An Asurion appliance tech in happier times

Massive layoff means recruitment opportunities for servicers

By Alan Wolf, YSN

A hitch in the appliance game plan for powerhouse warranty service provider Asurion could provide a wealth of opportunity for BrandSource servicers.

This summer, the Nashville-based tech repair giant confirmed a worldwide workforce reduction of roughly 5%, affecting more than 1,000 employees. The privately-held company, which also operates over 700 uBreakiFix CE service shops, told the Nashville Business Journal that the layoffs impacted workers at all levels and are part of an operational reorganization to ensure the continued growth of its repair services and retail business.

“That means making thoughtful decisions on how we align resources with the right roles and skills needed to deliver future growth,” Asurion said.

But there appears to be more to the story, said ServiceSource senior lead Paul MacDonald, who has been tracking Asurion’s plans to create a nationwide appliance service network. According to MacDonald, Asurion has partnered with Amazon, GE Appliances and Samsung for more than two decades, and last year began hiring and actively recruiting w2 technicians on with the promise of $37.50-per-hour pay and a $10,000 signing bonus. He said the company was a third of its way toward reaching its goal of a 3,000-strong appliance repair force when the layoffs hit.

A well-placed industry source told MacDonald that the pink slips, as well as the closure of 13 regional centers, reflect Asurion’s difficulty in managing far-flung locations and its decision to put its appliance plans on hold until it can better understand the business. “While I predicted the venture would fail, I did not expect it to happen so quickly and that it would become a windfall for service businesses nationwide,” MacDonald said. “But Asurion is not going away; they are simply pulling back until they can build an efficient network.”

For its part, Asurion maintains that it “continues to hire for roles that are critical to our mobility, home, appliance and retail operations.”

Nonetheless, MacDonald, who together with BrandSource’s National Service Committee spearheads the group’s service initiatives and servicer support, urges members with understaffed service departments to target the newly unemployed technicians, using such resources as BrandSource recruitment partner CareerPlug.

“Not a bad deal to find technicians who have already been through the essential background screening and hands-on training courtesy of Asurion and Samsung,” he said.

Related: ‘I Can’t Find Technicians!’

Longer term, BrandSource is working to address the industry ills that first prompted Asurion’s grand appliance plan, MacDonald said. These include what he described as “unfair and inequitable warranty reimbursement rates compounded by a disjointed, labor-intensive claims and parts credit process.

“Simply put, the existing service networks aren’t delivering to meet the manufacturers’ or the consumer’s needs — self-servicing dealer networks included,” he said. But there is a glimmer of hope.

“With BrandSource’s National Service Committee and its service strategy team, we are attracting the attention of prominent manufacturers,” MacDonald said. “BrandSource members believe it’s time to bring sales and service together, working hand in hand for the mutual benefit of consumers, service providers and manufacturers to increase sales and build brand loyalty.”

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, furniture, mattress and CE dealers.

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