In a society that is continually advancing when it comes to technology and its use both in personal and business life, it is clear that for as long as there is technology, there will need to be services to help repair and maintain them.
As with many business owners, the idea for iTechnician.co.uk was created out of my own frustration with technology. Back in 2011, whilst I was working full time for a technology company, I had smashed my iPhone and needed to get it repaired, so I went in search of a suitable repair solution.
However, the only thing I could see was to either take it to the Apple store, where they would charge me a small fortune, or opt for posting it to a repair company for a lower price. Neither were ideal, as like many, my iPhone has become so ingrained in my daily life (both personally and professionally) that I didn’t really want to be without it for a few hours let alone a few days or a week! With this in mind, I thought that there must be another solution and so the idea for iTechnician was born.
I knew that logistically, running a nationwide network of repair specialists wasn’t going to be easy, so I looked at a different model instead, whereby I created a central company that worked with independent repair companies and technicians, who all became ‘members’ of iTechnician. In return, they would receive the leads that we received and they would contact the customers directly to arrange and conduct the repairs.
Unlike many lead-based services, iTechnician does not charge anything for the leads provided, nor do we take a commission from the work either. All we charge is the membership fees for being part of the iTechnician network, which are extremely reasonable when compared to the level of work that many of the technicians receive through their membership.
The iTechnician network was a free service for the first year of its existence and we were able to generate plenty of business for the technicians; in fact it was the iTechnicians themselves, suggested that they should pay a monthly fee for the service that was being provided. This started at £24.99 per month and has increased to £34.99 as the company grew.
As I have a strong background in SEO, it meant that the company was built on the principles of effective website marketing and promotion. This ensured that iTechnician quickly rose up the ranks in terms of organic and paid for searches and we now benefit from thousands of enquiries to the site each month.
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Our focus on the ‘techy’ aspects of the business has meant that we have been able to excel at creating a highly visibly and busy sales pipeline for any technician wanting to join our network and have access to new business instantly. It’s a highly scalable and cost effective model for us and also provides very tangible benefits and clear ROI for the members too.
In terms of challenges, we’ve faced, every business has its fair share and ours have been mainly centred around maintaining quality of service for customers. As the network of technicians grows, it becomes even more important to be firm when it comes to service delivery, complaint handling etc, as network exposure is useless if the technicians in contact with the end user don’t deliver the required levels of service or quality of repair!
To help tackle this, we’ve implemented a standard 12 month warranty on any repairs conducted via an iTechnician, which means that customers can feel reassured that if anything does go wrong with their initial repair, they won’t have to spend any more money having it rectified. We’ve also added the facility for customer reviews and feedback, so that new customers can get a good feel for a technician or company before they engage them to do any work.
We’ve also created a flexible model whereby customers can choose where the repair takes place, be that at their home, office, a local café or at the technician’s place of business. This flexibility further helps to boost enquiries due to the convenience that many other providers simply can’t offer.
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Now here is the interesting part. Making a profit really wasn’t the motivator for starting iTechnician and it’s part of the reason why we still charge much less for membership than perhaps the market would be prepared to pay.
The great thing about starting a business from this standpoint is that your focus from the very onset is on quality – from how you conduct your sales and marketing through to how you manage your customers, your members and your suppliers. I didn’t want a company that was built on a model that exploited people who were in need of technology repairs, but rather one that offered a genuine and affordable repair option that didn’t involve them having to send their device away.
Yes we could charge commission or a cost per lead etc, but that would only serve to inflate the prices that our technicians then charge to their customers. What we realised is that by keeping the pricing model completely transparent, we actually attracted more technicians to join. We could create a sustainable and profitable business simply through keeping our customers and our technicians happy – which resulted in more enquiries for repairs, more repeat business and more members joining the network.
I don’t really consider myself to a thought-leader, but as iTechnician is now the largest UK Apple repair network, I guess my approach to business is pretty unique when you look at it from the perspective above.
Now I’m not saying that businesses shouldn’t keep a sharp eye on finances, as every business is ultimately created to make a profit, but what they should do is ensure that it has a place alongside a focus on the customer experience and customer satisfaction. Personally, I’d much rather have a scaled-down business with a 98% customer satisfaction rate, than a larger business with spiralling costs, logistical nightmares and plummeting satisfaction rates.
For more information visit www.itechnician.co.uk