BrandSource Initiative: Bringing Profitability to Retailers’ Repair Services
Independent retailer buying group BrandSource is addressing some prominent pain points among its membership in the area of appliance servicing – often handled by members as a profitless customer courtesy. Besides billing rates that don’t cover costs, other pain points include increasing complexity of products, particularly smart appliances; and finding and retaining servicers in a tight labor market.
So the group has formed a committee of select members who service appliances and who do so with sustainable business models, tasking them to pool their best practices and work with manufacturers and fellow members to develop a best-in-class service model that BrandSource dealers can embrace.
“The goal,” said Jim Ristow, CEO of BrandSource parent AVB Inc., in the initiative announcement, “is to ensure profitability for servicing dealers. The challenges are real, and BrandSource is proud to lead the way with real solutions.”
Areas of focus by the new Service Committee will include: enhancing operational efficiencies to lower costs; receiving fair compensation for OEM warranty repairs; attracting, training and retaining talented servicers; and creating consumer awareness.
Committee member retailer Scott Bekins, president of the Michigan-based appliance, repair and custom integration business that bears his family’s name, is passionate about the project, fearing that the shrinking base of service outlets poses a threat to the appliance industry and to consumers.
“Customers assume there is an ‘appliance god’ looking over them, and that is far from the truth,” he said. “Unlike the auto industry, where dealer service is mandatory, most appliances are sold today through non-servicing retailers, and those that still perform their own repairs are disappearing.”
The result, according to Bekins, is that consumers often encounter unacceptably long service delays and unqualified technicians, which creates ill will toward manufacturers and dealers and crowds landfills with discarded appliances.
“The industry needs to recognize that service is how you build your brand,” Bekins said. “And our brand is everything.”
The Service Committee will hold its first face-to-face meeting next month at BrandSource’s 2019 Convention, where additional details about the initiative will be announced. The annual show, slated for Aug. 24-27 at the Gaylord Texan in Dallas, will mark AVB’s 50th anniversary and carry the theme “Better Together.”