How I Started My Appliance Repair Business
Tuesday September 16th 2014
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How to Start an Appliance Repair Business

How to Start an Appliance Repair BusinessI recently decided to start a major appliance repair business, and I succeeded.

Here’s a recap of how I did it:

1.  I looked for appliance repair training, including books, appliance repair training schools, free appliance repair training, and online appliance repair training courses:

  • The best appliance repair book I found was Troubleshooting and Repairing Major Appliances, by Eric Kleinert.
  • The best free appliance repair training resources I found were:
    • YouTube Videos (search on “appliance repair training”)
    • Repair Forums (check out appliantology.org)
    • Free Online Service Manuals (a good free source is appliancejunk.com)
    • Parts Sites (repairclinic.com has repair videos & partselect.com has DIY advice)
  • The best appliance repair technician training I found was Uncle Harry’s home study course.  There is nothing else out there like it on the market.   This training is the closest thing you’ll ever get to hands-on training in an online course – it can bridge the gap between reading the book and actually taking service calls.

2.  I put together my business tools:

  • I built my appliance repair business web site using Lunarpages.com because they offer economical hosting with unlimited resources for bandwidth, storage, and email accounts.
  • I got a toll free number using Ring Central, which is very economical for a startup business with one line.
  • I had business cards printed using nextdayflyers.com - they have great prices for full color, coated, two sided business cards, great customer service and they’re FAST!
  • I had invoices printed using carbonlessondemand.com - they have excellent prices for your invoices.

3.  I put together my appliance repair service tools and parts:

  • I had most of the tools I needed already according to Uncle Harry’s list of tools, but I bought my digital multimeter using the resources in this post: http://appliancerepairstartup.com/multimeter-basics
  • I bought appliance repair parts inventory using Uncle Harry’s list of essentials.

4.  I promoted my business:

  • I got my appliance repair business website listed on free directories in this post:  http://appliancerepairstartup.com/free-online-business-directories/
  • I placed business cards in local grocery stores, businesses and hangouts
  • I bought fairly inexpensive signage and had it posted
  • I contacted local appliance related businesses to see if they needed assistance, and succeeded in forming a partnership with a used appliance dealer who needed a service technician to refer calls to.
  • I signed up with home warranty companies.
  • I signed up with inexpensive paid lead services

5.  I started taking calls:

  • I would use the Uncle Harry resources to research the repair, including his wizard, his technical manuals, videos and appliance repair service manuals
  • I would also call Uncle Harry personally if I had stumper calls, and he always answered the phone and helped me work through the problem.  I can’t say enough about this – his live support was huge!!
  • I would use online appliance repair forums like appliantology.org as additional technical resources

6.  I’m getting paid and business is going great:

  • I opened a free business checking account and started depositing my checks.
  • I am currently taking 3-6 calls a day.
  • In my area, I charge a flat fee of $128.00 for my calls plus a 25% markup on parts, and my customers love it.

For more details on starting an appliance repair business like I did, read the rest of the posts in my startup blog, and for more on how my business is going, read my business blog.

43 Comments for “How to Start an Appliance Repair Business”

  • Pierre says:

    Hi, i’ve been planing on starting my own repair comapany, but a lot goes into mind about what i need. I’ve been a technician for 3 yrs now and i’ve worked on all brands including high end units. Questions i have is that do you need to have insurance, license, permits etc to start? What are the must haves to start? Regarding tools, that i have. Advertising i could do and understand. I have had a few cust. that have my number to contact me direct in the future. I guess down to the point is that the knowledge and confidence to do the the job i have. The paperwork side is what i need to understand, can you please help me? Thank you

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Hi Pierre – Uncle Harry is where I got my base knowledge for the business side of appliance repair. Click on “Home Study Course” and ask Harry which manuals he recommends. I know he covers industry introduction, structuring your customer base, communications systems, customer relations, legal issues and paperwork, advertising, inventory, marketing and business forms, and more. Hope this helps!

      • Pierre says:

        Thanks for the reply, I will check you post. Its one thing to repair appliance and another to actually run the business side of it. I really appreciate your posts, its been really helpful thank you again

        • Appliance Repair Startup says:

          Hi Pierre – I also outline a list of basics I needed to start up in my post “Starting an Appliance Repair Business on a Shoestring.” You may also need a business license for the city you are working in – you can check your city’s requirements online. Congratulations on starting your own company, I wish you the very best of luck in the future!

  • Chris says:

    I had a comment on here that u replied to and the I replied today. But I cant seem to find it. Ive been okay since I started about 2 months about. Making just enough money to keep the business bills paid. Im just very luck my wife has a good job with a good bit of overtime. But what are some easy cost efficient marketing things u would recommenced to get the phone ringing more. I did pick up Frigidaire warranty work, just waiting on then to start using their new dispatch software. I have a few retail companies I do work for and thats whats keeping me busy. My town (Panama City Beach Fl) is very seasonal. So for the next month its slow down here. I use Marcone and Appliances Parts Pros for all my parts.

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Hi Chris – A lot of startup techs ask this critical question about lead generation, and the real answer is you have to piece your leads together from different sources. My free internet leads took a few months to grow while my website seasoned, but the most vital thing, and I seriously can not exaggerate the importance of this, is to get happy customers to give you good reviews online. Even one or two happy customers will bump you up in searches enough to significantly increase your incoming calls. I also used paid leads (an economical choice is Home Advisor – go to https://pro.homeadvisor.com/simple-sign-up/), and I used home warranty work (check out Home Warranty of America at http://www.hwahomewarranty.com/Contractors). Also, most people search for appliance repair on a mobile device, so check out how your website looks on a smartphone. Is it easy to find your phone number quickly? Hope some of these ideas work for you – best of luck!

      • Chris says:

        Thanks for the info man. I have been in contact with HomeAdvisor.com and I just filled out the HWAhomewarranty stuff. Ive also been in contact with Samsung about becoming a service provider for them.

        Where do u have your customers to reviews at?

        • Appliance Repair Startup says:

          Hi Chris – That is great news – hope you make lots of money with those sources! I ask my customers to review me on Google, Yahoo, and Yelp seems to work well with mobile users. I think I hear your phone ringing already!

  • Mike says:

    I’ve started my own business as well. I have the website up and it listed but am having a hard time getting calls. I’m experienced in the field with thousands of calls under my belt.

    Hopefully things pick up. It’s been about 3 weeks. Do you think the calls will roll in soon?

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Hi Mike – Search engine leads may take a little bit of time to grow while your website seasons because the longer you are on the internet, the more the search engines recognize you as a legitimate business. In the meantime, you may want to do some lead generation just to get some cash rolling in – read my response to another Mike who asked the same question in after reading my “Paid Leads – Chasing the Dragon” post. Fortunately, you can do a lot of proactive stuff to get the phone ringing – hopefully some of those ideas will work for you.

  • Fred says:

    Very helpful blog! Your blog and Uncle Harry’s course helped me decide to start my own appliance repair business. Not certain if my area will support suggested flat rate repair prices. Does the $98 flat fee you mentioned include your service/diag charge or is it in addition to it? Your site also useful in gaining support from family and friends when introducing them to my new venture. Thanks so much, I’ll be visiting often!

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Hi Fred – Congratulations on starting your own business, nothing compares with it, and the very best of luck and prosperity to you! Yes, the $98 flat rate includes $39 diagnostic, and $59 labor for repair, but I am currently testing raising my labor rate to $89 and plan to blog about the results. So great to hear the blog and Harry could help you and your family make such a great decision!

  • Roy says:

    How did you (early on) handle (moneywise) having to make a return trip with a part?
    Did you charge them for the labor before you left for the part?
    Did you trust that they would let you continue the repair once they know what part is needed?
    I mean if you travel 25 miles to the call then have to make a return trip with a $75 part only to find they don’t want you anymore . . . .

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Hi Roy – I always collect up front for the part, including markup, plus my diagnostic charge, and tell them the labor for repair is due on completion. I just say that is my company policy. This way the customer has some skin in the game, but they don’t feel like they’ve paid you everything and now you will disappear without completing the repair. I’ve never had anyone refuse, but some people opt to wait and think about it. In that case, I just collect the diagnostic charge. Try this and see if it works for you.

  • David says:

    I want to start my appliance repair biz in Kansas city.
    I will be making plans to attend uncle Harry’s school early in 2014.

    David

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Congratulations, David – you’ve made a great decision to start your own appliance repair business, and with Harry’s training and support I think you have the best chance of success – wishing you the best of luck and a very prosperous 2014!

  • David Williams II says:

    How can determine if the area you live in is already too saturated with others doing the same thing?

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Hi David – Quick answer, it’s probably not! The best kept secret of appliance repair is that the industry is underserviced. Even if it looks like there are a bunch of competitors, honestly, if you provide excellent customer service at a fair price, you will get more calls than you can handle NO MATTER WHERE you are. When I started out in appliance repair, I lived in a town of 18,000 people, no kidding! There were 3 or 4 other guys with repair services there. Those guys were so busy, they couldn’t even stop to talk to me when I asked them did they want my overflow calls. Then I moved to a mid-sized city of 1.5 million people with about 6-8 established service companies, and I worried about competing with them. Within a year, I was getting so many calls, I had to hire 2 other techs! Don’t be afraid to start your business because of competition, there is always plenty of work out there for honest and dedicated appliance repair techs.

  • Candace says:

    Hi Steve, just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate this site. We just recently started a repair business after working for a small company for a few years. We have not received any calls yet since we have advertised on simple search engines, yellowpages.com etc. A lot of them cost money as well. My question is, as far as advertising, what do you think draws the most calls? Also, you mentioned that you delivered business cards to small local businesses and hangouts, what are examples of these places and what was the verbage you used when networking with these business owners? We are in the process of signage on the vehicle and a website. You obviously mentioned a outside company you used to bring in calls but from what you recommended, we will hold off on that for now.

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Hi Candace – To get the phone ringing, get some of your satisfied customers to write you good reviews on the search engines and directories where you are listed (Google, Bing, Yelp, Yahoo, etc.) and your call volume will start to increase. Some of the ways I got new business that didn’t cost anything were: I introduced myself and asked for my cards to be placed at used appliance stores that did not service appliances, I approached real estate agencies because they are always trying to help sellers get appliances fixed to get their houses ready for sale, and I submitted proposals to property management companies that did not have in-house appliance repair expertise. You may also want to consider contacting home warranty companies which, although they can have specific guidelines and paperwork, are a source of steady calls and income until you get your cash customer call volume to where you want it. Hope this helps, and the very best of luck to you with your startup!

  • Mike McKee says:

    LOve your blog!! It’s just what I’ve looking for. I have been a handyman for 10 years. Business is up and down so I thought do appliance repair would be something I’d like. Love fixing things. Have done a few repairs on refrigerators, ranges,washers and dryers and garbage disposers so I am a little familiar with some repairs.

    I tried to find a job with appliance repair shops but they all wanted 3-5 years experience and would not take on new people. I was told about a factory LG repair school but it was 2 months long and $7500 and out of state (I live in south Florida). So I thought why don’t I just start my own repair business? That’s when I ran across Uncle Harry and your blog. So I am going to do it.

    Thanks for the valuable info on your web page!

    M P Mckee

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Hi Mike – Exactly, working for another company can definitely be the slow track. I didn’t have time for that, and besides I wanted to work for myself. I can not tell you how happy I am I started my own appliance repair business and I am still amazed how fast it all happened. I have never looked back. Congratulations on your decision and I wish you huge success in appliance repair!

  • Ben says:

    First of all, great stuff you are publishing. a lot of helpful advice… second, You keep speaking of Uncle Harry’s, I was just curious if you know about Fred’s Appliance academy. It is a 3 week hands on school that apparently teaches everything, so I just wanted to get your input on that against Uncle Harry.
    Speaking of Uncle Harry’s, what makes his training so special????
    any info will be greatly appreciated :)

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Hi Ben – Good question – I actually considered Fred’s also when I was looking for appliance repair training, but I chose Harry instead for a couple of reasons. First, I was looking for a home study course at the time and Harry’s was then and still is the best one out there. Harry also has a hands-on workshop which I would have chosen if I wanted that option just because I like the way Harry teaches, he’s straightforward and clear, and he has a nuts & bolts common sense approach that I can relate to. Thanks for asking the tough question and keeping it real!

  • Dani says:

    Hi, I have a appliance repair business, it’s doing ok now. I want to know what part of the business makes more money?

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Hi Dani – The biggest money makers are the single trip, fix it in under an hour, fix it right the first time, under $50 parts on the truck calls. You would think you make more money on the big ticket parts calls but customers have a tendency to replace rather than repair if those get too expensive, so you can’t mark them up too much. Read more posts for tips on what parts to carry on the truck. Good question – thanks!

  • Kevin James says:

    Hi. I just recently became certified in appliance repair. I along with 2 friends from my school are trying to start a repair business. How would you advise us to go about making a price list?

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Hey Kevin, congratulations to you all! There are a few different approaches to pricing, but I use a flat fee plus the cost of parts. I charge a fixed amount for diagnostic work, and then have a two-tiered fixed rate depending on the complexity of the repair. I have a rate for standard repairs (which covers about 80% of calls) and a rate for complex repairs. The diagnostic service always includes an estimate for any parts needed. If they choose not to go forward with the repair, then the diagnostic charge covers my time out to the call. I don’t do sealed system work, so that keeps a two-tiered structure efficient for me. What I like about the flat fee is that customers trust it without question. When you are new to appliance repair, if something takes you a little longer to repair, they don’t get nervous that you’re charging them hourly for the repair. Then when you get faster, they can’t question that you were only there for 12 minutes and why is their bill that same rate. There are books available on national price averages that may be helpful to you, but I prefer just to find out what the local market is charging and fit myself into that. Best of luck to all of you!

  • steve says:

    Do you recommed part time on the job training?

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Hi Steve – I think it is difficult to find part time on the job training in the real world because most companies training new technicians are looking for a long-term relationship in which to invest their time and knowledge. Larger companies that will hire you on an entry level probably won’t have part time positions, and the smaller shops will probably be aware that you are just trying to learn enough with them to get out and start your own appliance repair business and become future competition. I think the fundamental question is, how fast are you trying to get out and run your own business? If you can wait a couple of years, then on the job training may be the right choice for you. If you want to get up and running as quickly as possible, then I still believe that an artful combination of Uncle Harry’s course and post study support, along with taking the calls you are comfortable with and passing the rest on to other service companies until you feel you can handle them will be the fastest way for you to gain the skills you need to become a successful appliance repair technician.

  • washer repair san diego says:

    I am also thinking of starting an appliance repair business sooner. Thanks for your great tips here. I’ll keep them in mind.

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      So glad you found the site helpful – wishing you great success with your business!

  • Mark Patten says:

    Hey all,
    I am thinking of starting an appliance repair business and parts store in my area. There is hardly anything in the area. I already have quite a bit of experience as an engineering technician (appliance designer), selling appliances part time for Sears, and I have a refrigeration liceance. Sears has closed its store in the county and the other big box stores do not have reliable repair services. What would the first step in “testing the waters” to see if this business idea is feasible?

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Hey Mark – There are a number of valid answers to your question, but here are my thoughts on it. First, I am fairly conservative and don’t rush into things with both barrels blasting and spending lots of money. I would consider building an inexpensive website and developing a relationship with an experienced local technician to take the service calls that you are not ready for yet (see our post “Enter the Stealth Tech”). That way you can observe traffic patterns without misleading any well intentioned customers who really just need service. I wouldn’t worry about my profit margin too much with those initial calls, focus on paying the other technician well and establishing a reliable relationship with dependable results. Once you get that going you can experiment with generating paid leads (Service Magic and such) to get more feedback on your area’s potential needs. Be careful, some sources can be very expensive (like $25 per lead) and you want to make sure you can service those leads to avoid negative results (see our post “Chasing the Dragon”). Meet with local realtors (they have home inspections that reveal broken appliances) and rental property managers (they will be bottom line oriented). As far as a parts store, I don’t feel qualified to advise you, that is such a different model than what I actually do. I can tell you that starting an appliance repair business is a handful all by itself. As far as the parts store goes, I imagine it will take a fair amount of cash for startup inventory and you will be competing with internet parts suppliers with rapid fulfillment times and generous return policies. A possible variation may be to sell used reconditioned appliances. You can find them cheap (perhaps even from some of your customers who buy new ones) fix them cheap, sell them out of your garage, and learn more about appliance repair in the process. Best of luck whatever you decide, and please let us know how it goes.

  • Sam says:

    I purchased the course a few months ago. And now I’m ready to start, I’ve been putting together a start up inventory according to “Harry’s Guide”, but the date of the guide is 2003. What repetitive parts are you using? and also are any fuse and switch kits that you stock?

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Hi Sam – I guess what has largely changed on the appliance landscape since that guide was compiled you might not typicaly carry in inventory at first because they are often model specific control boards that are expensive and impractical to stock. At some point you will get a feel for the ones you run across most often. One that I am sure to keep on hand is the GE refrigerator main control WR55X10942 (runs around $100) because it’s compatible with most GE side-by-side refrigerators, the defrost controls are integrated onto it, and it fails a lot.

      Aside from that, what is most important in your inventory are items that might seem commonplace and fundamental to the customer. That is to say, washer and dryer belts, thermal fuses for dryers and dishwashers, lid switches and motor couplers for washers, it’s also nice to have assorted heating elements for dryers, bimetal t-stats and defrost elements for refrigerators. Additionally I found most glow igniters for dryers and ranges inexpensive to stock and very practical to carry, along with gas valve coils.

      Most items not on that list you can tell the customer that you need to pick up at the parts house as you have recently used your last one in stock. I have found a surprising amount of forgiveness from the customer regarding not having a part with me, as long as I can service them within a reasonable timeframe.

      Some of what you should have in your inventory will depend on the popular appliances in the area you service and if you have access to a good local parts supplier. If you don’t have a local parts supplier, you obviously will need to keep more stock on hand and that stock will become more apparent after you get a feel for the customer base you are servicing. Because you are just getting started, you can go out lean and mean with inventory and just accept those extra trips to the parts house. You will eventually get tired of those extra trips, but by then will have a picture of what you do need on a regular basis.

      Best of luck to you! This is a great business to be in!

  • steve says:

    Thanks for the great tips, do you have any suggestions on how to get involved in doing manufacture repairs, such as LG, GE, Samsung and such. I am thinking about starting my own business but would like to incorporate some warranty work, which would mean reimbursement through the manufacture, not sure how to contact them to get approvals and such. Did you look into Manufacture warranty repairs.

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Hi Steve, good question – jdparker asked me that question and my response is in the comments below. I wish you the very best of luck in starting your own business as it has been an incredibly good choice for me.

  • David says:

    Awesome! That’s great feedback. I am really looking at Uncle Harry’s as the best spot to get a foundation in this business. I looked at other sources and I do think his is the most practical… I do have another question though (sorry!): What do you think has to get spent on initial start up? I have a pick up with a utility cap on it, and an open trailer, so vehicle is probably ok. Marketing costs, some kind of inventory and the cost of legal structure (LLC), insurance…

    What do you think it takes to get rolling in this business? Also what about competing against all the franchises like appliancemaster and Mr. appliance? There seems to be a few of them in my area. I really appreciate your feedback! I am considering spending some of my last capital ($$$)! It’s a little scary as I’m sure you recall!! Thanks so much!

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Wow, such a good question about the startup costs I am going to blog about it in detail so others in this situation can get some perspective. I can tell you the basic breakdown in the meantime: a couple of magnetic signs for your truck about $100; $250 in inventory and basic tools; business cards, invoices, etc. about $100; broadband internet $50 per month; business license $50; entity registration (LLC) $100; business owners insurance (annually) $450. Bottom line, about $1K to get started. As far as advertising, a lot of print medium advertising I find does not work as well as getting yourself listed for free on search sites on the internet (Google, Bing, Yahoo) and for that you’ll need a very basic website – Lunarpages is an economical hosting company with great deals on registering your domain and building your website using templates. What about competition? Those franchises are in my city too. I undercut their pricing by using a flat fee structure to begin with, then I pummel them from a service perspective. I am slammed with service calls only a couple of months after moving here and starting from scratch because those guys are only as good as their last service call. There is no substitute for honest, hard working, reasonably priced appliance techs out there, and if you do right by your customers it won’t take long for you to build up a large loyal following with repeat business and plenty of referrals.

  • David says:

    Hi, I am thinking about an appliance repair buisness and your blog is a great resource already, so thanks! I wonder if you recommend uncle harry’s hands on workshop or do you think the home study course is good enough? Thanks.

    • Appliance Repair Startup says:

      Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you find the blog helpful! I wish I had a cut and dried answer to your question. Uncle Harry didn’t offer his hands-on workshop back when I bought the home study course, so I will admit that I’m not as familiar with it as I would like to be, but back when I started I was desperate for hands-on training and would have certainly seriously considered it like you are doing.

      I can tell you that I’m living proof you can do it with home study course alone, all by itself. I got my hands-on training basically by taking actual service calls.

      I also know from personal experience with his home study course that Harry puts out a great product, and there’s nothing else like it on the market. I have often wondered how I could have really started in this business without his course. There’s just too much diverse information to learn without a comprehensive and organized system like Harry has developed. Hats off to anyone who can do this on their own without something like this, because I couldn’t have.

      Which beckons the question, is the hands-on course worth the extra time and money? Well, I have found the biggest part of getting from student to technician is a personal sense of understanding your craft. I guess that line is different for everyone, but anything you can do to expedite getting there will pay you back in real money in the future.

      My thought is, if you have the means to go to the workshop, do yourself the favor of taking advantage of it.

      Above all good luck with your plans to start your appliance repair business. It has been very rewarding for me and I’m sure you will feel the same.


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