Country to City – Moving My Appliance Repair Business

Just as things were building up a head of steam in the remote rural town of 18,000 people where I successfully started my appliance repair business, my wife landed a job in a city with a metro area of 1.3 million people.  So, I moved my business.

Here I am in a completely new business situation, cashing in on the up side, and dealing with the down side.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison so far:

Parts Houses vs. the Internet:

  • IN THE COUNTRY:  Where I lived before, it was a 80 mile round trip to the parts house, so I had to stock a sizeable inventory, and everything had to be ordered online.  Fortunately, my customers were used to living in a remote area, and so were patient with a two or three day wait for the parts to fix their appliances.
  • IN THE CITY:  Here in the city, they expect same day repairs, but the parts houses are close by, and even cheaper on some items than the internet, which means I  don’t have to stock as much inventory.

Competition:

  • IN THE COUNTRY:  There was almost no competition out in the boondocks – customers were so grateful I even serviced their area, they asked for fistfuls of business cards to tell their family and friends about me.  I got tons of referrals and repeat business.  I was one of three companies that came up in a Google search on appliance repair for my town, one of the other guys was out of business, and I developed a partnership with the other one.
  • IN THE CITY:  For the first couple of weeks, I was on Page 7 of Google for appliance repair in my city.  This was one of the scariest feelings I had about starting up here, and I seriously thought I would have to start paying for internet advertising.  But first, I thought I would try the free approach and see how far it got me.  In order to get better page rank, I added content to my appliance repair website, which was mainly tips and tricks for customers on how to get the most out of their appliances.  I also was forced to do SEO for my site by adding keywords, metadata and tags.  Most importantly though, I started asking my customers to give me honest reviews on directory sites.  Before long, I was on the first search page again, so it can be done for free with a little hard work.  So far I haven’t paid for any advertising – I’m still waiting to see how it far the free approach gets me.

Opportunity:

  • IN THE COUNTRY:  The worst thing about the tiny population I was dealing with was, I would get 6 or 7 calls a day some weeks, and then it would slow way down other weeks.  It was like there was only so much business to go around, and I already had most of it.
  • IN THE CITY:   Once I get fully up to speed and the phone keeps ringing here, looks like I can do steady business every week.

Rates:

  • IN THE COUNTRY:  There was only so much I could charge in my remote, depressed economy, so there didn’t seem to be much room for increasing my rates.
  • IN THE CITY:  It’s a little early to tell, but if I undercut the competition I could be selective, and if I want to charge more, I could do less work for more money.  Or, I could work harder and make more money than ever, which sounds good to me!

Driving:

  • IN THE COUNTRY:  The calls were 30 miles apart, and return trips were to be avoided if at all possible, although that was often not the case because I couldn’t warehouse every part, and had to order online and come back later to install.  The GPS also sent me on a bunch of time and gas wasting goose chases.
  • IN THE CITY:  I have the luxury of being 15 minutes away from my calls, and the parts house.  I can do more calls in a day with less wear and tear on my vehicle and myself.  And the GPS works here – no more printing out Google maps!

Toll Free Number:

  • IN THE COUNTRY:  When I first started up, I decided to go with a toll free number, mostly because I was in a remote rural area where everyone who called me would be charged for a toll call.  I thought they might not hesitate to call if it didn’t cost them anything.
  • IN THE CITY:  It also occurred to me that if I ever moved, I wouldn’t have to reorder business cards, invoices, signage, etc.  Boy, is this paying off now.

It’s a challenge moving a business, and with the entirely new environment in some ways it’s like starting all over again, but I’m going to work hard to be even more successful here than I was in my old location.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *