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The Washing Machine Whisperer

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Ilan Ben Harosh is the owner of Mister Electric, one of the best-kept secrets of the electronics retail industry in central Jerusalem. Thanks to his lifelong familiarity with all aspects of the supply chain, he’s able to oŒ er superior products at highly competitive prices; and above all, dedicated and enthusiastic customer service. He emphasizes personal connection—to the product and to the customer.

Tell us about your background.
I was born into this field: my dad, may he live and be well, owned a store called Ram Electronics in Jerusalem, and worked with sound and light systems, electronic systems and televisions many years ago. I’m the second generation in this business. I’m 45 now and started working at the bottom rung at around 17, so I’ve been in the business for around 28 years. I’ve been managing Mister Electric for about 15
years and I’d like to think I’m good at it.

What have you learned about the business in all those years?

I have learned about the manufacturers and factories and what lies behind the name brands that the distributors want us to buy. Sometimes products from obscure brands are superior to products from famous and reputable brands; it depends where it’s manufactured. I know about the “back end” of the industry, and which factories are producing the best products, and can tell when an appliance is truly high-quality or if its quality is in name only.

I heard, for example, that I should make sure to purchase a Constructa washing machine that was made in the German factory and not in the Turkish one.

Actually, the Turkish manufacturers have really improved their quality control and the Turkish models are now more reliable than the German ones in several brands and models.
The industry changes, and I keep on top of these developments.

What’s special about the service you o”ffer?

I know the system really well, so I can fight hard for my customers. Customer service is notoriously bad in Israel, partly because of the disconnect between the various components of service and the resulting diffusion of responsibility. As someone who’s familiar with every part of the system, I can make sure my customers get what they need and deserve. But most importantly, we emphasize matching our customers to the products that are just right for them. We do this by analyzing the factors around the product’s
function: how many people will be using it? What is its intended use? Even the height and physique of the users is taken into account.

What products do you carry?
We’re a one-stop shop. We have 300 square meters of space and we carry more than 4000 items—anything you can think of that’s connected to electronics. From refrigerators and washing machines to hot water kettles, toasters and transformers. Even gramophones!

Where do you import from?
We work with all the suppliers and importers in Israel. We make a special point of supporting independent importers, because this helps lower prices and cost of living, and I’m passionate about that. There needs to be more competition in the market; prices are basically a function of the greed of the big importers.

Do you check every product before you carry it?
I personally inspect every product we carry, both physically examining it and researching others’ experiences with it all over the world.

How is the shopping experience at your store di”erent from the experience at a big chain store?
In the big chain stores, you might come in today to purchase an item, and the guy who assists you is named Shimshon, but if you come in tomorrow with a problem, he’s been replaced with a guy named Aharon…
they have a very high turnover rate. In our store, we’ve been employing the same staff for more than ten years, and we place an emphasis on establishing a long-term relationship with our customers. You will get to know us and trust us. We do everything we can to help our customers, even years after a purchase.

What happens if a customer is unhappy with a product?
They can trade it in. We don’t sell used products on our display floor, but our location in central Jerusalem makes it easy for us to find a home for a used appliance. However, it is extremely rare for a client to be unhappy.
If the customer listens to our recommendations, this will not happen.

Do you have busier seasons?

Definitely. The period before Pesach is one of our busiest seasons. I’ve been answering clients who ask questions at all hours on Whatsapp and FB messenger. I live for my clients and make myself available to them all the time except Shabbat.

How are your prices?
Whatever you can find on the Internet, on ZAP, whatever it is—we can give you a better more competitive price. However, I recommend choosing a product based on needs and lifestyle—not just price.

How do people hear about you?
We work undercover! Only by word of mouth! We’re central Jerusalem’s best-kept secret. If someone is in the market for a new product, where do you recommend they start?
He needs to find out what the options are—size, budget, functions, etc. But first andforemost, he needs to know how much joy he wants to bring into his home. These days, appliances can really bring joy to your life because they can do so much for you. But first you need to know what you really need and where that meets with what you really want. Then get a good idea of the options available and consult a professional. It’s a real shame there are only 24 hours in a day, and I can’t help everyone!

Appliances today don’t tend to last as long, and some people believe they have a sort of built-in obsolescence so companies can make more money. What do you think about this? How long should a product last?
People have short memories. Once upon a time, a washing machine—and I remember, because I worked in the store—costed you two months’ salary. Today you can buy one for 1000 NIS. There’s no comparison—but that’s also not the point. It’s your experience of the appliance that matters, not how long it will last. You can expect a good appliance that is used correctly and suits your needs to last around 5 to 10 years.
The question is what you will need during that time and what will make you happy about that product for the next 5 to 10 years.
I believe that the happier you are with the product, it will last longer, because you will love it and maintain it. It’s like giving it a soul. I have heart-to-heart conversations with refrigerators and washing machines myself…

Speaking of speaking, do you have an English speaker on staff”?
Yes! Three out of the five staff members in the store are native English speakers.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through your business?

That it’s all about people. People want people to listen to them and give them good service.

What do you like most about your job?
I love it when people thank me for my recommendations and tell me how satisfied and happy they are with the product I recommended. I get a little emotional!

How can people reach you?
I’m very active on social media, particularly in the Building in Israel group on Facebook, where I answer questions and join discussions. Feel free to contact me through there.

Mister Electric is a one-stop shop electronics store located on Rechov Yafo 50, central
Jerusalem run by Ilan Ben Harosh. You can contact Ilan on 050-997-7788.

 

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