South African smartphone usage continues to rocket upwards as penetration in 2019 was measured at 91.2%! That astonishing market penetration is even more impressive when you hear that it was 81 .7% in 2018, 10% year on year growth. Similarly, in 2019 there was a drop in fixed line broadband subscription as people either opted to use a wireless solution or decided to rely on their smartphone.
Because of the continuing growth in smartphone sales and cellular internet access there are many associated industries that will continue to grow and prosper in the years to come.
One such industry is the cellular repair industry, which is seen as a stable and growing cottage industry. In South Africa there are many well-known national repair shops such as SmartPhone ER and WeFix which are profitable and have been operating for many years.
The larger repair chains in South Africa at times can charge high fees to repair some flag ship devices (iPhone 11, Galaxy S21 or the Huawei P40) but there are many smaller independent repair shops who offer affordable repairs.
Official repairs from the manufacturers can be overly complicated and expensive due to their own internal processes. If the device is out of warranty this can further complicate the whole procedure.
So where is the entrepreneurial opportunity?
There is still plenty of room in this repair industry for a small, specialised repair shop to establish itself and be profitable. Of course, there is training, business processes, and cell phone supplies to consider – and as with all growing profitable industries there is a certain amount of hard work involved.
In order to start a cell phone repair business, you are going to need training.
- YouTube can offer a good introduction to the basics of screen repairs, LCD issues and data port/charging issues. But it will only get you so far!
- Online and classroom cell phone repair courses will teach you hands on experience and allow you to become comfortable when handling devices as well as bring you up to speed on technical repairs.
Whilst this may seem obvious it is still worth mentioning the new business processes required if you are to start a business.
- Set out your business plan.
- Form a legally registered business and register with SARS.
- Open your business bank account and set up your accounting systems.
- Where will you work from? A small home office is perfect for the first 6-12 months as the actual space required to start out is not big. After 6 months you should have an idea on your monthly work flow you can then decide if moving to a dedicated workshop is worth it.
- Invest in the right tools, your training should have given you a good idea on what you will require.
Cell phone spare parts
In the repair industry there are one or two elements which will make or break the business, customer service, industry knowledge and the quality of the cell phone spares you use.
There are several importers and distributors in South Africa that source and import original parts from manufacturers overseas. Original parts are ones that have come directly from the factories that manufacture iPhones and Galaxy devices etc… generic spare parts are ones that have been made outside of those factories.
In general, original parts are more expensive but you are guaranteed for them to fit and work with the device you are working on.
Attracting and keeping your customers happy
These two are constants in any industry throughout the world, marketing and customer service.
- Build a small, simply but professional looking website where people can book in their devices.
- Open a Facebook page and ensure that you interact with people who follow you.
- Build a LinkedIn profile and business page and, again, keep it up to date and interact with people who follow and talk with you.
- Follow up on all customers who you have fixed a phone for, ensure that their device is fixed and working. Ask them to leave a Google business review and a Facebook review when they can find the time. If they are unhappy, try to fix their issue with the minimal amount of fuss to them!
It’s not easy running a business, but if you are to pick one that shows no sign of slowing down, such as the cell phone repair world it could turn out to be the start of a very profitable future. Good luck!