In the past few weeks, the graphs of all the industries, including the cellphone and computer repair industry, have been going low due to the alarming threat of the pandemic “The Coronavirus/COVID-19.” Everybody is concerned for themselves, their loved ones, and their businesses as well. Repair store owners are closely monitoring store metrics like phone calls, new jobs, daily revenues, etc. and understanding the general opinion of store owners and managers in dozens of cities and states throughout the US, including New York City (where I reside), Seattle, Florida, North Carolina, etc. RepairDesk has decided to put together a flexible strategy to best advise repair shops on what to expect and how to cope with this highly contagious coronavirus outbreak. To help the repair community as a whole, below are the points that every repair store owner must understand and implement;
First of all, let’s break the good news!
Demand for repair services has not significantly dropped even in the face of the Coronavirus. It has been observed that daily store revenues, profit margins, new job drop-offs, and leads have remained consistent. There have been some significant slowdowns in some areas. Still, most of the cities in the United States seem to have experienced only minimal declines in consumer demand for the cellphone and computer repair services, such as San Diego. Even in New York City, the “City that Never Sleeps,” the government has limited restaurants to take-out and delivery, closed gyms and movie theatres, and made commendations such as staying indoors between 8 PM to 5 AM. New customer leads remain relatively unchanged, because of course, the customers simply didn’t vanish, they just can’t come out.
However, the situation may get worse. According to New York Times updates about the Coronavirus, local governments are taking steps on social distancing, and residents are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible, the short-term demand for retail repair services may drop more. Considering all the uncertainties, here’s the action plan.
What to do immediately?
Don’t panic – This too shall pass.
The repair industry is not going to shut down totally. Customer demand for repair services will persist. The import and export of cellphone and computer repair parts are not going to stop. The supply chain of replacement parts and devices will continue. The only issue is, we don’t know how long this outbreak will last, but we DO know that this disruption in our business is a temporary hurdle, not a permanent change. Educational institutions will reopen; bars, gyms, theaters, and restaurants will continue providing their services. Aspects of social distancing may persist for many months, but life as we know it will primarily return to normal, and our business operations will return to normal.
Make a Coronavirus (COVID-19) safety plan
Create a policy of sterilizing damaged devices as they enter and exit your repair shop. Maintain a neat and clean workstation and regularly clean and disinfect all surfaces. Guide and implement strict hand washing policies at your store. Use face masks and avoid meeting and greeting new people. Continue to monitor and follow CDC and other health official guidelines for conducting in-person non-contact business.
Continue routine operations
Run business in normal working hours if possible at your repair store, if your local government isn’t forcing you to shut down the shop. Serve your customers as usual from your location for as long as possible. If required, reduce your hours, but try to maintain regular store hours for as long as you can.
Do NOT fire staff and technicians
As a manager/owner of a repair store, we are responsible for our people. A good team is key to a successful business. Now is your time to take responsibility and to realize that you will need your staff tomorrow just like you need them today. If it’s necessary, reduce their working hours, communicate clearly with your employees, and be direct and straightforward with them. Do not let them go, because you will need their help, and they need yours.
Communicate with your customers regularly
Keep your customers informed about your safety measures so they know what’s going on and what to expect. Post a banner on your website letting customers know that you are remaining open for business and taking orders. Use all social media channels to communicate and spread the news. If possible, create a dedicated page on your website that informs customers that your business is taking COVID-19 precautions seriously. Redirect your traffic to that page so people may know about your COVID-19 safety policy.
Start taking appointments and/or onsite service
If you and your team are scared of gatherings and keeping your doors open for regular hours is not an option, consider serving customers at your repair store by appointments only. Reduce the working hours, but don’t shut down the store. This will allow you to continue operations smoothly, and at the same time, serve customers that are in need of your services. If possible, consider onsite repairs or pickup/drop-off services to your customers. For this reason, implement an additional fee ($50 or more) to cover expenses to travel onsite to a customer’s location.
Stay informed about the latest news and updates
The federal government, the SBA, and state governments are all passing emergency funding bills. These bills provide no interest in emergency bridge loans, long-term disaster relief loans, paid sick leaves, and much more. A lot is still changing due to the Coronavirus outbreak, and more change is yet to come. So, keep an eye on your options if cash flow is becoming an issue for you.
Promote the slogan “Stay Healthy and Stay Connected.”
Tell your customers that you are here for them. Assure your team that the demand for your repair services will not drop a lot. The situation is crucial, but stay strong and face the problem. Embrace the slogan and support your customers.
RepairDesk has recently provided a complete strategy to inform their customers about their regular operations and safety measures. Follow our example and promote safe business practices.
This is all temporary. Don’t get discouraged if you notice your sales graph going down, or if business gets difficult for a few weeks. We are not expecting this to be the new normal, but we’re taking this as a trial that tests our ability to respond to challenging situations as business owners. Stay healthy and stay connected!