Independent Phone Repair Business on the Rise

Posted by on Apr 16, 2017 in News, Press Room, Small Business Article | 0 comments

President of NH iPhone Repair Chad Johansen shows how he can fix a cracked screen on a iPhone Thursday afternoon at his new Portsmouth shop. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

PORTSMOUTH — A 24-year-old New Hampshire entrepreneur is opening his third iPhone repair store, and hopes to break into the Seacoast region by locating his shop downtown.

Chad Johansen began NH iPhone Repair as a freshman at Plymouth State University. Johansen worked from his parent’s kitchen table and his quick service and personable spirit helped his business get off the ground in Bedford.

The new store, at 33 Deer St., has a large kitchen table where Johansen performs his repairs, but there is plenty of space to sit and chat. Johansen is quick to diagnose problems and teaches people how to use their phone. He remembers customers’ names and incorporates them into conversation.

Johansen said people choose his shops — he has one in Bedford and one in Plymouth — because they are frustrated with their conventional options. He employs four people and plans to hire two or three more workers in Portsmouth.

“If you go into an Apple store, you need an appointment, and they’re not interested in repairing your phone. If they take it in, they could be repairing it for hours and they always find some reason to upgrade you or charge you more,” Johansen said.

Johansen said his typical repair, such as a cracked screen, takes 10 to 15 minutes, and costs a quarter of what it would be to get a new phone. That benefits the customer, reduces waste and adds to the popular repair movement, he said.

In Manchester, Cellular Freedom owner Shawn Currier agrees, and said representatives who work at Verizon Wireless and other major retailers work on commission, so it is in their best benefit to push customers into upgrading instead of repairing their phones.

“I don’t care if it doesn’t benefit me,” Currier said. “I like to see the smile on my customer’s face.”

That kind of attitude is what has helped Currier, 36, stay in business since 2006. He was one of the first people in New Hampshire focused on phone repairs. At one point in time, Currier had a location in both Hooksett and Manchester, but now he has a store underneath the DMV on South Willow Street in Manchester.

Currier said working in phone repair is a “no brainer” because of the popularity of the devices. He and his seven employees see between seven and 15 phones come in every day. They can repair iPhones and Androids. Currier said they also have the tools to fix tablets, iPads, iPods and computers.

The cell phone repair business is a nearly $4 billion industry, which grew about 3 percent annually from 2011 to 2016 and employs more than 21,000 people in about 8,000 businesses, according to IbisWorld, a market research firm.

“These internet-enabled, feature-rich phones are usually too expensive to simply replace without a warranty and typically have fragile screens and hard-to-replace components,” IbisWorld said in August 2016 report. “These characteristics have encouraged consumers to more frequently turn to professional repair shops to salvage devices that are still operable. However, the industry has also contended with declining cell phone prices and yearly upgrade plans as cell phone technology rapidly evolves.”

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