All businesses – with cell phone repair shops being no exception – exist to scale. Their goal, despite its being an ever-evolving concept (on account of the world’s circumstantial flux), is forever static on one point: dominance.
In this stereotypical picture (which is the over-arching, experiential, field archetype – let’s face it), profits only serve as the means to an end.
For commercial repair businesses, stable growth – especially beyond the 4-store point – is often contingent on an overhaul of the ‘way of doing things’. Or, at least, a strategic refinement in some quarters; meant to facilitate a harmonious expansion.
On this front, the hub system happens to be one of the best enablers of efficient operations for the expanding repair venture.
In this piece, informed (on the ‘ground realities’) by one of our experienced field consultants, we provide a brief overview of the hub system – with a primer on both the ideal as well as the practical form currently practiced in cell phone and computer repair.
But to sum up the issue in a one-liner, it would suffice to state that a repair business devoid of this advantage (which comes naturally entailed with any logical progression in the domain) isn’t destined to go far – not in today’s uber-competitive, tooth-and-nail, economic climate.
Growing in the Repair Business – What To Expect (and deal with)
Now, before we delve deeper into the functional specifics of the hub system, it’s best to start with a concise description of what growth in repair actually looks like. Because any true appreciation – of what it takes to scale – can only come after this deliberation.
Past the 4-store point, the two issues of efficiently managing:
- parts logistics,
- delegating working responsibilities
take center stage.
Getting over the perfectionist streak
The business owner(s)/manager(s) can’t, obviously, see to the entire operation themselves (take micro-charge of every workflow aspect); as they did with their original one or two outlets.
This necessary and gradual relinquishing of responsibility, however, often proves to be an emotionally taxing affair for the founders.
The business, for one, happens to be their cherished brainchild.
So, when considered from this vantage, no new project supervisor or tasks executor could possibly treat it with the same, singular level of devotion as mustered by them. For them, the question of whether any new team hires would toe the set company-vision line also provides a great deal of continual apprehension.
But delegate they must; there’s simply no going around this prescription.
At the same time, the owners are mandated to get over any instances of a nascent, cultivated ego.
Growth, after all, is hinged on both diversity and acceptance; the retention of workers who come with their individual flair (different, perhaps even more creatively astute, than what is imbued by the existing management). It doesn’t do for business leaders to sabotage their own operations with an intentionally restrictive attitude, but there are, of course, damaging exceptions to the rule of sanity 🤦♂️ (which the unlucky have to put up with!).
A tacit commitment towards disregarding the lure of micro-management, at least in the general sense, also follows from this worker-enabling orientation.
Nowadays, in every high-performance worker setting, rigid enforcement is seen as being counterproductive to a business’s growth prospects. Skilled employees with a decided niche-work forte don’t like being dictated to beyond a certain, acceptable ‘guard rails’ confinement. They work much more comfortably in settings that espouse only broad, strategic, work-alignment rubrics; leaving the tactical ‘nitties’ to the ground executives.
On the Scaling Venture’s Need for Formal Centralization
In the electronics repair industry, most multi-store chain businesses offer both detailed and difficult repair services as part of their technical services portfolio. Within cell phone and computer repair, these can include such issues as board micro-solders, valve/micro-wire replacements, and narrow circuit cleanses.
Now, the specialist technicians who see to these intricate repair jobs are expensive to recruit. Within a given community, they are also difficult to locate – being a rarified bunch who are often seen to compromise on the basic dictates of work/life balance for their reclusive calling. So a repair business with 10 stores would find it difficult to have one or more of these gilded workers present in every outlet.
In such cases, a centralized reorganization of business processes – fleshed in accordance with the organogram below – provides a much better alternative for actualizing efficient workflows.
Under this framework, maintained by the bulk of all scaled business concerns (in virtually every vertical), a ‘hub’ functions as the organizational fulcrum: the center that holds the entire company operation together, in addition to hosting senior management officials and the majoritarian share of the venture’s specialist workers.
Advantages of the Hub System
For commercial enterprises, the benefits of maintaining a hub system are many, varied, and sometimes particular (depending on companies’ unique working orientations). In the context of electronics repairs, the following four comprise the most prominent:
- Unified Financial Accounting and Inventory Management
Here, the multi-store repair business hub can sign up for a single firm or software accounting service, instead of having each outlet bear the expense of individual subscriptions. This further translates into significantly less end-of-year accounting hassle for the overall venture.
Similarly, a single POS and inventory management system to see to the entire payments and parts orders requirements of the company allows for unified appraisals/workflow coordination.
- Opportunities for Specialization Cultivation
A working center, complete with a dedicated R&D backdrop, provides the ideal working space for specialist cultivation (in line with division-of-labor best practices). The opportunity for skilled workers to continually upgrade and refine their portfolio offerings for organizational advancement.
Additionally, the interpersonal connections fostered in such an environment allow trade experts to learn from their colleagues’ strengths – and perhaps even devise their own, signature takes on their narrow repair occupations.
Specialized points of convergence, as mediated by company hubs, also provide for repair work stratification; with more complex gigs channeled to the expert-hosting business HQs and simpler repairs handled at the smaller service locations.
- Strategy Simulations (Enabling Measured/’High Success Probability’ Deployments)
Following on good R&D practice, the hub system allows businesses to experiment with both strategy and tactical simulations to anticipate their practical efficacy – prior to top-down (center to the periphery; company HQ to community repair outlet) deployments. This ‘safe execution’ benefit is hard for scaled ventures – especially those looking to definitively best their competition – to ignore.
- The Promise of Indirect Customer Fulfillment
Perhaps the single greatest advantage wrought by process efficiencies – begotten, in our case, by hub centralization – concerns customer fulfillment: the guarantor of growth for any modern-day business.
The hub system, facilitated by a solid, end-to-end, cell phone repair shop software (let’s narrow the focus for a bit), engenders confidence in the company owners and workers; backing their customer-directed claims with concrete work progress evidence.
A Potential Drawback (or two)
The logistics quandary is commonly cited by several field insiders as one of the few noticeable drawbacks of multi-chain store centralization.
Different service/retail outlets in the chain, during the course of their day-to-day operations, will have distinct parts ordering requirements. To manage this inventory alignment dilemma, businesses are forced to hire dedicated staff to manually handle the conveyance.
Now, a going field guideline relates the importance of designating one worker to every 8-store, close-proximity (based on how a company defines such nearness), radius. While this may not seem like much, the statistical expense increases a hundred percent with every doubling of this figure.
Another potential demerit: the spatial need to offset any overlapping of the customer demographic.
Repair stores organized in a hub arrangement within a close community locus stand a heightened risk of having their customer outreach and service runs being ‘cannibalized’ by their business family peers. In this sense, and with respect to each other, they can actually start operating like field competitors to the detriment of the overall, united, company picture.
Some experts recommend following the 3-store triad arrangement within a 30-minute (driving distance) spread demographic setting to counteract this problem.
When Considering an Alternative… (if you must)
One alternative to the hub-system, often considered by repair businesses on the ascent (but not quite there), is the ‘out-sourcing’ route. Here, the device fixing company diverts all complicated repair jobs – well beyond its scope of service – to a commissioned third-party offering the requisite skillset.
But this recourse is considered undesirable 🙅♂️ by most businesses because it risks shuttling their customers into the hands of their vertical competitors.
In the final analysis, and considering all these points, we think it’s safe to state that the hub system is a growing multi-store chain’s developmental necessity.
Further, the role of robust software in this equation cannot be overstated.
On this latter front, our customers’ incredible RepairDesk growth journeys bear full testament to the fact; making it next to impossible – at least in our assessment – for any repair venture serious about its growth to become complacent on the issue.
So, if you’re a cell phone, computer, or just about any other repair store owner who agrees with this take, you know what to do!
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