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If you find fixing machines fascinating and have a knack for getting to the root of a problem, you may want to try your hand at the appliance repair business. Starting an appliance repair business will mean that you’ll have the chance to work on many different appliances, putting your creativity, attention to detail, and problem-solving techniques to use. With your own business, you’ll be in charge of everything from marketing to scheduling, but this can also be a rewarding opportunity to build up a business and to be your own boss. 

Business Overview

Appliance repair businesses often offer both repair services for appliances like refrigerators, ovens, freezers, washing machines, dryers, and garbage disposals. Often, these services are provided in a homeowner’s home, since transporting these appliances is difficult. Repair businesses can help save homeowners money over the cost of purchasing a brand-new appliance. To offer prompt service, many repair businesses keep a stock of common repair parts for the appliances they specialize in, allowing them to travel to the customer, identify the issue, and repair the problem all in one visit.  

Industry summary

According to IBIS World, from 2014 to 2019, the appliance repair industry grew by an annualized rate of 0.2 percent, and is expected to grow by 1.3 percent in 2019. The industry is a $4.9 billion market as of 2019, and has the potential to continue to grow because of the increase in disposable income. As consumers have more disposable income, they’re more likely to pay for nonessential appliance repairs, rather than putting these repairs off or attempting them, themselves. This means that appliance repair businesses may see increased demand for their services. 

Industry trends

One of the largest trends affecting the appliance repair industry is the transition from traditional appliances to smart appliances. According to the New York Times, smart appliances’ popularity is only likely to continue; 59 percent of adults surveyed in 2018 indicated that were interested in using a smart home appliance or device. Traditional appliances are being modified to include smart features, such as refrigerators equipped with touch screens. To keep pace with these smart appliances, repair businesses will need to learn the ins and outs of this new technology. 

Appliance repair businesses also face competition from major manufacturers who offer their own repair services, like Sears and Whirlpool. While appliances are under warranty, consumers are likely to take advantage of these services, which may be fully or partially covered. Independent repair businesses face the challenge of marketing themselves so that consumers are aware of their availability and choose to hire them when they need appliance repair. 

Who is the target market for your appliance repair business?

The target market for a repair business partially depends on that business’ focus. Some repair businesses focus on a type of appliance, like repairing kitchen appliances, while others may specialize in repairs for a particular brand, like GE or Panasonic. Generally, a business’ target market will be consumers (most typically homeowners) who have the disposable income to afford appliance repair. 

Skills, experience, and education useful in running an appliance repair business

Opening an appliance repair business doesn’t require a business degree, but certain skills and experiences can increase the chances of the business being a success. 

Appliance repair skills and experience. A repair business owner needs to be talented in working with and repairing the appliances that they specialize in. A detailed understanding of how appliances work and plenty of experience in identifying problems and fixing appliances will leave a business owner well-prepared for the challenges they’ll face in fixing the appliances brought to them. 

Creativity and problem-solving skills. Problems can and will arise in this industry, so a business owner who’s creative and who takes an active role in problem-solving will do well. Repair technicians may need to be resourceful in finding difficult-to-get parts and overcoming other challenges. 

Organization skills. From tracking invoices and part orders to keeping track of all the parts when disassembling an appliance, repair business owners need to have great organization skills.  

Customer service skills. Customer service is a major component of running a repair business. Good phone etiquette, good interpersonal skills, and the ability to stay calm even if a customer is unhappy will all go a long way to building a customer base and developing a good business reputation. 

Scheduling talents. A repair business owner also needs to be able to create and maintain a schedule. This can be tricky when traveling from home to home for repair appointments, but being able to arrive at appointments on-time can build customer loyalty. 

Financial Overview

The cost to open an appliance repair business will partially depend on your business model. Most repair businesses travel from home to home, meaning that they need a truck or SUV to hold tools and supplies, and to potentially transport appliances. Establishing a brick-and-mortar store is another option, but will limit the business to working only on appliances small enough that customers can transport them, themselves. 

An appliance repair business can be opened on a bare-bones model for about $1,000, but expect to spend closer to $5,000 for a well-stocked business, and more if you need to purchase or lease a business vehicle. 

Common startup costs for an appliance repair business include: 

  • Diagnostic tools
  • Repair tools and equipment
  • Inventory of repair parts
  • Vehicle, including storage to organize supplies

Working capital

Any repair business uses working capital to cover the operating expenses that occur each month, like repair part purchases, gas, and insurance. If the working capital gets tied up in purchasing inventory that doesn’t go to use, and the repair business doesn’t do enough business to replenish that working capital, it’s difficult to keep the business in operation. 

Insurance

Plan to purchase multiple insurance policies for full coverage for an appliance repair business: 

  • Commercial liability insurance protects the business if a customer is ever injured as a result of the work, and this insurance can cover resulting expenses like legal fees. 
  • Commercial property insurance covers the cost of lost or damaged equipment and supplies if the business’ equipment is ever damaged by an event like a fire. 
  • Workers comp insurance applies only if the business hires staff, and covers expenses like medical bills if an employee is hurt while working. 
  • Commercial auto insurance will cover the business’ vehicle and offers protection in the case of an accident. 

The costs of insurance policies can vary based on factors like the value of the business’ equipment, as well as the business’ location. To get the most accurate idea of what insurance may cost, request quotes from multiple companies. Then, compare those quotes and pay particular attention to how their premiums, deductibles, coverage limits, and coverage exclusions vary. 

Common operational expenses

In addition to budgeting for the above startup expenses, an appliance repair business also needs to budget for these operational expenses. 

Rent

Repair businesses that adopt a brick-and-mortar approach will need to pay rent on a property. Often, this property doesn’t need to be too large, which can keep rent costs down. 

Employees

While many independent appliance repair businesses are one-person operations, a business can grow to the point where it’s necessary to hire employees. Glassdoor reports that appliance repair technicians make an average salary of $32,606. Before hiring employees, a repair business needs to have the budget not only for salaries, but also for additional expenses like workers comp insurance, health insurance contributions, unemployment insurance, and paid time off. 

Marketing

While repair business customers may become repeat customers, they will only return to a business when an appliance breaks. This means it’s important for repair businesses to actively market themselves to bring in new customers. Marketing options include direct mail, print advertising, and more, and the costs of marketing will vary according to the method and volume used. 

Licenses & Permits

To run a business, certain permits and licenses are required, and these can vary from state to state and even from town to town. In addition to standard business permits and licenses, your state may require that you have a small appliance/electronics repair license before opening your business. 

How much can you potentially make owning an appliance repair business?

The earning potential with an appliance repair business depends on factors like its area of specialization, the business size, its location, and how many years the business has been in operation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, as of May 2018, the median annual wage for home appliance repair technicians was $39,270. The upper 75th percentile earned an average wage of $50,100, while the top 90th percentile earned $60,930. By differentiating your repair business from others, maximizing your profit margins, and marketing your business effectively, you can potentially increase your earnings. 

Things to consider before starting an appliance repair business

Before you open a repair business, consider what competition is already present in your area and what market needs may be currently unmet. Could local homeowners use a technician who specializes in refrigerators? Are smart devices increasingly popular in the area and are homeowners looking for a technician who can specialize in these types of repairs? The more unique you can make your business, the better you’ll be able to stand out from the competition. 

Transitioning into a full-time appliance repair business can be difficult as you build up that initial customer base, so consider starting your business on a part-time basis at first. Homeowners may particularly appreciate the availability of services on the weekends when they’re not at work, so a part-time weekend business might be a great stepping stone to taking the operation full-time. 

Resources: 

Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers
Professional Service Association
United Appliance Servicers Association

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