How indies can compete with big brands when it comes to smartphone repairs

PCR caught up with Nick Beer, technical director at Dynamode UK, to discus how local repair stores can compete with the likes of Apple by offering a cheaper and more personal service.

What benefits do local repair stores have over phone manufacturers?

Some premier brands (such as Apple) not only charge a great deal for repairs but also extending waiting times for these repairs to be completed, local shops should take advantage of this situation that the big vendors have. Let’s not forget also the issue with any ‘data’ that might be on the phone, a consumer going into a shop and ‘explaining’ the invaluable data they have on the phone and how the assistant can help is a lot easier than explaining over an email (or ‘trouble ticket’) to some employee half way around the globe.

This, (apart from the lower repair costs) is what I think local repair shops should offer, a personal service so to speak.

What issues do repairers face?

It’s a challenge of course, for some areas of mobile repairs, for others less so. In the news recently Apple released a fix to a fingerprint scanner issue after third-party fixers complained.

In some ways this is good for third-party repairs as Apple now has (hopefully) taken notice that consumers should have a choice on the repair of there mobile device, the same way as PC users have.

What advice would you give retailers planning to start offering mobile device repairs?

It’s about adding value to the sale, not just about the repair. Retailers need to be competitive against the manufactuer repairs of course, offer shorter repair lead times (by holding common components, like screens, camera lenses etc.) but also capitalise on a more PERSONAL service for the customer, offering software/firmware updates for the device, app updates and data/photo retrieval if the customer needs its.

Also, maybe offer a cheap maintenance contract if the customers’ device warranty has expired, so it ‘hooks’ the customer to the shop and at the same time gives them piece of mind. These devices are complex computers so it will only help the average consumer.

Offer discounted mobile accessories for customers (if they take out a warranty) such as power banks, tempered glass screen protectors etc.

Training and short workshops are also a good idea. Maybe 30min or 1 hour sessions for new customers, or when an important update is released, such as ‘photography with your smart device’, as a recent report stated 80 per cent of customers fail to use the facilities on modern mobile devices. 

What are your top tips for selling mobile devices to consumers? 

It’s about selling the whole package. The big vendors, such as Apple, Microsoft and Samsung will sell the phones, however adding value to the sale is important, training, accessories, a care and maintenance packaging adds to the value.

And how about selling to businesses/education sector?

Education is very similar to businesses, but more so with regard to maintenance contracts, repairs (especially tablet computers used in schools which are more likely to be damaged by students).

Configuration of these devices prior to being used for education is important, maybe also virus/malware protection could be added to any maintenance plan and of course possible product training for the IT departments and teachers.

How have security issues surrounding mobile devices changed over the years?

I think issues with security of mobile phones have been underestimated by vendors for a number of years now.

As more and more consumers are moving to mobile devices, criminals will increase their activity to target the devices for the data that is now on them. Many users check there banking, pay PayPal accounts, even pay their utilities using them.

And the fact that smartwatches can be used for payment at checkout only adds to a potential problem so third-party software companies, as well as the major vendors, need to keep ahead of the game to drive up security on the devices.

What issues are likely to affect mobile devices over the next year?

I think there will be a number of issues. Flaws in firmware updates, passwords (or exercising the lack of a strong password) are always a problem, coupled with not backing up the phone’s data (if not enabled by the cloud for example).

Since mobile devices are taking over what a traditional PC does, there needs to be a change of consumer ethos, as many users still class the mobile device as a phone and take little protection to ensuring their data remains safe.

What’s next for smartphones, laptops and tablets?

I think it’s also about integration, making wearable technologies work for the benefit of people and not just for the benefit of the vendors shareholders.

There are markets for all these devices, one technology area won’t make another area obsolete. What vendors need to concentrate their are R&D on are battery life, performance that will not degrade when more apps are loaded, and a focus on increased usability.

iPhone repair image via Shutterstock

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