“There’s a suffering coming to the family, but for better.”
In 10 Commandments of cell phone repair business part 2, we discussed the need for a mentor, business plan and team building.
But the messiahs came with a forewarning. They urged the people to not panic, but to be prepared for the hardships ahead. And rightly so. They preached that owning your business is as much a blessing as it is a trial for you.
Because you will have to sacrifice your sleep, your comforts, your money and sometimes even your family.
But with the warning came glad tidings. The state of suffering will not remain forever. But for those who follow all the Commandments…
Commandment # 5 Thou Shalt Work On Brand Building
You’ve heard this one being thrown around in every other article you come across on the internet. But what does brand building really mean for a cell phone repair business? Is it big banners outside the shop? Is it having a website and social media presence?
Well, it is all that and more.
For a lot of small repair businesses, the daily chores dominate the majority of the day. Most of them think they’re still too small to enforce processes. But they need to start building SOPs there and then.
This makes it easier for businesses to eventually grow into brands that people trust and keep on coming back to. Building SOPs include training employees, standardizing repair device intaking and outgoing processes, creating a script on how to deal with difficult customers, and more.
Training your employee/s is imperative. Give them incentives, and take care of them.
Employee management can be difficult. But remember that these are people interacting with your customers on a daily. So, they represent your shop and are also responsible for retaining your business. So, take care of them and they will take care of your business.
An integral part of brand building is giving the best customer experience. Train your employees on how to talk to a customer or tackle a tricky situation. Talk to big store owners and find out what they are doing to provide excellent customer service. That’s what Alex Marini of Computer Repair Doctor swears by.
“You need to focus on the bigger picture. You need to do everything you can to make the customer experience so good that it starts drawing in more people.”
One way that you can definitely win the trust of your customers is by offering a lifetime warranty. A lot of people undermine its efficacy. Because they fail to understand that a broken device is an opportunity to sell more.
If a customer comes back to you for a repair, you can always up-sell or cross-sell and make up for the free repair that you’ve done.
Israel Quintal’s pricing strategy as we’ve already discussed in a previous part revolves around lowering the price of common repairs to a maximum. At the same time, he gives a lifetime warranty to his customers across all 14 cell phone repair shops that he owns.
“People might be saying, ‘Hey, if this is too low, it might be sketchy’ or whatever. But when you go back and say, ‘Hey, we have a lifetime warranty on repairs’ that sketchiness goes right away.”
So, by offering a lifetime warranty, you’re earning your customer’s loyalty and increase their trust in your services.
Another way to build your brand is to take online reviews. Make it easy for your customers to leave a review. Either frame a barcode right by the exit door or send reminder emails to your customers to you a review on Google or Yelp.
More than 90% of people read an online review before they decide on the quality of the business. And more than 70% will make a buying decision only AFTER they’ve gone through reviews. That’s how important reviews are to your business.
Don’t fret about a few bad reviews here and there though. As long as a majority of your reviews are positive, you’re good to go. However, if you’re getting too many negative reviews, instead of getting defensive, learn from them. See what people dislike about your service and try to improve it.
Remember that there are two types of shops out there. The first type is a brand and the second is a commodity. People will pay for the brand but bargain for the commodity. So, it is up to you to decide which type you want to be.
Commandment # 6 Thou Shalt Watch Your Spending
A very wise man once said,
“Watch your spending because the spending can put you out of business as well. If you’re making X and spending more, then you’re burning, you’re going down. So, watch your spending, personal things that need to go away. The nice cars and all these things, let it go. Don’t even watch people. Don’t focus on others, focus on yourself, grow your business and invest in the business.”
That wise man is Ahmed Abusharbain, the CEO of UppLuck and Unlimited Prepay Distribution, a sales trainer, and a life coach. And he’s absolutely right. Because we have some inspirational stories coming right ahead.
Israel Quintal started his first repair business when he was still a graduate student. He wasn’t making a lot of money, teaching only one class at the university. So, he realized he doesn’t have money to open a shop.
Instead, he started operating out of his car. He realized he had no money for advertisement either. So, he looked for free advertisement. But free does not mean you’re not putting in any effort. He put his time in Marketplace, Craigslist, and other similar platforms to get the word out.
After a while, he started earning a thousand dollars extra from what he needed. So, he felt it was time to automate his systems and invest in the business. He did not think about upgrading his car or his house. Instead, he kept his expenses the same and concentrated on growing his business.
Today, Israel has a growing repair business with 14 repair shops.
So don’t start spending the moment you start making some extra cash. Instead, concentrate on building your business before you build your lifestyle.
Alex Marini, at the beginning of his repair business journey, would buy $5 pizzas and give them to all the cell phone stores nearby. He would visit the shops, introduce himself and tell them to refer him to customers who come in with a broken phone.
This activity probably only cost him $50 a month but it brought him thousands of dollars worth of business. The message being, you don’t need to replicate an already big business and spend hundreds of dollars that you don’t have. Think smartly and work with what you have.
If you don’t have the budget for ad spend, think of other ways to market your services. And trust us, you’ll find quite a few.
Another spending mistake according to Alex is that a lot of repair business owners buy every repair tool out there as soon as they start. However, the wise thing to do is to buy tools as and when required.
According to Alex, if you accumulate all the tools, spending all your money on things that you won’t be using for quite a while, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
“Don’t go into this business and set yourself up and buy every tool you can find for every possible repair that can be done. You invest in those things as you need them. So you should take that approach to every aspect.”
Likewise, hire a new employee only when you feel your team is unable to handle the number of repairs coming in. If you’ve just opened your shop, don’t just go ahead and buy that $2000 laser machine.
First, build customer relations and a clientele. Then think about investing in additional tools and big machinery. If you are smart about these things, you won’t end up getting caught in debt.
“Build up those savings to get there, build those tools, build that customer base. And work on your customer relations before you throw all your money away, and bury yourself in debt.”
Commandment # 7 Thou Shalt Build Customer Relationship
It is important to show your customers that you respect them, you care for them and they are wanted. A lot of shop owners and their employees judge customers by their appearance and lose respect for those that they think won’t buy or might steal something.
That is the wrong way to go about it. Every customer, irrespective of their appearance, is important and must be respected. Denis Gutsu is especially mindful of such biases. He’s even spoken to multiple cell phone repair business owners who are very stubborn with their pricing and feel that certain customers are just not worth their time.
If a customer comes into your shop and is unable to pay your price, do not belittle them. And if you’re biased about someone’s liquidity based on their appearance, you are doing your business a disservice.
Because you don’t know who will spend how much unless they actually avail your services.
“I just can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure that each and every single customer receives the same kind of respect, the same customer service and the same kind of experience that you would have given any other person that walks into your store. There’s been times that, you know, you think that this customer won’t purchase anything and they ended up buying, you know, more than the next.”
Also, if you really want to turn a new customer into a regular one, you must listen to them. Make them feel like you understand them. You also need to take each customer as an opportunity.
As Timothy says, every time a new customer pops into your shop, think as if you’ll die if this customer didn’t do business with you.
“Just listen. It’s simple, guys. Just listen, give them that one-on-one, pay attention. That’s it! I mean, just give them an experience that they’re never gonna forget and that’s the first step to it. Give it your all, when these customers walk through the door, treat them like either they are going to pay or you’re going to die.”
As far as difficult customers are concerned, dealing with them can be an ordeal. But, you must know how to deal with them. And the foremost thing any veteran cell phone repair business owner will tell you is to agree with them.
Give them the affirmation that their feelings are justified. Because the first part of sales is agreeing. Do not challenge the customer, you’ll always lose that battle. Ahmed further talks about how owners and employees give their customers what they think is best rather than what was asked.
Of course, you can give advice but do not dictate what their best solution should be. Listen first and then talk.
“Don’t give your customers what you think is right for them, give them what they ask you for. All these things are important. And of course give that advice and all these recommendations. But listen, first and then talk.”
At the same time, dealing with customers is not a piece of cake. So it is important that you remind yourself to take a breather every now and then. Otherwise, it will get overwhelming and you will get all burnt out.
That is exactly what Israel does himself.
“Dealing with customers is not easy. So if you try to have a balanced life as much as you can, I think it will help. And it’s helped me a hundred percent.”
So, give yourself and your employees a break every now and then from dealing with customers. A good way to go about it is to rotate duties. If two employees are dealing directly with customers, give each a break every 2-3 months by sending them to work on inventory management or some other chore that does not involve dealing with customers. This should help them relax.
Your customers are your source of income. But if you really listen to them, they can add to that stream of income. Know what they’re complaining about and check if you’re offering that service.
“Listen to your customers, that’s your biggest area for growth. What are they asking for that you’re not offering? That’s a lost avenue of revenue.”
Read Part 4 here.