The 10 Commandments of Cell Phone Repair Business: Part 2

by Amara Zulfiqar

After the 1st Commandment of Cell Phone Repair Business was revealed, the messiahs of the cell phone repair business community earned a small following. These disciples quickly adopted the 1st Commandment. They did their research and figured out their expenses. And they priced their products fairly. Things looked promising, until…

… they fell in disarray again.

They couldn’t figure out their next move in business. No matter how much work they took up, they couldn’t scale up. They acted on whims and had a vague idea of the success they wanted their business to achieve. They barely discussed how they could get where they wanted to with each other.

Their employees were underperforming at an increasing rate. The employee culture was not helping either. There was disdain. And the disciples began to fall in a state of uncertainty.

Right around that time, help came in the form of three more revelations. And the messiahs preached them to their people…

Commandment # 2 Thou Shalt Find A Mentor

No matter what business you are running, having a mentor is imperative. Because you may know tech but you don’t know it all. So, you need someone who can hold your hand from time to time and lead you in the right direction when needed.

Usman Butt, the CEO of RepairDesk, says a mentor should be someone who has gone through a similar process and has achieved some success. He should be someone you can look up to, not your sibling or a parent.

“You need to have a mentor, someone who has been through the process and you should look up to him if you get into trouble or if you need some advice. And he should be someone, not your friend or anyone, but who has achieved some success in the business.”

But Ahmed Abusharbain of UppLuck says, before you set out to look for a mentor, it is important to want to be motivated and guided. Because a lot of repair shop owners don’t want to admit that they don’t know it all. So, you need to open your mind and accept your shortcomings to benefit from a mentor.

“Believe that there’s someone out there who can help you to better yourself and train. Listen to motivators, listen to planners. Let’s meet every day.”

Getting a mentor also depends on your financials. Because some mentors out there are quite expensive. So, Timothy Phelps of Techy says that if you don’t have the money to pay for mentorship, just go to YouTube and find a mentor there. There are many motivational speakers that you can listen to and help yourself.

“It depends on where you’re at financially. I mean, there are some mentors that are super expensive out there, so it just depends. YouTube, just go on there and find so many different mentors right there.”

But keep in mind a mentor may not always be someone who has a lot of time to dedicate to you. So, once you’ve found a person you look up to, make the effort to get in touch. Call them incessantly until they are able to take time out for you.

Israel Quintal of AdCentral relates his own story where he would keep on calling his mentor and go to their office. Sometimes he would bring lunch. Other times he would just sit around and wait until his mentor had the time to talk with him.

For him, mentorship is more about you wanting it than it being available out there. Because you have to be relentless in your efforts. You have to chase the mentor and not the other way around.

“Sometimes a mentor is not necessarily someone that is willing to give you all this time because they can’t. So, I was willing to go and just wait. So mentorship is really more about you wanting that.”

Ahmed also talks about his mentor, who goaded him in the right direction all these years ago. His mentor prompted him to join this industry. And that has proved to be the right decision for him.

“I have a mentor, the guy I met when I was 20, some years ago. And he got me into this business, like for wide open. I mean, he just showed me the role and he said, just go wide. And I just kept trying and trying until I got to where I’m at. So definitely mentor is important.”

Keep in mind that a mentor doesn’t have to be related to your field. He does not necessarily have to be a cell phone repair shop owner. But he has to have achieved success in his field. For instance, it could be a successful human resource guy. Now you’d wonder what good that would be.

The reality is that owning a B2C business means your cell phone repair business is dependent on customers and you are constantly dealing with people. If you learn how to service a client well, you can build a clientele and retain it as well.

So, considering all these successful cell phone repair shop owners, having a mentor takes you far. You get constant guidance to go in the right direction. And while getting a mentor isn’t the easiest task, whether it is someone you know or a YouTube motivational speaker, you have to put in the effort.

Commandment #3 Thou Shalt Have A Cell Phone Repair Business Plan

“Write down your goals every day, every week and you’re not going to need a plan B I mean, just complete those goals and you’re never going to need a plan B.”

Timothy has a simple solution for everyone. Be focused. Make goals for yourself and stick to them. Write them down every single day. And you will never have to revert to a plan B. It may sound simple but really it isn’t.

You have to push yourself every day and come out of your comfort zone to make sure you are meeting your goals daily. You have to be a fighter.

Let’s agree that technology is here to stay. And people will break technology. So, you are secure in this line of business. But to really make it work, you have to be consistent in your efforts.

Alex Marini of Computer Repair Doctor says that when he went in with his cell phone repair business, he was prepared. He had done the research, he knew the demographics of the area. Other things that he looked into included the average income, affordability and other similar metrics of the population in the area. He even looked up whether the people in that area would upgrade to a new phone or prefer to get the existing one repaired.

But most of all, he stuck to the plan and that’s what he associates his success to.

“When I went in, I had a really detailed plan. I tried to stick to that plan. I did my research of where my store was, what the area around me was, what their income was, what they may be able to afford, or do they throw away, buy new, or are they repair-first?”

So, having a plan really plays a significant role in helping you succeed and scale your business.

But as much as having a plan is important, the ability to improvise the plan is equally important. Israel thinks that having a plan means having the guts to make difficult decisions when a situation requires it. For instance, during the 2020 wave of COVID19, a lot of repair businesses shut down completely because they couldn’t make hard decisions. These people did not do what was necessary to keep their businesses afloat.

So, if a situation requires cutting down on expenses, you must know how and where to cut them. If it requires letting go of employees, you need to have the heart to do so. Because there is no shame in cutting down.

“The whole idea here is I need to keep the business afloat. I need to show up profit and we cannot sink. And it’s not about pride. So I would say have the heart to make hard decisions and call whoever you have to call and negotiate. There’s no shame in reducing expenses.”

Ahmed adds to this saying that he makes a new hire almost every month. And that’s not exactly a new hire. That is more of a replacement. So, you have to let go of people your company has outgrown.

And to do so, you need to be able to take tough decisions. Because there will be employees who have been working with you for a long time and have been loyal. But they are not performing very well. You need to have the heart to let them go.

It is only through that, that you’ll be able to stick to your plan and get what you set out to achieve.

“Make some tough decisions. If you follow me, you’ll see, I am hiring one every month. I’m not adding, I’m replacing. The fat cats can go and the new blood needs to come. Don’t get me wrong. I invested in the existing ones. I owe them a lot of my success. But if this starts getting weak, I can’t run on three tires. I gotta have four tires to keep moving. So tough decisions have to be made.”

Denis insists that you have to figure out a way to meet your goals. If your existing plan is not working, think of other ways to make it work. Have you tried to get a school contract or leverage a carrier store? Have you invested in inventory? Are you on MarketPlace or eBay? Are you doing something to retain customers?

“So you just have to, you know, make sure that if this is not really working, let me figure something out. Maybe I can make some sales on eBay. Maybe I can make some income from here, generate something from somewhere, figure it out.”

Now how exactly should you go about having a plan for a cell phone repair business?

Usman suggests going the simple route: creating Objectives & Key Results (OKRs). Just jot down two to three goals that you want to achieve by the end of a month or a quarter. For example, during this quarter, you want to increase your sales by x amount.

Once you’ve mentioned them, follow through or share them with someone who will help you follow through, like your mentor.

Then, you need financial projections as well. You can take help from your accountant to make these projections. And then share them with your staff. Be open about these projections. Give reminders to your staff about them. And keep on going through them yourself as well.

Think of ways you can achieve your goals on a daily basis. And if you are consistently not meeting your goals, then something is wrong with the plan. Improvise and move on. Do not keep on doing the same thing over and over and expect different results.

Commandment #4 Thou Shalt Build A Team

If you really want to grow your business, you need to start investing in your employees. How do you do that? By training them.

“Invest in the people, people grow business and that’s it.”

Timothy believes that if you invest in your employees, the business will take care of itself. Unfortunately, though, a lot of repair shop owners don’t want to spend time training their employees. One of the reasons behind this is their ego. They don’t want to take help and so, don’t train their employees.

As a result, there are no systems in place. The inventory management could be streamlined, the repair ticket management could become fast and so on.

The consequences of not training your employees are that you continue to lag behind and never find the time to concentrate on growing your business. You think you’ll never find good employees. But you have perfectly fine employees already. You’re probably not taking the pains to train them properly.

At the same time, hiring good employees is a task too. And considering the employee turnover rate in this industry is high, constantly being on the prowl is a good idea. That’s what Israel and Timothy do as well.

“All I would say about this is, always be hiring. That’s true. It’s a constant process. Get rid of those not working out and you’ll just start building your team.”

Ahmed is a huge proponent of training your team. So much so that they have a training session every week. He trains his staff, watches the implementation, improvises, and trains again. Because he believes training is a constant process and if done right can really turn your business around.

“Investing in the team is the best thing we’ve done. We invest in the team every week. There’s training, there’s talking, there’s listening. And then whatever we do, we implement it with the customers and then train again.”

Another reason why a lot of repair shop owners don’t train is they find it hard to delegate tasks to their teams. That is primarily because they feel there’s no one who can fulfill a task better than they can. And that is not the mindset of someone who wants to grow.

Denis Gutsu of First Response Phone Repair thinks that if you take up the entire responsibility of making money, you are preparing yourself to fail. Because success is a team effort.

“If you believe that every single penny that’s to be made is based on yourself and you are the team, you are setting yourself up for fail.”

Denis further says that when the time is right, and your business can afford it, hire employees and train them. If you can’t hire a full-time employee, hire them part-time. Just start building your team.

Don’t try to be the technician, the receptionist, the sales rep, and everything else yourself. Because if you continue like that, you’re not only working overtime but you’re also generating less income than you could if you hire an employee.

“You will be out there until three, four or five in the morning, each and every single day, because you are the technician, you are the receptionist, you are the sales rep, you are the customer service, you’re everything. So it’s important that you build that team around it and they will start to generate a lot more income.”

Israel thinks that you can even counter the feeling that no one can work like you by training your employees to be entrepreneurs. You need to train your employees to become you. So, they can make decisions like you would.

This is especially helpful if you own multiple stores and require leaders to manage each store. Because a leader will make the right decisions when required.

“I think that one of the most common sayings in an entrepreneurship role is, ‘Man, if I only had a clone of mine, I could get so much accomplished.’ And the way to clone yourself is really hiring someone and training him. My managers are entrepreneurs. My managers are someone like me who can make decisions.”

That being said, what are the areas you train your staff in?

The training varies according to who in your store you want to train. For a sales representative, training on how to deal with people is ideal. You want to teach them the best ways to interact with clients, how to react to their issues, and most importantly, how to up-sell.

Another hugely undermined trait that all employees in the front-end of the store need to learn is empathy. Your staff should be able to listen to the customers and understand their pain points.

In fact, when inquired, Alex said that the top three things that he looks for in a potential employee are personability, trainability and potential growth. By personability, he means someone who is a good human being and is empathetic. So, the employee can listen to the customers, understand them and earn that sale.

Training them on the repair shop POS should be another integral part of the onboarding process.

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As far as your technicians are concerned, upgrading their skills as new tech enters the market is a good idea. Other than that, the SOPs (pre-/post-checklist, etc.) that your shop follows must be included in the training as well.

So, implement these commandments in your daily work life and see how your business grows. And while you’re waiting for the rest of the commandments to be revealed, listen to our latest podcasts here.

UPDATE: Read Part 3 here.

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