Once you get past the outer casing, most appliances are all the same. The cooling system on the bottom of a refrigerator works the same way an air conditioner’s coils do, and the valve connection in a dishwasher have the same common problems as the connections in a washing machine. That commonality, as well as the growing demand for appliance technicians who can repair any number of increasingly technical appliances, means that best strategy for growing or starting your own appliance repair business is to go into the general appliance repair business.
What are the advantages of learning comprehensive appliance repair instead of specializing in specific appliances?
Many of the troubleshooting and repair skills cross apply.
For every new type of appliance you learn to dismantle and repair, the barrier to entry is lower and lower. Checking the voltage is not just the first step for a malfunctioning dishwasher touchpad, for example; it’s also a common first step for microwaves, dryers, and the full range of major appliances. The skills of understanding schematics, tracing a power connecting from the switch to the control pad and then to each component, and knowing common problems with inlet valves also aren’t exclusive skills: you’ll need to know almost every step for any appliance you choose, and that means you have less and less to learn as your knowledge base (and your customer base) expands. The same is true with your physical tools, not just your knowledge: while the different areas of wiring and plumbing have a few specialty tools, most appliances involve both.
Customers would rather work with one company or technician instead of a variety of different companies.
Part of this preference is just logistical: if a customer has to take a day off work to get their refrigerator repaired, it’s much easier to have you look at their dishwasher on the same day. But more than that, it’s an issue of trust. Forming a relationship based on reliability and expertise is the best way to get a long-term customer base, and if you can offer repair services for more of their appliances, they have less of an incentive to shop around and find another repair company. People like what’s familiar, and that’s especially true when it comes to letting people into their homes. Offering more comprehensive services is also a better business plan if you’re starting a small business or you are an independent contractor. Offering a smaller range of services means you have to expand your geographic radius further to make the same profit you would with more local, expansive services.
Specialization gives you a niche, but it’s also costly.
Many states require HVAC technicians to have specialized certification beyond what appliance repair technicians need. And you need more and more certifications the more specialized you are since the government is regulating and phasing out freon, demands credentials for more powerful or industrial machines, and makes regulatory changes to protect consumers. While certifications create a barrier to entry that can make finding customers easier once you’re certified, it also means you have to get certified to have a sustainable business. Learning general appliance repair is a more conservative gamble, but it can be just as profitable: there’s a national shortage. Starting more generally also doesn’t preclude future specialization, and it may give you greater insight into what you do want to focus on later in your business.
The need for qualified appliance repair technicians will not disappear anytime soon; in fact, the demand is growing higher and higher no matter how turbulent the economy gets. One of the best strategies you can employ, whether you’re just starting out as an independent technician or you want to hire a team, is to be trained on anything and everything. The more services you can offer, especially with a lower and lower cost of the expansion as both your tools and your knowledge increase, the more flexible and successful your work will be. Go to Fred’s Appliance Academy to get started.