While independent retail has had a tough time in general over the past decade, mobile phone accessory and repair shops have been popping up all over the place.
With almost half of Londoners having broken a mobile device, PCR asks repairers, experts and store owners for their advice on this competitive sector.
CRAIG HUME, Utopia Computers
“Having a plan is key. If you jump on board without too much thought, you will probably end up spending a lot of time and effort to make very little money. It took Utopia a while to work out how to make the mobile phone repair market work for us. We started by finding the right engineer then a reliable source for parts. After this, we priced ourself higher than local stores, but supported this with the best level of service and long guarantees.
“Also, simple things like nice packaging and trust go a long way to supporting that higher price. Believe me, there is still margin to be made in phone repairs!”
STEVEN LIGHTFOOT JNR, Pudsey Computers
“At Pudsey Computers we do tablet and smartphone repairs – iPhone, Samsung and Nokia etc – and we’re doing about five devices a day at the moment. So it’s not a bad turnover. I also run another company that refurbishes iPhone screens. It’s not a massively difficult repair, the only time it gets difficult is when it goes wrong. But I’d say nine times out of ten, it doesn’t, so it’s a relatively simple repair. It’s quite an obvious extension [to PC repairs] – if you’re doing laptop screen repairs, it’s the same thing really.
“But there’s massive growth in it, because everyone is smashing phones. The only problem we come across is it’s massively competitive, especially in our area. Bradford is a bit of a hotspot for phone shops. The parts are ridiculously cheap as well.”
ADAM SLYTH, The Gadget Doctor
“I first started simply by offering the service through my own personal social media profiles, and got a steady flow of custom this way purely through recommendations from friends to their friends.
“eBay has proved to be a very reliable source for parts, but the only downside is not all sellers offer warranty, which is now why I mainly use dedicated wholesalers of replacement phone parts. Margins vary between devices so that’s worth considering.”
HOW TO TURN YOUR SERVICE INTO A PRODUCT
Simon Dobson from itmarketingspecialist.com shares his marketing advice for retailers.
“The problem with services is that customers don’t have the joy of opening and touching something physical,” he says. “How can you bring the happiness and add value to make your services more attractive?
“Here’s my tip... turn your service into a product. It may sound daft but it certainly isn’t, for example; rather than ‘Bobs Phone Shop which fixes broken things’, why not turn the repair service into ‘iFix’? As if by magic, you now have a product.
“You can now create a flyer, talking about the merits and benefits of iFix, create adverts, service levels and even offers. For example: ‘Dropped your phone down the loo? No problem, 25 per cent off iFix for clumsy folk.’
“You have now differentiated yourself from others, and created a product from a service that can be marketed independently.”