Evaluating The Performance Potential Of A Piano

Evaluating the performance potential of a piano is easy, especially when using a Gazelle Condition Report. To get started, begin your evaluation of each piano asking these two essential questions:

  • What was the performance potential of this piano when it was new?

  • What is the current condition?

Example of A Gazelle Condition Report

(Example of A Gazelle Condition Report)

If you answer these two questions (in this order), the next step is to create an estimate with options for improvement. By presenting your services in this way you reframe the conversation from "you need to fix your piano because it is broken" to "you tell me what kind of pianist you aspire to be and I will help you get there".

The Secret is Simplicity

The secret to presenting services this way is found in its simplicity. If you can make it easier for you to communicate and easier for your customers to understand; then it will be easy for them to decide to schedule the work. You will sell more services and take bigger checks to the bank.

The first time you consider presenting services this way most technicians immediately ask the same question: "so what criteria do I use to assess the musical potential of each piano?"

  1. Size

  2. Quality

  3. Dynamic Range

It has nothing to do with the name brand of the piano and everything to do with the musical potential available to the pianist playing on this piano. Let's dive into this idea and explore some practical examples.

Size of Piano

The size of the piano is only one consideration when assessing an instrument's performance potential.  Concert pianos are big 9' or larger grand pianos. They are the largest (and highest quality) pianos ever manufactured. Professional level pianos are semi-concert grands (or very large uprights designed for people who don't have room for a concert grand in their home). Advanced level pianos are the middle of the line pianos produced by manufacturers who focus on putting the highest quality instrument into a smaller case. This includes mid-sized grand pianos and vertical pianos. Beginner Level Pianos are spinets, small vertical pianos of poor quality, and small grand pianos made by manufacturers to attract entry-level consumers with 'Piano Shaped Objects".

Quality of Manufacturing

All manufactures can be defined by having great, decent, or poor quality control in their factories. For example, a great piano built with poor quality control means the idea of this piano will exceed the final product. The opposite is true as well, which means the performance potential of your assessment needs to change based on your observations not the name on the fallboard. To do this efficiently learn to distinguish between poor design and/or quality control at the factory; and poor maintenance.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range is another word for (musical experience). This is where the piano's "current condition" becomes relevant to your assessment. Age & poor maintenance always shows itself in a reduced dynamic range and reduced musical experience. However, using words like 'Dynamic Range' and 'Musical Experience' is usually too vague a concept for most people to understand, so consider instead using simpler words that everyone can understand like "soft" and "loud". Saying "your piano can't play soft...", or "your piano can only play loud..." is a concept almost everyone can easily understand and immediately relate to.  

Scoring your assessment

In each of these categories, it is best to create a simple 10 point scale that you consistently use to rate each piano: Size (3), Quality Control (3), Dynamic Range (3), and an extra (1) point for the exterior condition of the case. This is less about being scientific and more about painting a picture for your customer that is easy for them to understand.

The example above has a full potential of (7), and a current condition of (1). This probably means it is a larger-size grand that could meet the needs of a professional level pianist. However, this piano has not been taken care of and is currently performing below that of an entry-level spinet.

If you can simplify your assessments down to this, you will sell more services because what you are selling is the opportunity for your customers to grow as a musician. Using a Condition Report to assess the performance potential of their piano makes it easy for your customers to see "My piano is currently performing below the musical level I need".

This is a powerful and effective way to help your customers put words to the picture of who they want to become and the value of music in their life. As soon as they can verbalize the picture of who they want to become, they will choose to invest in more services to help them achieve this goal.

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