, the Kujaku was originally included in the Hikarimoyo category. In recent years Kujaku (literally “Peacock”) have received a lot of attention and with their increasing popularity, are often judged in a category of their own.
Because it is a metallic koi, the sheen and luster of the skin are considered one of the most important points to look for.
Whether the head has color or not, it should be clear and not congested-looking. The fins should be vibrant and unblemished.
The clarity of the reticulation (fukurin) on the net pattern is also important but often remains undeveloped until the koi is two or three years old.
The overlay pattern whether of gold, yellow, orange or red, is commonly referred to as the beni (literally “red”). The beni on the Kujaku should be uniform in its intensity, but should allow the net pattern to show through from underneath.
Since there are so many variables on a Kujaku, one has to be prepared to forgive a fault or two, or pay the price for an exquisite specimen. When selecting any koi, it is better to concentrate on the koi’s strengths and attributes rather than to focus on its shortcomings.
All rights reserved Joel Burkard/Pan Intercorp, 2009