Light at the end of the tunnel is NO train

(Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash)

You are customers, but you might be interested in some “behind the scenes” information about the appliance repair industry over the last 25 years.

I’ve been reading and pondering a lot about the course of the human culture, and how it relates to the appliance repair industry, and specifically to Peoples Choice.

When I started repairing appliances in 1991, technicians largely needed to be good mechanics. Then into the mid 90’s we also needed to understand electricity and electrical circuits., as more sophisticated switching devices were used. Up until this time there were two classes of appliances: Entry level/everyday, and high end (like SubZero). The advent of the Maytag front loading washer in 1996, changed everything.

When it first rolled out, a lot of people said “No one will pay $1,000 for a washer!” When they started selling like hotcakes, the industry woke up to discover they had a whole new market segment. I’m not sure what the manufacturers call it, but “Mid Level” appliances opened up profits for both retailers and repair companies.

During the early 90’s, with increasing labor and parts costs, more customers were opting to buy a new appliance instead of repairing. Repair companies were closing. With the rollout of the Neptune washer, customers were, all of a sudden, commonly spending $800 to $2,000 on an appliance. Considering our rule of thumb: “repairable if repair is less than 50% of replacement cost when in good condition”, repair companies had a new market as well.

Of course, the Neptune also ushered in the age of ERC’s (Electronic Range Controls) and other electronic controls and sensors. Now appliance repair technicians had to understand mechanics, electrical circuits, AND electronic controls. Through the first dozen years of the new millennium, manufacturers worked at fine tuning the devices and the diagnostics within them. We now need to be electronic diagnostic technicians, mechanics, electrical techs, with knowledge of electronics.

I think we will soon see more light on the benefit of diagnostics. Some appliances are starting to utilize diagnostic “ports” that will allow us to use some type of scan tool to see what the appliance has been doing, and pointing to errors (much like is now standard on automobiles). it will compel us to understand more fully, the functions of controllers and sensors within the appliances. Of course, we will still need to be mechanics, electrical techs, and sometime plumbers.

Along with this development, appliance controls have been, and will continue to be, more sophisticated, which is where repair companies will start to see some wins. With this advanced knowledge, and the continued purchase by consumers of more complicated and more expensive appliances, technicians will become more valued, which should also translate into better pay.

Peoples Choice has been successful partly because we have worked to keep up with technology. When we started using job management software, in 2005, we were cutting edge. I foresee a great future for our industry and for Peoples Choice, and much like the demise of the “shade tree mechanic”, no one but Professional Appliance Technicians will be able to help homeowners with their appliance repairs.

As long as we care for our customers, and continue learning, Peoples Choice will be around for a long time.
Rich Johnson Oct, 2017 (yes, my math is a little off:)