Howshould you choosea piano dealer

There are lots of reputable, decent and fair piano dealers out there but unfortunately, there are some whose only concern is getting your money. Rather than sound like an endless sales pitch for Worldwide Piano, we thought we’d tell you about what to look for and what to avoid. Hopefully you’ll find some of these inside tips useful when choosing where to buy your piano. But since we put this guide together, we’d at least like to tell you that we qualify to be in the “Look for” category.

Here’s what we recommend you should “Look for” and “Avoid” when choosing your piano dealer

Look for…

1. A dealer who represents three or more piano brands –You want a dealer who has brands that represent the whole piano industry, not just a part of it. It’s much easier to fairly compare tone and touch when you have three to six brands to audition. Usually, these dealers will have more of a “big picture” view of the entire piano market and won’t need to favor one particular brand.

2. Dealers who operate somewhat modestly – These dealers will probably have much better prices because they aren’t spending a fortune on advertising, fancy retail showrooms and a huge retail staff. Generally speaking, dealers with lower overhead have lower prices.

3. Dealers who have their own piano service personnel – These dealers tend to understand the entire piano business both before and after the sale. Their piano inventory is far more likely to be in top playing condition. They know first hand about the quality of the pianos they sell because they personally handle warranty concerns. And for that reason, they are also far less likely to sell you a piano known to have problems.

4. Dealers that maintain a positive perspective – A good dealer will remain positive (or will at least avoid saying anything at all) when discussing competitor or competitive brands. This positive attitude is usually reflected in all aspects of their business and is a sure sign of integrity. These dealers have confidence in their own products, services and business ethics. They have something good to say about themselves so they don’t feel the need to speak poorly of others.

5. Dealers who maintain an excellent reputation – Check around, if there are several dealers in your area, find out who their customers are. You can often find out what kind of reputation a piano dealer has by checking with local churches and schools. Look for a dealer who’s been in business for a significant period of time. This stability also provides you reasonable assurance that they’ll be in business to take care of any warranty or service concerns you might have. You might also want to look for a dealer who’s involved with music programs within the community and therefore has a vested interest.

Avoid…

1. Dealers that only represent one primary and perhaps a secondary brand - Usually these dealers have exclusive sales rights for that brand. They don’t discount much because they have no real competition. Buying from one of these dealers is like buying from a convenience store versus a grocery store. Sure they may sell one or two good brands but you pay more for them. If they carry a second brand, it is often of a lower quality so as to make their main piano brand more presentable.

2. Dealers that don’t have their own service personnel – These dealers may take care of your warranty claims but since the work is contracted out to other piano technicians (who don’t work exclusively for them), their response time tends to be very slow and they will usually require “factory authorization” to have warranty work done. Perhaps most importantly, they tend to know more about “selling” than they do about pianos. Think about it. Would you buy a car from a dealer who didn’t have a service department?

3. Dealers who bash competitors or competitive brands – Dealers who speak negatively about competitors or other piano brands they don’t offer, usually have something to hide. If they’re able to get you to believe something negative about another dealer or another piano brand, then you won’t be as focused on them. For instance: A dealer might say “we recommend you don’t buy a competitor’s piano because it’s made in XXXX and they’re junk”, when in fact that same dealer offers pianos made in the same country or factory. They just conveniently failed to mention it. Unfortunately, this happens all the time because so many piano brand names change hands among manufacturers each year that it’s hard stay on top where they’re actually made. For the record, you can usually find out for yourself by simply lifting the lid and looking inside.

4. Dealers with a no reputation or a poor reputation – If you check around and find that nobody’s ever heard of a dealer, you may be wise to stay away. Dealers who are new to the piano business will likely have too little experience to understand and or service your piano needs. Dealers with a bad reputation have likely earned it. There’s no substitute for a good reputation.

One final note: Watch out for certain business partner referrals. Let's face it, it’s great when teachers, piano tuners and other music partners sincerely refer someone to buy a specific brand or shop at a specific dealer because they believe in that product or dealer. Sounds credible, right? But you should know that these professionals are sometimes paid referral fees (commissions) by certain piano dealers. In other words, they may just send you to a certain dealer or tell you to buy a certain brand because they’re getting paid for it. There’s certainly nothing illegal about this practice but it can obviously affect your price. Some dealers even solicit these types of paid referrals from local piano teachers and technicians. If a music professional is directing you to a particular dealer, ask them if they are receiving a commission. You deserve to know.

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