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Circuit Board Repairs:
Repairs of no longer available circuit boards offer profitable service addition for appliance contractors,
By Badal Wadia, CoreCentric Solutions Inc.
With the down economy, many homeowners are opting to repair household appliances, instead of buying new. This "repair vs. replace" trend is a profitable opportunity for service providers who know how to navigate a repair landscape muddied by older models for which parts are no longer available.
Unlike typical mechanical repairs or high-volume parts replacements that contractors routinely carry on their truck or can readily order, servicers often have nowhere to turn when appliance control boards are no longer available (NLA) through the manufacturer.
A growing number of service technicians are now turning to independent remanufacturers, such as CoreCentric Solutions, to repair units that were typically carried to the curb.
As consumers increasingly seek improved product features, white goods manufacturers respond with new platforms and functions in order to remain competitive. As a result, fewer legacy systems and parts are supported, leaving service technicians scrambling for repair parts.
Repair vs. Replace
Specialized services, such as return-for-repair, are designed to address this planned obsolescence by repairing NLA control boards in as little as 24 to 48 hours. By doing so, contractors are able to capture these high-margin jobs that were previously lost to new product sales. In the process, service technicians become overnight heroes to distraught and budget-strapped homeowners who have no other viable alternatives.
"If we find a circuit board has been discontinued, we remove it and have it repaired," says Tony Fusaro, co-owner of Otto�s Appliance Service in Millbrae, California. "Through this return-for-repair process, we�ve been able to complete roughly 60 more jobs a year that we couldn�t do five years ago."
In fact, Fusaro says that this repair service has been so successful, that the Bay Area servicer began keeping an inventory of common discontinued parts that have been refurbished through the return-for-repair program.
"Typically, the homeowner has to wait for an NLA part to be repaired, but since we have several remanufactured circuit boards in stock, we pull out the old and replace it on the spot," explains Fusaro, who notes that this strategy has engendered strong customer loyalty and valuable referrals for the 54-year-old family business.
Proven NLA Solution
The return-for-repair service has offered Fusaro a seamless solution to a frustrating aspect of appliance servicing.
"When we can�t get a part to repair a unit, customers consider this to be a failure on our part, even though it�s beyond our control," he says. "No one wants to charge for a service call that didn�t fix the problem. Our business is built on customer referrals, and behind every unit we are able to repair, is a very happy homeowner who won�t forget us."
In Texas, the Seasonal Comfort Company began using the return-for-repair option while trying to locate an NLA circuit board for a Thermador wall oven, after learning about the program from the manufacturer.
"We had a customer who spent upwards of $4,000 for a top-of-the-line range, and after four years, she didn�t want to throw it away," recalls Alice Maki, office manager at the Houston-based servicer. "By repairing the control board, we helped her keep her oven for about a tenth of what it would have cost to replace it."
The return-for-repair option proves to be an economical and environmental solution �- helping extend the life of appliances and reduce the volume of waste sent to landfills. In fact, several leading brands, such as Thermador/BSH, use independent remanufacturers to manage their internal parts return programs.
Christian Graham, warranty administrator for the Chicago-based parts distributor C.E. Sundberg Company, first learned about remanufactured electrical components in 1999 while trying to find a solution to an NLA part to repair a commercial washing machine for the University of Iowa.
"As the nation�s third-largest appliance repair parts distributor, finding an NLA solution wins us business we wouldn�t obtain otherwise," emphasizes Graham, who says he utilizes the return-for-repair option between 15 and 25 times each month. "Upon being introduced to CoreCentric Solutions, we learned that they repair boards for all of the leading brands. They have become an increasingly valuable resource during this past decade."
Graham says one of his busiest periods is the holiday cooking season, when many appliances must be repaired.
"Traditionally, homeowners wait to repair their appliances and with the uncertain economy, more consumers are holding off on all non-essential purchases," says Graham. "Year-end celebrations and family gatherings are the breaking point for most homeowners, who are anxious to get their appliance working again. Being able to offer our service technicians an NLA part solution is a win-win for all."
About the Author:
Badal Wadia is CEO and co-founder of CoreCentric Solutions Inc., an independent appliance parts rebuilder and one of the industry�s leading providers of Return for Repair and Remanufacture Services. An electrical engineer by trade, Mr. Wadia holds a BSEE degree and an MBA in Marketing and Finance.
Formerly known as CG Industries Ltd., CoreCentric Solutions provides customized product and part lifecycle management and remanufacturing solutions to some of the largest U.S. retailers and the world�s major appliance manufacturers. For more information, visit www.CoreCentricSolutions.com.
Institute of Warranty Chain Management Seeks Candidates
MOUNT HAMILTON, Calif., February 4th, 2011 -- The Institute of Warranty Chain Management (IWCM) is seeking Board of Directors candidates for its 2011 Annual General Meeting in March.
IWCM founder and president, Glen Griffiths of HP, will resign in March after providing leadership over the inaugural years of the Institute. His talents, effort and passion of the IWCM mission will be missed. Other active IWCM Board of Directors are Kjell Hammarstrom of Oracle, Greg Spraker of SAS and Thomas Bellinger of IBM Corp.
[Warranty Week has heard from Hammarstrom, Spraker, and Bellinger that they all plan to stay on. Hammarstrom said he hopes his ongoing presence provides a measure of continuity while the search for a new president is under way. Bellinger added that the current board is now at the end of just the first year of their three-year terms, so they're technically not up for re-election.]
The IWCM (www.iwcm.org) is planning to expand its Board of Directors at its Annual General Meeting on March 15th. IWCM was incorporated in December 2006 with the mission "to advance the warranty management profession and global warranty industry by providing a unified voice for advocacy and leadership."
For several years IWCM has been recruiting volunteers, acquiring information, developing an education curriculum and building a membership. In 2010 key milestones were completing a collaborative effort with IDC Manufacturing Insights to develop a Warranty Management Maturity Model (WMMM) and recording the first soon to be released web-based education sessions. Plans for 2011 include more education session recordings and posting them on the web site for members to enroll. Eventually, the IWCM plans to offer a certification in Warranty Chain Management.
The Institute is actively seeking Board candidates to help fulfill its mission. Anyone interested in the Warranty Chain Management profession can contact the IWCM Board Secretary, Thomas Bellinger, via email: thomas.bellinger(at)iwcm.org.