After being endorsed by Which? and receiving a nomination for a PCR award, owner of The Laptop Fixers Paul Betteridge tells Jade Burke his plans for the future...
How and when did the company begin?
I used to be a software developer and I was doing a lot of repairs part time, and then my part time job became more of a full time job. During the recession, I decided to make or break, so I decided to quit my programming job and open up my first shop.
What services do you offer in store?
In our Ringwood Road branch we have got more facilities to do almost any repair, from TVs to tablets to any computers including Apple and Windows based ones. We even fix things like hair straighteners and audio equipment. We try to keep the repairs consistent in both stores, but if we can’t fix it in the Penn Hill branch then we’ll transport it over to Ringwood. I know we’re called The Laptop Fixers but that’s probably one of the smaller things we fix now.
How do you feel about being nominated for a PCR Award this year?
It’s the first time we’ve been up for an award so I’m quite excited really. I’m not quite sure what to expect, so I’m sure we’ll find out. We have also recently been officially endorsed by Which? magazine.
What do you think about Windows 10?
Hopefully it’s not going to put off customers buying Windows 7 or 8 machines, especially now they’re offering the upgrade for free. We’ve been previewing it in our store and we’ve shown it to a few customers as well, and it has generally got quite good feedback.
Have you noticed an increase in laptop sales and a decline in tablets?
We have, in fact last year we did really well with tablets selling, but this year we didn’t make anywhere near as many sales. I think it’s probably because last year everybody got their tablets, this year nobody really wants to replace them because they’re still performing how they would expect. I’ve got a funny feeling maybe next year you might see another peak again where it’s been two years and it’s time to upgrade.
Are there any new products you will incorporate into your business?
I just came back from a trip to CES, and one area I think we could push on is the robotics side. We’re looking at the unmanned drones and some of the smaller robotic vehicles, which can be controlled using a smartphone or PC. In my background I used to be a programmer for a company that designed remote vehicles, so I’ve always been quite interested in it anyway.
What advice would you give other indie stores?
It’s a tough business. I would say it’s very easy just to think ‘I’m going to start competing on price’, but as long as you provide an excellent service you won’t need to lower that price, your customers will keep coming back to you. We have seen a lot of these businesses come and go, but we’re still around. We’re not competing to be the cheapest; we’re just competing to be the best.
What do you have planned for the company over the next few years?
Possibly a rebrand, but that’s not quite decided yet, because when I started out there was no such thing as tablets. We want to expand our stores and also expand our product services: the robotic side is one side. We want to work with more small and medium sized businesses.