5 Tips For Starting an iRepair Business | Cult of Mac

5 Tips For Starting an iRepair Business


iFixit's Kyle Wiens.
iFixit's Kyle Wiens.
Photo: iFixit

You’re probably the go-to person in your circle of friends, family and maybe even your company when it comes to cracked iPhone screens, waterlogged iPads and battery-dead iPods.

That’s why the team over at iFixit is planning to launch a section for third-party repair services, which they previewed at Macworld. CEO Kyle Wiens says the project was a natural outgrowth of the numbers: on average, iFixit members have made seven repairs. “We figured if you can do that many, you should be making money from it.”

Don’t be a tool
Wiens asked for a show of hands of people who had tried to repair an iPad and broken the screen taking it apart instead: a dozen arms shot up from the 50-or so aspiring repair people at the conference. If you want to go into the repair business, you’re going to need the right kit, so consider which tools you’ll need for the bulk of your repairs and add that to your business plan, Wiens said.

For example, after realizing the iPhone 5 fingerprint sensor is easily busted when pried open, they created the iSclack, which pops it open without damaging it. (Bonus: it also works on other versions of the iPhone 5 , but is not suitable for previous generations.) The new repair biz section of the site will have tool kits aimed at third-party repairs.

The iSclack tool for the iPhone 5.

Follow the money
A good rule of thumb for pricing your services? Half to two-thirds the cost of the device. Keep in mind,

Luke Soules, iFixit COO said, that iPads have higher margins for the repair person since the owner’s perception is that it’s a more expensive device. (The “free” or subsidized iPhones that come with call plans or trade-ins mean most American consumers perceive the phones as costing less.)

Consider the scale
“You could charge $150 to fix an iPad and customers are OK with it,” Weins said. “There’s more potential there, once you get up to scale.” He reiterated that iPhone owners, especially under warranty, will go back to Apple but watch those same customers come crawling back, he said, when it expires.

Pick Your Battles
“Figuring out when to say no is essential to success,”  Soules told a breakout group of would-be third party repairers. “You’ll want to pick the repairs where you know what you’re getting into.” A cracked iPhone screen can be a quick turnaround with “instant gratification” for the owner, and a borked home button can also be an easy fix.

Keep in mind “broken” can sometimes be easier to fix than “damaged” (especially when it comes to water damage, he said.) And when a customer brings in a device but doesn’t know why it’s not working, troubleshooting can end up being costly — for the repairer. There are obvious things like the water sensor which turns pink when there’s damage — though pristine sensors can be bought bogus online, he noted. Sometimes, you’re going to want to tell the customer that the device can’t be fixed and offer $50 for parts. That may end up being a much better deal for everyone involved.

iFixit's Scott Head, Operations Guru, with the mobile repairs unit.
iFixit’s Scott Head, Operations Guru, with the mobile repairs unit.

Parts is Parts
On the question of parts, Wiens admitted that iFixit’s parts are more expensive than other options: “We spend more because we want quality.” It’s buyer beware if you’re going through eBay or Amazon, he said, noting that often the reviews don’t accurately reflect the overall quality of the parts on sale. Apple still refuses to offer original equipment manufacturer’s parts (OEM) to third-parties, despite the fact that not every Apple customer lives close to store or certified technician. “Tim Cook has not returned any of my phone calls about OEMs yet, but I will keep calling.”

The preview of the repair info was clean and organized – like you’d expect from iFixit. You’ll have to wait to check it out, though. Soules told us that it will probably debut in a couple of months. “It’s one of our more long-term projects,” he said. Not a quick fix, in other words.


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