A few years ago I 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. 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: https://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: https://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 as 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.
119 Replies to “How to Start an Appliance Repair Business”
I really like Uncle Harry’s home study course. I’m an old school guy so its kind of my way of doing things. Thanks for all this info you put together! It was really helpful
Hello, I am starting my own business and this article is absolute gold for me right now. Not to mention that it is also mentioned in one of my friends top 10 lists as place to start looking when starting an appliance repair business. I am gonna hold on to this aritcle like a tick. Thanks
Great article indeed
Hello cool article, just what I need right now. I am currently starting my own business in white plains appliance repair so this will be incredibly helpful to get a good kickstart. I have noticed that some of my favourite websites have mentioned yours in their top ten lists so I am definitely sticking around.
Stay away from http://www.applianceguru.com and appliantology.org if you can. It’s an evil site that has capitalized on freely available information contributed by thousands. Also lots of stuff in there that stands for the Right to Repair movement is censored and users get banned. The guy who runs it gets kickbacks from manufacturers.
Fascinating information, I need to look into that further. Thank you for the heads up.
Just came across this article because I want to learn how to grow my current appliance business of 7 years. It’s been me and my uncle ever since inception, but I want to grow and hire people and eventually remove myself from the day to day operations and the grunt work so I can focus on expanding to different markets. I want to learn more about the administration side of the business. Such as how to hire the right people. How to set up systems for doing things. How to do all the accounting properly. Basically, how to systematize the business so it can run itself. Any ideas?
I really liked what you said about making sure you had the appliance repair and service tools and parts before you start taking jobs. My cousin is opening his own business to repair appliances and we were talking about all the things he needs to get so he can get started on the right foot. Thank you for the information about buying appliance repair parts to fill your inventory using certain essential lists online.
what do u think of the master samurai training vs. uncle harry’s?
The samurai focuses totally on the high tech approach. He bypasses using common sense and has little or no business oriented information. I have found that too often I have gotten too deep into a job and regretted it. Uncle Harry stresses carefully choosing only jobs that will be successful and make you and the customer happy. Overall the samurai has valuable information on his site but I feel that it is wiser to stick with Uncle Harry if your goal is to run a highly profitable growing business. It worked for me.
Did you start off with warranty work full-time ? Did they keep you busy with service calls? I’m getting ready to launch and was wondering how to start off when it comes to the warranty people.
I have had only bad experiences with warranty work and believe you should promote only COD work. You will make a lot more money.
Well it should’t be hard, just call them and see what are they requirements. A few years ago, we have a few phone calls from Samsung Manufacture, they were looking for more appliance repair companies in our area, and as many people mentioned before, if you have all documentation in place you should be good. Personally, we stay away from insurance or warranty calls, only COD.
What is the 8′ test cord used for on your tool list and is there a specific type of cord that I would need ie. ground or no ground?
Any old cord will do. I use it for testing components like water valves. A meter does not tell you much. Hook up power and see what happens.
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.
Uncle Harry is not at all in favor of doing warranty work. There is far more profit in traditional COD jobs. I ignored his sage advice for a time and got badly burned. It was a painful lesson. Actually once you startup LG and Samsung will quickly contact you and offer all sorts of work. Hope you do better than I did.
I’m considering doing some appliance repair on the side to help fill in the gaps. I’m quite mechanical and can fix most anything. I’ve repaired my own appliances and for friends and family for years. Here’s the problem. I’m trying to figure out how to charge and be competitive or even a bit cheaper but not too much. I am seeing numerous ways to charge and some just seem outrageous. When you say your doing a “flat rate” is that for diagnosis and repair regardless of time or is it something different? I’m considering doing a flat rate of whatever I figure out to be fair, diagnosis and repairs plus parts. Just wondering if I’m thinking on the right line or if I’m missing something?
Your questions address the toughest issue any new guy has, “Proper Pricing of Your Services.” Flat rates include everything. You are on the right track by using flat rates but do not go cheap. Uncle Harry’s course carefully goes over pricing.
Flat rates are horrible because different parts take different amounts of time and if you do a flat rate for a warranty company then it stuck with that no matter how long it takes to do the job. You should have I diagnosis fee and an hourly rate and the diagnosis fee should be due at time of arrival and deducted from the total cost or repairs with parts
I have two questions please,
If customers don’t want their old appliance as not to be worth it to repair, he or she offers it to me as I am technician, what do I have to do with it? Does anyone buy it or repair it first then sell it on someone? If I accept the old appliance, then i must have a bigger truck with me. All I mean is that do you think the old one is worth it to pick up from customers if they offe?
Second question, do we also have to learn installation from Harry or we do not need installation?
Stay away from fooling with used appliances; no money there. Concentrate on money making service call at $100 per hour. The same is true on installation. The big box stores do installs for peanuts and you can’t compete.
I disagree, there IS money in used appliances. I have made lots of money from them. True, not all are profitable, but I turn those into parts. They can take up your time though.
Brad, I agree there is some money in used appliances but you will be breaking your back moving them around. There is much more money in simply repairing in a persons home, without all the hassle.
I have a question about business licensing. In my area there are little towns all intermingled. Do I really need to get a separate license for each town I do service in? It just seems like such a hassle besides the costs. How common is it for repair men to be asked for licenses?
Good questions. Technically you must abide by each towns regulations but practically no one does. Do you really think that Sears has a license in every US town. Of course not. We refer to it as an “oops” problem as in “Gee, I didn’t know about that regulation and I will go get my license tomorrow!” I guarantee it will never come up unless you become a commanding presence and irritate a local appliance guy who might complain to the town.
As to being asked for a license; in the last 7 years of running calls I have never been asked once.
How do I get contract from Samsung to services their warranty appliances for customers in warranty and out of warranty
If you are operating an established appliance repair company Sears, Samsung and many others will soon come banging at your door because they are seldom able to get smart folks to do their work. I am constantly pestered by many manufacturers and always turn them down. For many reasons such as low pay and slow pay warranty work is undesirable. If you try some you will soon find out for yourself.
Great advice here. I started learning to fix appliances over 20 years ago while working as a handyman for a program that provided group home housing to developmentally disabled adults — there was always one machine or another that had a problem in a situation like that and I had to learn fast… there weren’t online courses at the time, so I bought the ‘Cheap & Easy’ appliance repair books by Douglas Emley (search on Amazon) and basically learned how to fix everything from cooktops to washers. After I left that job, I got into online marketing and website design, but continued to fix my own appliances over the years and for friends from time to time.
But the most important for anyone considering going into appliance service work today is this: there is a MASSIVE opportunity right now. Local service shops are struggling to find qualified techs (so you could pretty much set your own salary) and, at the smaller local level, their marketing completely sucks and is 10 to 15 years behind the times. Many don’t even have a website, yet they are struggling to keep up with the flood of calls they get each day. Here in my local market, there is a huge potential to corner it for hungry young qualified techs who are serious about business growth. Many of the local small shops are run by folks set for retirement, they have no website or online marketing savvy (can’t be found in Google results), and they don’t even sell the most basic under-$20 parts that are common to most machines. And I’m sure there are situations like this in smaller communities all across the USA. I talked to several of these business owners and discovered that their #1 problem is finding qualified local techs and master techs, especially ones who could troubleshoot electronic circuit boards and components. A few of them even said they are looking for Jr. techs with not a lot of experience who they can train themselves.
So there is massive opportunity here due to the short supply of techs and the general lack of online marketing savvy of the older, well-established firms. Young entrepreneurs who can build a qualified, competent and energetic team will do well in many of these smaller local markets in the years to come.
If anyone is interested in discussing digital marketing, web design, and competitor analysis for their start up appliance business, please feel free to contact me (just leave a reply/comment).
I would love to talk about setting up a website for my business. I have a Google page but it only got me 17 calls out of 288 views. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. my business is Atlantic appliance repair in Pikeville NC.
My biggest fear is being in a customers house and they ask me to look at appliances that I have never seen before and don’t know anything about. For instance, they ask me about a four door Samsung refrigerator or a steam Electrolux dryer. How in the world do you handle that situation?
That certainly is a good question that I faced when I started. It scared me to death. Fortunately Uncle Harry prepared me for exactly that circumstance. He calls it “First called jitters” or “Approaching strange appliances”. Here is a free video link>> on YouTube recorded at one of uncle Harry’s service classes.
Basically he is pretty sly about handling this common situation as he goes through the four steps of what to do:
1. If you don’t know how to turn the appliance on or how to use it, ask the customer to demonstrate the problem. They are always happy to do so. Watching them will teach you a lot.
2. Start taking things apart and the customer usually gets bored and leaves you alone. If you take out enough screws, things will start to fall apart and you will eventually open it up. Once you get it apart things usually get pretty simple. You can always go out to your car and review the videos on Uncle Harry’s tablet like I did.
3. If you’re totally baffled, simply take a picture of the model number and tell the customer that you need to research it a bit and you will be back another day. Intelligent customers don’t mind that approach. They understand that appliance designs are changing quickly and that even a professional service man is unable to know everything about every appliance. Of course if you have time you can look up the service manual on your tablet and just sit there and read it until you’re comfortable. This is often necessary when you need to put a strange appliance into diagnostic mode.
4. In the unlikely circumstance that the customer adopts a real attitude, because you’re not able to solve the problem in five minutes, you do have the option of apologizing for the inconvenience, not charging the customer and making your exit. I can’t say that this is ever happened to me but I always keep it in my back pocket if the customer happens to be an idiot.
Jimmy, I hope that helps to get you past that uneasiness that we all have in the beginning. You will be surprised how fast it goes away. Most of the service calls actually turn out to be very easy. Customers do the most foolish things and have no clue as to how appliances work. You may not know a whole lot but you know far more than your customers.
When you first start out what kind of insurance do you need to protect yourself from liabilities that come with working in people’s homes?
The liability insurance that you need to buy is called Traders and Craftsman coverage. It cost about $600 per year for a basic policy and is an essential part of your new business. Talk to your car or homeowners agent first but the phrase “Traders and Craftsman” is important to getting a low premium. There are seldom claims on such a policy. About the only claims are associated with water damage. I hope you can find a friendly agent to help you out.
Hello sir , this is where you would do a pre diagnosis before you arrive onsite, you will get the model number before arrival and obtain the tech sheet, this method has helped me tremendously.
What’s a tech sheet
A tech sheet is the paper that is often enclosed within an appliance. It includes specific help on that unit.
Jimmy. I have been in that situation before. I am embarrassed when I don’t know how to open their washer. But I look it up. A good doctor has a library of grey’s anatomy behind him. A good lawyer has a library of books in his office.
You are so right. Prepare before you go to minimize being uneasy. Uncle Harry’s Wizard tablet is great for looking up things like that.
Does uncle harrys still offer the hands on class or is it strictly online course?
No, he stopped offering the hands on after a few years because he felt it was not best for the students. They needed to slowly absorb and practice the material and techniques gradually. You just can’t learn a new career in 2-3 weeks; surprise, surprise! Instead he expanded his online training and one-on-one mentoring along with his Wizard Tablet tool. Last I heard those things combined have worked much better.
I’ve done appliance repair work for cash paying customers, but I got burnt one two many times. They would until I fixed their appliance and then start making excuses like, ‘Well I Don’t have the money right now” or “I’ll pay you on Friday” Etc. What do you do about this? It’s made me leary.
I’m sorry that you’re having collection problems but that’s an easy problem to solve. First off, most people use credit cards, some checks and few pay cash. There are great smart phone apps that allow you to take credit cards. You need to focus your efforts on middle to upper income families who will appreciate your service and have money. Always quote your service charge before you go to the house, always quote the job before you begin and if you have any doubt about their ability to pay, make it clear that everything is COD. I appreciate the question and hope my suggestions help. I’m sure you’re not the only person with that problem.
A friend and I opened a appliance repair company in Jan, 2016. We are servicing all major brands (Electrolux, LG, Maytag, Sub-Zero and a few others) we are factory authorized to service them so they are dispatching us work. We also do service for 6 other extended warranty companies. We have 2 ladies working in the office for scheduling/billing and 2 full time road technicians. However were not getting the out of warranty work like we need. Without it, its very difficult to stay ahead. Whats are some good ways to increase our oow calls? We have a average RTAT of 2.8 days for in warranty customers. Our KPI’s are met consistently. I was a tech for 7 years and a supervisor over techs for 4. My partner was a tech for 10 and a supervisor for 15. We both had 24 road techs that we had to monitor and 7 in shop techs. But now I just cant get the OOW work.
I’m sorry but my experience with factory authorized work has been limited and unsatisfactory so I stopped. I only do out of warranty work exclusively and attract the calls as described on my blog. Referral sites have been helpful as has my website. I am a one man operation who keeps it very basic, simple and profitable. Thank you for the inquiry but you are in a different part of the market.
Hi! My husband really wants to do this. If he starts out on nights and weekends, how can we deal with not having a parts supplier open during those hours? Are there certain things/parts we need to keep in inventory? Or do most people understand you will have to return with the part the next business day? Are there any basic/common parts you recommend always having on hand? Thank you!
All good parts suppliers have very detailed websites and ship the same day. Your local wholesaler would be happy to make up a recommended parts list for you. His suggestions will be valuable because they will reflect the appliances that have been sold in that local area. Uncle Harry has a parts list included in his program. With a $500 inventory, you will be able to complete over half of your calls in one trip. And yes, people do understand that certain parts will have to be ordered. You may find it a surprise that on perhaps 25% of your calls you will not need any parts at all. Starting on nights and weekends is an excellent way to begin. Good luck!
Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles?
I mean, what you say is valuable and everything.
Nevertheless think about if you added some great
images or videos to give your posts more, “pop”!
Your content is excellent but with pics and video clips,
this blog could certainly be one of the most beneficial in its niche.
I signed up for Uncle Harry program and project that it will take me quite some time to complete it since I have full time job, family obligations and not having ability to have hands on training while studying I don’t see how this would be manageable in short period of time. Any suggestions?
Can you share with us tools that you use at this time besides the once that you already mentioned and which once would you recommend ( must have once)?
Also what would be your recommendation on remembering how to put the appliance back together? I watched videos and felt that it could be quite overwhelming to remember all the wire connectors and screw sizes etc…
Are you planning to leave more posts here?
What are your recommendations on getting hands on experience if finding a company that willing to share their work load, working on friend’s appliances, buying broken appliances and fixing them will not work. Personally I don’t have space to fix them at home. Fixing friends appliances I would?feel comfortable due to being unexperienced.
One more question for you. You mentioned that you were able to secure a job at used appliances shop for no salary. How did you aproach these shops and what did you propose to them? Did you discuss when your relationship will end and what will be your workload? Did they ask you about your experience and what was your response?
Using your method it will take some time to learn the business but slow and steady wins the race. There is a lot to learn and it requires a commitment in both time and energy. There is no effective short cut method to learning a totally new high paying career. If it were that easy, anybody could do, it and it would no longer be high paying. Keep in mind a good appliance mechanic makes as much as most doctors. And doctors must invest 10 years and huge bucks.
You mentioned that you already have Uncle Harry’s course. He has videos that show all the necessary tools. Not that many are needed.
Concerning putting an appliance back together new technology has solved that one. Simply take pictures of the disassembly with your cell phone as you take it apart and refer to the pictures when you need to. This is especially helpful with wiring and color coded wires.
Getting hands on experience is tricky. I was lucky to be able to work on used ones for a while in a rebuild shop. Working on your own stuff and that of friends is easier. Surprisingly, most jobs are far simpler than you think and you will find friends very forgiving. Just don’t get in too deep in the initial stages.
I hope you have success with your new venture.
One quick way to get experience is find a used appliance store and tell them you are willing to help test and fix their customers’ returns.
You might not get them all working but at least it’s hands on experience. Just tell them you don’t expect much pay until you’re good, and are open to any advice they may have.
After a few months working with appliances, you get to notice what goes where and why, before that, you can get like an old iPhone and take pictures of everything so you can refer to them later.
I have a decent assortment of tools and a truck so I think I’m good in that department. This business start-up seems to be a very affordable option. Was creating the web site very difficult?
I started reading one of the forums you mentioned and it was a little intimidating. The techs were talking about tests and stuff I had no understanding of. I looked at the book you mentioned and it is nearly 1200 pages. Holy, that is a lot to retain.
My biggest concern is my age, and trying to master new skills, probably be retired in 10-15 years. You have been a great inspiration.
Hi, I am also thinking to start appliance repair business and your blog is really for this business, so thanks! The home study course is good enough? Thanks for shearing this post.
Hi I’m interested in starting a small repair business also,I’ve made a few customers doing heating and air also maintenance work over the years I’m wondering do I have to be licensed to do so
Hi Ms. Fixit – Right, one of the greatest things about getting into appliance repair is that it is not currently regulated, you do not need to be licensed or certified, and there is no apprenticeship period, so with some good training you can get your business up and running fast. Thanks for the great question, and best of luck to you!
i am hand on job , and know how to troubleshoots. , but i want to get more experience first,so i want to work a part time(after 5) or weak end . how i can start?,, i live near to Boston , Ma. Thanks!
Customer support is the most significant aspect of any business so for starting any sort of business, make sure you have build up a strong and supportive customer support platform.
Hi Brendan – You are absolutely right – the lifeblood of my business is great customer service. Especially since I am internet based, getting my leads from search engines and depending on good reviews, I need to treat the customer right. It is the way I get repeat customers and referrals in order to build my business. Some techs think customers are disposable, that there’s always another phone call that will come in. Pretty soon you don’t see their names in searches anymore because they’re so badly rated. Good point!
Even if you’re not that good already, always pick up the phone or call back quickly if you missed a call.
If you get a request for a product that you don’t really know, be upfront about it, that you might not be as familiar with this brand and model as you’re like but would like to take on the challenge… unless they’re eager to get it fixed, in that case some other business might be a better choice than you for now.
Then, depending how it goes : charge regular amount for the work performed, admit you didn’t really know what you were doing and reduce de hourly rate, thank them to let you practice on their appliance and just charge a small fee to cover travel costs, apologize for the inconvenience.
If you messed up once, go back to fix it for free. If you messed up twice, offer to refund your customer for his troubles.
If your customer is a raging @ssh0le, offer to refund him, even if you’re positively sure that you did a great job, and move on… surprizingly he’ll likely call you back soon for more work, so be firm and tell him that although you’d like to take the job, you don’t think you’ll be up to his expectations and wish him the best with a different business.
Thanks for the insight and the great read. Let me ask you…whathas been the number one system you use that brings in the most calls or leads if there is one.
Hi Robert – The number one system for generating leads when you’re starting out is any which way you can. I used them all in the beginning, paid leads, home warranty work, leaving my cards around, free internet directory listings, sign advertising, etc. They all worked while I built my reputation based on excellent service. My business has grown to the point now where my customers just pass my name around, and I’ll get service calls next door to each other because of recommendations. I also have a lot of landlord customers with multiple properties that love me because they tried me once and found out I was reliable. You may have to begin by using less profitable methods, but you’ll soon be able to wean yourself off of those types of leads once you make a good name for yourself and your business takes off. Great question – wish you success!
How / where do you get certified for different brands?
Hi Dustin – In order to become an authorized service tech, you would need to contact each of the manufacturers individually and they can direct you on how to apply. They may require tax ID for your business, proof of $1M insurance, and established, relevant technical experience. Also, they usually do background checks, and it was my impression you have a better chance of your application being accepted if there’s a lack of certified techs in your area. As a small shop, I never opted for certification and just remained a generalist, which I feel was the fast track because I can handle the vast majority of calls on most brands without it. Those calls that get too involved I refer to the certified “specialists” which works better with my flat fee service model anyhow. Great question, and best of luck to you!
Hi there! I have enjoyed reading your advice on this blog,I myself have already started a specialized washer dryer business, before I found this site that is. I know its more of a narrow way to go but I gotta tell you,they break alot!!
Great job security,never really gets slow,and I’m 27 yrs of doing that for a big company was fine but I decided to break off. I just started several months ago and for me because of my lack of knowledge about business even though I’m seasoned its slow for me, I live in a heavily populated rural area so I’m set on location,but this book sounds very helpful,I may stick with my specialty along with dryer vent cleaning but later,get a kitchen appliance tech on board and work as team possibly,but your methods has a aggressive but necessary approach,thank you for the very informative blog!!
Hi Phil – Congratulations for hanging it out there – it takes both courage and brains to realize the time has come! You are absolutely right, this is a great business because customers desperately need you – they will not go without their refrigerator, washer/dryer, range or even dishwasher for very long, which means we always have plenty of work to do. I started out in a rural area, then moved to the city so I have actually started my business twice. I used paid leads and home warranty work at the beginning. I was willing to give up a cut of my profits to the paid lead service just to get the phone ringing, and do the home warranty work even though they had marginal parts markup and a lot of paperwork, and I had to keep my rates low. I used these methods while I made contacts, passed out my cards and started to get recommendations and referrals. Meanwhile my internet directory listings got me free leads and good ratings. With great customer service, my business grew. Keep the faith and continue doing the right things during these early days, and you will succeed!
Thanks a lot for this info! I have been banging my head how to get started and now I have a firm grasp! I have been doing maintenance for 20 years and I am ready to start for myself. I already have a huge customer base waiting for me to start, so I am hopeful!!! Thanks again!!
Hi Ms. Tish – You are more than welcome! It is always so great to hear what I’ve learned and what I went through could help someone take off – very best of luck to you!
What would you recommend me to do if I am working full-time as an appliance repair tech now, and want to start my own business. Take calls on weekends? Perhaps after normal 8-5pm day?
Great blog by the way. Awesome!
Hi Tom – What a great question – you are absolutely right! You will have more business that you know what to do with if you run service calls evenings and on Saturdays – customers simply love these hours and can’t often get them from regular appliance service companies. You may want to give a heads up to the manager of your local parts house – if word gets around you work nights and weekends, you may even get referrals from your competitors. Wish you huge success in starting your business – go for it!
Hi, Who would you recommend to obtain general liability insurance?
Hi Bob – I go through my insurance agent – they have me with Liberty Mutual right now, and I’m happy with my policy.
You will likely earn more between 5 to 8 in the evening than from 8 to 5 at your regular job ;).
At some point, your local parts store might increase your parts’ cost as they’re jealous of your success, but the customers will love the evening service that doesn’t distrupt their workday.
It’s a great way to start, but hopefully you have an understanding spouse and will find a way to end your days early so you can have family time.
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
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!
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
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!
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.
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!
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?
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!
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?
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.
Even if experienced, you can post Craigslist ads at handyman rates.
When I started, I was offering any job of up to 30 minutes labour for $50 + parts, including travel time on classified sites.
As your business grows, you can get better discounts on parts from the big suppliers… so your cost will likely get below half of retail price for some common parts of the run of the mill brands.
After less than 3 years in the business, when counting travel fee, labour rate, parts mark-up, it’s not hard to make $100 an hour on average during calls.
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!
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!
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 . . . .
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.
For my part, if the customer is sure to have me make the repair, I won’t charge anything until everything is completed.
Unless there are special order parts, or long delivery ones, in that case I ask them for a non refundable deposit that covers my materials cost.
At the slightest doubt if the repair will go through or not, I offer them to pay me the diagnostic fee for now (which also covers 2nd trip cost) and to just call me when they’re ready for me to order the parts, but let them know they will then have to pay for parts and labour likely within 2 days. Most never call.
If they just want to buy the part and plan to install it themselves… they sometimes won’t have enough money to cover the part’s cost, even if they knew it upfront, so don’t order anything without a deposit big enough that you won’t care being stuck with the part.
You can use this as an opportunity to get rid of old stock though.
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.
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!
How can determine if the area you live in is already too saturated with others doing the same thing?
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.
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.
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!
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
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!
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 🙂
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!
Hi, I have a appliance repair business, it’s doing ok now. I want to know what part of the business makes more money?
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!
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?
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!
Do you recommed part time on the job training?
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.
I am also thinking of starting an appliance repair business sooner. Thanks for your great tips here. I’ll keep them in mind.
So glad you found the site helpful – wishing you great success with your business!
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?
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Thank you so much for your helpful insight!! I hope you make so much money that you’re drowning in it lol! All the best!!
Yes, thank you for your insights.
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.
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.