You used to tinker with home appliances when you were still in high school. It would be a Kirby vacuum cleaner one day and a Sunbeam toaster the next. You took after your father who also likes to fix every broken object in the house. He’s been working for years for one of the home appliance repair shops in Utah. This home environment and being around your dad made you decide to study mechanical engineering.
You’ve just finished your MBA and you presented a project about opening an appliance service center using internet-based technologies. You’re going home to discuss with your dad about implementing the project, with him as the business owner. You’re fortunate enough to have a background in engineering as well as an MBA degree. But how would someone else start an appliance service center business?
An Overview of the Industry
The appliance service center industry is showing a very modest performance with just a $5 billion revenue as of June 2019. The total number of businesses is fewer than 57,300, and annual growth is at a measly 0.2%. Consumers’ tendency to DIY home projects has affected the overall trend of the industry.
You’ve seen it in movies. Vans with a neat sticker of the company’s business name on the side doing home service. That’s one of the things you probably need to get—a van. Here are other items that should be on your checklist:
- Tools. One of the bigger investments you would make is for tools. If you already have some, then you just need to add a few more to complete your collection. The typical set would be belts, fuses, screwdrivers, nut drivers, wrench, pliers and thermostats.
- Business registration. Make sure that you do all the legal paperwork and obtain the necessary licenses and permits. Verify with your state office what the proper requirements are.
- People. Technicians must have at least a verifiable on-the-job training. Attending a vocational training program isn’t necessarily required, but for your business’s credibility, you should get people that are highly trained. Send your staff to manufacturer-sponsored training to gain brand-specific expertise. Also, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that your technicians get a refrigerant certification, which includes passing an examination for you to legally acquire refrigerants.
- Business space. This could be in your home, but carefully designate an area where you can focus on your work, like making calls, doing paperwork or working with your accountant. Most of your work would likely be done on-site. Nonetheless, prepare an area where you can fix appliances that you bring home.
- Marketing. You’re going to have to be proactive in announcing your services. Print flyers and go door to door in your neighborhood to hand them out or leave them in car windshields. At some point, you’re going to have to investigate how to use digital marketing by creating your website. If this would be outside your budget, maximize free social media exposure like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Start building your network with people from various brands. Take them out for coffee and always be ready to give your business card.
You’re going to need to budget for insurance also. As you read through these pointers, figure out if you will focus on home appliances or if you will be working in other areas, like home and garden equipment, or electronics.