This Appliance Repair Business is Turning Work Down—No Marketing Budget Required
From carbon copies to real-time communication: how this business improved its process to match growing demand.Visit Website ››
4 Years Old
Hunt County, Texas
Ask Audra McCleskey what the biggest challenge Guard Appliance faces day-to-day, and she’ll describe a problem that many business owners hope to have:
“Just having one technician,” she says. “Especially now that we are able to organize everything better. We need to hire someone. We turn away a lot of work because we only have one technician—Garrett can only do so much.”
Garrett is Audra’s husband and Guard Appliance’s co-owner. They started their business in 2015 after learning the appliance repair business ropes at a larger company in Houston. While Audra handles administration from their home office, Garrett is out in the field all day keeping busy with repairs, installs, and warranty work.
Warranty work for the win
Speaking of which, the owners of the company they left were kind enough to connect them with InSinkErator, a garburator brand that keeps Guard Appliance busy with warranty repairs.
“I wouldn’t have known where to start if it weren’t for them,” says Audra of her former employers. “InSinkErator is one of our favorite companies—they’re just really easy to work with.”
And the biggest upside of getting on board with companies that dispatch you to do warranty work?
“If you don’t have the finances to market, you can focus more on the work rather than getting the work,” explains Audra. Bonus: you can often turn a one-time repair into a customer for life.
“Someone calls us out for their garbage disposal, and when we come to check it out they ask if we do refrigerators, washers, dryers. They’ll keep our card and call us months and years down the road.”
So how did Audra and Garrett get to the point that they have more work than they can handle? Hint: it wasn’t overnight, and it wasn’t easy.
Keeping it together in the early days
A former 911 operator, Audra was used to dealing with high-stress situations, but starting a new business, not to mention running it with her husband, was a whole new ballgame.
“It was horrible,” remembers Audra. “We were on paper, and I would have to wait until the end of the day for Garrett to bring me work orders and his handwriting isn’t the greatest. Once I got them, I’d order parts at the end of the day which would delay our customers at least a day.”
Starting a business is a rollercoaster for anyone, and a test of patience for a newly married couple like Audra and Garrett were in the early days. Audra laughs as she recalls going on an interview for another job, ultimately turning it down, only six months into starting Guard Appliance.
We were on paper, and I would have to wait until the end of the day for Garrett to bring me work orders and his handwriting isn’t the greatest. Once I got them, I’d order parts at the end of the day which would delay our customers at least a day.
Soon after, Garrett and Audra settled into a process that worked for them.
“We would use carbon copies, I would map jobs out on Google, and then I would copy the link and email to myself every day,” she recalls. “As well, I’d create a Microsoft Word agenda, and I’d print it off to go on top of Garrett’s work orders for the day, so he’d know he’s going here at 8, here at 10.”
We count five separate steps and programs just to set up a schedule for one day!
“That’s where Jobber saved us so much time,” says Audra. “I don’t have to type out everyone’s name every day, their address, their appliances—it was a b-word!”
Back to the future—with Jobber
Ask Audra what got her looking into a solution like Jobber for her appliance repair business and she’ll be the first to admit it wasn’t by choice.
“We kind of got forced into Jobber,” she says. “Our regional service manager at InSinkErator said ‘InSinkErator really wants everyone to use Jobber.’ And I said, ‘I can’t handle that transfer,’ and it really was stressful for me at that time.”
Why was that?
“Because I was set in my ways, and that’s what I think a lot of people feel like on pen and paper,” says Audra. “I don’t want to push people into using Jobber if they’re comfortable not doing it, but it has helped me a lot and I’m glad that I was kind of forced into it.”
I was set in my ways, and that’s what I think a lot of people feel like on pen and paper.
Improved organization is the biggest difference Audra and Garrett have noticed since they started using Jobber. This means they can respond faster to warranty work dispatches from InSinkErator and the other companies they work with, which puts Guard Appliance in their good books, and keeps their schedule nice and full.
In practice, Audra gets the info she needs to order parts from Garrett in real time as he fills out details in Jobber while he’s in the field working through the day’s jobs.
When it comes to quoting, she can consult Jobber to put together accurate quotes without having to call Garrett. She can then email those quotes to customers so they can review details online at their own pace, avoiding the lengthy explanation and negotiation process that used to happen over the phone.
That frees up her time to focus on customer service where it counts.
“Now if someone calls in I can just type in their phone number and search for them real quick. It helps them feel more comfortable because I can be friendly with them, and say, ‘Oh yes, Stacy I remember you!’ Where otherwise I’d be flipping through a filing cabinet trying to find her information, and she remembers us but we can’t remember her—that’s bad customer service.”
Now if someone calls in I can just type in their phone number and search for them real quick. It helps them feel more comfortable because I can be friendly with them, and say, ‘Oh yes, Stacy I remember you!’
Looking into Guard Appliance's future
Ask Garrett and Audra if they ever want to go back to working for someone else and the answer is a firm no. There’s nothing like the freedom that entrepreneurship allows you, and the couple likes that they are in control of their schedule and can take off when they want.
However, change is still on the horizon. “We’re wanting to pass our roles on to other people,” says Audra, and they’re at a point where their business is well-organized and work is steady enough, that taking this step is a serious and exciting conversation.
Lightning round with Guard Appliance!
What’s your top marketing channel?
We get work handed to us through warranty contracts with Samsung, LG, InSinkErator. The customers like Garrett and the way we treat them, so they’ll keep our info for next time.
What do you never leave home without?
Garrett needs his iPad or his phone—an electronic device of some type.
What’s your favorite Jobber feature?
I would say the overview under the ‘Work’ tab. I go through that a couple times a day to see if I need to order parts for someone or if I need to bill—it just kind of catches your eye.
What’s your favourite way to unwind after a long day?
Cooking dinner. I’ll cook or Garrett will grill something. We hang out, sit on the porch, sometimes have a drink, and watch the chickens.