This part is a little bit more "food for thought" than sound advice. I have been a shop owner for 15 years, and for the first 13ish years the only type of "service calls" I would do is warranty repairs on the units that I sold. Officially, I can say that I have 15 years experience fixing appliances, but the truth is, I have been serious about service work for about 2 years. I really put my try-hard pants on about a year ago. Why am I telling you this? Its because you need to understand that I have bias towards being a shop owner. Its essentially all I know.
At some point I got a little bored playing shop owner and decided to build up the service end of things. I bought a car magnet, a few pairs of dickies, shubee's. Now Im a professional, right?
I have a vivid memory of walking in to my first VMW washer and having absolutely no idea what I was looking at. I told myself never again. I finally stumbled upon this little gem of a website and finally started learning something. Now I like to think I am proficient at most appliances, and what very few pose a challenge I can easily work through it with the help of this site, and my ability to somewhat read a wiring diagram.
Pro tip: If you can't read a wiring diagram yet, stop reading this and start learning how to read a wiring diagram. It really is that important. Go on, shoo.
So now I find myself a couple of years later moderately busy doing service work. I do about 6 calls per day, one or two of them are warranty service from my store, 4 are cod. Out of the 4, maybe one or 2 will be a return trip (have to order parts). At the end of the day, I usually walk home with 2-3 calls complete, cash in hand. My average ticket is about $225, with my net profit being around $150 ish. Somedays I make $1200, other days I make $0. this is the nature of the business. So by my very, very rough calculations, I make roughly $1000-2000 per week doing service. Its a decent living. If I wasn't burdened with my own "warranty" work from my store, I could do better . I am also kind of lazy, in some crazy hard-working sort of way. I take a lot of breaks. Hunt for Pokemon?
Today I made 2 trip charges at $60 each. Yesterday I pulled in $900.
Doing service work is very appealing in the fact that I get to drive a lot ( I drive a Mercedes as a work vehicle), I make CASH, and best of all, I can essentially run this entire shin dig out of my car, and cell phone. No rent, employees, advertising. Truth is, as a one man show, you don't really need anything. Just a phone number and a good reputation. Workers comp is optional, you can have some minimal bullshit insurance policy. You can make a really respectable living with essentially no overhead. No bullshit. No drama. Other perks include: Days off, go home for lunch, working in nice, air conditioned homes, and more.
Service work drawbacks: You simply can not work an 8 hour day. Sure, you can do service calls for 8 hours, but what about scheduling? ordering parts? Blogging on Appliantology at 11 o'clock at night? Appliance repair requires you to be "all in". you have to keep up with the service bulletins, the ever fucking changing way of how a washer washes clothes. At the end of the day (week), you worked 40 hours, but in your mind it was more like 70. In case you were wondering $2000 divided by 70 is $28.50 per hour. Sure, you just pinched $200 profit off of your last job, but really, how much time did you actually spend on that call? Initial call, scheduling call, model research, pregame diagnosis, executing the repair, driving to and from the job, follow up call? Thats a lot of time. And when you take that time and divide it on your NET profit, its not as lucrative as you would think.
Number one drawback of being a servicer: You don't work, you don't get paid. This is a serious problem for me as I really enjoy NOT WORKING.
This is the part where I tell you you should be a shop owner, sell used appliances, make millions, right? Not exactly. Owning a small business is fucking hard. 70 hours a week is an easy week. I wake up in the morning and I'm thinking about my store, and I'm going to sleep thinking about my store. Dreaming about one's business is somewhat normal as well. A retail store becomes somewhat of a prison in the sense that someone MUST be there when you are open. That person for the first many years is likely YOU. No lunch breaks, no shit breaks (unless you are some record setting speed shitter), you must answer the phone by the third ring. You must be pleasant, ALL THE TIME. You must be present ALL. THE. TIME. Your duties include: Cleaning appliances, fixing, ordering parts, loading delivery truck, calling deliveries and scheduling, taking service calls, scheduling replacements. Don't for get to pay your sales tax in time, they only send you a reminder AFTER its late, and penalty is assessed. Pay lights, gas, phone, (don't forget to renew the contract annually) insurance, calculate hours and wages. Deal with the pleasant customers, deal with the asshole customers. Deal with the stinky customers, the ANGRY customers. You essentially have to do it all. Not essentially, you really have to do it all. Oh, and the delivery guys lost their drill. Make sure you pick one up on the way home.
It gets easier. about 7 years in to it, I got rid of my partner, ( this should be another blog on how BAD it is to have a partner, or at least, the wrong partner) and things started to get easier. I started making more money. I found out about this wonderful feature vendors offer called AUTOPAY. I started making more money. I embraced Square software, started delegating more work to employees. I started making more money. Most of the day to day operations become automatic. Not like it handles itself, but you do it automatically.
Today My store made $1400, +$480 on the Ebay store. yesterday was $580 + $450. Some days I lose money, other days I'm too busy counting it.
By year 11 or 12 I finally started to reap the fruits of my labor. I was making very good money, and not working very hard at all. It was shortly after that brief stint of boredom that I decided to become a servicer.
I have taken both professions seriously at this point and I have the following observations:
1. Doing service work will put cash in your pocket next week. Running a store will put ALOT of money in your pocket in 10 years.
2. As a servicer, you will work until you die. I don't see retirement in this field. How many of you self employed servicers are putting money away in a 401k? Property? Answer is probably very few. At the store, your brand starts to build value, inventory, reputation, sales figures. etc. Ultimately, I don't think even this will be enough, so I bought many rental properties to augment my income, and secure my retirement. I just don't see how this is possible as a servicer as there simply is not enough money to go around.
3. In some sort of fucked up way, I find being a shop owner LESS stressful than servicing appliances in home. I always fear damaging a customers home, or messing up a repair in some sort of dramatic fashion. Or plain old looking like a dumbass. People are fucked up, and when it comes to money, they'll cut your throat for that dollar. If I fuck up an appliance in my shop, its my appliance so who cares. I paid $40 for it.
4. Being a servicer allows you a lot of freedoms. You are not tied down to a single location. You can go pick up your kids from school in between service calls. This is not an option as a store owner.
5. The money: As a servicer, I just can't see one making more than $120k a year. Even that I believe is a stretch. If any one can give me some good hard data on this, I would love to know. A well run shop can make double that. Im talking NET, take home, bottom line cash profit.
Like I said in the beginning, take this in for its entertainment value only. You do what you think is best for you, or what you prefer doing. After all is said and done, I like being a shop owner, with servicing in a close second place. There is no right or wrong answer, you do what feels right to you.
Anything else you want to know? comments? criticism? funny jokes? Reply!