We caught up with James M. from Lexington Cell Phone Repair to learn more about his experience in the wireless repair industry.
I found my way into the wireless industry through buying and selling items on eBay. This is something I had always loved as I've been on eBay since 1999 and with e-commerce I knew there was always going to be unlimited opportunities. Over the years I sold anything, from clothing to sports equipment, but mostly electronics. When I first began to buy and sell iPhones in 2008 the profit margins were high, and then I began buying and selling broken devices as-is. It didn't take long for me to realize that there were great opportunities to repair the devices to further increase those profit margins. I ordered some parts off of eBay and just decided to dive right in. After the first 6 months of teaching myself how to repair, I had spent a great amount of money due to making mistakes and destroying parts and motherboards, I was finally to the point that I began repairing devices within my community through word of mouth. By 2010 I had quit my job and worked from home selling and repairing devices.
My business partner Stephen had been repairing devices on the side locally for quite a while when we met in 2011. I had purchased quite a few iPhones from him in the past and decided to setup a meeting with him to discuss the plans I had drawn up to actually turn this into a storefront business and, shortly after, Lexington Cell Phone Repair, LLC was founded!
How long have you been in business?
We have now been in business for over 4 years; since late 2011. Our first location was in a small storefront retail space that was very cramped (to say the least at only 700 square feet) but the area was mediocre and it was a safe investment as neither one of us had ever taken the risk of becoming a business owner. After only two years we moved to our current storefront which is a much larger retail space in a great location and making the move has drastically paid off!
What challenges have you faced to grow your business?
Every step of growth seems to present different challenges along the way. Finding and retaining good technicians has proved to be difficult. We've found that training technicians from scratch can take a lot of time and money so finding someone already skilled in device repair is ideal but not easy.
Customer service is EXTREMELY important and can make or break a small business. Focus on customer service when training and emphasize the importance of properly handling disgruntled customers. Your business is only as good as your employees so hire people that care!
What does quality mean to you?
We want the best possible quality to be present in all aspects of our business. This is one way of how we set ourselves apart from our competitors. Just a few things that come to mind when we think of quality would be using the best parts for our repairs, the quality of relationships we build with our customers, doing things right every time and on-time, and the customer's perception of the service we've provided. We've found that a quality management system can be very beneficial to a small business to ensure that you're providing quality across the board with your business.
Do you have advice for a new shop owner?
Do not rush into hiring one of the first technicians that you interview. Set up many interviews over the course of several weeks and this should limit the chance of having to go through the hiring process again shortly after opening. Make sure that every customer that walks through your door leaves happy. If you make a mistake then make it right for the customer regardless of how much it may cost. Leaving customers dissatisfied will quickly turn into negative reviews and your shop could be going under before you can get up on your feet. Remember that no sale or service you can offer is more important than your reputation.
How did you come into contact with eTech? What keeps you coming back?
We had found eTech Parts online years ago, and we ordered a few tools, but we had never placed a parts order. In March of this past year, Jake Brochu visited our shop to talk about the industry. After spending the day with Jake we were very impressed and eTech Parts has been our main supplier ever since! We love growing alongside with eTech Parts! The level of customer service is second to none. We had always been hassled with returns, but eTech has made this part of our business a breeze! Instead of trying to keep up with returning our parts to multiple suppliers, we've now been able to focus our time on growing our business.
What does 2016 look like for you?
We're excited for what 2016 has in store for Lexington Cell Phone Repair! We've brought some new employees on board that are working out much better and we're looking to hire a couple more technicians as soon as possible. We're going to be introducing our new mobile repair service to Lexington to better serve our corporate clients along with our community as a whole. Our goal is to have the new mobile repair cargo van on the road by March and we'd also like to have our second re-branded location opened sometime in the fall of this year. 2016 is looking like a great year for growth!