Still family-owned and run, the Thomann Music1 brand started very small. In 1954, Hans Thomann Sr. left his rural Bavarian farm in the small town of Treppendorf to play in travelling brass bands. He drove 70km to Würzburg to take trumpet lessons and improve his skills. By the 1960s, he had a sideline selling instruments to other musicians, leaving his wife Betty to look after the farm and rear their children while he was on the road. It wasn't ideal. The solution? To bring the business back home.
In many ways, the rural isolation of the firm's origins has been advantageous, rather than problematic. As the business spread from local, to national, to continental, to international, Thomann was able to build warehouses and call centres in the same location. It has helped the company stay close to its roots2.
Still based in Treppendorf, Thomann now employs 250 agents in their call center alone. Music is still the common language, but business is conducted in a further 19 languages. How was this incredible growth possible?3 Hans Jr. has a few theories: "I'm proud to say that even with 1400 employees and more than 9 million customers, we're still an independent family-owned company. No managers, no business consultants, no suit and tie guys." The business was always scalable but not through the influence of any strategic advisors. Just people who love selling musical instruments.
"Selling the best products at the best price, that's our goal, and to satisfy our customers is our motivation," continues Hans, "Offering an excellent service is so important. We want you to get the most for your money while shopping with us, and therefore we have devised our own credo: Added Value. For instance, we've been offering a general 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee since 1995 – long before the EU came up with the directive on mail order purchases."
"On top of that, in 2005 we decided to offer an extended warranty period of three years – out of our own pocket. Service means more to us than smiling employees; it's the smile on the faces of our customers." Offering a winning idea of customer service for less is a philosophy that has helped them grow. In fact, the company's approach has always been to do a favor for their fellow musicians: the company's 'Hot Deals' were first sent to around 10,000 mostly regional customers in 1992. These keenly anticipated printed lists became a great way for many artists to find the right equipment at the right price and helped Thomann gain an even more loyal following. In 2018, the approach lives on, with the company's website offering the latest bargains alongside a huge range, plus tips and tutorials for every kind of musician. The customer service team also handles 235,000 emails every day, making sure everyone leaves with a smile on their face. For Thomann Music today, as in the past, the credo of keeping musicians happy is what drives their business.