Eric Chaput with lead tech Philip Pixler and their well-equipped service vehicle.
By Andy Kriege, YSN
Active BrandSource member and National Service Committee board member, Eric Chaput has been working in the appliance repair industry for almost 20 years. He first started out by working in his family’s business on the East Coast. But in 2013, Chaput founded Advanced Appliance Repair in his wife’s hometown of Lufkin, Texas.
Since opening, the business has grown steadily year over year. Chaput recently purchased a building that he remodeled and will soon open as a retail showroom to compliment his service business specializing in high-end appliances and outdoor equipment.
Chaput only plans on selling brands that he knows pays a good rate on warranty repair work. “What separates us from others in this area is that we will be servicing what we sell. However, we are not going to sell products where we won’t be paid a fair price to fix them,” Chaput said.
Being passionate about his business, Chaput believes that a service business can be profitable provided it is run properly. “The service side should not be a drag on the business, it should be its own profit center,” he said.
One of the biggest challenges that all servicing dealers are facing is hiring and retaining technicians. “The shortage of experienced techs requires that we acquire them from other trades and provide professional training,” Chaput said. “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that if you want to have a professional service team who will grow with the company, you need to pay them a competitive wage. This can be a real challenge for a growing company but it absolutely necessary to retain quality employees.”
When it comes to employee retention, Chaput shares what is working for him as well as business logistics:
• Training – All new techs are enrolled in a comprehensive training program that includes an online course that runs about three to four months. After that, they ride along with a senior tech for an extended period until they are ready to run solo.
• Employee Compensation – His senior tech who provides on-the-road training for the team is paid entirely by a flat rate salary. The other techs are compensated with a base salary plus commission on the labor portion of a flat-rate pricing model. Additionally, all techs have the opportunity to make bonuses based on online reviews, ancillary product sales and/or add-ons.
• Employee Perks – All employees are provided with uniforms, a boot allowance, and a modern, fully-stocked service vehicle that they take home every night in addition to regular benefits.
• What They Service – Advanced Appliance Repair services all home appliances and brands and they service commercial equipment for the restaurant industry. Additionally, they are the only company within a large area in East Texas providing service on luxury appliances that other companies tend to stay away from.
• Service Calls Per Day – On average, each tech (including himself) averages approximately 8-10 service calls daily. Calls are zoned geographically allowing each to complete more service calls per day.
• Industries Most Pressing Need – Professional training for all techs, standardizing licensing and training requirements throughout the industry, use of flat-rate pricing and the use of technology to enhance the professional service experience.
“The primary reason I decided to start my own business,” Chaput said, “was because I was frustrated working for other companies that provided unprofessional and inadequate customer service. I started this company knowing that if we provide a value-based service that was founded on the principle of being totally professional, we could really fill a void that was present in this community. By providing that higher level of service, we can charge our customers accordingly and be profitable.”
Eric Chaput is the owner and president of Advance Appliance Repair in Lufkin, Texas. Eric serves on the BrandSource National Service Committee and was instrumental in helping to create the hugely successful BrandSource Service Playbook. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org